During all my years as a church member, I don't recall hearing anyone address the "duties" of a First Lady, at least not openly to church members. I'm supposing that in various denominations at church conferences there is a workshop or class addressing the subject. For anyone who doesn't know, the First Lady is married to the Senior Pastor of the church. I've met many First Ladies and have gained insight into what their duties are by their conduct. First and foremost, after God, their husband is most prominent. In small congregations, they take on many responsibilities and wear many hats.
When I was a little girl, I watched my cousin Ruth, who was the First Lady at her husband's small neighborhood church, located in the front lot where their house was in the back. She unlocked and opened the church for Sunday school, Church services, and daily prayer meetings. She led the prayer and worship service in song and scripture reading. She played the piano and sang in place of a choir which they did not have. And she played the piano during the sermon (for extra impact). She collected the offering and counted it - out loud - right during the service - while services stopped and everyone waited to hear how much was collected. If the pastor thought it wasn't enough, he would appeal for more . . ."Saints, we need ten dollars to round out this offering . . . We need at least a dollar more from each of you . . . Who can give a dollar more? . . ." he'd ask. The church service did not continue until the amount asked for was received.
Today, a First Ladies' job has been elevated. She has support staff, and many of her duties have been taken over by deacons, stewards, trustees and other officers in the church, now-a-days. First Ladies have "positions" in the church. Some oversee the church office and support aide to the pastor. They are the pastor's right hand and are privy to confidential matters concerning church members and church affairs. For a pastor to have someone like her watching out for him provides him "worry free protection". The all-important tasks within the duties of a First Lady is ministry. She provides services for her husband but she also provides services to the members of the congregation.
Most First Ladies are very dedicated, hard workers, ministering alongside their husbands, visiting the sick and shut-ins, cooking and serving meals, and caring for children and seniors. They are dedicated to church work and involve themselves in the church office, music ministry, Sunday School, Women's groups, Missionaries, leading workshops, planning and organizing programs, teaching and speaking at church and community functions. This brings me to Sis. Jackie.
Jackie Cushman (fondly called, "Sis. Jackie) was the First Lady of Pasadena Church of God (formerly Neighborhood Church of God) in Pasadena. Her husband, M. Tyrone Cushman was the Sr. Pastor. They ministered here for a number of years before relocated in Texas. Sis. Jackie was the one of the best First Ladies that I ever knew. She became one of my personal friends. She was respected by the menfolk and was a wonderful role model to the young girls and women of the church. She carried herself in a way that made us want to emulate her. We saw God embodied within her. She was loving and loyal to her husband. She modeled before wives how to be a help-mate to their husband. She was a wise counselor to those who spoke to her in confidence. She was wise in her opinions and advice. She had common sense and "mother wit". She was not just mother to her four children, but she was "mother" to all the children in church. She instructed, she admonished, she demonstrated, she cared, she loved and hugged us . . . Oh, how I loved her hugs. Can you imagine being totally embraced by someone so much that you are consumed? That may sound odd from a woman's point of view, but that's what I felt . . . her hugs made me feel totally loved. A hug from Sis. Jackie was the first thing I looked for when I got to church. They were hugs I never had before – or since. I concluded her hugs were hugs from God. Sis. Jackie literally loved me into church with her hugs. I eventually submitted and joined her church. I've never forgotten those hugs, and I never will!
Sis. Jackie passed away earlier this month. She suffered a stroke in January. God has freed her from her health struggles. It's comforting to know that she is now in the arms of God, receiving the ultimate hug! She will be laid to rest in Detroit later this month. Joe and I loved her and will miss her dearly. Our family extends our heartfelt sympathy to her husband and entire family! Goodbye Sis. Jackie!