Couples renew vows at Sweetheart Service

February 16, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Full of excitement, 6-year-old Danielle Wiseman scooted up and down the pew on Sunday, witnessing something not every child gets to see.

Her mom and dad got married.

"It was fun," said Danielle of her parents' vow renewal at Trinity Lutheran Church in Smallwood.

Her parents, Frank and Phyllis Wiseman, were participating with about 10 other couples in the church's first Sweetheart Service.

"We renewed our vows the first time at our fifth-year anniversary," said Ms. Wiseman, who will celebrate her ninth anniversary in October. "Then he [Mr. Wiseman] had five cancer operations last year, and after it was over, we decided we'd had such a rough year that we'd renew our vows."

When Trinity parishioner Ada Woods heard of the idea, she thought other couples might enjoy participating in the service, said the Rev. Keith Hardy, the church's pastor.

"I thought, 'Valentine's Day, on a Sunday, why not?' " said Mr. Hardy, who renewed vows with his wife of 16 years, Liz Hardy.

"Sixteen years, one month and 19 days ago, on a snowy December day in a church in Philadelphia, I received the best Christmas present I've ever received," he said during the Sunday evening sermon. "And right before the service I did just what I did tonight. I tied the bow on the back of her dress.

"So much for superstition about seeing the bride before the wedding."

The couples in the ceremony represented over two centuries of marriage, Mr. Hardy said.

Bill and Gertrude Weisgerber have been together the longest, 51 years. Jennifer and Craig Pierson have been married for seven months and three days.

"The things that used to surprise me don't any more, and the things that didn't surprise me now do," Mr. Hardy told the congregation.

The pastor said he used to be astonished that people got married and divorced very quickly. He now is surprised, and impressed, by couples who surmount the troubles in their marriages and stay together.

"What amazes me is that on a cold February night this many people came out to celebrate the gift God gives us in marriage," he said. "You are all part of a miracle.

"The miracle of love that God gives us is as big and beautiful as that first miracle Jesus performed at a wedding reception, where he brought the equivalent of 50 cases of wine as a wedding gift," said Mr. Hardy, referring to when Jesus turned water into wine.

Sunday's service prompted stories of how the couples met and eventually married. Stuart and Janet Bish were high school sweethearts,

separated during World War II.

"I think Stuart found a little German girl he liked better," said Ms. Bish, as her husband emphatically shook his head. "Anyway, he decided not to write to me anymore."

The pair separated, and Ms. Bish married someone else. Mr. Bish remained single, and by the time their 25th high school reunion rolled around, her first husband had died.

"So, we went to our class reunion together," Ms. Bish said. "He was on my list of people to call, anyway." They've been married for 15 years.

Mr. Hardy and his wife said they were more emotional Sunday than they thought they would be.

"It impacted on me all the things these people have shared and what will transpire between here and the grave," said Ms. Hardy. "Not to be morbid, but when you get married, you're in for the long haul."

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