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Amid laughter and occasional tears, spouses of Christian Reformed pastors shared their stories during nine mentoring conferences held across North America last year.

Whether they were 22 years old and in their first year of ministry or 62 and nearing retirement, many common threads held participants together. The sessions addressed questions such as “Where do we fit into ministry in the church?” and “How can we live up to the expectations put on us by others or by ourselves?”

Lori Leep of Beaverton, Ore., attended the conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., and said she benefited from the chance to share with other pastors’ spouses.

“There’s camaraderie in being able to discuss things that you normally wouldn’t talk about with people in your own church,” she said. “When you find out others experience the same challenges—like feeling lonely at times—it makes you feel normal.”

A pastor’s wife for 25 years, Leep said another benefit to these sessions was encouraging those just starting out in ministry.

Lisa Vos agreed. “I enjoyed hearing about what others who are older have encountered,” said Vos, who attended the Sioux Falls, N.D., conference and whose husband has been a pastor for less than two years.

The mentoring conferences were sponsored by the Pastor-Church Relations ministry of the CRC in conjunction with the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) project.

The sessions designed specifically for spouses helped initiate a task force that will look for ways to encourage and support spouses of CRC pastors. Among other things, the eight-member team is planning a retreat for pastors’ spouses in the Toronto area.

For details on the retreat, as well as other resources and information for pastors’ spouses, visit the SPE website at call 877-279-9994, ext. 0805; or send e-mail to

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