Meet the Smiths: Pastors, partners & part-time philosophers

THREE RIVERS — You’ve likely heard Dusty Springfield’s 1968 hit single “Son of a Preacher Man.” It was originally composed for Aretha Franklin in the late 1960s about a woman who falls in love with, you guessed it, “the son of a preacher man.” But have you met the Smiths?
Nikki and James Smith are pastors who also happen to be married — and therein lies a story not too unlike the one Dusty told all those years ago.
The Smiths reside in Three Rivers, where James splits his time as rector at Trinity Episcopal Church and pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Nikki serves as pastor at Lutheran Church of the Savior in Kalamazoo, commuting each day from the couple’s Three Rivers home, which they’ve amusingly christened “Canterbury House,” to her office on E G Avenue.
Marriage as well as the church require time, dedication, sacrifice and love, among other things. That is why Nikki views her marriage to a fellow pastor as both a “blessing and a challenge.”
“We are fortunate to have some clergy couple friends, but clergy couples are not a common thing. One of the things I think is a blessing is that I know my husband can understand my struggles and challenges even if I can’t voice them,” Nikki said. “It is nice to be married to someone who understands the unique challenges pastors go through, and it is always nice to have someone look over my sermon to give me suggestions and help with grammar mistakes.”
The largest hurdle, according to Nikki, is making time for each other when church activities and seasons ramp up.
“As a pastor you are always on call and that can be a challenge when it comes to wanting to spend quality time together. Another challenge is that because we are both serving different congregations we don’t get to attend each other’s worship services or activities as much as we might like,” she said.
With that said, Nikki believes she and James “are a good team when it comes to ministry.”
“We have different personalities, different strengths, different weaknesses, and I think we do a good job of encouraging each other, making helpful suggestions, and celebrating how our different ministry gifts serve others,” she said.

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