On my next-to-last day in L.A., I was excited to see hip hop icon and mogul “Uncle Rush,” a.k.a. Russell Simmons, 53, up close and personal. He and author/Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum Robert Santelli (who interviewed Motown godfather and mogul Berry Gordy the day before) sat in director chairs on the stage and talked in a small theatre-style room at the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live. Simmons drove himself to the venue on that rainy evening and talked about his new book, Super Rich, coming up in the hip hop game, race, and relationships (in music and in life). Continue reading
Lost? This post is part 4 of a series. (Start here to catch up.)
Women Are Called to Ministry, Too
The controversy about women in the pulpit continues to pervade Christian society in America. The September 2008 issue of the Fayetteville, GA-based Gospel Today magazine featured five female pastors for its cover story, but Lifeway, a Christian bookstore affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled this issue from their magazine displays. Their decision to do so is based on the scripture passage 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
Balancing Family Time
“Family and devotional time is on the top of my list—it is what keeps everything else moving forward,” Sharon affirms. When either of them are ignored or lowered on my priority list, I am less productive and totally not fulfilled.”
Adequate family time is a priority in the Hurst home. “Being a responsible mom is a major thing for me,” Denise says, whose three children are sons Jeremiah, 9, Dynnell, 6, and Sean, 2, with another son due this month. “I’m raising African-American men in today’s society. I want them to be well-rounded and secure in themselves.”
The Hursts are also cautious about the “PK” (preacher’s kid) syndrome. “Germaine and I do not want our kids to grow up and resent the church. I don’t want them to think, ‘The church took my mom and dad from me.’ So to avoid that attitude later, we make sure we do things together—just us.”
(For the backstory, check out Part 1 first.)
Transition to the Pulpit
Since Denise was already a member of the church where she became first lady, there was quite an adjustment from being a college girl to becoming the first lady. “I made a lot of friends at Emmanuel from my years at Buff State, so my friends had to learn how to respect me in a different light,” she says.
I’ve been told I don’t act like a pastor’s wife,” Sharon says, “but I take it as a complement to say that I’m down to earth. I’ve been told by people that they are waiting to see what I have on in the pulpit and I just take it that I’m a role model which can be a positive tool to use to minister to young ladies. I have never heard any negative things about me directly, but I learned to evaluate what is being said. If it’s true, I try to be mindful of it and grow and develop in the area, but if it is not true, I pray that the individual who said it would grow and mature in that area.”
“Being a pastor’s wife is rewarding, but you can also feel isolated,” Denise admits. Another first lady advised Denise to be mindful of how she behaves—to never let people see her cry or get upset. Denise said she felt like she had to be perfect. She also had to deal with people’s expectations of how she should act and dress. “Some people wanted me to wear hats like their previous first lady.”
Iris says she wasn’t a kind of first lady who could sit around and look cute wearing a big hat. “Ladies have to see that you’re a person,” she says. “Sometimes you like to have fun, but sometimes you cry and you go through things.” Similar to Denise, when Iris became the first lady, well-meaning, mature people in ministry advised her not to be friends with the other women in the church, but to just be friends with other ministers and keep to herself otherwise. But Iris rejected that notion. “I like to hang out with the other ladies, I invite them to my house, and I teach them. I tell people that we do things not because the pastor says so, but because the Bible says so.”
The following four-part series of posts is from a previously unpublished article, originally titled “Ladies Keeping God First,” that I developed because of the general mystery I perceived around pastors’ wives. One of my best friends from high school has been a pastor’s wife for several years, but to me, that’s different because we grew up together (her story is included here). However, I was recently a member of a church with a single pastor who married during my time there, and for whatever reason, a few years went by without me really getting to know her or hear from her regularly. Thus the “mystery” ensued, and so did my curiosity.
The recent and currently unresolved scandal with Bishop Eddie Long and his alleged indiscretions again raised issues about the loyalty of a pastor’s wife. (She has been no more vocal than her husband, but I won’t get into that here.)
I currently worship at a nondenominational church in Georgia, but I was raised as a Baptist in New York. Once I moved south, I noticed that many denominations, including Southern Baptists, did not condone or allow women in the pulpit, nor women to speak to or teach men. This practice disturbed me, and the ladies I interviewed for this story touch on this and other issues.
I’ll post Parts 1 and 2 this week, with Parts 3 and 4 to follow next week. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to my feed right now, so you won’t miss a thing!
Ladies Keeping God First
What does it take to manage a household as a wife and mother, take care of the kids, a husband, work full-time, all while working in full-time ministry side-by-side with your husband, who pastors a church?
The life of a first lady is anything but ordinary. She—like her husband—has a divine assignment that is not to be taken lightly.