Fort Worth, Texas (SWBTS) -- Familiar to the seminary student and the VBS worker alike is the story in the Gospels of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4).  Contrasted with a rich scribe who places his importance in the praise of others, her mite (a small increment of money) was more precious, Jesus said, because she gave it knowing she was fully dependant on and sustained by God.

The Widows’ Might consists of widowed women across the United States who pray for the faculty, staff and students of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the College at Southwestern. The women also gather bi-annually for fellowship. In different forms, this prayer ministry has been in effect since the late 1970s.

The Widows’ Might is “where we turned what the world deems the weakest person into the most powerful person,” said Dorothy Patterson, professor of women’s studies and first lady at Southwestern.

Gleaned from Scripture, said Mrs. Patterson, the name of the ministry is from “the widow’s example who put in her two mites, she gave all she had to the Lord, to widows today who with their might in prayer give of their precious commodities of time and energy in putting before the Lord the requests of the kingdom of Christ.”

The prayers of these women support the college and seminary. President Paige Patterson wrote of his gratefulness last March to the women of Widows’ Might in their monthly newsletter, acknowledging the importance of their sacrifices to partner in prayer.

“The visit of God himself at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the impression of His hand, and the breath of His Spirit alone will generate all else that happens,” Patterson wrote. “Consequently, I want to save my highest praise for you. […] I am convinced that the precious widows of God comprise the strongest prayer team that can ever exist anywhere.”

The monthly newsletter contains the prayer requests of the seminary and college that are varied and urgent, ranging from concerns about the budget and economy to specific prayers for sick family members of Southwestern students. The women of the Widows’ Might pray for the concerns given in the newsletter and receive updates in future editions about how God answers those prayers. The newsletters also contain devotionals and stories from Widows’ Might members as well as from Southwestern women.

Patterson added that he, faculty members and students reciprocate the help that the women provide.

“We have used our students to meet some of the needs of the widows,” he said. For instance, “if someone needed a house painted, we would oftentimes take students out and do that for them.”

They started the prayer ministry, said Mrs. Patterson, while Dr. Patterson was serving as president of Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Patterson was given the idea for the Widows’ Might during his devotional time while traveling, and the ministry lasted through the Pattersons’ stay at Criswell College.

When the couple moved to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an idea for the ministry was placed in the care of Susie Hawkins. She with her husband, O.S. Hawkins, created a ministry similar to Widows’ Might at GuideStone Financial Resources.

The Pattersons wanted to continue the prayer ministry when they came to Southwestern Seminary in 2003.

“We really appreciated that ministry and the opportunity to give our requests to Mrs. Hawkins,” Mrs. Patterson said, “but we still felt the need for our own institution to have a band of women who could give special time on a regular basis to pray for the needs of our institution and our students, because we have a very large Southwestern family, and they’re scattered all over the world.”

When Karen Collett was appointed Women’s Auxiliary Coordinator at Southwestern, one of her assignments was starting the Widows’ Might. Collett lost her husband in 1997.

“She knows the hurts, the sorrow, the difficulties, and the challenges, but she also knows the special place in God’s heart every widow has, and the power in prayer she has as a result,” Mrs. Patterson said.

For information and participation in this ministry, for individuals or churches, contact Karen Collett at (817) 923-1921, ext. 7200.