Forming hearts with their hands, participants in the 2014 Church of Christ Preacher’s Wife Retreat pose for a group photo at Chickasaw State Park near Henderson, Tenn. (PHOTO VIA WWW.PREACHERSWIFERETREAT.COM)
“I am what I am, and I do what I do, not because I am married to the preacher but because I am married to the Lord.”
Cindy Colley delivered that message to more than 80 women from 15 states during the Church of Christ Preacher’s Wife Retreat.
Colley, an author and motivational speaker, is the wife of Glenn Colley, pulpit minister for the West Huntsville Church of Christ
in Alabama. She encouraged her fellow ministers’ wives to “be what we profess before our congregations — all the way through.”
It can be a difficult task for the wives of ministers, who often feel that they live under a spotlight — that the congregations they serve expect them to hide their frustrations and human frailties. They may feel misunderstood and alone.
Hence the title of Colley’s presentation: “Bless Your Battered Heart.”
“If we love (God) with all our hearts, souls and minds,” Colley said, “the Gospel will emanate from our preachers’ homes.”
STRESSED, BUT NOT ALONE The retreat, hosted at a state park near Henderson, Tenn., has grown significantly after only a couple dozen women attended the first one in 2012, founder and organizer Carrie Voss said.
Her husband, John, is minister for the Eagle Way Church of Christ
in Hopkinsville, Ky. She got the idea for the retreat while attending Polishing the Pulpit
, a workshop for Church of Christ members, held in Sevierville, Tenn., in 2010.
Carrie Voss said she felt “an immediate connection” with other wives of preachers at the conference.
“We shared the same struggles,” she said, “and we were bonded together because of our similar situations.”
Now Carrie Voss, who was the sole organizer at the retreat’s inception, is joined by Summer Bowling and Michelle Johnson in making the Preacher’s Wife Retreat a reality.
Carrie Voss hopes the retreat produces lifelong friendships — “and that we don’t feel all alone in what can be a very stressful position,” she said.
At the retreat, “we learn to cope with the day-to-day circumstances that come our way because of the role we are in as a preacher’s wife,” she said. “We learn how to be an encouragement to our husbands.”
Attendee Stephanie Kenyon of the Thomasville Church of Christ in Georgia said the event is a comfort and encouragement to preachers’ wives across the nation.
“My heart has been filled and my soul refreshed after gathering with 80-plus women who share the same concerns and issues I face as we learned how to support our husbands in the Lord’s work,” Kenyon said.
Donna Faughn, right, of the Central Church of Christ in Paducah, Ky., frames a pose with daughter Amber Tatum, left, of the Willow Avenue Church of Christ in Cookeville, Tenn., and daughter-in-law Leah Faughn, center, of the Lebanon Road Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn. (PHOTO VIA WWW.PREACHERSWIFERETREAT.COM)
‘WE HAVE A COMMON BOND’
The retreat’s first speaker was Donna Faughn, whose husband, Jim, preaches for the Central Church of Christ
in Paducah, Ky. Such retreats are imperative for healthy churches, Faughn said, because they give a preacher’s wife a forum to discuss feelings that she can’t discuss with anyone else in her congregation.
“No one else shares her role, even if her congregation has multiple ministers,” Faughn said.
Faughn particularly likes that the retreat pairs women with a “preacher’s wife pal” to share struggles and triumphs for the rest of the year.
“Most of the wives there are younger than I am, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference,” she said. “If anything, some have sought me out for advice on certain matters, and I feel very comfortable being with all of these younger women. We have a common bond.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Preacher’s Wife Retreat, see www.preacherswiferetreat.com.