EDITORIAL: Doing more than throwing rice
So when Lauren Stafford, daughter of administrative assistant Tonda Stafford and her husband, Barry, wed high school and youth group sweetheart Brandon Keck on a recent Saturday afternoon, we all were excited to share in their joy.
Dark-haired, 3-year-old Maggie Tryggestad, daughter of assistant managing editor Erik Tryggestad and his wife, Jeanie, walked in tiny, measured steps and dropped rose petals. Bailey McBride, editor emeritus, and his wife, Joyce, beamed from their seats on the aisle.
The rest of us smiled through the tears in our eyes as we saw the Staffords’ younger daughter, Rebecca, walk gingerly down the aisle in her deep pink gown. On one arm was her escort, on the other a black bandage that reminded us of her ongoing treatment for cancer.
The bride was breathtakingly beautiful, and her groom looked so proud and happy. During the ceremony, minister Steve Schinnerer, the bride’s uncle, praised the smiling couple’s devotion to God and each other.
As Brandon and Lauren begin their journey together, we are reminded of God’s precious gift of marriage.
We were heartened by recent census statistics showing that married couples are staying together longer than they have in years. Three in four couples who married after 1990 celebrated a 10-year anniversary.
With wedding season in full swing, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on ways in which we — as individual Christians and as congregations — can promote strong marriages and families.
A few suggestions:
• Provide support — Create a marriage mentoring program, matching older couples with newlyweds. Let the older generation share its secrets.
Organize a couples retreat. Invite a speaker who can inspire husbands and wives to remember what brought them together. But leave plenty of free time for couples to relax and spend time with each other. And be sure to come up with a plan for babysitting!
Schedule special church activities such as picnics, barbecues and hay rides that promote fellowship and family togetherness.
• Promote transparency — Make your congregation a place where people can be honest about the struggles and challenges they face.
Talk about God’s vision for sex.
Stress openness and accountability in men-only and women-only Bible classes, small groups and prayer meetings.
Above all, be real, not fake.
• Praise longevity — You probably have couples in your congregation who have been married 30, 40, 50 years or more. Celebrate that!
Organize a sweetheart banquet for long-married couples. And encourage the youth group to serve the meals.
Put then-and-now pictures of these lovely couples in the church bulletin.
With God’s help, let’s do all we can to help Brandon and Lauren — and others — fulfill their vows.