JACKSONVILLE–Juggling work schedules, raising families, handling the demands of ministry, and managing finances are some of the hurdles that pastors and wives face when trying to carve out quality time together.
Understanding the need for leaders to keep their marriage a priority, the Florida Baptist Convention has made a commitment to help pastors and wives overcome those obstacles.
Each year, the state convention sponsors a variety of ministries across the state designed to strengthen marriages of these church leaders.
“Our desire is to express our appreciation for the faithfulness and dedication of Florida Baptist pastors and wives,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer. “My prayer is that our pastors and wives will be encouraged to ‘press on’ in Christ. We want our pastors and wives to know that we are ‘Right Beside You!”
In the west region of the state, the convention has hosted three pastor and wives banquets this year, designed to encourage their relationship and “honor the faithful servants of our region,” said Lewis Miller, regional catalyst. A fourth banquet is scheduled in October.
During these banquets an informal time is provided for pastors and their wives to connect with Green and his wife, Karen. The couple served four churches and raised three sons prior to coming to the state convention.
The evening included a catered meal, expressions of gratitude to both the pastor and his wife, and an encouraging challenge to the pastors from Green, Miller said. “We simply want to honor and encourage those who lead the churches in the west region.”
In May, a Pastors and Wives Gala Celebration was held at Orlando’s Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel to honor couples in the central region. Participants enjoyed an evening filled with praise, worship and music. Gift bags were provided to the wives and the pastors received online pulpit helps and commentaries.
The evening also included a panel discussion led by Green with wives of five Convention staff members.
“These ladies shared out of the vast reservoir of ministry as a pastor’s wife,” said Jeffery Singletary, catalyst for the central region. “They shared their joys and challenges of being in ministry, laboring alongside their husbands as he shepherds the people of God.”
Craig Culbreth, catalyst for the east region, has provided gift cards for pastors to take their wives out to dinner. The only stipulation–it cannot be a church-related function.
“Pastors and their wives rarely get time alone,” said Culbreth, “and when they do it’s not at a nice restaurant. I thought that blessing these couples with a gift card to have a date would be a great way to say, we are beside you as you serve together!”
The pastors said they were encouraged that convention leaders thought to bless them and their wives.
“Sometimes we feel all alone, so it’s good to know there are others in the larger Body of Christ who love and encourage us,” shared Jerry Rowell, pastor of Cedar Hills Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Having a structure and people to provide support and prayer, “means more than most of us can describe.”
Bill Ruehman, pastor of Sebastian River Baptist Church in Sebastian, said he and his wife, Kitty, are so involved in church activities they do not have many date nights. “It was special to have that night alone, and we went to a restaurant that we don’t normally go to.”
In ministry for 20 years, Jim Clendenen of Biltmore Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said it’s critical for pastors and wives to find time together. “We’re called to shepherd the flock, but our wife is above the flock. You have to prioritize your marriage because if that doesn’t work right nothing else works right.”
The men acknowledged the need for a regular date night to help keep their marriage fresh.
“We make it a point not to discuss the church but take time to communicate with each other,” said Aaron Burgin, pastor of Horn of Salvation Ministries inJacksonville. Receiving the card reminded us that we need to do this more often
Burgin’s wife, Kimberly, shared how much she enjoyed the one-on-one time, “to make sure we are going the same direction, share the same aspirations. We talk to everyone else in the church, but not always with each other.”