At work, he calls her “Pastor Andrea,” and she calls him “Pastor Jason.”
At home, they do without the formal titles. They’re just Andrea and Jason, husband and wife.
This Sunday, the Revs. Jason Peterson and Andrea Windsor-Peterson will be installed as dual pastors of Advent Lutheran Church.
The church of 300 on Washington Road in Augusta called the new pastors this spring.
“We’re a team,” Jason said. “We share a calling.”
Together, they hope to work with the congregation to help it continue to grow as a welcoming, life-giving church.
“We want to help everyone to feel they belong and they have purpose in Jesus Christ,” Andrea said. “All people are welcomed in this place.”
The two met on the first day of class at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, on the steps of their dorm building. Three months later, they were engaged. They married two years after that, in 2002.
After working with separate congregations in South Carolina, they accepted a shared call to Memphis, Tenn., where they worked as “mission redevelopers,” tasked with reviving a small congregation. They stayed for nine years.
They made the move to Augusta with their two children – Kate, 8, and Timmy, 7 – this summer. Jason’s first day was April 28, the 50th anniversary of the church. Andrea stayed in Memphis for a few weeks, while the kids finished school. After three weeks in Augusta, she said, “I’ve learned just how generous people are. They’re just so wonderful. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to work with them and equip them. It’s sort of a dream call.”
The church was really just looking for one pastor.
“They looked to interview one candidate, but got two,” Jason said. “There was a real excitement about it.”
While they considered taking separate calls, it’s easier, in some ways, to work together. The family is able to worship together on Sundays. There’s no question about which church the children should attend. Both pastors get time away from preaching, which helps avoid burnout.
The church also benefits from two pastors.
“The gift is you have a choice,” said Andrea. “You have two different perspectives on how to do something.”
They have different passions in ministry, different styles of teaching and different communication styles.
“It’s becoming a little bit more common, especially in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America),” Jason said.
Each preaches two Sundays in a row before switching off. When one prepares the sermon, the other administers the sacraments.
“We have this joke that we’re off duty and get to worship,” Andrea said with a laugh.
They spend more time together than most married couples, Jason said. Sometimes it feels as though their marriage and family life are on display, even more so than the average pastor’s, and that’s OK, Andrea said.
“You are on display and it’s humbling,” she said. “If the people of God weren’t so gracious, it wouldn’t work.”
A few years ago, they set some ground rules.
“We do have one rule,” Andrea said. “We don’t talk about our moms and the church in our bedroom.”