She was once the queen of the congregation—always elegantly dressed and with a delicate smile. She is the wife of a former pastor who died a long time ago. He was a good man, but her influence in the church has far outlived his influence.

There was a day when she made her way through the church's fellowship hall like a prima ballerina moving graciously across the floor. Sometimes she provided a gentle and caring face on a prophetic sermon that had just been delivered by her husband or one of his successors. At other times she was welcoming a visitor, smoothing an elder's ruffled feathers from a difficult committee meeting, responding to a denominational vote that left someone grumpy or answering questions about the new director of music—all while sipping coffee and "just chatting."

She would hate the characterization, but she was a church politician with a patent leather purse who knew how congregational democracies worked.