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Ministers’ wives encouraged in partnership with husbands

By Margaret Colson

December 5, 2013

JACKSONVILLE—Drawing on the life of Moses and her nearly three decades of international mission service, global missiologist Ruth Ripken challenged approximately 150 Florida Baptist ministers’ wives to place their “all on the altar,” with their hands firmly in the hands of God.

Themed “Hand in Hand in Partnership,” the Florida Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, based on Philemon 1:6, was held Nov. 12 at North Jacksonville Baptist Church in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

Ripken, sensing a call to missions as a young girl involved in GAs, described several experiences from the international mission fields where she and her husband served.

In one particularly meaningful worship service in Somalia, as adults and children joyfully danced to the altar with coins for the offering, one elderly woman slowly made her way to the altar. With arthritic hands, she reached inside her clothing for one coin, which she gazed at lovingly before silently placing it on the altar. Later, Ripken discovered that the woman had held onto that one coin for decades; she was counting on it for her entire retirement. Yet, she willingly released her hold on the valuable coin.

“Are you Moses with excuses, or have you put it all on the altar with your hand in God’s hand?” she asked the rapt audience.

A member of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Ripken also encouraged women to “live life together” with their husbands, even when they may be in different locales, sharing examples of how she and her husband learned to share life even when he traveled for weeks at a time as a missionary.

Also during the luncheon, Susan Owens, wife of Glen Owens, assistant executive director for the Florida Baptist Convention, received the Clyde Maguire Minister’s Wife Award.

Nancy Sullivan, wife of John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, presented this year’s award, which is named for the late Clyde Merrill Maguire, whose husband, John, served as executive secretary-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention 1945-1967. It recognizes a Florida Baptist woman who has demonstrated faithful use of her God-given gifts in support of her husband’s ministry and in her own ministry. The award was first presented in 1987.

After reading a poem she had written about the award winner, Sullivan recognized Owens as “my very best friend,” and Owens expressed surprise at receiving the award, stating that she was “honored” yet felt “unworthy.”

After receiving nominees for the award, the current president of the ministers’ wives conference and the two previous presidents make the final selection of the recipient.

The luncheon also featured musical worship by violinist Lori Jean Smith from First Baptist Church, Orlando.

According to Cindy Goodwin, strategist for Florida Baptists’ Women’s Missions and Ministries/Missions Education Team, the annual luncheon is a popular event for ministers’ wives because it offers a brief respite where the women can draw encouragement from one another.

Goodwin said it was a joy for her to get to know the ministers’ wives throughout the state, saying, “I understand their experiences because I’m a minister’s wife also.”

In addition to the luncheon, Goodwin’s office also invites ministers’ wives to conferences, specifically for them, at the annual Missional Connection, held at Lake Yale in April of each year.

Jacksonville ministers’ wives who helped plan and conduct the 2013 luncheon included: Pam Maynard, Fruit Cove Baptist Church; Gail Culbreth, Fruit Cove Baptist Church; Susan Seagle, Mandarin Baptist Church; and Amy Byrd, Holliday Hills Baptist Church.

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