equipping 21st century
Free Will Baptist Bible College Reaches Out
to Pastors' Wives
by Jack Williams
Learn more about Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
"ONE WEEK I GOT MARRIED and went on my honeymoon; the next I was a newlywed living in a parsonage. Like many others, I had no preparation. I served eight years as a young pastor’s wife in Georgia. Those were great learning years—some lessons came easy, some came hard.”
While those words could have been written by any of several hundred ministers’ wives, they are the testimony of Melinda Pinson, wife of Free Will Baptist Bible College President Matt Pinson. She experienced the uneasiness of moving into a new community, the confusion of learning new names and who is kin to whom, and the realization that she had no formal training for her new role in the church and community.
Speaking to a group of 42 people (mostly women) last November, Mrs. Pinson said, “I’ve learned three things about being a pastor’s wife. First, I learned to be content no matter what the situation. Second, I learned that adversity is not always a sign that it’s time to pack up and move. Third, I learned to love all of God’s people, and the importance of mentoring another woman.”
Twelve years after her moment of truth as a rookie pastor’s wife, Melinda was finally in a position to help young women starting out in pastoral ministry with their preacher husbands. What she did with that opportunity began with September questions and ended three months later with a special night celebrating the unique calling of pastors’ wives.
Thanks to the cooperation of Reverend Terry Forrest, program coordinator for FWBBC’s Pastoral Ministry Department, and a grant from a Christian foundation, Mrs. Pinson set in motion a 10-week seminar series in September 2006, a seminar designed with the 21st century pastor’s wife in mind.
The resulting project was named, “Equipping 21st Century Pastors’ Wives.” The long-running series met on Thursday nights from September 7 through November 16, closing with an appreciation dinner that changed the landscape for an excited group of pastors’ wives.
Thursdays with the Girls
Everything about the seminar was free—free child care for those who needed it, door prizes that brought Thursday smiles, on-time refreshments that made long drives into town from rural churches worth the effort, and, best of all, speakers who understood what it meant to live in a parsonage knowing that every Sunday was a final exam.
The weekly get-togethers were designed to put pastors’ wives at ease and allow them to meet as equals on their turf. The atmosphere was welcoming, with a come-as-often-as-your-schedule-permits attitude. Thirty-six area pastors’ wives and FWBBC students said “Yes” to the concept and showed up for the opening session: “Taking Care of You: The Emotional Needs of the Pastor’s Wife.”
Each week creative and knowledgeable speakers, eager listeners, and the most intriguing subjects huddled for two hours (6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.) in Thigpen Theater on the FWBBC campus. Veteran Free Will Baptist pastors’ wives led the sessions—Mrs. Debbie Burden, Dr. Shirley Thomas, Mrs. Sandy Atwood, Mrs. Wanda Powell, Mrs. Donna Forrest, Mrs. Jena Simpson, Mrs. Marjorie Workman, Mrs. Brenda Evans, Mrs. Phyllis York, Mrs. Linda Gladson. They laughed, they cried, they remembered, they learned.
Every seminar was different—Finances and Time Management, Safeguarding the Home, Dealing withCriticism and Adversity, Mothers Working at Home/Outside the Home, the Ministry of Hospitality…and more. Each session focused on the real-life experiences of women who had been there and had come back to tell their stories.
When the November celebration dinner arrived, most of the 36 women who started in September were still together. They had shared their lives, their fears, their hopes. They had become friends; they were one in purpose. They knew they were not alone.
Rev. Terry Forrest addressed dinner attendees briefly. “This program has been a dream of mine for a long time. Every man who steps forward and answers the call to the ministry is a hero. I’m impressed by the caliber of women who serve alongside these men.”
How Did We Do?
As the evening progressed, seven pastors’ wives and FWBBC women students gave testimony to the effectiveness of the seminars:
“I wish I’d had something like this before I got married. A pastor’s wife needs to know that she’s not alone.”
Mrs. Donetta Rogers, pastor’s wife
“I listened to the speakers tell about the mistakes they made, and I want to learn from your mistakes! I also learned that being submissive is more difficult than talking about it.”
Mrs. Jennifer Altom, youth pastor’s wife
“The choice of topics was excellent. So were the fellowship and the door prizes.”
Mrs. Debbie Dankson, pastor’s wife
“A lot of my fears about being a pastor’s wife have been toned down. I learned something new every time I came.”
Leslie Meadows, FWBBC student (now graduated and Mrs. James Judkins)
“What I liked best was that I got to listen instead of doing the talking. The most important thing I learned was to accept change and be grateful.”
Mrs. Allysa Harvey, wife of children’s minister (now missionary to creative access areas)
“I learned that God has a ministry for me, even though I’m married to a pastor.”
Mrs. Mandy Johnson, FWBBC student’s wife
A Lasting Impact
Melinda Pinson wrote in advance to those who planned to attend the seminar and said about the speakers, “They are Free Will Baptist women just like you. They will be talking about issues that impact you, your husband, your family, and your church.”
She was right. The 21st Century Pastors’ Wives Seminar changed 36 women, and it could change manytimes that number.
For you see, the seminar did not end at the celebration dinner. Several of the series presentations will be available on DVD later this fall. More information about the seminar DVD will be posted on the FWBBC website at www.fwbbc.edu.
We wish that every Free Will Baptist pastor’s wife could have attended the life-changing seminar and enjoyed the fellowship. That wasn’t possible, of course. But you can still do something special for your pastor’s wife. A gift copy of the Equipping 21st Century Pastors’ Wives Seminar may be just what she needs.
A woman of God stands beside the pastor in your church. We at FWBBC honor her and salute her.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Jack Williams is director of communications at Free Will Baptist Bible College.