Ministers’ wives honor ‘highest calling’ during annual luncheon

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LAKELAND–Beautifully decorated tables and a gift bag in every seat greeted 300 Florida Baptist ministers’ wives as they arrived for the annual Ministers’ Wives Luncheon held in the Banquet Hall of Lakes Church, Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Beginning the event, Tiffany Burgner, pastors’ wife at Lakes Church and 2021 Florida Ministers’ Wives president, welcomed women into the hall as they reunited with old friends and formed new connections.

“You have blest us by being here today. We pray that you enter with grateful hearts, and we pray today brings you strength, deliverance, and encouragement,” said Burgner. “To be a ministers’ wife is the highest calling because we are doing kingdom work alongside our husbands.”

Highlights of the luncheon with the theme “Blest Be the Tie,” included praise and worship, the presentation of the Clyde M. Maguire Award for Ministers’ Wives, and a message from guest speaker, Rachel Lovingood. Lovingood is an author, speaker, and ministry wife of 30 years, now residing in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Cindy Bradley, catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention’s Women’s Missions and Ministry/Mission Education, introduced Karen Green, wife of Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, who presented the Maguire Award.

“It’s my joy and privilege to present this award each year,” said Green.

This award, named in honor of the late Clyde Maguire whose husband John served as executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention from 1945-1967, is given annually to a Florida Baptist minister’s wife who has demonstrated faithful use of the gifts God has given her in support of her husband’s ministry and in her own ministry.

Green presented the 2021 Clyde M. Maguire Award to Debbie Kirk as she was recognized for her faithful service alongside her husband, daughters and grandchildren, who presented Kirk with flowers.

Kirk served numerous Florida Baptist churches with her husband Doug, retired pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Holiday. According to her daughter, Debbie Grady, Kirk’s love for missions began in GAs and Acteens, and as a camp counselor at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.

She and her husband also served as church planters in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Island. Through it all, she worked vocationally as a nurse to help provide financial support for her family. Under their leadership the First Southern Baptist Church of St. Croix grew from a handful of families to attendance of over 100, including a large deaf ministry.

“She has modeled a fruitful ministry and actively served and supported her husband,” said Green. “She has always used her gifts to glorify God.”

“Sometimes the hardest things you do are the most important,” said Kirk. “Keep it up and stay faithful.”

Utilizing humor and southern charm, Lovingood called the women to live authentic lives for the sake of the gospel. She encouraged them to “shatter the illusion one person at a time” of how the “outside, lost world perceives pastors’ wives” by living authentic lives before them.

“When we are not scared to live authentically, we will begin to rely on God’s strength to guide and direct us,” she said. “God will use your authenticity as a tool for evangelism.”

Referencing Joshua 3, she shared with the group the disillusionment of the phrase “I got this!”

“Within ministry and leadership, it is easy to fall into the trap of saying, ‘I got this,’” she said. “God wants us to understand that we need his strength, because ours is limited…we don’t got this.”

Lovingood added that ministers’ wives need to give themselves permission to be needy and rely on God for His “provision, power, and protection.”

After being served lunch and pampered by members of Lakes Church, wives were encouraged to continue praying and serving faithfully.

“May we be an army of ministers’ wives across the state of Florida that continue to pray for our husbands and serve our churches,” said Burgner.

The 2022 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon is slated to take place Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola.

This year’s luncheon was sponsored by the Florida Baptist Convention, Florida Baptist Children’s Home + One More Child and the Baptist College of Florida.

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