Dear Sharon

Tributes to Sharon Cress from her colleagues.

By various authors

Sharon has made a significant contribution to Shepherdess International. Her counterparts in the world divisions love her because of her personal interest in them, her affirmation of their ministry, and the high level of positive energy with which she does her work. Sharon not only knows how to work; she also knows how to enjoy life through relationships, fellowship, and doing things for others. Her generosity and infectious laugh endear her to others and put them at ease. Shepherdess has been her life at the General Conference for 18 years. The unfortunate death of her dear spouse, Jim, has brought her life to a jarring halt, and at this unexpected intersection in life, everything was different. Yet she has continued to forge ahead even while knowing the future was uncertain. She leaves some large organizational shoes to fill, but God has someone prepared to step in and carry on the good work she has done. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. I wish Sharon only the best for the days ahead and know that there is a place for her to continue to contribute to the mission of the church.

—A Special Tribute from Gerry Karst, Retired General Conference Vice President and Former Advisor to the Ministerial Association

A passion for pastors’ wives! Sharon Cress lived her ministry around what she could do to make ministry spouses feel loved and appreciated. Careful preparation went into every meeting and seminar so she could meet the needs in different parts of the world. She was always finding things to do to make them feel special. As a true Southern lady, Sharon had a gift for showing she cared, whether through gifts, a listening ear, a home-cooked dinner, a card, or a simple smile and hug. Sharon would take time out of her busy schedule to listen to anyone. Her ministry was all about serving others. Above all, Sharon loves Jesus and lets Him shine through her in good and bad times.

Sharon and Jim had a wonderful team ministry and set an example for so many to follow throughout their ministry. They loved to meet with pastoral couples around the world and train them for ministry.

It has been my privilege to work with Sharon for almost 12 years. At some point, she became not just my supervisor but my friend. I could not have asked for a better supervisor. She and Jim were both wonderful at showing they cared about me and making me feel appreciated for my work in the department. I have appreciated the many times Sharon prayed with me and encouraged me. She has inspired me to do more things for others so they know someone cares about them.

Although it is with sadness in my heart and tears in my eyes that I bid farewell to Sharon, my terrific supervisor, I am so grateful that we will continue to be friends. May God bless you in a special way, Sharon, as you continue to minister to others. We all pray that you receive great blessings from others for what you have given. Thank you for all you have done for Shepherdess! Remember you are loved by so many and will be greatly missed.

—Shelly Lowe, Shepherdess International, General Conference

You have blessed me and my fellow Shepherdesses with your excellent leadership. No words can describe the love and friendship you have had for me. You were my mentor, advisor, best friend, and a very caring person. I remember when you and your husband gave me some money after I was robbed at the airport hotel in South Africa while meeting with the General Conference Ministerial group. You didn’t have to give me that money, but you did it out of love, and I will always remember that kind gesture. We will miss you so much, but remember that you have left a legacy at Shepherdess International to be remembered.

—Denise Ratsara, former Shepherdess Coordinator, Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division

You have always been there to encourage and share your wisdom and experience. You have always been personal and real, so it’s easy to be comfortable with you. I have really appreciated that. As both of us are now facing an uncertain future, not knowing what God has in store for us, I pray that our paths will cross again. God has been good and has always led in the work that you and Jim did together, and He will continue to be with and bless you. Thank you for everything you have done and been to me.

—Anne May Wollan, former Shepherdess Coordinator, Trans European Division

When I planned our first pastors’ wives’ retreat in 2001, I couldn’t think of anyone who could do a better job than you. The theme was “Secrets of Success for the Pastor’s Wife.” It was a tremendous success! You are elegant and endearing, funny and factual, practical and perky, resilient and real, sophisticated and spiritual, talented and tenacious, witty and wise. I count you—as many do—as a very special friend who has blessed me and every pastor’s wife in our conference. We love you, pray for you, and wish the very best for you. There aren’t words to express my gratitude for your tireless efforts for ministers’ wives.

—Rita Stevens, Texico Conference, North American Division

We sincerely hope you will write a book about your adventures as “a woman on a mission” in your quest for caring for fellow Shepherdesses around the world. You could have us in tears, on the edge of our seats, or in stitches as you relate a litany of your experiences in your journeys to serve clergy wives. You often went alone where few women would dare to go, and you handled yourself valiantly in precarious situations reserved for the not faint of heart. You could be nicknamed “Indiana Cress.”

—Charles and Patti Mitchell, Palm Springs, California

Gordon and I will miss you and Jim as a couple in the Ministerial Association. Your contribution to Shepherdess International has changed the way women are viewed in the church, given Gordon and me a desire to minister as a couple, brought humor and laughter to our souls, and demonstrated God’s love to us through your generous and caring spirit. I know God will bless you as you continue to serve Him in the way He leads.

—Cheryl Retzer, Shepherdess Coordinator, Southern Union Conference, North American Division

You are open and real, full of joy and enthusiasm, inclusive, hospitable, generous, kind hearted, a woman of God. Each time our paths have crossed, you have exuded these qualities, and it has been a privilege to grow in acquaintance with you. You have touched many lives in many countries, as did Jim. Thank you for your love, your service, and for being you.

—Robyn Stanley, Australia, South Pacific Division

I will miss seeing your beautiful smile here at the General Conference. You are truly a loving Christian lady, ready to help and assist whomever is in need and to give a word of comfort and encouragement to the people you meet. May God guide and support you every day.

—Marlene Bacchus, Biblical Research Institute, General Conference

You are a very special woman! You have touched my life and heart several times. One of those times was with your article “The Elephant in the Room” (Journal, second quarter, 2010). Your wonderful writing skills, combined with a willingness to open your vulnerable and hurting heart, made a deep impact on me and I’m sure on countless others. Thank you, Sharon. Your many friends love and appreciate you! May you find comfort in the arms of our precious Savior.

—Cindy Tutsch, Ellen G. White Estate, General Conference

When our first child was born severely premature shortly before Christmas, you and Jim invited us to your home for Christmas Day. It was the best and worst Christmas of our lives. The best, as we had our first precious little baby. The worst, as our baby was lying in the neonatal intensive care unit struggling to maintain her heart rhythm and develop her lung capacity so she could be weaned off oxygen, gaining weight ever so slowly. We can’t imagine how desolate we would have felt that day without the love, warmth, cheer, and company you and Jim gave us. We hope that one day we can be as kind and caring as you were at our moment of greatest vulnerability.

—James and Leisa Standish, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference

You are truly an advocate for ministers’ wives and their families. You and Jim poured your hearts out to people—offering them encouragement, friendship, and appreciation for one of the highest and most challenging callings. You are a role model in every way, showing these special women that they can be themselves and aspire to a role that is unique to their own individuality.

—Weslynne Sahly, executive assistant to Dr. Jan Paulsen, former General Conference President

I have been praying for you since Jim’s death and since the General Conference Session. I am sure that this has been a difficult experience for you, but take heart: people are praying for you! There are women all around the world who have benefited from and appreciate your ministry.

—Fred Thomas, Mail Room, General Conference

We would like to express our special thanks to you for your love in giving all Shepherdesses in the West Indonesia Union Mission the best example and for sharing many good lessons to be used in the church and field. We will miss you, but your smile and love will stay forever in our hearts. We love you.

—Poppy Lubis, Shepherdess Coordinator, West Indonesia Union Mission, Southern Asia Pacific Division

Some people effectively minister to just one person, some reach further out to their neighborhoods, others are able to reach even further out in their territories, but you have effectively ministered to the world! Your genuine love, concern, guidance, and especially your beautiful smile have inspired people around the world. God truly found a dedicated person in you to spread His love, including through your great hugs!

—Sheryl Beck, Ministerial Association, General Conference

I want you to know that I have been truly blessed by your ministry as Shepherdess director. You did a fabulous job! You taught me how to be an effective Shepherdess coordinator. I’m sorry that you are no longer at Shepherdess, but I know that God has a plan for your life. He will bless in whatever He has prepared for you. Please know that the leadership you gave was appreciated and has been passed on to others worldwide. You have been a blessing to us. Thank you, Sharon, for a job well done.

—Patricia Allen, former Union Shepherdess coordinator, Kings House, Jamaica

You have always presented the interests of pastors’ spouses and their families with enthusiasm. Your focused ministry in this area has encouraged many throughout the world. In various places you have also encouraged spouses to be directly involved in evangelism, and you have provided financial assistance for such programs. In other places you have assisted spouses in starting small industries to support their families. Congratulations on a very effective work for pastors’ spouses and pastoral families. I wish you God’s richest blessings.

—Nikolaus Satelmajer, Editor, Ministry Magazine

For many years I have watched you enthusiastically, unselfishly, exuberantly, and joyfully serve the Shepherdesses of our beloved church. You have provided valuable resources for us. You have supported and encouraged us. Whatever you did, you did it with a passion. You are our friend and sister all wrapped into one. Also, you are lots of fun! I remember when you brought lovely bathrobes for the pastors’ wives in the Euro Asia Division. I still have and wear that nice burgundy bathrobe, and whenever I wear it, I think warmly of you. I know that God will continue to use you and will expand your ministry even more.

—May Ellen Colón, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, General Conference

You define love, compassion, and strength. You represent character, loyalty, and faith. I’ll always remember that in the midst of your tragedy, you reached out to me during my tragedy. That sums you up.

—Ricardo Bacchus, Ministerial Association, General Conference 

You have always struck me as someone who really knows Jesus. Your specialty is an extraordinary ability to be practical. You can pick the winner among a wide spectrum of options, and you have the energy and organizational skills to deliver a clear, well articulated direction. Thank you, Sharon, for setting the pace on the path that leads to heaven.

—Mike Ryan, Vice President, General Conference

One of the blessings of my life was to know and work with you, dear Sharon. As pastors’ wives, we have many things in common, and what I admire most in you is the love you put into the Shepherdess ministry. I especially appreciate the motivation you gave to pastors’ wives—and especially to me—when you presented the seminar on the wounds others give us. I remember when you came to a North Brazil Union Shepherdess meeting at a hotel by the beach. During our program Sabbath evening, fireworks suddenly began. You were concerned because they were so close—just over our heads! But then it finished, and it was great after all. You are special to me, and you will always be a great inspiration to all the pastors’ wives in South America. You are in my heart.

—Evelyn Nagel, former Shepherdess Coordinator, South American Division

I will always be grateful for your cheery demeanor and encouraging words. I am especially thankful because your heart has always been with the families of pastors. When you inquired about my wife’s and children’s well being, I knew your query was born of sincerity. I will miss you greatly, but I know God has much more work for you to do.

—Willie E. Hucks II, Ministerial Association, General Conference

It’s the gentle touches of thoughtfulness during Annual Council that I will remember you for, Shepherdess Extraordinaire. God cares for you so much—and His love won’t miss a single detail! You enjoyed fine tuning all the details for the ladies, and it was always a pleasure helping you with events.

— Jeanette Jump, Employee Food Service, General Conference

You, and especially your thoughtfulness, have been a great inspiration to me. I will cherish that in my heart forever. I will miss you greatly, but I know in our adversity, God has a great plan for us that will also be a great blessing. We only have to trust in Him.

—Jocelyn Cosme, Treasury, General Conference

The first time I met you was on my first trip traveling with my husband Willie to Indonesia over 10 years ago. I had never been on such a long overseas trip, and I was suffering terribly from jetlag and the shock of being in a foreign country. You immediately recognized that much of my anxiety was due to leaving our young children at home. You offered me encouraging words, were extremely empathetic, and shared some of your own travel experiences. You also made arrangements for us to stay in a hotel that had facilities for us to communicate easily with our children. I was drawn to your genuine, caring, and compassionate manner.

—Elaine Oliver, Associate Director, Family Ministries,

General Conference

While working in the Ministerial Association over the past several months, I have come to know and appreciate you. I was impressed with your leadership of Shepherdess International and your skill in producing such a fine Journal. I try to read every one. You have exhibited a lot of strength, grace, and perseverance through the untimely loss of your husband and our friend.

—Don Russell, Ministerial Association, General Conference

It has been a long time since I started attending Shepherdess meetings. Then it was mainly a North American service, but today the coordinator is expected to serve the needs of ministers’ wives all over the world—a tall order to say the least! These women come from different nationalities, cultures, races, and educational backgrounds, to mention a few. Sharon, with your deep commitment to our Lord and Savior, your calling to the ministry, and your no nonsense spirit and easy laughter, you have managed to cross boundaries. You have taught us to pray and laugh and to not take ourselves too seriously. In the midst of your own grief, you have managed to make others happy. Thank you, Sharon. Until we meet again, may God hold you safe in the palm of His hand.

—Kari Paulsen, former Shepherdess sponsor, General Conference

The Chinese saying—“Grab the opportunity to give, is a blessed man”—so appropriately describes you, for you have grabbed many opportunities to give generously and bless others around the world field. From giving goats to poor widows to assisting young women with financial scholarships, you have been called a “blessed woman.” As you move on to other responsibilities, may the Lord be with you and may He always be your Guide.

—Linda Mei Lin Koh, Children’s Ministries, General Conference

Ever since I have known you (and Jim), you took the time to send me a personal Christmas card almost every year; in fact, just last year, you even sent me a Thanksgiving card! This really touched my heart because I don’t work in your department, and yet for you to think of me shows how caring and kind you are. You have mentored many pastors’ wives, and now you are faced with the challenge of going through life without Jim, but you know your Heavenly Father is always with you to be a source of strength and courage.

—Stella Thomas, Adventist Mission, General Conference

Like so many other pastors’ wives around the world, my life has been touched by you. You have made me feel loved, special, and of tremendous value. A visit with you always made me feel taller and more capable. You were there for my anointing service. God heard your prayers and those of your dear Jim, and I survived chemo and am doing better each day since that afternoon when we knelt together in the General Conference prayer chapel. I treasure the shawl you gave me then. You always came to the Division Shepherdess meetings with gifts for the wives, and we all looked forward to these tokens of your love, care, and faith in us. You are one of my most treasured friends.

—Dorothy Eaton Watts, retired administrator’s wife

You came into my life 31 years ago in the hot Chicago summer of 1979, and you have been a friend, mentor, and role model ever since. During the many phases of our lives, you have always shown—with grace, class, and humor—how to be a ministry spouse. As a ministry team, Brad and I have tried to emulate “Jim and Sharon,” and I aspire to be the Shepherdess that you have been to thousands around the world. Sharon, your name will always be synonymous with Shepherdess International, and when I grow up, I want to be just like you.

—Jennifer Newton, co Shepherdess Coordinator, Pacific Union Conference, North American Division

Sharon, your eyes tell your story—they sparkle and dance with vitality, spontaneity, energy, fun, generosity, kindness, and, above all, the love of God! Thanks for adding that sparkle to our lives!

—Anthony and Debora Kent, Ministerial Association, General Conference

Shortly after you and Jim arrived at the General Conference years ago, the three of us enjoyed a lunch together. During that time, you both stopped during our conversation to pray for me and the work performed by Human Resources. I’ve never forgotten the sincerity of the spoken prayer and the collegiality I felt at that time. It was a lovely introduction to the two of you as a special couple.

—Ruth Parish, Human Resources, General Conference

Although I haven’t met you, I am very thankful to you and Elder Cress. I’m the first recipient of the James Cress Memorial Scholarship for spouses working with their husbands in ministry. My husband is the senior associate pastor at the Spencerville Church, and I work with him in ministry. Before moving to Maryland two years ago, I was very active in the College Church at Atlantic Union College, where he was senior pastor and I served as associate pastor for seven years. My position here is part time, so I’m able to enjoy both areas of ministry.

—Jane Morrison, Human Resources, General Conference

Sharon, you started out as my boss but quickly became my friend. You have been blessed with a spirit of kindness, and I have been impressed and encouraged by your ability to bring joy into people’s lives. With colleagues, long time friends, and complete strangers alike, your spontaneous, caring nature always jumps into action through random gifts, affirming words, and sincere support. When you step into a life, you leave it blessed.

—Mary Fowler, retired GC Shepherdess assistant

Thank you for being a woman of integrity and courage. Though we will miss your presence here in the office, we know that the Lord has other places for your gifts and ministry to be exercised. Thank you for sharing your smile, encouragement, gifts of hospitality, and caring. As Jim’s spouse and partner in life, you demonstrated the true role of a minister’s wife. You stood with your husband and not before him, beside him and not behind him. You have cheered and comforted so many through the years, and now what you have given is coming back to you, so accept and embrace it all. May God uphold and strengthen you and continue His good works in you as you continue your good work with Him.

—Paula Johnson, Ministerial Association, General Conference

You, my beloved friend, played a major role in bringing me back to my heavenly Father. In November 2003, when tragedy struck our family with the loss of our only son in the prime of his youth, we were devastated. I questioned God in grief and pain. I did not want to have anything to do with a God who snatched away my son. Spiritually, I was zero. But from the first week of the tragedy and for one whole year—52 weeks—you sent me a card each week with comforting words from the Bible. I was overwhelmed when I received your cards—even when you fractured your collar bone! To you, my pain was greater than yours. King Solomon wisely said, “A friend loves at all times” and “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” That is so true of you in my life, Sharon. I value and treasure your love and concern for me, my family, and my ministry. As you continue your life’s journey, please know that you are not alone. Our prayers are with you. The Father who sustained me and strengthened me will be with you every step of your way. He will carry you through the rugged path. He will be the balm of Gilead and heal your wounds. He will wipe away your tears. The golden morning, when we will be together with our lost loved ones, is fast approaching. Let us continue to serve Him with that blessed hope.

—Hepzibah Kore, Director, Shepherdess Coordinator, Southern Asia Division

Thank you for the great contribution you have given to all pastors’ wives during the past 18 years. Your many valuable insights, including the technique of packing clothes with dry cleaning plastic, will always be remembered. The times we spent together—in the NSD SSD Shepherdess meeting in Bangkok, women’s meetings during Annual Council, and meals in my condo—will ever be remembered. Here’s hoping that the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow” will inspire us throughout our lives, knowing that He cares for each one of us.

—Kathleen Kuntaraf, Health Ministries, General Conference

Thanks for all that you have done in mentoring and encouraging pastors’ spouses around the world. Your tireless service has greatly benefited the church, and only eternity will reveal the full impact of Jim’s and your ministries.

—Bob Lemon, Treasury, General Conference

Thank you so much for touching and shaping my ministry in so many ways. Thank you for the magical moments we shared together and for allowing me to learn from you. Thank you for understanding my fears and for praying for me. You are special, and I thank God for you. May God bless you, keep you, and be gracious to you. May God shine His face upon you and give you wings to fly. “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed” (Proverbs 11:25, The Message). My dear friend, thank you for blessing my life.

—Raquel Arrais, Women’s Ministries, General Conference

You are a veritable angel. You embody the gentle tenderness of a baby newly born, the undying passion and vitality of the enterprising young, the exquisite warmth and geniality of true womanhood, and the distinctive brilliance of a mentor and teacher par excellence. All in all, Sharon, you are a transparent medium of the love of God. You have proven to be more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. Sharon, you are dearly beloved.

—Peter J. Prime, Ministerial Association, General Conference

As the wife of a pastor and as the global director of the Shepherdess program for 18 years until the untimely passing of your husband Jim last November, you have been a woman of great spiritual strength, of undivided loyalty to the ministerial calling of your husband, and of singular commitment to befriend, empower, and embrace thousands of pastoral wives around the world. Side by side you stood with your pastor husband to give dynamic meaning to the word “Shepherdess.” As director of the Shepherdess program, you crisscrossed the world and worked closely with your colleagues on the international scene in order to empower pastoral wives to discover their special role in the churches they served. It is my daily prayer that the Lord of the lonely will stand by you so that you will continue to enjoy the blessedness of serving the Lord and strengthening the women of the church.

—John Fowler, retired Associate Director, Education Department, General Conference

When I first saw you, I saw a sweet mother figure filled with deep love and concern. That is the spirit you carried in your job. You not only did your job—you loved your job. You have been one of the pioneers in shaping Shepherdess International. Do you know that God has a special crown for such road builders? Satan has not been pleased with this. His arrows of pain, disappointment, rejection, criticism, loneliness, and even jetlag have always been there. But his masterpiece of leaving you a widow has shaken and shattered you but left you shining! Through it all you stood like Job! Praise the Lord! Many Shepherdesses have lost their glitter, their purpose, their mission. But I am glad I know you, Sharon, a model of Shepherdesses for Christ. Your example will always light the way on this rugged Shepherdess road. May God bless and keep you, Sister Sharon. Remember to hold on because joy comes in the morning.

—Winnie Mwakalonge, Shepherdess Coordinator, East Central Africa Division

You are a daughter of God, and you reflect His grace and love to all with whom you come in contact. I remember a meeting I had with you, and you made me feel not only at home but that I belonged. You are gracious and kind without realizing it, in all circumstances. You mentor and inspire. Without a doubt, this past year has been a hard trial, but even in your grieving, you have carried yourself well. You have inspired me to seek a closer walk with our Savior, to be a woman who reflects His character at all times, to be a woman who inspires others, and to be a person others want to be around.

—Kathy Sowards, Family Ministries, General Conference

I am thinking of you and praying for you. I will never forget the good times we had when we were both involved with Shepherdess. To this day, I have enjoyed the birthday cards you sent me every year! Your life as a pastor’s wife in team ministry with Elder Cress has been an inspiration to me. I am grateful to know there are people like you who are interested in the affairs of a pastor’s wife like me. Thank you also for your article about your experience of losing your husband. May the Lord sustain you until He comes to unite us with our loved ones.

—Beauty Wakaba, former Shepherdess Coordinator, Southern Africa Union Conference, South Africa

As you turn the page and begin another chapter in your life, I would like to personally thank you again for marvelous moments of mentoring memories. Some of the earliest memories are from the day you sweltered inside PNG’s yellow van to meetings at the South Pacific Division and the release of the Seasoned with Love recipe book and the Seasoned with Laughter book of short stories. Your presence has brought joy and inspiration to the minds and hearts of Pastoral Partners at Newbold College, who count it a privilege to have benefited from your joint seminars with Jim and from your generous gifts of time and love. In “Private Lives of Public People,” you encouraged us to pursue friendships, reject artificial roles, demonstrate integrity inside and out, accept loss of privacy with God’s grace, dwell on the positives of ministry, and use our own lives as an example. In “Love Affair in the Parsonage,” you reminded us that oneness is important and that love, integrity, and commitment go together with a romantic notion to make a pastoral home. Your days as our Shepherdess coordinator have truly been a blessing. With heart and soul you have tended so lovingly and faithfully to the sheep and lambs of His fold around the world.

—Narisa Currow, Pastoral Partners, Newbold College, United Kingdom

I first got to know you from your articles in the Journal, through which I developed a sense of admiration for you. I finally got to see you in person during a Bible conference at Mountain View College, and in 2005, I was privileged to work with you when I was elected as the Shepherdess coordinator for the Southern Asia Pacific Division. Working with you has been a wonderful learning experience. I found you to be kind, loving, considerate, thoughtful, and understanding—qualities that have made you a good example to all the pastors’ wives in the worldwide church. I have also seen how supportive you were to your husband’s ministry and how loving and caring you were to each other. As a leader and a friend, you are generous and thoughtful. I remember one Annual Council when you prepared a sumptuous dinner for my birthday and invited all the division presidents and their wives to celebrate—you made me feel really special that day. I always looked forward to the spiritual and informative seminars and workshops you organized for the leaders’ wives during Annual Council, and I especially enjoyed the shopping/city tour on the last day. On behalf of the SSD pastors’ wives, thank you for your invaluable leadership and support for our projects, especially in Bangladesh. We want you to know that the Journal has been a source of inspiration and strength. Thank you, Sharon, for being so faithful and dedicated to the work of the Lord!

—Helen Gulfan, Shepherdess Coordinator, Southern Asia Pacific Division

What I appreciate about you is that whatever you do, you do it to the best of your ability. You want to experience life to the fullest. You are always ready to go on an adventure, whether it be climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge or learning a new computer program. This sometimes made life interesting for you and Jim because Jim would have preferred to sit down with friends or read a book than to risk his life going five feet off the ground. I remember Jim telling me how he loved your zest for life. I love that about you as well. Sharon, you are always a professional, and you have the most generous heart of anyone I know. Your love for Jesus is exemplified in everything you do. You are a special lady!

—Cathy Payne, Ministerial Association, General Conference

For more than 10 years I had the privilege of transporting you to the airport to meet your Shepherdess appointments around the world. Sometimes the Washington Beltway traffic was a challenge, but I enjoyed each trip. Thanks for the memories! Wishing God’s richest blessings for you.

—Gene Gardner, General Conference airport driver

When my husband served as ministerial secretary for the Euro Africa Division from 1995 1997, I was asked to take over the Shepherdess position for this Division. It was always a pleasure for me to meet with you, listening and talking or eating your delicious food. As I have a bachelor’s degree in religion, I felt we had something in common. We shared our thoughts about preaching, and I was interested in hearing you preach. Because there were no opportunities at that time for me to listen to one of your sermons, you gave me one of your sermons to read. This was so special to me. Through it I was very closely connected to your inner thoughts and the hard work you put into a sermon. I appreciated it so much. Thank you, Sharon! It meant a lot to me!

—Geri Mueller, former Shepherdess Coordinator, Euro Africa Division

Sensitivity, creativity, humility, generosity, and a high level of spirituality—how one person can possess such a combination of virtues baffles me! The many years I have associated with you, Sharon, have revealed the many sided virtues of a model of Christian womanhood. In addition to your ready, welcoming warmth, I will always remember you for your thoughtful and caring spirit. I have learned many lessons from you, and my wish is that you may continue to enjoy God’s blessings and sustenance. I pray that a chorus of voices of the many pastors’ wives you have ministered to will continually approach the throne of God on your behalf. May the rest of your days be filled with happiness and satisfaction that your work was not in vain.

—Gloria Trotman, former Shepherdess Coordinator, Inter American Division

I have appreciated your spunk and warmth from the moment we met at the wonderful training seminar you and Jim gave to us young ministerial couples in Northern California decades ago. Then what joy you brought again when visiting us in Russia and later in the Philippines. Your encouragement, strength, and sense of humor have often brought light into my life. I have also appreciated working with you on the Journal and seeing the care that you put into it, as well as everything else you do. But I will especially treasure the special memories I have of being in your home not long before the tragic loss of Jim. Sharon, what a unique, special lady you are. May God bless and strengthen you every day.

—Gina Wahlen, Shepherdess Journal, General Conference