Pastors’ wives were encouraged to share their gifts with their congregation Nov. 11 during the North Carolina Baptist Ministers’ Wives gathering.
With a theme based on Ephesians 4:7 – “Buttons, Bows and Blessings” – ministers’ wives elected officers, collected an offering and heard from PJ Giaritelli. The group met at the Koury Convention Center at the same time as the North Carolina Pastors’ Conference, which began a day earlier, and prior to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
“I already know that I’m sitting among women who know the Bible, and you keep it in your hearts and you teach it all the time,” said Giaritelli, wife of Joe Giaritelli, pastor of Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro. Instead, she said she wanted to focus on the wives’ gifts and how they should be plugging into their churches.
The couple just celebrated 20 years at Lawndale in June. Giaritelli shared about her coming to Christ as a 16-year-old girl in Coral Gables, Fla. She had moved with her family from New Jersey to Florida. At 19, she knew God was calling her to serve Him in some way. She met Joe and followed him to Bible college. They served a nondenominational church in Michigan for less than four years before he resigned his position. The couple moved to South Carolina where they built three homes and sold them. He was either going to be a contractor or continue in a ministry path. They attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was serving as a single adult and college minister before being called to Woodlawn. They have been married 47 years.
There were three roles Giaritelli wanted to focus on – believer, pastor’s wife and member of your church.
“Our own spiritual growth is not dependent on our husband as the pastor,” she said. “He is our pastor, and he does feed us. As a believer we are responsible for our own relationship … with [God].”
She had the women share a characteristic beginning with the first letter of their name, along with a talent they have.
“That ability you told people, are you using that ability at church?” she asked.
With her gifts of administration and mercy, she encouraged the ministers’ wives to apply their talents to their church, but to also be mindful that they are not always the best person for the role.
“There was a time in my life I did not enjoy being a pastor’s wife,” she shared.
When she was in seminary, she realized that some people thought there was a mold for pastors’ wives, and she was told she didn’t fit in it.
“Once I realized there’s no mold,” she said, and “God made me the way I am, and whether I am married to the pastor or not, I don’t change.”
She reminded them that the church hired the husband, so they can’t be fired.
“We don’t have quite the same freedom as regular members have,” she said. There are going to be details that pastors’ wives do not know.
After she asked the women to discuss the best quality of their husbands and churches, Giaritelli shared her husband’s best: wisdom and humility.
“One thing I tell our young pastors’ wives is never ever criticize your husband,” she said. “You and I know what’s wrong with them, but nobody else needs to know.”
The best thing about Lawndale “is that it represents a real family.”
Giaritelli recommended the women “have someone watching you, helping you and being mentored by you.
The women did accomplish some business during the 64th annual meeting. The $1,442 offering will provide scholarships for the N.C. Baptist Ministers’ Wives scholarship fund for its summer retreat.
Officers elected include: Katie Eades, president; Kelly Self, president elect and Eastern; Megan Knight, vice president and secretary; Harriet Lovett, treasurer; Renee Laws, retreat chair; Penny Church, retreat vice chair; Beverly Williams, retreat chair elect; Tammie Hendrix, publicity chairperson; Joy Townsend, Central 1; Jan Tyson; Central 2; Amanda Berryhill, Western 1; and Judy King, Western 2.