NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–While pastors gather for their annual conference prior to the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn., wives of ministers have the opportunity to attend a Monday morning session, June 20, at the Ryman Auditorium from 8:30 to 11:45 designed to meet their needs.
Donna Gaines of Gardendale, Ala., the wife of this year’s Pastors’ Conference President Steve Gaines, has enlisted the help of nine other women to form a board that will offer a program for ministers’ wives each year during the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
“Twelve years ago the Lord began to lay this on my heart,” Gaines told the Southern Baptist Texan, describing a need she recognized every year she attended the SBC annual meeting with her husband. “Wherever I went there would be a pastor’s wife who was on the edge.”
She recalled several attempts to offer an ongoing ministry to women but realized it was often dependent on the wife of each year’s Pastors’ Conference president to take the initiative in planning a parallel program for women.
Each year the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon is offered following the SBC’s Tuesday morning session, Gaines said, praising the event that will be held for the 50th year this June. “Obviously, the luncheon is a wonderful, fun event to hear an inspirational speaker and attend a luncheon decorated especially for women.”
However, the time constraint limits the opportunity to interact and connect with other wives of pastors, Gaines said. “Young pastors’ wives enjoy going to hear a godly Christian woman speak and receiving a bag full of free books and music.”
Gaines said the goal of the Monday morning session differs from the luncheon. “My desire is to have pastors’ wives minister to other pastors’ wives and provide inspiration, encouragement and a challenge.”
This year’s inaugural program will feature:
— Bible study leader Susie Hawkins of Dallas, who will speak on the role of the pastor’s wife. She is the wife of Guidestone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins who previously was a pastor in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma.
— Longtime retreat leader Barbara O’Chester of Austin, speaking on raising preachers’ kids. Her husband, Harold, is now retired after leading churches in Texas and Mississippi.
— International Mission Board consultant Paula Hemphill of Nashville, who will speak on how to pray for women around the world. Her husband, Ken, is the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth national strategist and previously served as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
— Joyce Rogers of Memphis will close with “Words from a Wise Woman,” drawing on 32 years of serving alongside her husband, Adrian, at the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church from which he recently retired.
— Anita Renfroe of Atlanta, who will open the program with humor from the perspective of a pastor’s wife. She is the author of “The Purse-Driven Life.”
By creating a board to plan the event for pastors’ wives each year, Gaines expects this will be an ongoing ministry available at no cost to participants. In addition to Gaines, Hawkins, O’Chester and Rogers, other women enlisted to serve on the board are Jeana Floyd of Springdale, Ark.; Diane Nix of Tulsa, Okla.; Liz Traylor of Pensacola, Fla.; Carol Ann Draper of Nashville; and Janet Wicker of Naples, Fla. Speakers for the session are traveling at their own expense, Gaines said.
Several Southern Baptist entities have agreed to underwrite the expense of renting the auditorium, including LifeWay Christian Resources, Guidestone Financial Resources and North American Mission Board, along with First Baptist Church of Gardendale, Ala., and First Baptist of Springdale, Ark.