Three Soulforce Weddings
3 SOULFORCE WEDDINGS IN 24 HOURS - OR HOW I SPENT MY GOVERNMENT STIMULUS CHECK
Soulforce has been carrying out its American Family Outing for the last six weeks, from Mother's Day through Father's Day. By what felt was divine providence, the last scheduled action was in California at Saddleback Church.
So when the California Supreme Court announced that same gender weddings would be allowed starting June 17th, a number of Soulforce couples who were already scheduled to be in California started making plans.
I knew that I would want to fly down south to be present, but wasn't sure how I could possibly swing it. Lo and behold, also by what seemed divine providence, my $300 government stimulus check showed up in my mail box.
For most counties, the first day to get your license was the 17th, so I flew down early Tuesday morning so as to be able to accompany the couples as they got their licenses.
The first wedding was Paige and her partner Katy. They have been together now eight years and have a five year old son, Waylon. The wedding took place at the hotel where Soulforce had set up Soulforce Central in Santa Ana. Rev. Jay Bakker had flown from New York for the Saddleback meetings, and made a last minute decision to stay over, so that he could preside at Paige and Katy's wedding.
We gathered next to a beautiful pond with a fountain, as Jay presided. It was a small and intimate wedding - just our Soulforce family and when Jay said those amazing words, "by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you spouses for life," a whoop went up from all attending. We celebrated with champaign and cheesecake. Paige, Katy, Waylon and Jay had to catch their flights back home, and the rest of us went on to our next celebration.
Photos of Paige and Katy
Jeff and his partner, Gary had chosen Zuma Beach in Malibu to have their wedding. The setting was perfect, and even more of our Soulforce family were able to attend the evening event. Another couple from Austin, were also planning to be married at Zuma Beach. Neil Thomas, pastor of MCC LA presided over the celebration. JD Sebastian, who helped lead the singing at the very first Soulforce gathering in Lynchburg,back in 1999, once again led us in singing, "You've got a friend."
As the waves crashed against the beach, Jeff, Gary, and their three children, Niko, age 11, Trei, age 5 and Jolé, age 4 stood together as we heard and watched them repeat their vows. Gary, Niko and Trei are all deaf and the signing of the vows made the words even more powerful.
Tears once again flowed as we watched the joy in the eyes of Jeff and Gary as they repeated their vows. Once again as Neil pronounced those words, that I never in my imagination thought I would hear at a same-gender wedding, "By the power vested in me by the State of California," the group sent up roars of approval and joy.
We celebrated with nonalcoholic champaign and cupcakes, brought by the other couple from Austin. After the ceremony, Jeff, Gary and the three kids romped in the sand near the surf. After the second couple were married, we went home to rest for the next day.
Photos of Jeff and Gary
Gary and Mel were married at the church where they first met and fell in love, All Saints Episcopal in Pasedena. Approximately two dozen people gathered in the chapel for a 12:10 Mass, presided over by their pastor and friend, Ed Bacon. Staff members, Rev. Zelda Kennedy and Rev. Susan Russell copresided. The joy of all three of them to be able to take part in this momentous and historical occasion was evident on their faces.
For me as a Catholic, this Mass touched me even more deeply. Liturgy has such a deep resonance with me and touches places in me that I don't fully comprehend. Fr. Ed's homily was powerful, talking about his long time friendship with Mel & Gary and his own involvement in the Soulforce "Beware the Fox," campaign. He referred to this marriage as a "sacrament of justice." And I couldn't agree with him more. Tears again flowed for me, as I witnessed this ceremony, which was once again followed up with champagne and cookies.
Photos of Mel and Gary
Surely I know that our Soulforce family has been strengthened in this long overdue moment of legal marriage, and look forward to the future marriages already in the planning within our family.
This is so moving, so beautiful...words can not express it. God has blessed each and every couple who were married that day.
The wedding stories and photos are wonderful. It's really great to see these couples share a special moment together exchanging vows of commitment and love. I wish all of them a very happy future.
Thanks Kara for sharing this.
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