"In Marge We Trust" is the twenty-second of season 8. It originally aired on April 27, 1997. The episode was written by Donick Cary and directed by Steven Dean Moore.
Marge volunteers as an over the phone counselor for the church, and the congregation starts turning to Marge more than Reverend Lovejoy. Meanwhile, Homer goes on a quest to find out why his likeness is the logo for a Japanese detergent company.
Reverend Lovejoy's service on "constancy" sends nearly the entire congregation to sleep. After church Homer takes Bart and Lisa to the Springfield Dump to dispose of their old Christmas tree, where they find a box of Japanese dishwasher detergent known as Mr. Sparkle. The face on the box of detergent greatly resembles Homer. The Japanese writing on the box says that he will banish food particles to the land of wind and ghosts.
Meanwhile, Marge becomes concerned with Reverend Lovejoy's lack of enthusiasm about helping people. She learns that he used to be enthusiastic about his job until Neds endless barrage of petty problems made him what he was today. She begins working for the Church as "The Listen Lady", listening to people describe their problems, and helping to solve them. Reverend Lovejoy soon realizes his inadequacy and begins to feel depressed.
Homer, disturbed by the box of Mr. Sparkle, contacts the manufacturer in Hokkaidō, Japan for information. He is sent a promotional video for Mr. Sparkle, which consists of a bizarre TV commercial. At the end of the video, the mascot is shown to be a result of a joint venture between two large Japanese conglomerates, Matsumura Fishworks and Tamaribuchi Heavy Manufacturing Concern. Their mascots, a fish and light bulb, merge together to form Mr. Sparkle; thus, Homer discovers the similarity was a mere coincidence.
One day, Ned Flanders calls Marge for help. Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney are hanging around outside the Leftorium, making Ned worried that they will start causing trouble. Marge suggests that he shoo them away. Unbeknownst to him, the trio are about to leave, but when he goes and asks them to, they decide to harass him instead. Ned calls Marge again, whilst he is standing on a chair with the three boys circling him on their motorbikes. She suggests that he "lay down the law"; when one of the boys snips the phone cord, Marge assumes that Ned has hung up and that everything is fine.
The next morning, Maude informs Marge that Ned is missing. Marge realizes that she may be partially responsible for his disappearance. Marge goes to Reverend Lovejoy for help, and the two of them track Ned to the zoo. Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney have abandoned their pursuit, but now Ned is trapped in the baboon exhibit. While the Simpson family watches on, Reverend Lovejoy rescues Ned in the baboon's food train, defeating several of the animals in doing so. Now that he feels useful again, Reverend Lovejoy rediscovers his passion for his job, regaling his congregation with the tale of Ned's rescue.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "A rare case of both storylines being worthy of full episodes in their own right, this is a cracking episode which highlights the unduly neglected Rev. Lovejoy and makes you realise Homer isn't the only one ready to kill Ned Flanders! Great stuff." In a 2000 Entertainment Weekly article, Matt Groening ranked it as his fifth favorite in the history of the show. Josh Weinstein described it as one the best of the season, as well as being one of the most underated episodes of all time. He also described the Mr. Sparkle commercial as his all time favorite sequence.