For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest…(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
Greetings from Kent! How are things with you? Our family has been doing well. The last two weekends have been especially nice, with time to rake leaves and watch Ohio State football games again. Before that, however, my weekends were tied up with officiating three weddings within the span of one month!
As a pastor for college students and young adults, I feel uniquely positioned to observe wedding trends. And let me tell you: September and October weddings are very popular with young people these days! I can also tell you that barns are big as venues. Outdoor celebrations are on the rise (even before COVID). And desserts are far more varied than the Big White Cake that was traditional back when Marci and I got married (I’ve enjoyed artisanal ice cream, cookies, s’mores, and many other unique sweet treats at weddings over the last few years). I love this aspect of my job!
It’s a joy and a privilege to walk with students through the experiences of dating, engagement, and marriage. Not just pronouncing “Man and Wife” and signing marriage certificates. I appreciate the whole process, with deep discipleship implications each step of the way. Marci and I have really come to enjoy the opportunity to share our years of experience with young couples. And the three new marriages I’ve recently officiated seem to be particularly good case studies of the way that we get to minister to people through the process of casual conversation, premarital counseling, practically preparing for a wedding, and guiding the ceremony itself.
Nick and Kelly
Nick and Kelly met each other through their involvement with the H2O Life Group in Stopher Hall and Johnson Hall (a.k.a. “Sto-Jo”) back in 2015. They were just friends through their first year-and-a-half of college. The second semester of their sophomore year, however, things started to change. I actually have a very specific memory of the day they first shared the news that they had started dating. It was at an end-of-the-semester celebration brunch for that semester’s H2O Interns at the Blue Door Cafe in Akron. (I like to think that the H2O Internship Program is beneficial for a lot of reasons, though I believe that Nick and Kelly are the first marriage to come out of the program!).
Over the next few years, Marci and I got to know Nick and Kelly more deeply through coaching them (and others) in their role as Life Group leaders. Nick eventually felt called by God to go on Staff with H2O after graduation, so we’ve stayed close even as they’ve transitioned from college to the career phase of life. God is doing great things through Nick and Kelly already! Their wedding celebration was on a farm 20 minutes south of Kent, and it was wonderful. Still, would you please pray for their continued growth and development, both as individuals and as a couple?
David and Katie
Katie and David also got to know each other through their years at Kent State University. David, however, didn’t fully discover new life in Jesus until his last couple of years on campus. In fact, the first time I remember David was the day he got baptized (by the same Nick mentioned above!). Katie had been a part of our church previously. But I got to know both of them more deeply when they both joined the East Townhomes (Off-Campus) Life Group, which I was coaching, in the Fall of 2018. I was particularly impressed by the way they influenced others through their involvement with other campus organizations at Kent State University. Katie took the lead in the University’s “Dress Up for Downs” initiative — connecting the Kent State Fashion community with the Downs Syndrome community. David was a major contributor in his fraternity and in the University’s Flashathon philanthropic initiative.
They graduated and moved to Columbus last spring, but they still asked me to officiate their wedding. So we figured out some creative solutions for long-distance premarital counseling. And then I drove down to central Ohio on a beautiful Fall Saturday to officiate a small family ceremony for them and about twenty guests. They hope to have a bigger celebration with more guests for their one-year anniversary, but for now they’ve got everything they need to start their new life together. Please be praying for their relationship, as they live out the first year of their marriage in a place that’s relatively unknown to them.
Joshua and Evelyn
Joshua and Evelyn were also a part of H2O during their college years. I remember Evie as a tiny little sophomore, boldly engaging with people at the University’s beginning-of-the-year Blast-Off event (she more than held her own, getting to help make connections with hundreds of new students). I remember long, serious conversations with Josh about things God was doing in his heart.
So even though we hadn’t stayed in close contact since their graduation in the spring of 2018, it was cool to have them reach out and ask if I would be willing to officiate their wedding. The weather was cold but sunny on the Saturday of their wedding, and their families seemed to really appreciate the way that the Gospel was presented throughout the ceremony. Both families had international elements, too, so it was especially fun to hang out with them at the Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding Reception. They’re starting their marriage in a town about 30 minutes north of Kent, and they’re just getting involved with a good church in that area. Please pray with me for God to surround them with deep community in this new church.
I don’t know about you. But it does my heart good to see life carry on throughout a weird year like 2020. It’s not just weddings, either. Within the course of a two-week span here in Kent last month, our Staff team got to celebrate the aforementioned wedding, a baptism celebration for a student from the church, an engagement, a birth, and the announcement of a new pregnancy! Isn’t that amazing?!? Life goes on, even through a pandemic and a contentious election! We have reason to be thankful for the signs of life happening around us. And how much more can we celebrate eternal life in Jesus!
Thank you for your faithful support in prayer and finances that allows us to be doing what we’re doing. We’re so glad to have ministry teammates like you. We’ll be in touch…