GREENSBORO, N.C. — With all 1,500 tickets sold out weeks before the event, it was no surprise that a capacity crowd was on hand for the 2006 Ministers’ Wives’ Luncheon at the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel June 13.
Luncheon participants enjoyed high tea served at tables decorated by various churches, and a program centered around the theme “Filling Your Home With God’s Beauty,” based on Proverbs 24:3. Music was provided by the student music group Southwestern Sound from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Huntley Brown, a dynamic pianist evangelist based in Aurora, Ill.
Two events highlighted the luncheon. One was the presentation of the Mrs. J.M. Dawson Award to a minister’s wife who, according to the program, “has made a distinct denominational contribution.” The other was the keynote speech brought by Georg Andersen, an award-winning interior designer with a clear Christian focus.
The Mrs. J.M. Dawson Award was presented this year to Carol Ann Draper, the wife of Jimmy Draper, recently-retired president of LifeWay Christian Resources. Mrs. Draper was accompanied on the platform by her husband and children, and was introduced by her daughter Terri Wilkinson.
“It’s largely because of my mother embracing the call on her life to be my dad’s helpmate, and by putting us kids next in line, that all of us children are faithfully serving the Lord today,” Wilkinson said. “She never got wrapped up in thinking she had to be busy at church serving every available open spot. She realized the greatest gift she could give my dad and her children was a peaceful, loving home where she was available to talk, laugh, and bake cookies … She was the glue that held us together.”
As Mrs. Paige (Dorothy) Patterson, this year’s Ministers’ Wives’ Conference president, together with the Dawson Committee, presented Mrs. Draper with the award, luncheon guests gave Draper a sustained, standing ovation.
“I am overwhelmed and words cannot express what a joy it is to be a child of the King,” she said through tears. “All I ever wanted to be was more like Jesus … I know who I am, and I know that without Jesus I am a zero.”
Warming to the crowd, Draper’s humble acceptance drew appreciative laughter.
“I am so grateful that God can use ordinary people, even one who has one small talent: twirling a baton,” she said. “I never got to share that in any church Jimmy ever pastored.”
Interior designer Georg Andersen delivered the luncheon’s keynote speech. Andersen has more than 40 years of experience in architecture, interior design, and construction. One of his earliest assignments was working for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House.
According to his book titled “Silent Witness: The Language of Your Home,” and his Web site www.georgandersen.com, he has been involved in interior designs gracing the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, the Churchill Hotel in London, and the Loew’s Hotel in Monte Carlo. He is a five-time ASID Gold Award recipient.
From the beginning of his career, Andersen said he has kept his focus on Jesus Christ and remembered to use his talents for God’s glory. From very early in their lives, he and his wife Annabelle have been active members of Baptist churches wherever they lived in New York or, currently, in Conway, Ark.
“We don’t realize whom we are affecting and how we are affecting them,” Andersen said, referring to the impressions made on different kinds of people who come in contact with Christians in their homes. “I don’t urge you to hang scripture verses or religious art on the walls in order that you might demonstrate your Christianity. Instead, [my book] makes an intimate revelation of how Annabelle and I live and want our home to comfort our immediate family, friends and visitors.”
Andersen said the importance of Christian homes was recognized by the earliest Christians whose churches met in homes. He said that evidence that these early Christians used their homes a “silent witnesses” has been found in mosaics and other decorative artifacts recovered by archeologists. He said that even the fabric pattern known as “herringbone” came from this period and was inspired by fish, an early symbol by which Christians identified themselves.
Andersen warned against thinking that “more” is better or thinking that a home cannot be used for God’s glory if it is small, humble, or plain. He said he hopes the pastors’ wives will give their homes over to be used for God’s glory, and not be embarrassed about having too little or too much. He said God gives Christians homes in order that they be used for evangelistic purposes.
In other business, luncheon attendees elected a slate of officers for the 2008 event scheduled to be held in Indianapolis, Ind. They are Mrs. Ted (Liz) Traylor of Pensacola, Fla., president; Mrs. Steve (Diana) Davis of Indianapolis, vice president; Mrs. Wayne (Beth) Robertson of Valdosta, Ga., correspondence secretary; and Mrs. James (Eileen) Sheets of Rifle, Colo., secretary/treasurer.
Plans for next year’s Ministers’ Wives’ Conference and Luncheon were previewed by the 2007 Ministers’ Wives’ Conference President Mrs. Mac (Debbie) Brunson. She said a fiesta-style event is being planned to compliment the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
“The theme will be ‘Revive, Renew, Rejoice,’” Mrs. Brunson said. “Our speaker will be Nancy Leigh DeMoss … and entertainment will be by Dennis ‘The Swan’ Swanberg.”