Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Jeffrey Savage, DMin
Karen Murphy, PhD
MaryKate Morse, PhD
While women married to ministers are blessed by God in many ways through their role as pastor’s wife, the role also presents many particular stressors. These stressors impact the systems of self, family, and church. A majority of clergy wives struggle to some degree with interpersonal loneliness, with finding confidants, and creating spiritual community wherein they can be authentically vulnerable. These struggles negatively impact the spiritual, physical, and psycho-emotional health of the women in this role. In order for them to deepen their spirituality and thrive holistically as they navigate the challenges of this role, a tailored spiritual formation model is needed which includes: individual spiritual practices; cross-affinity, small group spiritual community; and continued exploration of their embodied roles as a clergy wife.
In chapter one, the unique needs and stressors of pastors’ wives are reviewed, as they are an under-researched and underserved demographic whose holistic health is vital to the Church. Chapter two reviews the history of the role and offers insight to the current trends, which is important for women as they explore thinking deeply about how to follow God’s lead in their role. The way women seek to fulfill the role may vary based on giftings, call, and season of life. Chapter three unpacks some of the foundations of spiritual theology and spiritual formation, providing a basis for the proposed spiritual formation model. Particularly, this chapter looks at the life of Jesus as an example to be followed in the practice of both solitude and small group spiritual community. Chapter four stresses both the need and difficulty for women married to ministers to cultivate small group community. It also unpacks some necessary components of effective cross affinity small groups for pastors’ wives. Chapter five provides a vision for the application of the proposed model as conducted by Journey Partner Ministries.
Ashley, Elisa Renae, "Thriving Holistically as a Woman Married to a Minister: A Spiritual Formation Model to Support Women in the United States in the Role of Pastor's Wife" (2020). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 368.