Originally created 02/11/06

Clergy couples balance church, personal lives



When brides and grooms promise to take each other for better or worse, most assume that means for life, not the workplace. But when clergy couples serve as pastors together, they do just that.

"It is a shared dynamic. We like to work together," said the Rev. Linda Scales, an ordained deacon at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Martinez, where her husband, the Rev. Lou Scales, is the rector.

Here is their Valentine story and those of two other clergy couples in Augusta, the Revs. Evett and Hardie Davis Jr., of Abundant Life Worship Center, and the Revs. Suzie and Matt Judd, of Good News Church.

Lou and Linda Scales

The Rev. Lou Scales accepted a call to the military chaplaincy and was assigned to Fort Riley, Kan., where his wife-to be was the director of religious education.

She had taken the job because she wanted to give back to the church, said the Rev. Linda Scales, who has an education doctorate.

"I had a tremendous curiosity about working with the chaplaincy, which involves not one denomination, but all faith groups," she said. "I thought I could learn more about my faith."

She had never been out of the state of Kansas until they married and were moved to Germany. Every new assignment for her husband meant she had to quit her job, find another one at the new location and make arrangements for their daughters. During the past 10 years of his career, they moved five times.

The Rev. Linda Scales' first job in Germany required that she travel throughout Europe managing chaplain programs in 20 communities.

"It was fascinating," she said.

At the time they met, the Episcopal Church did not ordain women. That changed in the mid-1970s. She was ordained in 1990 in Germany.

Since then, they sometimes have been able to serve at the same facility. They have worked independently at different parishes in Augusta, but also side-by-side, as they do now at Our Savior.

"Lou has always been called to leadership as clergy. It is very clear that my call is to the diaconate," she said. The differences between a deacon's role and a priest's role set the parameters of their responsibilities in the parish.

The Rev. Linda Scales is one of three deacons at Our Savior. There is some overlapping of duties among them, but each deacon also has a particular area of ministry, such as the Jessye Norman School for the Arts where the Rev. Linda Scales serves.

Even though she is the pastor's wife, she hopes no one thinks of her as "first deacon."

"I so appreciate the teamwork among the deacons," she said.

If the Revs. Scales get confused about what needs to be done at home or the office, they are able to work it out because they have a sense of ministry, the Rev. Lou Scales said.

"We enjoy being together. That has been the focus of our lives," he said.

At home, they take turns cooking recipes they have picked up from their travels, and both like to experiment, the Rev. Linda Scales said. They enjoy playing guitar together and traveling but don't get to do as much of it as they would like.

"With a parish, it is difficult to get away," she said. "If we can at least have dinner out, that is good."

Matt and Suzie Judd

When Suzie Kennedy met Matt Judd at Oral Roberts University, she liked him but was not crazy about his idea of going into the ministry.

"It didn't seem the thing to do. My parents were in business, and I wanted to be in that," said the Rev. Suzie Judd, who founded Good News Church with her husband in 1995.

The Judds married, and the idea of ministry faded into the background until an opportunity opened for them to teach classes at a church. They switched off the teaching duties between them. He taught one week; she taught the next. The classes proved popular.

"We were good," said the Rev. Suzie Judd, who grew up in the Augusta area. "You know you are good when you have fruit, people attend and lives are changed."

After a year, they stopped teaching, but they knew something was different.

By 1995, her husband had earned an MBA at Augusta State University and was about to be transferred to Dallas by his company, but they sensed that God wanted them to start a church, she said.

"We didn't know how or how to be ordained because we weren't affiliated with any organization. We finally agreed to do it, and God opened up the door," the Rev. Suzie Judd said.

They signed a 12-month lease on a building with the idea of using their savings to pay the $1,200-a-month rent. Counting the Judds, there were seven adults in Good News Church. They started holding services in September 1995.

She and her husband were ordained by the Association of Faith Churches and Ministers in Branson, Mo., in October and had the church's grand opening in November.

The Rev. Matt Judd's employer had him working outside of Augusta, so much of the labor in the early days of Good News fell to his wife.

"I did Sunday. She did Wednesday. She handled the running of the church because I was gone," he said.

The church has about 300 members, and the Judds work with it full time. Though the Rev. Suzie Judd is at work in the church, she brings their sons, who are 8- and 10-years old, with her to home-school them. They are the youngest of the Judds' four children.

The boys literally are growing up in the church. Their sisters, who are 16 and 14 years old, also are very active in Good News.

"I have a life that very few can really understand," the Rev. Suzie Judd said. "There are not very many women who pastor, and (a female pastor) is not universally accepted. I do it with my husband. He pastors, and I am a full-fledged pastor. I preach and teach."

They operate on a team concept and divide responsibilities according to their skills. He is strong in administration and finances. She is strong in teaching and takes care of the small-group ministry and the School for Life classes. They both minister outside of Good News and can fill in for one another at the church.

"He has the comfort that his wife can fill in for him. We have each other to depend on," the Rev. Suzie Judd said.

Working together all the time isn't for everyone, the Rev. Matt Judd said.

It can work against a relationship because in reality, couples, such as the Judds, can end up shortchanging the time they need to develop as a couple.

"You give yourself credit for being together when in reality you weren't talking about yourself as a couple," the Rev. Suzie Judd said.

The Judds go on short trips every few months to be alone. They are faithful to take Mondays off.

"When we are off, we are off. When we are at the church, we are there," the Rev. Matt Judd said.

Hardie and Evett Davis

Evett Davis met her future husband, Hardie Davis, Jr., over the Christmas holidays their senior year in high school. They both went to Georgia Southern University for a year before he transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology to pursue electrical engineering and started teaching Bible study with a friend. Meanwhile, she earned a degree in medical technology at the Medical College of Georgia.

They served at church together while dating.

"That was the divine plan of God preparing us," the Rev. Evett Davis said.

Her husband began serving as an assistant pastor at an Augusta-area church while still working full time as a process control engineer at an Augusta plant.

In 1999, he felt the tug to minister at his own church and brought the idea up to his wife.

"'What are you going to do if God calls us to start a church?'" he asked her.

"She was not so sure that would happen," the Rev. Hardie Davis said.

The idea of going into the pastorate blossomed slowly for the Rev. Evett Davis.

"We were both very career minded, ... but we knew God had a special assignment on our lives," she said.

Their sense was that God was calling them to form a diverse congregation, where they could teach God's word so that anyone could understand it, she said.

They founded Abundant Life Worship Center in 2000 with four people. They are both full time with the 250-member church, which meets in Goshen Elementary School.

"We work hand in hand. She plays an integral role in the ministry," said the Rev. Hardie Davis, who functions as the senior pastor.

He does most of the preaching and presides over meetings, and she teaches and manages media resources and financial areas.

One of the ways they keep their life in balance is to be spontaneous and take opportunities to just have fun, the Rev. Hardie Davis said. The Revs. Davis have a 4-year-old son.

The pastors generally do not talk about church matters at home. If something needs to be discussed, they "pray about it and go from there," he said.

Working so closely together on a daily basis has enhanced their relationship, he said.

"We get to know each other better, how each other thinks and how each other responds," the Rev. Hardie Davis said.

Even through they live and work in a goldfish bowl, he doesn't sense any extra pressure.

"When people see us, we are the same on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," he said. "We have allowed our faith to speak for itself. Walking in integrity and character is what is so important to us."

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or virginia.norton@augustachronicle.com.

Pastor. I preach and teach."

They operate on a team concept and divide responsibilities according to their skills. He is strong in administration and finances. She is strong in teaching and takes care of the small-group ministry and the School for Life classes. They both minister outside of Good News and can fill in for one another at the church.

"He has the comfort that his wife can fill in for him. We have each other to depend on," the Rev. Suzie Judd said.

Working together all the time isn't for everyone, the Rev. Matt Judd said.

It can work against a relationship because in reality, couples, such as the Judds, can end up shortchanging the time they need to develop as a couple.

"You give yourself credit for being together when in reality you weren't talking about yourself as a couple," the Rev. Suzie Judd said.

The Judds go on short trips every few months to be alone. They are faithful to take Mondays off.

"When we are off, we are off. When we are at the church, we are there," the Rev. Matt Judd said.

Hardie and Evett Davis

Evett Davis met her future husband, Hardie Davis, Jr., over the Christmas holidays their senior year in high school. They both went to Georgia Southern University for a year before he transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology to pursue electrical engineering and started teaching Bible study with a friend. Meanwhile, she earned a degree in medical technology at the Medical College of Georgia.

They served at church together while dating.

"That was the divine plan of God preparing us," the Rev. Evett Davis said.

Her husband began serving as an assistant pastor at an Augusta-area church while still working full time as a process control engineer at an Augusta plant.

In 1999, he felt the tug to minister his own church and brought the idea up to his wife.

"'What are you going to do if God calls us to start a church?'" he asked her.

"She was not so sure that would happen," the Rev. Hardie Davis said.

The idea of going into the pastorate blossomed slowly for the Rev. Evett Davis.

"We were both very career minded, ... but we knew God had a special assignment on our lives," she said.

Their sense was that God was calling them to form a diverse congregation, where they could teach God's word so that anyone, from the youngest to the oldest person, could understand it, she said.

They founded Abundant Life Worship Center in 2000 with four people. They are both full time with the 250-member church, which meets in Goshen Elementary School.

"We work hand in hand. She plays an integral role in the ministry," said the Rev. Hardie Davis, who functions as the senior pastor.

He does most of the preaching and presides over meetings, and she teaches and manages media resources and financial areas.

One of the ways they keep their life in balance is to be spontaneous and take opportunities to just have fun, the Rev. Hardie Davis said. The Revs. Davis have a 4-year-old son.

The pastors generally do not talk about church matters at home. If something needs to be discussed, they "pray about it and go from there," he said.

Working so closely together on a daily basis has enhanced their relationship, he said.

"We get to know each other better, how each other thinks and how each other responds," the Rev. Hardie Davis said.

Even through they live and work in a goldfish bowl, he doesn't sense any extra pressure.

"When people see us, we are the same on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," he said. "We have allowed our faith to speak for itself. Walking in integrity and character is what is so important to us."

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or virginia.norton@augustachronicle.com.