This fall, the South Carolina Baptist Convention held regional fellowship events for wives of pastors, ministers and church planters. The dinners were held in Greenville in September, in Charleston in October, and during the Pastors’ Conference in Columbia in November. Women’s Ministry strategist Melanie Ratcliffe said the evenings were designed to celebrate the unique role these women have and to encourage relationships to grow among them.
“We wanted to create awareness through these events that the convention is here for them and that it is the convention’s desire to see them healthy physically, spiritually and mentally. I also hope we can build networks of ministers’ wives around the state so they can be supported and support one another,” said Ratcliffe.
Attendees were given gift bags and received other giveaways at each event location and were encouraged to share contact information with each other. Despite being a highly visible member of her church and sometimes the community, the role of a minister’s wife can leave some feeling isolated and lonely, Ratcliffe said. Others are new to South Carolina or struggle with feeling different from other ministers’ wives. Ratcliffe said it is vitally important to reach these women with support, encouragement and fellowship opportunities.
Hayley Atkinson’s husband pastors a church in the Upstate. She is passionate about reaching ministers’ wives and helped organize the regional events. “The events have been a great time for the ladies to meet, reconnect and check in with each other. I love seeing the camaraderie and how these women just love on each other because of who they are, not their title. Pastors’ wives have to have an outlet to be themselves,” Atkinson said.
One attendee and her family moved to South Carolina last summer when her husband was called to a church here. She was excited to attend the event, saying she had been longing for opportunities to meet other pastors’ wives in her area.
“Being a pastor’s wife is difficult, and you face challenges only another pastor’s wife can truly understand. My husband and I came from a difficult situation in our previous church, and at the event I met a woman going through a similar circumstance. I felt so much empathy for her as we laid hands on her and prayed for her family,” she said. “We need people outside the church with whom we can freely talk, and [the ministers’ wives event] is good for encouragement and wisdom to see how others handle situations.”
For her part, Ratcliffe hopes that many of the ladies will forge new friendships and continue to network locally to reach even more wives of pastors and church planters. “My sincere desire is for these ladies to form long-lasting, God-honoring friendships in order to have support, accountability and community,” she said.
For more information about ministers’ wives events, contact Ratcliffe at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook request to join the “SCBC Pastors’ Wives” group.