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Monday, June 9, 2008

50th Wedding Anniversary

This past weekend was busy but blessed. Our daughters, son, and granddaughters hosted a wonderful 50th Anniversary celebration for us at the Hilton Garden Inn’s Majestic Hall in Colorado Springs. More than one hundred guests attended the open house, including my lifelong buddy Ralph Bell and his wife Jean. They drove from Fort Collins to participate in the happy occasion.

Ralph retired last year from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association after 40-plus years of preaching in crusades around the world. We became friends in the second grade at Court Street School in St. Catharines, Ontario, and continued our friendship through grade school, high school, and Moody Bible Institute. We proposed to our future wives the same day, and we both moved our families to Colorado in the summer of 1971.

When Ralph and I were high school students, we became Christians. Ralph became a Christian and then persuaded me to become a Christian. Later, we were baptized the same day and became active members of a Bible-teaching, missionary-minded church. Ralph met Jean, a schoolteacher, when he attended Moody. I met Gloria when she and I were students at Moody.

Gloria's sister Dawn flew in from Springfield, Virginia, for our celebration and stayed at our home, much to our delight and the delight of our three little dogs. We all had a great time with Dawn, who is 23 years younger than Gloria and several weeks younger than our daughter Sherrie. She and Gloria are not identical twins by any stretch of the imagination, but their personalities are certainly a close match. We hope she will visit us again, long before our centennial anniversary celebration.

Although it was 50 years ago that Gloria and I exchanged our wedding vows in Alexandria, Virginia, her hometown, it doesn’t seem that long ago. Nor does it seem very long ago that we met at Chicago Gospel Mission on Madison Street just west of the Chicago Loop. Moody Bible Institute had assigned a number of students, including us, to the task of finding kids in the mission’s neighborhood, whom we would walk to Sunday school, teach, and walk back to their homes. By drawing numbers from hats, Gloria and I were paired and sent onto the streets in search of kids. Soon—very soon—we were dating. Three years later, after I graduated from Moody and then from Houghton College, we married. The wedding took place June 7, 1958, only five days after I graduated from Houghton.

The Lord has blessed us with two daughters and a son, two sons-in law, and two granddaughters, all of whom are very smart with a good sense of humor. And most important, all of them are Christians. A side benefit is the fact that my sons-in-law play golf.

Gloria devoted her life to raising our children, but took brief excursions into the world of work as a retail clerk, customer service rep, and part-time Jill of all trades at publishing houses where I worked as an editor. We still chuckle about the time a customer entered the Christian bookstore where Gloria worked. He asked her manager, “Do you carry the Greek New Testament?”

“I don’t know,” the manager replied. “Who wrote it?”

I edited for 30 years, and with the exception of two years, I also ministered in churches. I was a full-time pastor from 1958 to 1971, and then ministered either as a part-time pastor or interim pastor. Altogether, I have served 15 congregations, and I am currently serving as an interim pastor in Penrose, Colorado.

Gloria and I enjoyed receiving well wishes from former church members in several states and seeing several area congregations represented at our 50th celebration. Cards from many friends in Canada and throughout the United States made our day even more special.

Thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness! And thanks to our family and friends for honoring us on our 50th Anniversary!

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