What Is Pastor Appreciation Day?

T. Briseno

Pastor Appreciation Day is a time to recognize the work of ministers, pastors, and priests in the United States. Started by Hallmark Cards in 1992, the officially-named Clergy Appreciation National Day of Honoring is usually called Pastor or Clergy Appreciation Day. It falls on the second Sunday of October each year and is sometimes promoted as a month-long time to remember and honor the work of Christian clergy.

A pastor giving communion to a girl.
A pastor giving communion to a girl.

Often the main work of a minister or preacher is thought to be the time in the pulpit or in front of the congregation on Sunday, but many clergy, including missionaries and pastors, minister full-time by serving church members and the community throughout the year. Recognizing the commitments and sacrifices of those who lead churches and care for communities is behind Pastor Appreciation Day. Often the appreciation extends to spouses, family members, and ministers or acolytes who support the work of clergy leaders.

A priest being ordained.
A priest being ordained.

Senior pastors and priests conduct sermons and steer the course of the church as a whole. Youth pastors often work nights and weekends to help keep young people on track and spiritually-guided. Missionaries serve by relocating to another country or region where their knowledge of Christian fundamentals is paired with abilities to provide humanitarian assistance. Lay ministers, or those men and women without formal seminary education or ordination, also set apart their time and focus for the church.

Although Pastor Appreciation Day in October is the nationally-recognized time for honoring clergy, a number of congregations set apart additional days, such as anniversaries of being called to a particular church fellowship or historic dates in the history of the church, to recognize and bless pastors and priests. Whether celebrated in October or throughout the year, this day of appreciation might include gifts and cards or special musical and speech tributes. Extended prayer meetings or personal commitments to pray for pastoral leaders are also welcome ways to honor these church leaders. Often personalized memorabilia is bestowed, and sometimes vacations are sponsored or donations are made to further support the ministry. Setting aside a special day or even a month to honor those who serve God by serving others is the goal and focus of Pastor Appreciation Day.

Senior pastors and priests conduct sermons and steer the course of the church as a whole.
Senior pastors and priests conduct sermons and steer the course of the church as a whole.

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