WARNER ROBINS — The 2018 recipient for the Trudy Price Award, recognized at the 2018 Ministers’ Wives Annual Luncheon at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins, is Gwen Newman.
Gwen, wife of Ray Newman, pastor and longtime Georgia Baptist Convention state missionary who passed away in 2013, was undergoing cataract surgery during this year’s annual meeting and not able to attend the luncheon. Mary Cox, GBMB state missionary to ministers’ wives, will deliver the award to her home personally.
Gwen Newman was saved and called into ministry when she was 13 years old. Several months later, she and Ray met. They dated throughout high school. In 1965, they married and he pastored churches throughout Georgia and Alabama as well as in Fort Worth, Texas, while in seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. While there, Gwen worked as a secretary for the seminary.
Throughout their ministry, Gwen not only served alongside her husband in the many ways a pastor’s wife does, but as interim weekday director with her association, coordinating various ministries. In addition, she taught Sunday School, led missions organizations, and was a VBS director, organist, and music leader.
When Ray began taking interim pastorates, she was burdened to find a ministry for herself. That led her to be a trustee for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for nine years and to volunteer with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Even after her husband’s death, she continues to serve as an accompanist at Macedonia Community Baptist Church.
Video from Newman
In a video interview made exclusively for the luncheon, Newman was interviewed by her son, Rusty Newman.
He asked for her advice to ministers’ wives. She said two main things: 1) Be in a right relationship with God and 2) Be submissive … to God, her husband, and her church.
“If she has that relationship with God together, all those other things will fall into place,” Gwen continued.
She added, “The first thing I do when I go to my prayer time, I open my Bible and I pray that there’s nothing that stands between me and God. I pray that God would open the scriptures to me – that He would open my eyes to see what He wants me see, my ears to hear what He wants me to hear … my mind to understand what He has for me, and my hands to share with other people.”
“If you can get those things correct, and in the right sequence,” she encouraged, “everything will be fine.”
“Watching you and dad and watching you in your ministry was an amazing thing,” Rusty said to his mom during the interview. “I think the main thing that I don’t think people would know or recognize is see seeing how you work hard. To me that is the strength of a pastor’s wife, being there in times when the ministry is difficult, and you’re there to listen, advise, pray, cry, and also laugh … those were the things that you did.”
“Don’t lose heart,” Perdue encourages
Mary Perdue, wife of former governor of Georgia and now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, addressed the group as well. She shared some of her own personal struggles with moving away from her home state and her “anonymity” she’d gained again after being Georgia’s first lady to being a part of Washington life and not really understanding what her role was there.
Two questions she had to address were “Where am I going, God?” and “What am I doing here?”
“I’m going wherever God wants me to go,” she answered. Referencing Psalm 34:7, she explained that God giving her the desires of her heart meant that He changed her desires and placed His within her heart.
“The world is hungry and looking for someone whose faith has been important to them, and ladies, they’re looking at you,” she encouraged attendees. “You may not realize it, but they see you every day, and they see the way Jesus is working through you.”
Perdue added, “Don’t lose heart. Don’t be weary in well-doing, because we know we’re going to reap. Don’t give up. Don’t retire on the job. Ask God what He wants you to do next, because He isn’t going to put you on the shelf. He’s going to use you … if you’re willing, if you’re able, if you’re available. He’s going to use you in ways that you never, ever would have expected.”
Retiring Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director Robert White attended the meeting alongside his wife and three daughters. He was recognized for his service and thanked the group for their service to the Lord “on behalf of Georgia Baptists.”
The session ended with current Ministers’ Wives President Laura Foster passing the baton to 2019 president Christa Skipper. Serving alongside her in 2019 will be Vice President Jennifer Byrd and Secretary/Treasurer Caroline Dale.