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    In those early years of Chuck’s ministry, I often thought about a novel by Willa Cather that I’d read in a college literature class: My Antonia, set in Nebraska in the early 1900s. Narrator Jim Burden visits his childhood friend, Antonia, who lives in the country with her family. Burden sees that Antonia’s husband would rather live in the city as a musician and farms only because it is Antonia’s dream. Burden muses, “I wondered whether the life that was right for one was ever right for two.”

    I often wondered the same thing, having accidently become married to a minister. Was the life right for one ever right for two?

    Was I always going to have to lip sync my way through the Lord’s Prayer?

    Must I live in Chuck’s shadow or could I follow my calling, too? And if I could, what was it? Surely not editing test items.

    Where would “home” be as we moved at the Iowa Methodist bishop’s whim from city to city, congregation to congregation, parsonage to parsonage?

    Was the life right for one ever right for two?

    I was not at all sure.

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.

Brian Allain interviews Suzanne Kelsey about her book, "Skipping Church: Notes from an Accidental Minister’s Wife."


Allain is editor/curator of, which hosts interviews with emerging authors and offers other resources for writers of spiritual books.

"Skipping Church: Notes from an Accidental Minister’s Wife"

is available from Amazon (free shipping for members), the publisher Shanti Arts, other online bookstores, and upon request at your local bookstore.

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