The Protocol School of Washington

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

First Lady | Spouse of a Pastor

How to Address the First Lady of a Congregation?

How do I address the envelope and letter when writing to the First Lady of a local church?
———–– MT

Dear MT,

Many congregations use First Lady as part of the name in direct address with the wife of their pastor.

—-Envelope or in writing:
—-—-First Lady (Her Full Name)

—-Conversation & salutation:
—-—-Dear First Lady (Surname),
—-—-First Lady (Surname)

Some forms of address are used by people both inside and outside an organization, others are used only by those inside. Whether or not one addresses this spouse as First Lady (Name) often depends on who you are, the context of the conversation, and where the conversation occurs.

——–At the church, discussing topics relating to the role as spouse of the pastor: Yes.
—-—-At professional employment not related to her role as spouse of the pastor: No.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

How to Address a Former First Lady?

How do you list the name in a program of a First Lady whose husband passed while pastoring a church?  The church now has a new Pastor and First Lady.
————– GC

Dear GC,

Tradition of the congregation is important here. Tradition may – they may not – dictate whether to address a former first lady as ‘First Lady (Name)’.  But since you asked my opinion – I will answer how I would advise you do it.

—-In a program where she was listed, I would suggest you list her as:
—-—-Mrs. James Jones (Helen)
—-—-First Lady, Alden Baptist Church, 1990-2010

That would (1) identify her husband … (2) provide her given name … (3) show the years of her service …  (4) and make it clear she was not the current first lady.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms of Address 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 Question Answered?

—-#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)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see 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, I will post the question & answer – but leave out your name and change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) was founded in 1988 and offers open-enrollment, classroom-based programs where students learn to become a licensed Intercultural Etiquette and Protocol Trainer, or can earn a certificate in operational protocol by completing Protocol Officer Training. Private, on-site training is also available to provide tailored training solutions. In 2020, PSOW launched online, instructor-led training to meet the needs of students worldwide.

PSOW has offices in: Washington, DC; Columbia, SC; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The school is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and provides international protocol, cross-cultural awareness, business etiquette, and image training preparing professionals to build lasting business relationships.


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