"About four years ago I came home from a trip to Africa with my husband and I had a severe battle with malaria. It took a long time for me to get well, and on the heels of that, within about a month of my getting well, my brother, my only sibling, was suddenly killed in a wreck," said Wright, whose husband Bryant Wright is pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.
The luncheon will begin at noon Tuesday, June 14, in the North Ballroom A/B/C of the Phoenix Convention Center. The theme is based on Psalm 16:11, which says, "... you will fill me with joy in your presence."
"My experience of realizing that true joy is found, as the verse says, in the presence of God in spite of our circumstances was life-changing for me because I had never been through anything that traumatic," Wright told Baptist Press. "What it says to me is that through daily personal time with our Lord we're filled with the joy of Christ in His presence."
Wright said ministers' wives have a threefold platform of influence in their homes, their churches and their communities, and if they have the joy that comes from spending time in Christ's presence, that will spill over into their spheres of influence.
"We sometimes forget that our countenance can influence the very tone of relationships in the church," she said. "The influence of the joy of Christ's presence is the overflow of our time with Him.
"In our community, the joy of Christ radiates whether we're aware of it or not, and it communicates many times nonverbally to our sphere of influence through our daily lives outside of our church activities," Wright said. "All of this is the result of sitting at Christ's feet -- the joy of His presence."
Lisa Harper from the Women of Faith tour will speak at the ministers' wives' luncheon, and Kim Hill, a Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning artist, will sing. For six years, Harper was the director of Focus on the Family's national women's ministry, and she founded the Renewing the Heart conferences.
"Lisa Harper is a theologically sound Bible teacher, and she has a delightfully hilarious outlook on life," Wright said. "She's a teacher with an infectious love for people and a love for God's Word. She's an author of many books, and she has become a good friend to me through the years.
"Kim Hill is an outstanding singer/songwriter from Nashville, and she and Lisa have been good friends of each other and toured together for many years. They're just a great duo."
Wright urges ministers' wives to attend the luncheon because it's a special time of encouragement where they can benefit from the company of women in similar situations.
"They are being prayed for even now as we prepare for the luncheon. As each one signs up, their name is added to the list to be prayed for, and I really do feel it's going to be a time of great fellowship and encouragement," Wright said.
Tickets may be purchased in advance for $15 through LifeWay Women's Events at www.lifeway.com or 1-800-254-2022. At the door, the ticket cost will be $20. Women who wish to serve as table hostesses may contact Sandy Beetler of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-794-2982, and Beetler can be contacted for additional information about the luncheon.
Wright said this year may be the first time a woman has served as president of the ministers' wives' luncheon while her husband serves as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"I just don't know that that's happened before for both plates to be so full. I would prefer to be serving him in this role, helping him get through the convention, making things easier on him, and I find myself with my own set of responsibilities," Wright said. "But he's praying for me, and I'm praying for him, and we are just enjoying this journey together."
Wright was chosen as this year's luncheon president in 2009.
"Bryant's comment to me was, 'That is great. I will have no responsibilities that year. I will be your bag carrier.' And then when he was elected last June, my first thought was, 'Oh, no! I need to give this responsibility to someone else.' But I had so carefully prayed through accepting this, and he had as well, that we just sensed that God would give us the strength to carry through the responsibilities He put on our plates. That's what's happening," she said.
The SBC Ministers' Wives' Luncheon dates back to 1955, when two Georgia pastors' wives realized the importance of their state's ministers' wives' conference and decided that the national convention would benefit from such an organization. They made plans for a tea at the Muhlback Hotel in Kansas City during the 1956 convention and were overwhelmed by the response.
Always held on Tuesday during the SBC annual meeting, the luncheon is open to all wives of ministers -- pastors, staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational workers.
Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
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