How to Address
Pastor and Wife or Husband
Clergy and Wife or Husband

Note #1: This section is presented first for couples using the same surname (below), then second for couples using different surnames. For the latter scroll down.
Note #2: See also the post on use of First Lady for the wife of a pastor.
Note #3: For joint forms of address for a Rabbi, see that page.

How to Address a Pastor/Minister and Spouse

Both Use the Same Surname

ONE IS CLERGY

—-Address block, formal:
——–The Reverend John Poe
——–and Mrs. Poe
——–(Address)
————Less formally:
—————-The Reverend and Mrs. John Poe
—————-(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
——–Pastor/Dr./Father/etc. Poe
——–and Mrs. Poe

—-Address block:
——–The Reverend Mary Havel
——–and Mr. Milo Havel
——–(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
——–Pastor/Dr./Mother/etc. Havel
——–Mr. Havel

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

BOTH ARE CLERGY

Man Higher Precedence

—-Address block, formal:
——–The Reverend David Jones
——–and the Reverend Alice Jones
——–(Address)
————Less formally:
—————-The Reverends David and Alice Jones
—————-(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-Use their personal honorifics as appropriate.
——–Pastor/Dr./Father/Mother/etc. Jones
——–Drs. Jones
——–Pastors Jones

Equal Precedence
Combining their names is less formal.

—-Address block:
——–The Reverends David and Alice Jones
——–(Address)

Woman Higher Precedence

—-Address block:
——–The Reverend Alice Jones
——–and The Reverend David Jones
——–(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-Use their personal honorifics as appropriate
——–Pastor/Dr./Mother/Father/etc. Jones
——–Drs. Jones
——–Pastors Jones

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

______
Use Different Surnames

ONE IS CLERGY
A person with a hierarchical title is listed before a lay person.

—-Address block:
—-—-The Reverend George Brent
—-—-and Ms. Hilda Phelps
—-—-(Address)
—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-—-Pastor/Dr./Father/etc. Brent
—-—-Ms./Mrs. Phelps

—-Address block:
—-—-The Reverend Ann Krell
—-—-and Mr. Carl Moss
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-—-Pastor/Dr./Mother/etc. Krell
—-—-Mr. Moss

BOTH ARE CLERGY

Man with Higher Precedence

—-Address block:
—-—-The Reverend Kevin Ross
—-—-and The Reverend Jane Peters
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-Use their personal honorifics as appropriate.
—-—-Father Ross
—-—-Mother Peters
—-—-Pastors/Drs./Pastors Ross and Peters

Woman with Higher Precedence

—-Address block:
—-—-The Reverend Jane Peters
—-—-and The Reverend Kevin Ross
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation or Conversation:
—-Use their personal honorifics as appropriate.
—-—-Pastor/Dr./Mother/etc. Peters
—-—-Pastor/Dr./Father/etc. Ross

For forms of address for other clergy follow the appropriate link in the list at right.

– Robert Hickey how to address a protestant minister

Related Posts:
Couples: Private Citizens
Couples: Christian Clergy
Couples: Rabbis
Couples: Military
Couples: U.S. Officials
Couples: Same Sex

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address a Pastor & Spouse?

How do I address a sympathy card to our pastor and her husband?  They are Pastor Allyson Smith and Wilson Smith.
—-—-—-– Comstock

Dear Comstock,

—-#1) Pastor & The Reverend: Formally on an envelope or address block of a letter use The Reverend (Full Name).  Use Pastor (Surname) in a salutation and conversation.

—-#2) Name Order: People with a courtesy title – here, the Reverend – rank higher than a person without a courtesy title. Formally your Pastor is listed first. Her husband is listed second.

—-#3) Complete Names: When a person has a title, they get their name written as a unit – not mixed with another person’s name.
——–Avoid: The Reverend Allyson and Mr. Wilson Smith
——–Much better: The Reverend Allyson Smith and Mr. Wilson Smith

—-#4) First Ladies: In many historically African-American congregations the wife of the pastor is known as the First Lady.  See form for addressing a First Lady.

Pastor & Husband

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend Allyson Smith
—-—-and Mr. Wilson Smith
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Dear Pastor Smith and Mr. Smith,
—-—-Dear Pastor and Mr. Smith

—-Or if you are on a first name basis, depending on what form of their names you use in conversation, you might use to start your note:
—-—-Dear Allyson and Wilson,

Pastor & Wife

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend Calvin Jones
—-—-and Mrs. Jones
—-—-(Address)

—-—-The Reverend Calvin Jones
—-—-and Ms. Brenda Simpson
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Dear Pastor Jones and Mrs. Jones,
—-—-Dear Pastor Jones and Ms. Simpson,

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

How to Address a Pastor and Her Military Husband?

My question has to do with addressing an invitation’s envelope. Our Pastor, Alyson Smith, is married to a retired Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith, USN. He is to be receive his Ph.D. soon. Dr.? Commander? Lieutenant Commander?

————–- Bobbi Sue Minton

Dear BSM:

I am guessing you are addressing him socially, so … socially his name is written:
——–Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith

As a member of the clergy, her name is written:
——–The Reverend Alyson Smith

MILITARY RANK WITH AN ACADEMIC POST-NOMINAL ABBREVIATION
In the US, academic post nominals are never used with a military rank. He can be ‘Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith’ (‘Commander Smith’ in conversation) or ‘Richard Smith, Ph.D.’ in an academic environment. But he is never ‘Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith Ph.D.’.

WHOSE NAME IS FIRST?
Name order is determined by who has higher precedence. An active duty or retired military officer will have higher precedence than a civilian:
—-—-Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
—-—-and The Reverend Alyson Smith

BUT guests, regardless of their rank, are listed before their escorts. If she is the invited guest and he is invited as her escort (as a courtesy to the guest), then her name would appear first:
—-—-The Reverend Alyson Smith
—-—-and Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith

I have spelled out ‘Lieutenant Commander’ every time above, to avoid the whole issue of how to abbreviate his rank. Formally it is always correct to fully spell out military ranks. But within the armed services they routinely use ‘service-specific abbreviations’. I won’t get into all that here, but just know that they do exist.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Protestant Minister

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"