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Ministers’ wives lessen isolation via ‘egroup’ over the Internet

DRAIN, Ore. (BP)–Pastors’ wives as well as other vocational ministers’ wives across the Northwest Baptist Convention have begun using computer e-mail to shrink distances and stay connected.

“This grew out of a desire for ministers’ wives across the Northwest to stay in touch,” said Elaine Peters, pastor’s wife from First Baptist Church, Drain, Ore. “It’s important to know they are not alone; there are others out there.”

The idea for the group first surfaced last spring when a number of ministers’ wives were together sharing their feelings of isolation and a need to be more connected at an annual “Oasis” rest, recreation and renewal retreat for NWBC professional church staff and spouses.

“I had been involved in an interdenominational pastors’ wives support group for over a year,” Peters said. “I knew how to do it, got e-mail addresses from the wives and we began.”

At first there were just a few participants. Word of mouth has brought a continual increase.

“To get to where I live, you go to the end of nowhere, take a right and go 10 more miles,” said Debbie Stagg, pastor’s wife at Majestic Mountain Baptist Church, Pierce, Idaho.

“I’m very isolated in a small logging town and don’t often get to be with other ministers’ wives,” Stagg said. “I’m looking for this to reduce the isolation.”

She has no computer in her home, thus she e-mails from the nearest library that is on-line.

The egroup, as it is called, officially began in May and now has several dozen women participating, with more being added each week, Peters said.

“The ministers’ wives feel supported and loved,” said Tricia Ellis, pastor’s wife at Wenatchee (Wash.) Valley Baptist Church. “We are able to learn about one another, our families, share prayer concerns and reach out to the needs of one another.”

Ellis also provides support to pastors’ wives via a personal hotline for crisis situations.

The majority of the matters dealt with by the e-mail group involve prayer requests; exchanging ideas and discussing parenting issues; health concerns; and, of course, humorous stories.

“This has been an encouragement to me,” said Jan Peters, pastor’s wife from Glendale (Ore.) Baptist Church. “It’s made me realize I am not the only pastor’s wife who worries about my husband’s health, the rigors of dealing with children or the fact that I never seem to have quite enough time.”

Checking e-mail today is about as ordinary as going to the mailbox. Eighty-five percent of daily Internet usage is devoted to transmitting an estimated 7.3 billion messages each day.

Susan Doherty, director of marketing for eGroups.com, an Internet enterprise specializing in such Internet connections, noted, “What makes an egroup different than sending an ordinary e-mail is its convenience, and the additional features that are available. Besides sending e-mail messages, the women can have a group calendar, real-time chat and real-time voice communication,” said Doherty of the technology available.

The largest group eGroups.com provides support for is a missionary organization that needs to provide secure communication in sensitive areas around the world. The same technology and security is provided to the Northwest Wives group. Currently there are more than 5 million users with more than 300,000 different groups using eGroups.com services, Doherty said.

An outgrowth from the wives’ group is a separate egroup for the children and youth of ministers across the Northwest Baptist Convention.

Elaine Peters serves as list manager and moderator of the nwbaptistwives.egroups.com group. Ministers’ wives who would like more information about joining this group may contact her at [email protected].

    About the Author

  • Ed Ernsting