Skipping Church: Notes from an Accidental Minister's Wife
by Suzanne Kelsey
Sidelined and derailed. That’s how Suzanne Kelsey felt three decades ago after her husband of fourteen years announced his decision to become a Methodist minister. They were thirty-four and had two young sons. An independent free-thinker who believes in a divine something-or-other but not organized religion, Kelsey values her privacy and likes to settle in and nest. She felt her husband was choosing an itinerant, public life of commitment to doctrine for both of them. Kelsey wanted no part of that strange world. In Skipping Church: Notes from an Accidental Minister’s Wife, Kelsey explores what callings are and who gets to claim them, whether a life right for one is right for two, how to live authentically despite pressures to be different, how nature and art can ground us spiritually even if we’re not religious, and where home is for those who move frequently. These musings, laced with humor and infused with honesty, are accompanied by scenes from Kelsey’s life as she gradually made peace with her husband’s career decision while forging her own path.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
ISBN: 978-1-956056-07-5 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
A recent transplant from the Midwest to northern California, Suzanne Kelsey is a writer, artist, university instructor, and a lover of family, friends, nature, contemplation, and creative pursuits.
Suzanne & Charles Kelsey
In Skipping Church, Suzanne Kelsey eloquently and honestly describes the challenges of being a minister’s spouse and the struggles and rewards of her own search for truth. Her exploration of the complex terrain of a long and loving marriage provides a model for anyone who loves someone with different life goals. Even more, her keen insights, willingness to ask hard questions, and openness to the mysteries and wonders of the world show us that spirituality can be found in many forms.
Suzanne Kelsey is a wise guide for those of us who have spiritual stirrings but feel unsure about organized religion. This is her account of arriving at a hard-earned inner harmony. Determined to not fake it as a minister’s wife yet to be faithful to her loving husband, she becomes a true soulmate for him and, thankfully, for us too.
I can only admire the work of a small-town Iowa woman who embarks on such a profound lifelong spiritual quest and finds its greatest fulfillment in her natural surroundings, wherever they be. Her sharp prose keyed me in to the world of her husband’s itinerant ministerial career, something that I at first thought would interest me little. However, her search and how it figured as key to her growing family’s dynamic carried me along willingly from town to town to learn what her adventure would unearth. We can all take clues and inspiration from Suzanne Kelsey’s story.
With deep honesty, vulnerability, a mystic’s sensibility and a keen writer’s eye, Sue Kelsey depicts her struggle to create a thoughtful and fiercely independent approach to spiritual life, and find her place in the world, a place of both love and resistance. I come from a family of Midwestern Protestant ministers, and the tension between the roles we are called to play and the authentic self we long to express rings so true here to me. A beautiful book.
Suzanne Kelsey’s engaging memoir brings us on a journey far beyond managing a surprising and sometimes difficult spousal career choice. In seeking her own identity and spirituality separate from her husband’s Christian ministry, Kelsey inspires us to understand how art, music, writing, and nature open us to the world’s beauty and meaning. The prairies and woodlands of her native Midwest, then new explorations in California landscapes, provide Kelsey and her readers with deep insight into the power of nature to make us who we are in our home landscapes as well as the greater universe—and how they can bring family members together in a loving common life.
How do you respect the spiritual calling of a loved one, while listening to your own? This is the question that drives Suzanne Kelsey’s remarkable memoir, an unexpected journey of faith that leads her to discover “startling revelations of beauty” beyond the walls of a church. Whether during walks in nature, learning to tango, protesting a polluting factory, or confronting the complexities of marriage and parenting, Kelsey’s honesty and warmth are always present. As well as her exceptional gifts as a storyteller, as she uncovers sacred connections “to the wild, to history, to beauty, to creativity, and community.” An inspiring, essential read in these challenging times.
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