Houston is home to more than its share of megachurches. Led by powerhouse ministers, these churches boasts memberships from 5-20-thousand. Beside many of these dynamic pastors are their wives. Whether working as pastors themselves, leading various ministries or starting community-wide platforms, the Defender is spotlighting a few influential First Ladies who are proving they are a force on their own.

Suzette Caldwell

Windsor Village United Methodist Church

Spouse: Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell

Title: Pastor

Biggest challenge as a First Lady: I am blessed to be married to a man who supports and encourages women to do and be all that God has called them to be. As a First Lady, the past 25 years have been exciting and satisfying. I have no regrets!

Favorite Bible Verse: Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. -Hebrews 13:20-21

Mia Knight Wright

The Fountain of Praise

Spouse: Dr. Remus E. Wright

Title: Pastor, Non Profit Executive, Metamorphosis – Women’s Empowerment,

Biggest challenge as a First Lady: Managing expectations of others regarding this role. When I was much younger and very impressionable, I realized that I allowed what others felt like I should be doing/wearing/saying to directly influence what I did, said and wore. As I have come into my own understanding of who I am as a child of God first, as a woman, as a wife, mother, a leader, I have come to realize that the many hats I wear cannot be limited by the expectations of others. I have to be pleasing unto God and to take ownership in the sense of satisfaction that I get from the successes of life. This “transformation” in my mindset gave me the liberty to be me and to be all that God desired for me to be. When others ask me, “how can I be a successful First Lady?” I always respond – “Be the best YOU that God made you to be!”

Favorite Bible Verse:  Blessed is she that believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told to her from the Lord. – Luke 1:45 NKLJV

Bridget E. Hilliard

New Light Church World Outreach and Worship Center, Inc.

Spouse: Bishop Ira V. Hilliard

Title: Co-Founder

Biggest Challenge: My role as a First Lady has been 42 years. I can’t really say there hasn’t been a challenge that’s not common to being in the spotlight.

Favorite Bible Verse: As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. – Zechariah 9:11

Janice Pender

Fallbrook Church

Spouse: Pastor Michael A. Pender

Title: Director of Women’s Ministry

Biggest challenge as a First Lady:  To remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and serve people with a heart of love.  It’s easy to become distracted with the cares of everyday and forget that what we do and say has eternal impact.

Favorite Bible verse: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

Sonya Taylor Stevenson

The Fort Bend Church

Spouse: Reverend Byron C. Stevenson (Senior Pastor)

Title: Executive Director / President and Founder of The Kaleidoscope Foundation

Biggest challenge as a First Lady: Although it is my heart’s desire, accepting the fact that I cannot be everything to everybody.

Favorite Bible verse: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28:

Katrina Renee Hartwell

Cross Roads Community Church of Pearland

Spouse: Christopher F. Hartwell

Title: Director of Leadership

Biggest challenge as a First Lady:

Favorite Bible Verse:  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10

Geneva DeVaughn

Silverlake Baptist Church

Spouse: Pastor/Dr. Reginald Devaughn Sr.

Title: Director of Women’s Ministry

Biggest Challenge as a First Lady: Balancing my many roles. However, I have found that when I consistently communicate and listen to God’s direction each day and all day, the problems with balance become much less of a challenge. Working for God is awesome even in the midst of challenges because He does all things well! To God Be the Glory!

Favorite Bible Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. -Psalms 23.

Sonya Sloan

The Luke Church

Spouse: Name: Dr. Timothy W. Sloan, Senior Pastor

Title: First Lady

Biggest challenge as a First Lady: Not wanting to disappoint-Being everything to everyone!

Favorite Bible Verse: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

Sheretta West

The Church Without Walls

Spouse: Dr. Ralph Douglas West

Title: Mosaic Women’s Ministry Liason

Biggest challenge as a First Lady: Balancing time and schedules

Favorite Bible Verse: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8. 

Doris Gardner Ratliff

Brentwood Baptist Church

Spouse: Joe Samuel Ratliff

Title: Executive Director, Doris Gardner Ratliff Center For Child Development

Biggest Challenge as First Lady: Remembering Names of Members

Favorite Bible Verse: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. – Psalms 121

Audrey Marie Cosby 

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church 

Spouse: Marcus D. Cosby

Title: First Lady/Director of Middle School Ministry

Biggest Challenge as First Lady: It is a blessing to be able to serve God’s people through our church.  My greatest challenge, however, is having sufficient time to minister to my own family as well as serve the church in the multiple ways that I would desire.  I love the work that I do. I just wish I could do more.

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