HOUSTON (BP) -- Janet Hunt, wife of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., senior pastor Johnny Hunt, was honored with the 2013 Willie Turner Dawson Award during the Ministers' Wives Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston.

Hunt has served alongside her husband as he has pastored four churches in their 42 years of marriage, the last 26 at First Baptist Woodstock. As she began her journey and learned the expected role of a pastor's life, she realized, "I was not her -- and still am not."

"There is a new 'typical pastor's wife.' It's me, and it's all of you who are sitting in here today who realize you have unique personalities and unique gifts," Hunt said upon receiving the award. "The Lord has chosen you to use these unique gifts… for the sake of the Gospel."

The Dawson award commends a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and a Christian character and service to others. Hunt likened the recognition to receiving "an honorary doctorate," even though she had not attended Bible college or seminary.

For the last 20 years, the Hunts have co-led the "Timothy + Barnabas School of Instruction and Encouragement," a ministry to pastors and their wives that has grown to serve multiple cities nationally and internationally. The Hunts announced a scholarship supported by and the North American Mission Board for a minister's wife at the luncheon to attend an upcoming "Timothy + Barnabas" conference.

Hunt directed for 17 years First Baptist Woodstock's women's ministry, where she developed the popular "Ladies Night Out" and helped countless churches of various denominations start women's ministries.

Jeana Floyd, wife of Cross Church of Springdale, Ark., pastor Ronnie Floyd, presented the award while recognizing Hunt as a friend who has a healthy way of not taking ministry too seriously. Among Hunt's interests, Floyd said, are NASCAR, geocaching and clogging.

"Something fun always happens when Janet Hunt is involved," Floyd said, "but along with that fun and entertainment, come moments of encouragement, refreshment, support and hope."

Floyd thanked Hunt for modeling "a minister's wife who is a real person who loves Jesus, loves her family, and shows us that God created us to live a life of joy serving the Lord as He uniquely gifts all of us."

Hunt, a native of Wilmington, N.C., has traveled extensively with her husband to over 20 foreign countries and has also ministered in thousands of U.S. churches.

The Hunts have two daughters, Deanna Carswell and Hollie Hixson, and four grandchildren.

The Dawson Award was established in 1963 when the ministers' wives group posthumously honored Willie Turner Dawson, wife of J.M. Dawson, then pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. She was a teacher and lecturer who in 1930 successfully challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to give more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Send nominations for the 2014 Dawson award in the form of an essay by April 15, 2014 to Mr. Donna Avant, 11704 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37934 or davant551@comcast.net.

Shannon Baker is national correspondent of BaptistLIFE (www.baptistlifeonline.org), the newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

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