CORDOVA — The Lord’s faithfulness was the theme of the Ministers’ Wives gathering and luncheon at the annual Tennessee Baptist Mission Board Summit on Nov. 14-15 at Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova.
The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board sponsored two events for ministers’ wives. The Good Cup, a coffee and dessert fellowship on Nov. 14, promoted friendships and connections and included games and door prizes.
The annual luncheon on Nov. 15, featured Donna Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church as the speaker and Hannah Gafford of Faith Baptist Church, Arlington, as worship leader.
Both annual events are designed to encourage ministers’ wives and give them opportunity to connect with other women who understand their unique situations, said Jeanne Davis, ministers’ wives specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and leader of the planning team for the event.
Based on a study by Lifeway Research released in Sept. 2021, 84 percent of pastors say they are on call 24 hours a day, and more than half (54 percent) find their role frequently overwhelming. For pastors’ wives, the task of supporting their husbands through the demands inherent in ministry can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation only women in similar roles can understand.
“There may be no other time during the year when pastors’ wives can connect with other women who are like-minded,” Davis said. “Through these events, we want to give pastors’ wives a place to make friends, laugh together, cry together and share prayer requests with others who understand them.”
Kristy Cannon of Lee Village Baptist Church in Harriman has been in ministry with her husband for 23 years. This is her second time to attend the luncheon.
“Ministers’ wives know how we feel,” Cannon said. “They’ve been through what we are facing. I’m in the middle of the age group, so I appreciate the opportunity to hear from older women.”
One of the biggest challenges Paulette Acres faced as a young pastor’s wife was “just trying to keep up.” Acres’s husband, David, has served in ministry for 43 years and is currently a bivocational pastor at Union Chapel Baptist Church in Kingston.
“If your husband is in a full-time position and you have small children and are trying to work another job, you’re alone a lot,” Acres said. “That doesn’t just mean your husband isn’t present. You’re alone at church.”
Acres explained, “As a young minister’s wife, I think maybe I was sometimes too cautious. In a new place where I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t want to get close to people because I didn’t know the personalities yet.”
For Acres, events like the luncheon that feature speakers like Gaines are encouraging because Gaines is such a strong model of how to navigate the challenges of ministry.
In her message, Gaines, whose husband, Steve, pastored churches in Texas, Tennessee and Alabama before coming to Bellevue in 2005 acknowledged that loneliness is a challenge for many pastor’s wives. She also offered encouragement from God’s Word and her personal experiences.
“I love the ministry. I love the gift of being a pastor’s wife, but I also know it’s not all fun. It can be lonely,” Gaines said. “You’ve been through dark times. Our lifeline is the Word of God. … God reveals Himself in dark places, in ways He could not if things were going well.”
Speaking from Psalm 37, Gaines recalled a difficult time in the early days of her husband’s ministry at Bellevue.
During that time, Gaines said the Lord spoke to her through Psalm 37:5, “Trust the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”
“The Lord told me, ‘Be what I’ve called you to be. Do what I’ve called you to do, regardless of where I’ve placed you,” Gaines said.
Gaines reminded the women that those who irritate them, who criticize their husbands or who set unrealistic expectations for their children are not the enemy.
“We have one enemy,” Gaines said. “Remember that God is good. He is who He says He is. He has called us to stand in the gap beside our husbands and protect the flock He has called us to.”
“We are not on a cruise ship,” Gaines continued.
“We are on a battleship. It’s high time we took up our weapons and took our place and stood firm against the schemes of the evil one,” she said.
Nearly 150 women attended the Nov. 15 luncheon. Of those, seven women were wives of Hispanic pastors.
It was their first time to attend the event, and a TBMB staff member translated into Spanish.
Hilda Tuchez of Iglesia Bautista El Shaddai in Jackson thanked TBMB for the invitation to attend.
“Even though we don’t speak the language, all of this helps us in our church,” Tuchez said. “We are thankful.”
Maritza Cruv of Iglesia Bautista Cristo Rey in Brownsville also appreciated Gaines’s message.
“The Lord spoke to my heart about His faithfulness,” Cruv said. “(The message) reinforced my faith and trust in Him. No matter what happens, God is in control. This (event) encourages me to be faithful to Him.”
Gladys Melara of Iglesia Bautista Filadelfia in Memphis agreed. “It is good to be here and to share the experiences of these sisters,” Melara said.
“This is a great opportunity to learn and to share what we learn with others in our church,” Melara added. B&R — Lovell has written about Baptist work for more than 20 years. She lives in Spring Hill.