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One Church, One Day, Seven Weddings -- for Free

Before a couple can experience a healthy marriage, they need to be married, and recently Calvary Church discipled, mentored, and provided weddings for seven couples in their congregation.
The church isn’t for perfect people; each person is on their own personal journey toward spiritual maturity and relationship with Christ. And Marty Sloan, lead pastor of Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois, was well aware that amongst the congregation of roughly 5,700, there were numerous couples living together — some raising families — outside of marriage.

But on Saturday, June 1, with the church’s help, seven couples brought their relationships within the boundaries of marriage in a non-stop series of weddings at Calvary Church.

Just before the New Year, Sloan spoke on the sacredness of marriage and its reflection of Christ and the Church. And then came the offer: any couple currently attending the church and living together who wanted to get married, the church would provide a free wedding experience for them, including the venue (the church), flowers, photography, videography, and a light reception.

However, the offer came with some stipulations. Those couples interested needed to contact the church for consideration as this offer was limited to those couples who sincerely wanted to invite God into the middle of their family through marriage. They would also have to go through the church’s premarital counseling program, which included the highly regarded SYMBIS marriage assessment.

“We don’t want people to get their definition of marriage from culture,” explained Sloan, “we want them to get their definition from God.”

“The premarital counseling and assessment provided us a chance to disciple couples, explaining how marriage reflects the sanctity of relationship with God,” says Michael Grove, executive pastor of ministries for the church. “Each couple went through the counseling and then they were assigned a staff pastor who assisted them through the process of getting married and starting a new chapter in their lives as a married couple.”

On Saturday, the weddings began at 10 a.m., each one taking about 20 to 25 minutes, followed by a reception, and ran consecutively through the day.

“Pastor Marty did all the services,” Grove says. “He went through the vows, the rings — the standard wedding ceremony — but then addressed the guests, explaining why we do weddings, why the wedding day, and what marriage means to us as potentially there were family members wondering, Why now? On each guest’s seat we also placed a little card explaining why we value marriage.”

According to Grove, the day of weddings was an incredible success.

“The feedback we received was nothing but gratitude,” he says. “Family members who were able to attend were so grateful that we would even offer something like this.”

What’s more, each of the newly wed couples also received complimentary tickets to the church’s two-day marriage conference coming this fall to help them take their marriages to deeper levels of love and intimacy.

The church is also offering marriage master classes, delving into the holiness of marriage and why it matters.

“These are just some of the many pieces we’re using to rebuild marriage, culturally speaking,” Grove says. “We’re just excited to hopefully reshape the conversation — really invest in what marriage should look like — and help people have healthy marriages.”

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.