Each year as Arkansas Baptist pastors meet on the day before the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Annual Meeting, their wives are invited to attend a conference designed especially for them.
The day begins with a time of rekindling old friendships and making new friends. Vickie Lee, who leads the planning team for the event and is the wife of Ricky Lee, Pastor at First Baptist Church in Sherwood, said, “One of my favorite parts of the day is hearing the ladies laugh and talk together. Some of the ladies literally squealed with delight when they saw another woman who they haven’t seen in a while. Often ministers’ wives do not get to just be themselves and connect with other ladies. We always want to provide a safe place for these servants of God and to provide opportunities to develop a friendship with another minister’s wife.
The theme of the day was “Stories of Hope” with 1 Peter 3:15 as the focus verse. Dr. Tara Dew unpacked the verse with three points as she recognized the unique ministries of the ladies in the audience. Dew noted that we are called to set apart Christ in our hearts, to share our stories of hope and to say it with gentleness and respect. As she taught, she wove in stories of her life as God has used her position as a minister’s wife since the age of 20. Dew’s husband, Dr. Jamie Dew, currently serves as the president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and she directs and teaches in the Ministry Wives Certificate Program.
A panel of women who have served alongside their husbands in a variety of ministry positions shared their stories as they answered questions posed by Lee. These stories brought tears and laughter as the women shared stories of blessings and heartbreaks, recognizing the hand of God in each adventure. There were stories of surviving cancer, of the blessing of having seminary paid for, of a move to Arkansas that allowed God to not just save a husband but to call him into the ministry—stories that demonstrated hope for eternity.
Reflecting on the day, Lee said “Our team has prayed for God’s guidance for this year’s conference. Our goal was to have a fun event that encouraged our ladies. Tara Dew was definitely God’s woman, because she delivered a powerful message of hope and reminded each of us that we all have a story to share with the world—Jesus Christ. I want to thank the team and Andrea Lennon for their hard work and service to our Arkansas ministers’ wives. I also want to thank our convention for recognizing the need for the ministers’ wives across our state to be encouraged and let them know they are not forgotten.”
The planning team was made up of Aubri Duran, Indian Springs Baptist Church, Bryant; Chelsea Dye, Fellowship Baptist Church, Cabot; Judy Lattimore, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Dermott; Beverly Newborn, Hillcrest Community Church, Little Rock; Judy Shaddox, Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, and Vicki Wickliffe, Lakeshore Heights Baptist Church, Hot Springs.
These ladies recognize the challenges, as well as the blessings, that come with being the wife of a pastor and desire to provide a safe place to show support for each other.