When I grow up, I want to be like Jane Patete.
That’s what I decided after I spent time learning from her about her life for this interview. Jane’s heart for the church, her love of Christ, and her commitment to the ministry of the PCA radiated from her the moment I first reached out to her. She rests and trusts in God’s sovereign control over all things in a way I long to. Her passion and reliance on prayer is one I pray God would foster in me.
I’m excited to share this interview because Jane has done so much for the church and for women’s ministry. Her stories of God’s faithfulness and the way he has used her are stories we all need to hear. This interview is another in the series of PCA Women You Should Meet. To read the other interviews in that series, click here. The original interview was too long to post here, but if you want to read it in full, click here.
Jane with her 2 children, their spouses, and 6 grandchildren
Christina: You have been a part of the PCA since its early days. When exactly did you join the PCA and what were the circumstances surrounding that?
Jane: My teaching elder husband, Tom and I joined the PCA in 1973 as charter members. It was a time marked by a growing unrest among reformed ruling and teaching elders. To quote a phrase, “It was the worst of times and the best of times.” To God All Praise and Glory by Paul and Georgia Settle, chronicles the faithfulness and goodness of God to faithful men and women who watched and fervently prayed for revival in the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA). I urge PCA women and churches to read this story of God’s care and power.
“By 1968 (in the PCUSA), practically every doctrine held precious by God’s people had been denied, rejected, ridiculed, or at least called into question in and through the denominational publications, pronouncements, and programs.” (from: To God All Praise and Glory)
Revival did not come, but God gave birth to the Presbyterian Church in America(PCA), a denomination founded by men and women who had wept and prayed for a Church that would be true to the Bible, the Reformed Faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. But in the midst of His goodness, there was left behind broken relationships— often in families, loss of properties, and deep wounds between brothers.
I would be remiss not to emphasize this substantive ministry of our women!! PCA women played an important role in the founding of the PCA. These heroes were women who prayed for their husbands, women who held them when they returned from PCUSA Presbyteries, weeping with them over the wounds of word and deed, women who prayed and supported their husbands in attending lectures and rallies, and women who continued true to teaching God’s Word.
Christina: What was women’s ministry like at that time? Both in local churches and at the denominational level.
Jane: I am grateful for this question because it gives me the opportunity to tell succeeding generations to never ‘take for granted’ the privileged place where we stand today as a denomination and in our ministry to women in the church. It began with Paul and Georgia Settle creating a strong prayer foundation, quickly finding godly, adept women to serve with her and use their gifts to write solid Biblical resources. Soon, we were growing in numbers, planning conferences, and vision setting — by God’s grace — the PCA’s ministry to women in the church took off and has been protected by God allowing a strong biblical and covenantal legacy to be established, lived out, and passed on to the future generations. I am thankful for how the Lord used Drs. Charles Dunahoo and Stephen Estock to safeguard and continue the work of women’s ministry in the PCA.
Christina: What roles have you had in women’s ministry over the years? Both in your local church and at the national level.
Jane: Thank you for this question! Sweet Memories abound. Before marriage, as a young college woman, I was involved in catechizing the next generation. Both Tom and I were blessed to be covenant children who were given generational blessing in our homes, churches, and through the gifts of ‘living stones’ (men and women who invested in each of us). As a pastor’s wife, I was called on to be a Bible and SS teacher and I loved this part of kingdom service in our three pastorates. Caring for and serving others in our churches and communities brought pleasure and discipleship opportunities.
My first official ministry call as a PCA Pastor’s wife in our denomination was to serve Covenant Presbytery alongside several godly, older women. My role as Covenant PresWIC Vice President was to travel with them to the PCA churches of Arkansas and Mississippi, sharing our joy in being part of this new denomination, encouraging them to seek out the solid biblical curriculum/ Bible Studies that were now being offered from the Committee for Christian Education and Publication. I was discipled as we drove many miles together; a rich legacy of biblical womanhood along the way! I smile as I look back at God’s sovereign hand in letting me begin and end my ‘official ministry in the PCA’ by sharing, learning, building godly relationships, and discipling PCA Women to think biblically and live covenantally!!
Service at the national level of the PCA has brought me some of the richest experiences of my life. In 1978, Tom was called to become the Executive Director of Great Commission Publications where He served 34 years until God called him home to glory. This call required us to leave the pastorate and move to Philadelphia, PA where we would “live, move, and have our being.” Our years in the great Northeast opened wide vistas of kingdom service.
I was asked to work at Westminster Theological Seminary in the theological library. My world grew as I met, loved, and served men and women from across the globe – each there to be trained to take the Truth of God to the nations. I was privileged to serve not only the students, but the professors!!! God enlarged my heart and mind through the teaching of men and women— heroes of the faith — Edmund Clowney, Van Till, Sinclair Ferguson, Tim Keller, Diane Langberg, Ed Welch, Ray Dillard and others!!!
In 1993, GCP moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta, GA. In 1994 I was asked to serve as PresWIC President for the 60 churches of then North Georgia Presbytery. God used my time to help me learn and serve the churches and women in this new area. I was privileged to serve on the Presbytery Christian Education Committee and on the sub-committee of “Pastor Care.”
The privileged days of serving, learning and working alongside of Susan as her administrative assistant began in July of 1996. We immediately began to plan and work on a conference, “Helper’s by Design,” a conference for wives of ruling and teaching PCA Elders and Deacons. It was where I first met Karen Hodge as she introduced one of our keynote speakers, Barbara Barker. I still remember my first impression of this gifted and teachable young minister’s wife!!! This was a thrilling weekend for me to see these women taught, loved, encouraged, and connected in ministry. Susan was a wonderful visionary and teacher — these were years of falling more in love with my denomination and growing in gratitude for the gifts of Godly truth, wisdom, and covenantal life and blessings that we were passing on to future generations. In 1999, we turned the spotlight on Mercy Ministry and prayed, planned, and hosted a conference for 4000 women to pass on the legacy of compassion to the next generation.
My twelve years as a Women’s Advisor at Covenant College provided a greater understanding and appreciation of the stellar academics and the modeling of “A desire for God, above all things and in all things!” As an Advisor, we were often provided time to invest in the young women students formally and ‘along the way.’ Currently I am serving on the Atlanta Area’s Covenant College Wilberforce Scholarship Program. The Committee is given the kingdom privilege of reading, evaluating, and interviewing the next generation of Biblically grounded young men and women who share a passion for social justice.
Since retiring, I have been intentional in focusing and investing in my local church ministry to women. I did ask for a brief respite (after the death of my husband nearly four years ago) to rest, grieve, and spend time in His Word. This was a time of sweet fellowship and personal nurture for my weary soul. I have enjoyed attending our Bible studies, serving in large and small ways as needed, and this year I will serve on the local women’s ministry team and teach one of our Bible studies in the spring (at Old Peachtree PCA).
Christina: Can you share several things that took place in women’s ministry during your time as coordinator?
Jane: Getting to work alongside Susan Hunt and Barbara Thompson to develop and set purpose for the curricula and training for the Women’s Ministry Trainers. In God’s timing, I had the privilege to further implement the impactful ‘gifts’ of Women’s Ministry Trainers to our PCA Churches. What a rich privilege to send these vessels of His Truth, armed with strong gifts of teaching and application to strengthen, train and encourage local churches— a wonderful way to equip and connect local churches and Pres WICs to our resources and to one another.
One of the most stretching and thrilling challenges was to work with my team of Women’s Advisors (WASC) and our Trainers in planning a major conference in 2006 in which God brought 4000 women ages 14 and up! When I raised the question “Is it time for another conference?” to our team, the immediate response was “No!” We went to our rooms to pray and came back the next morning with repentant hearts, tears, and unanimity of thought! Thinking of Judges 2:10 – “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel,” we knew this was our path of obedience! “Generation to Generation” was our theme and our guiding verse: Psalm 71:17,18!
The last conference my team planned was in 2011, “Amazing Grace 360” – Whole Gospel, Whole Life, Whole World. Nancy Guthrie was our teacher, and we used the “grid of God’s Story as it unfolds in the Bible, History, and in broken hearts” (Scotty Smith). It was my personal conference favorite as I, along with 2000 of God’s daughters fed on God’s redemptive plan of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Brian Hagbig ended our weekend together with the glorious Consummation of God’s plan and faithfulness to His people.
Christina: What was one of your greatest joys about serving in women’s ministry?
Jane: When I was at the Birmingham Transformed Conference, standing on the stage with Susan and Karen, I realized the joy of ‘seeing the faces of God’s daughters’ and rejoicing in their presence and desire to KNOW God in a deeper, richer way, and to be worthy servants who desire to reflect His beauty and grace in a kingdom way through Word and deed.
Secondly, the personal growth and trust in God’s sovereign purposes for me — and the kingdom privilege to personally and corporately equip women of the PCA to love the King of the Church, to abide in His Word, and extend His Kingdom in love.
Christina: What do you see for women’s ministry in the future?
Jane: As I look at the world in my 72nd year, I want to call myself and our PCA leaders (men and women) to stay grounded in the inerrant Word of God, allowing its precepts to guard and guide our paths. As I said earlier, the PCA was formed because our former denomination lost their way moving from absolute Truth to moralism and relativism. My plea is for women’s ministry to stay the course, always pointing the next generations to the Triune God of faithfulness, holiness, and love. What we experienced and were taught at the Transformed conference was Christian Education that points us to “see Jesus” in all ways, in all things!
I read somewhere that “prayer is the gymnasium of the soul,” and as women of all ages and stages, we must be on our knees in persistent, urgent prayer for our generations, for our church, for our pastors/leaders to be preachers and teachers of God’s Truth and not led astray by the siren call of our culture. The health of Women’s ministry in the future will be protected or weakened by the leadership/faithfulness of our Shepherds. May we pray!