Pastors’ Spouses Recharge

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Kathy Roosma has been a pastor’s spouse for 17 years, and she’s learned a lot along the way.

One hundred women attended the sold-out Pastors’ Spouses’ conference.

“I’ve learned that my first [responsibility] is to my husband and my children, and after that come the people of the church,” she said. “I’ve learned that we need to be ourselves and use the gifts God has given rather than fit into the mold a church may want.”

But even with that healthy perspective, Roosma said that attending her third Pastors’ Spouses’ conference in November was important to her well-being. One hundred women attended the sold-out event.

“This time it was the validation of the complexity of feelings that one might not be able to share in our own church, both the difficult things and the joys,” she said.

This year the Christian Reformed church’s Pastors’ Spouses Conference was themed “Journey of Joy.” Keynote speakers for the event were Jerry and Renee Ritskes, who, after experiencing pastoral burnout and recovery, began a retreat center to help other pastors and their families.

“I liked [this conference’s] emphasis on joy and the celebration of the special role that pastors’ wives play in their husband’s lives and in the community,” said Robin Winter of Fredricton, New Brunswick.

“There was much laughter and shared glances that communicated, ‘I can relate to that,’” said Lis VanHarten, program director for the CRC’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence division. “There were also tears as deep, honest sharing took place. Most parishioners don’t understand or aren’t aware of the role the pastor’s spouse has and the challenges that go along with that. At the conference, encouragement and support from fellow spouses can build up those who need it.”

That was Monica Groothof’s experience. “With shared experiences and advice layered with encouragement and prayer . . . a special bond is shared that is unique to the time and setting of the conference.”

Perhaps the impact of the conference was summed up best by Yvonne Vanderveen: “Once you go to a Pastor Spouses Conference, you simply don’t want to miss the next one!”

About the Author

Roxanne Van Farowe is a freelance writer living in North Carolina. She has reported on synod, the annual decision-making gathering of the CRC, for many years.

See comments (3)


This is such a fantastic idea! I am curious, though, if this was also open to youth pastor's spouses, or spouses of non-ordained pastors?


Determining who makes the invitee list is always challenging. We’ve basically stayed with ordained parish pastors’ spouses – pastors who are a sole or co-pastor of a congregation. We know that the similar experiences of this group of spouses allow them to relate to one another. The conferences are very much planned with this “type” of ministry experience in mind. Spouses of all pastors (youth, non-ordained etc) can play a significant role in the ministry of their congregation. They also support and encourage their spouses in their ministry role, and they too would benefit from gathering together.


In the past, we had a missionary spouse attend the event—after we informed her that she may not relate to the rest of the attendees due to her different ministry context. Her response to the conference after it was over was, I couldn’t really relate to most of the event.  A comment on the evaluation form from this most recent conference said the same thing: “I feel in many ways my experience is different than senior pastors’ wives.”


As we look to future events, our planning team will once again take a fresh look at who the invitees should be.  Lis Van Harten – SPE Project Director

I agree--youth pastors (ordained and non-ordained) and their spouses could benefit from support and encouragement in this way, or in any form. It seems that our denomination offers very little to this group, and yet expects a lot from them. It would be great to see more of these types of events.