- Last Updated on 11:14 AM 02/24/10
- BY Paula I. Bryant
Eight couples renewed their wedding vows in a unique renewal of marriage vows ceremony held Sunday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church. A brainstorm of the “Bethel Joy Club” ladies, the original service was open to all families, friends and members of the community who wished to attend this occasion and share the evening with the eight couples renewing their vows, according to Joy Club member Constance P. Gravitt.
The club formed in March 2009 when 15 “strong ladies of all ages” came together with a goal of J- Jesus first; O – Others second; and Y – Yourself last.
Each month one of the members opens her home for fellowship, Bible study and refreshments, and it was during one of their meetings the ladies decided to host the unique marriage vow renewal service.
Of the group, eight ladies convinced their husbands to participate, and the other seven women served as the support team for the event, Gravitt said.
Couples participating in the renewal of vows service included Mitchell and Constance Gravitt, C. J. and Betty Womack, Andy and Jill Wilmoth, Jimmie and Leta Davis, George and Sarah Crump, Woody and Joan Waller, Roy and Virginia Roberts, and Rodney and Cheryl Watson.
Various other activities also took place on the evening of the marriage renewal service, Gravitt said, noting the group competed with the South Boston parade, Scottsburg Fire Department senior dinner and Powell Funeral Home’s remembrance service.
However, she said approximately 160 friends and family members attended the ceremony at Bethel Baptist Church that evening.
Other obstacles would pop up during the planning process and prior to the actual event, but nothing so great the JOY Club members couldn’t overcome, Gravitt said.
“Our minister’s wife had agreed to be our reader for the ceremony; however six weeks prior to the ceremony, they announced their departure,” she said.
And a week before the ceremony the group’s pianist was notified of another pressing commitment which prevented her from participating, Gravitt said.
“I thought I was going to be physically ill,” she continued.
“Everyone had worked so hard, and I knew they were going to be disappointed. We rallied together and drew support, encouragement and love from each other, and everything started to fall back into place, just like a miracle,” she said.
“Our wonderful and devoted friend, Rev. Vance Midgett, said he would be honored to perform the ceremony, and the best part was that he already knew most of the couples personally.
“Kirsten C. McCormick, a very special friend and devoted Christian, agreed to serve as our reader, and one of the couples knew a pianist, Janie Guill, who with no hesitation agreed to play for us,” Gravitt said explaining how the pieces of the puzzle quickly fit together again.
The ceremony opened the Christmas season at Bethel, and the sanctuary was decorated with red poinsettias and a Christmas tree decorated with white lights and white decorations.
The balcony was decorated with lighted garland and red bows. Each window had a single white candle with garland and a red bow at its base.
After all guests were seated, and the lights dimmed, Rebecca McCormick lit the candles.
Soloist Cecil F. Hazelwood provided special music.
“We were so pleased Cecil was available to sing one of her best, ‘The Rose,’ for the couples,” Gravitt said.
All eight gentlemen, four on each side of the sanctuary entered the church to “Amazed” by Lonestar.
As the reader read each couple’s introduction and each couples’ song played, their flower girl entered the church spreading a carpet of red rose petals.
Each gentleman then greeted his lady, escorted by their brother, son or daughter, carrying a single long-stemmed red rose, under an arch decorated with white lights, candles, white roses and ivy.
He then escorted her to their place to wait for the other couples to form an arc in front of their guests.
According to Gravitt, instead of a traditional marriage ceremony, Rev. Vance Midgett read the following “Declaration of Intent.”
“When you first joined hands and hearts years ago, you did not know where life would take you. You promised to love, honor and cherish one another through all things. Life has surely brought you both wonderful blessings and difficult tribulations. Therefore, you have fulfilled your promises, and God is smiling. You have helped one another grow into becoming a better person, and you complete one another. You are still the best part of each other’s day. So, as you come here tonight to reaffirm and rededicate your wedding vows, and as you reflect back over the years as husband and wife, do you now reaffirm and rededicate the vows you took with each other years ago?”
After each couple said “I do,” Hazelwood sang “I Will Be Here” to the couples, and each couple was presented with a “Renewal of Marriage Vows” certificate indicating their years of marriage.
After a kiss under the mistletoe, hidden under the arch, the couples left the sanctuary to Vince Gill’s “Look at Us.”
The recessional continued with the escorts and flower girls following the couples.
Rosa Eades, mistress of ceremony, introduced each couple at the reception, and the couples, invited guests, families and friend enjoyed a “feast,” provided and served by reception hostess Georgia Ann High and the “Joy Club” ladies.
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, Red Velvet cupcakes, each decorated with a red poinsettia was served to the guests from a cupcake tower.
Each couple was presented with a copy of “Praying For Our Marriage,” Devotions and Prayers for Husbands and Wives in remembrance of Kate S. Gravitt, Sept. 9, 1915 – April 27, 2008.
Each copy was inscribed with the couple’s original wedding date, as well as the renewal date.
Following the renewal service, each couple commented on their life together as follows:
Couple 1: Rodney and Cheryl Watson
“The ‘Renewal of Marriage Vows’ in December was wonderful. Our favorite part of that night was watching the seven other couples show their love for each other.”
Couple 2: Jimmie and Leta Davis
“As we listened to the words of our song ‘Misty,’ our response was gratitude. We’re grateful for the opportunity to stop and remember how thankful we are for God giving us each other. By the world’s standards we had very little to give to a marriage. God saw beyond what we lacked to the inward qualities of love, caring and sharing. These are good qualities to have as we grow old together, and that still makes us misty.”
Couple 3: Woody and Joan Waller
“Renewing of our marriage vows was a very special occasion for us. It was almost like having a real church wedding, which we didn’t have when we first got married. There was so much excitement all around, and having our family participate made it even more special. It made us stop and think about what a special relationship we really do have after all these years. Last, but certainly not least, we just returned from our dream honeymoon, and we had a wonderful time. So glad we did it.”
Couple 4: Andy and Jill Wilmoth
“Renewing wedding vows holds such a deeper meaning because you have years of memories that are both good and not so good. You realize you have been through hard times, and yet you are still together, and it has made you stronger. When you marry the first time, you can only imagine a great future. When you are willing to renew your vows, it signifies you have made it through a past that was not always perfect, but you made it through together and are still committed.”
Couple 5: C.J. and Betty Womack
The “Renewal of Marriage Vows” meant a recommitment of our love we have for each other after 45 years of marriage. Second, we wanted to share our renewal with our families and friends. We had the chance to share this with seven other couples, and we will never forget that night. It was a great day.”
Couple 6: George and Sarah Crump
“Our ‘Renewal of Marriage Vows’ is a memory that we will cherish forever. It meant our love for each other has grown stronger, and our dream of living together as one in a happy home is actually what God has blessed us with and continues to bless us each day. To be a part of such a magical event was truly awesome.”
Couple 7: Roy and Virginia Roberts
“We were married at Bethel Baptist Church in 1984 with a pastor and a special couple as our witnesses, but God was missing. Our ‘Renewal of Marriage Vows’ ceremony 25 years later with a special minister, the same witnesses, family and new special friends were there with God in their hearts to share this occasion with us. The love we felt was unbelievable — it was amazing. God blessed us with His presence and continues to bless us each day. He is in control of our marriage — ‘til death do us part.”
Couple 8: Mitchell and Constance Gravitt
“Our ‘Renewal of Marriage Vows’ was special to us in so many ways. Our sons, friends, seven other couples and church family witnessed our recommitment and shared this wonderful occasion with us. The sacredness of the evening was so overwhelming and humbling knowing our most special invited guest was in attendance – God. As we continue to watch the video, see the smiles, hugs and the tears, it’s clear that these eight couples were truly blessed and are stronger for sharing this glorious event. Also, in the fall we are going to celebrate our 14th anniversary with a second honeymoon.”