As a co-ed at Virginia Tech, Penny accompanied a friend to Blacksburg Baptist Church. While at the Sunday service, she filled out a visitor’s card. The following week Bill, the minister of youth, arranged to visit her at the urging of his assistant who sat behind Penny at the service.
Penny would never have dreamed that one day she would marry Bill.
“I had my hair in a ponytail and wore my pink Phi Mu sweatshirt, and he came in his navy blue blazer and khakis and loafers. We had a wonderful visit. We had a great conversation,” Penny said.
Bill asked her to dinner later that week.
“I went more out of curiosity. He was a really nice guy and was lovely to look at,” she said.
The couple continued dating throughout the year but Penny, who was traveling to Europe over the summer and had her sights on law school, planned to end the relationship. “I loved him. He was such a wonderful person but I didn’t understand the logistics of church, and didn’t think that was something I could manage,” she said.
Before Penny left for Europe, Bill baptized her. “I accepted Christ and was baptized and then I left for Europe, fully intending for the space to naturally dissolve the relationship,” she said.
Bill’s intentions were quite the opposite. “I got a letter every day from that man,” she said.
In August when Penny arrived home, Bill met her at the airport with her parents and by Christmas they were engaged.
“I love the man. I have tried to understand the call my entire married life. I get it because he’s different from anybody I’ve ever known,” she said.
“Obviously God has a phenomenal sense of humor if I can be a minister’s wife. I’m not really different than anyone else,” Penny said.
“I don’t feel that my role is any different than any other woman in this church. My first responsibility is to God. The second is to my spouse and my family. Having a responsibility to God there are gifts he has given to me that I need to utilize,” she said.
Penny, who has been married to Bill for 30 years, fills a unique role in the relationship. “I understand that family that struggles to get to church every morning. I understand the family that can’t find a place in church. We bring a really awesome balance to our faith. I think I have given (Bill) great sermon illustrations. I think I keep him real with the world,” Penny said.
“As long as I’m great with my Lord, and my family, my community, I’m OK that there are people who might not be happy that I’m not doing things exactly the way they might want. I pride myself on not judging. I try to embrace whoever they are,” she said.
While Penny keeps Bill in the real world, through their relationship she has found her walk with God.
“Bill has just been a great example for me,” said Penny, director of Corporate Giving for the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business in Atlanta.
“I didn’t grow up believing but I have seen what God can do,” she said.
“Bill is such a great man. He’s a great friend. He’s such a good person. (Our) kids adore him. We have tons of fun,” Penny said.
First Baptist Church of Marietta is located at 148 Church St. in Marietta. Visit www.mariettafbc.org.