"The Preacher Takes A Wife"
Season , Episode
# in Series
Air date October 22, 1979
Episode Guide
IMDb logo IMDb The Preacher Takes A Wife
Written by John T. Dugan
Directed by Maury Dexter
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Rev. Alden falls in love with a member of his congregation and marries her.


Guest Stars


Anna Craig is a kindly but lonely widow living in affluent circumstances, since the death of her husband Parker. Following a church service, she starts to ask Reverend Alden a question, but must leave as the Ingalls are waiting to give her a ride home.

Reverend Alden pays a visit to Jeremy Tyler, a homebound elderly widower who is saddened by his lack of companionship, seeing no one except Reverend Alden. He reveals to Reverend Alden that he believes he would be better off dead, as no one cares whether he lives or dies. Reverend Alden assures him that he cares, and comforts Jeremy as best he can.

That evening, Reverend Alden retires to his room at Nellie's Restaurant and Hotel, where he contemplates Jeremy's words, "You don't know what it's like to be old and alone, Reverend. To have no one. No wife, no kids."

That following Sunday, immediately after the service, Anna has finally worked up the courage to ask Reverend Alden to dinner, which he readily accepts.

After dinner, which Reverend Alden thoroughly enjoyed, the two of them retire to the living room. It is then that Anna Craig rather forwardly declares her love for Reverend Alden. Overcome with awkwardness, Reverend Alden quickly excuses himself and leaves.

Jeremy's health has taken a turn for the worse, and Reverend Alden is there to hold his hand and comfort him as he dies.

The following Friday, as Mrs. Craig enjoys dinner at Nellie's, Reverend Alden arrives and joins her. He apologizes for the abruptness of his departure, while Anna apologizes for her directness. The two reconcile and enjoy a laugh together. Harriet Oleson sees them holding hands and, inexplicably, is thoroughly disgusted.

During a visit at the Ingalls home, Reverend Alden confides to Charles his lonliness. And having thoroughly enjoyed his time with Mrs. Craig, reveals that he plans to propose to her, much to Charles' delight.

Reverend Alden then pays a visit to Olsen's Merchantile to look at wedding rings. Mrs. Olesen, deducing that he plans to marry Mrs. Craig, is disgusted. She visits Mrs. Craig at her home, threatening to have Reverend Alden dismissed as the preacher of Walnut Grove's church unless Mrs. Craig stops seeing him.

Mrs. Craig then ends their relationship, just as Reverend Alden plans to propose marriage. Saddened and confused over this sudden rejection, Reverend Alden sits on the steps of the Church alone at night in a torrential thunderstorm, praying aloud.

That Sunday, Reverend Alden nearly collapses while delivering his sermon, having taken ill during the storm. He is brought to his room at Nellie's and is attended by Dr. Baker. Mrs. Craig arrives with a tray of hot broth for Reverend Alden. Harriet tries to block her way, but Mrs. Craig is undaunted. Even shutting the door to Reverend Alden's room in Harriet's face.

As Reverend Alden recuperates under Mrs. Craig's care, Harriet happens to walk in on them as they kiss. Harriet then goes to Nellie, claiming that she saw them "making love" (when in fact, she saw no such thing) and plans to send a telegram to the general synod of the church.

Dean Russell Harmon arrives in response to Harriet's complaint and visits Reverend Alden. While Dean Harmon believes none of the allegations that Harriet has made, having known Reverend Alden for 26 years and having been taught by him, he does warn Reverend Alden that unless he can persuade Harriet to drop the charges, the scandal could cost Reverend Alden his congregation.

There is a palpapable awkwardness at Dean Harmon's meeting with Harriet, as the two of them exchange looks of disbelief upon seeing one another. It is soon revealed that Dean Harmon and Harriet were once engaged to be married, but Russell had broken it off 23 years ago.

At first, their initial conversation is not about Reverend Alden, but about their previous relationship. Dean Harmon had broken off their engagement, believing that he could not serve God and be married, and that he was, in effect, married to the Church. In fact, since he broke his engagement to Harriet, Dean Harmon never married, much to Harriet's amazement.

Dean Harmon then pleads with Harriet not to punish Reverend Alden for Dean Harmon's mistakes and to allow him his opportunity for happiness with the woman he loves.

Harriet and Dean Harmon then arrive at the church. While Reverend Alden is aloof towards Harriet, she tearfully asks for his forgiveness. Reverend Alden is stunned, pronouncing it "a miracle."

The episode ends with the wedding of Reverend Alden and Anna, the ceremony delivered by Dean Harmon. And the two of them climb into Reverend Alden's buggy under a shower of thrown rice.

Curiously, Anna is never seen nor alluded to again.

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