Covington Baptist Association hosts special retreat for ministers’ wives

The health of the local church directly connects to the well-being of pastors and their families. So as part of a ministry strategy to encourage and equip ministers and churches, Covington Baptist Association offers a retreat to support ministers’ wives.

The second Refresh Conference for ministers’ wives was conducted this spring at Blue Lake Methodist Camp. The retreat offered a variety of activities designed to pamper and encourage the women who serve their churches as they minister alongside their husbands. The wives of ministers in all facets of service in Covington and surrounding associations were invited to attend.

Having served as a minister’s wife for more than 40 years, conference organizer Shirley Flowers of Southside Baptist Church, Andalusia, appreciates the challenges these women face. 

Hurts and experiences

“I’ve seen the hurts and experienced some myself in ministry,” Flowers said. 

Most of the retreat leaders are also ministers’ wives selected because they have faced the same struggles as those attending. 

“It’s ministers’ wives serving ministers’ wives because they need a safe place to be themselves,” Flowers said.

Plans for the conference began almost three years ago when Flowers’ husband Mike became pastor of Southside. Flowers approached Otis Corbitt, director of missions for Covington Baptist Association, with the idea to provide a retreat where ministers’ wives could be refreshed. Corbitt fully supported the idea. 

“I know how important pastors are to churches,” Corbitt said. “We want to encourage and enrich them. If their wives are encouraged, they will also be encouraged.”

The association helped fund the conference and Corbitt enlisted the help of Shirley Smith, Covington Association Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) director. 

“We invite and encourage WMU ladies to get involved by helping with door prizes and welcome bags,” Smith said. “We want to let [the wives] know we love them and appreciate what they do every day.”

This year’s conference kicked off on March 8 with dinner and fellowship. After dinner Flowers’ chapel message about Hagar exhorted participants to consider how God worked in the life of the Old Testament woman.  

Studying God’s Word

“We give them complete freedom to do what they want,” Flowers said, noting they could play games, enjoy snacks and conversation or simply relax. 

“The only thing I ask is that they be there for chapel. We have a lot of fun but we also delve into the word of God.”

On Saturday cosmetology students from Lurleen B. Wallace Community College pampered attendees. Some enjoyed a haircut or facial while others relaxed with a manicure and pedicure. 

Alisha Lewis, licensed professional counselor with Pathways Professional Counseling, was on hand to offer information on Pathways’ services and to visit one-on-one with participants. 

Each of the 17 women in attendance received a copy of the book “So You’re the Pastor’s Wife” by Ruth Senter and gift bags.

Mary Beth Culbreth, whose husband Dennis serves as director of missions for Hamilton County Baptist Association in Chattanooga, Tennessee, directed Saturday’s chapel services. Heather Messick of Redemption Church, Mobile, led worship. 

“It was a wonderful time of refreshment,” said Rebecca Ray, who serves alongside her husband Keith at Harmony Baptist Church, Andalusia. “Some ministers’ wives go through a whole lot. They sometimes feel very alone or they’re just really struggling. To have someone who can relate to being at that place in life, to pray for you and encourage you and laugh with you, it’s a special gift.”

The next conference is scheduled for March 6–7, 2020, and will feature Diane Nix, director and founder of Contagious Joy ministry.

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Ways to encourage your minister’s wife

  • Respect her husband’s time off. It may be the only time of the week she or her children have seen him.  
  • Include her in your activities. Some ministers’ families live far away and holidays can be a lonely time. However, understand when they can’t accept your invitation.
  • Offer sincere encouraging words.
  • Remember her birthday with small gestures like cards, texts or phone calls.
  • Understand when she makes a verbal slip. None of us are perfect.
  • Be kind to her family. No one agrees 100% of the time and children don’t always behave.
  • Accept her. She may not be like your former minister’s wife. Allow the Father to lead her in the areas of her ministry.
  • Protect her privacy. Everyone has weak moments. If she shares a heartache/burden with you don’t share it with others without her permission.
  • Be a thumbs-up prayer warrior. The thumb is the closest appendage on your hand to your heart. Use it to remind you to pray for her and her family. Tell her when you give her a thumbs-up you have prayed for her that week. Make sure she knows what a thumbs-up means. Pray for her, her husband and family and for the work they do in the local church.
  • Serve alongside her and her husband. Offer to call or visit church prospects or ailing/absent congregants.
  • Show appreciation. Gift cards, handmade treasures, personal video messages and mini-vacations go a long way to show your love for them. Encourage children and youth groups to show their love for her and for her family too. (Compiled by Lanell Downs Smith)