Forty years ago this month, I took a job as a student pastor in a small nondenominational church in a blue-collar community south of Chicago. I was a middler at the University of Chicago Divinity School–Chicago Theological Seminary, married with an infant daughter, and broke. The church offered $50 a week and a house with three bedrooms, bath and a real back yard.
We were, at the time, living in what was described as “married student housing.” There was no kitchen, just a hot plate and refrigerator. Water was carried in a bucket from the bathtub. The prospect of $50 weekly and a house felt to us like an epiphany of Damascus Road proportions. Without thinking much about what I would be required to do in exchange for my salary and palatial quarters, we accepted the offer.