By Jessica Pigg
June 20, 2021
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Author and Bible teacher Jen Wilkin spoke on the topic of steadfastness to a crowd of more than 2,000 women at the 2021 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, June 15, during the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The message Wilkin delivered Tuesday on steadfast hope offered encouragement to women not just to develop the habit of patience, but to cultivate steadfastness.
Beginning the event, Kandi Gallaty, pastor’s wife at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and 2021 SBC Ministers’ Wives president, welcomed women into the convention hall as they reunited with old friends and formed new connections.
As women enjoyed the meal and fellowship, Susie Hawkins, endowment representative and wife of O.S. Hawkins, outgoing president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources, gave a brief history and tribute to Nancy Sullivan, the luncheon’s 1992 president who established an endowment fund to help offset event costs in a way that makes attendance at the annual luncheon more feasible for ministers’ wives.
In her tribute, Hawkins described the annual luncheon as a place of “fellowship, friendship, and inspiration” for ministers’ wives. After the cancelation of last year’s Annual Meeting and Ministers’ Wives Luncheon in Orlando due to the COVID-19 pandemic, women from across the convention appeared to beam with excitement to gather once again.
“I was encouraged to see the amount of ministers’ wives who attended the luncheon. It was great to fellowship with women from near and far,” said Sylvia Yzaguirre, a two-time attendee of the luncheon and a messenger from Florida.
Following the tribute to Sullivan, Anne Wright, Willie Turner Dawson Award chairwoman, presented the 2021 Willie Turner Dawson Award to Lynette Ezell. Ezell is the wife of North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell and advocate for adoption and foster care.
Unlike the main sessions of the Annual Meeting, which saw more than 10,000 messengers casting paper ballots in multiple elections, a quick and simple vote by the women approved the Minsters’ Wives Luncheon bylaw revisions presented by Rhonda Kelley, Bible teacher and former first lady at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Also unlike the business portions of the Annual Meeting, the ministers’ wives luncheon seemed to avoid of controversial subjects, allowing attendees a momentary reprieve before many returned to the convention hall to cast votes in multi-candidate elections and to consider business items garnering vocal support and opposition among messengers.
In an effort to make the 2021 luncheon a source of encouragement, Gallaty and Wilkin expressed a desire for the keynote address to focus on spiritual maturity in the battle against discouragement.
Wilkin, who serves on staff at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, encouraged attendees to remain anchored in steadfast hope as they face discouragement from all fronts at all times.
“Patience will serve you for a moment or a day,” Wilken said. “Steadfastness will serve you for a decade and a lifetime. Not just that, because patience is the moment that builds and cumulatively begins to turn into steadfastness.”
Utilizing Proverbs 4:23, which reads, “Keep your heart above all else, for it is the source of life,” organizers selected “Above All Else” as the 2021 luncheon theme.
“I’m a pastor’s wife and really enjoyed this year’s Ministers’ Wives Luncheon,” said Amisha Moore, a messenger from Forsyth, Ga. “The message Jen Wilkin brought was very timely, and the worship was encouraging.”
Wilkin urged women to think of times when they may have cried out, “This is harder than I thought. This is taking longer than expected.”
“We believe that steadfastness is anchored in looking forward with certainty,” Wilkin said.
“Jen Wilkin communicated clearly on remaining steadfast in the Lord,” said Yzaguirre. “During a time where there is so much uncertainty in our convention and the world, this statement has never been so true.”
The 2022 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon is slated to take place in Anaheim, Calif., where author and Bible teacher Jennifer Rothschild will speak on the theme “Take Courage,” based on Psalm 31:24.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect clarification offered by Jen Wilkin regarding teaching about God whispering in the Bible. A statement issued June 26, 2021 by Pastor J.D. Greear regarding SBC President Ed Litton having plagiarized Greear’s sermon included mention of what has become viral phrasing that the “Bible appears more to whisper on sexual sin compared to its shouts about materialism and religious pride.” Wilkin further addressed and clarified the origin and use of the “whisper” phrasing via social media, June 26. While Greear offers attribution in the sermon to Jen Wilkin at the beginning of his two sentence point, Wilkin has clarified that while the “God whispers” portion came from her teaching, the idea that God whispers in regard to sexual sin was Greear’s own application, not something derived from Wilkin.