Posted by: Renee | August 16, 2013

Something to Celebrate!


Joy – pure, deep joy – that’s what I see when I look at this photo of Connie and me with the priest at our wedding last week. I’m happy to say we were legally wed on August 6th, our 15th anniversary, at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery in New York City! The particular moment captured in this photo was when we heard the resounding “We will!” from a group of friends in MS, via a Skype connection, when asked if they would pray for, celebrate with, and honor our covenant with one another.

Of all the things that have brought me joy over the past month since putting the wedding on our calendar – not the least of which is the joy of remembering I get to spend my life with the most amazing person I know by my side – the greatest joy has come from the responses of friends, some family, and even strangers when they’ve heard the news. Those responses have been so wonderful that they have far outweighed the disappointments – like the fact that we couldn’t have a legal ceremony in Mississippi or within our own church or officiated by our own pastor. In fact, those circumstances led us to a whole different set of blessings.

You see, after contacting Rev. Winnie Varghese about officiating our ceremony and she and other leaders at St. Mark’s watched the testimony Connie and I shared at the MS United Methodist Annual Conference in 2009, she let us know that St. Mark’s was honored to host our ceremony and wanted to offer it as a gift to us! That generous act touched us at a much deeper level than our pocketbook, for we felt truly embraced by this faith community 1200 miles away. During the ceremony, Winnie actually thanked us, saying we had gifted them with our request to be there! For those who know what it’s like for your marital bliss to be a mixed bag for your faith community – a blessing and yet a burden as well – a wholehearted embrace and celebration feels like a real Godsend. Indeed, I believe it is nothing short of a Divine embrace.

We’ve also felt that embrace from our Sunday school class and other friends who wanted to witness our ceremony so much that they gathered together to Skype it! From notes and gifts to prayers and hugs, we have felt so loved and celebrated that it’s kind of surreal. Our cup is overflowing. I think that’s why this photo is my favorite of our wedding pictures – because you can see the joy just spilling out of us, joy that will not be contained. Joy that is fuller and deeper because it is being shared by others.

This whole experience has prompted me to ponder Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” It should come as no surprise that Jesus’ ministry was centered on teaching us how to love one another, for abundant living is all about love – in all its many forms.  How fitting that the first miracle recorded in that same Gospel is Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding at Cana.  When given the chance, Jesus chose to celebrate life and love and used his gifts to bless those who came to him. 

I could go on and on about how St. Mark’s Church and so many of our friends and family have blessed us with their hospitality, generosity, and excitement.  But suffice it to say, I am forever grateful for people and churches that let themselves be God’s hands and God’s heart in the world. Everyone should get to experience this kind of celebration of their love for another, for love is something to celebrate!

To support the ministry of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, click here.



  1. I lived in Jackson, Ms for over 30 years. I am so proud to say that there are two churches there that welcome all people who are soul seekers. My husband and I live in Dallas and go to a reconciling…Grace UMS. I studied to be a ‘Local Pastor’ but because of what they were my beliefs I was denied a church.

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