Ministers’ wives awarded Kathy Ferguson Litton the 2016 Willie Turner Dawson Award during the annual Ministers’ Wives Luncheon in St. Louis on June 14 during the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting.
Each year, the Dawson Award recognizes a minister’s wife for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and for her Christian character and service to others.
Jeana Floyd, who ministers alongside her husband Ronnie Floyd at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, nominated Litton, who is a native of St. Louis.
Photo by Van Payne
Kathy Ferguson-Litton, national consultant for ministry to pastors’ wives for the North American Mission Board, gives a speech after her acceptance of the Willie Turner Dawson Award at the annual Ministers’ Wives Luncheon in St. Louis on Tuesday, June 14.
She recognized Litton for her more than 40 years of investment in women and ministers’ wives across the nation and the world.
Most recently, since 2011, Litton has served on the staff of the North American Mission Board as national consultant for ministry to pastors’ wives. In that role, she has traveled to 36 states and visited 21 of NAMB’s 32 Send Cities to serve and encourage pastors’ and planters’ wives. She also developed “Flourish,” a ministry of encouragement to these wives.
In 2002, Litton needed her own encouragement. Married at the time to Rick Ferguson, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver, Colo., she experienced tragedy in her family.
While on vacation, Rick lost his life in a car accident. Litton and her three children, Brett, Kate and Justin and members of Riverside Baptist Church were stunned and thrown into a season of grief.
Floyd said, “As a pastor’s wife, I tried to imagine how radically her life had changed,” and Floyd had a calling to “carry her” in her heart.
Three years later, pastor Ronnie Floyd, who had gone to school with Rick, invited Litton to speak at a women’s event at their church. That led into a job offer to lead the women’s ministry at Cross Church Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., which Litton accepted.
“What developed from that was a deep friendship,” Jeana Floyd said. “Not everything was overshadowed by grief, but with lots of fun and laughter – and a blessing to have a friend who understood my life as a pastor’s wife. What Kathy showed me was the sufficiency of the Lord every step of the way.”
In August 2009, Ronnie Floyd and Pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., officiated the wedding of Kathy Ferguson and Ed Litton, who also shared the experience of losing a spouse in a car accident. They now serve together at Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala., where he is senior pastor.
On the denominational level, Kathy Ferguson Litton has served as member of the Committee on Committees (2009), Committee on Resolutions (2015) and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (2009). She serves on the Pastors’ Wives Conference Advisory Board and was past president of the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon.
Floyd said Litton is definitely worthy of this honor. “To me, the greatest accomplishments of Kathy are recorded in the heavenlies … In the face of grief, her faith did not decrease but has increased.”
Accepting the award, Litton quoted Elisabeth Elliott, whose husband Jim was martyred on their mission field: “The will of God is never what you expect it to be.”
“At the loss of Rick in 2002, my heart was crushed. There were dark days of grief. And I had to tearfully hand over the script I had written for my life and receive the script God had for me,” she said. “But God gave me a new life and a new love when I married Ed Litton … Our story is about a God who redeems even the sting of death.”
The Willie Turner Dawson Award was established in 1963 when the ministers’ wives group posthumously honored Willie Turner Dawson, wife of J.M. Dawson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Willie Turner Dawson was a teacher and lecturer who in 1930 successfully challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to give more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.