Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 1: The Phone Call

First off, please remember that this happened a long time ago, when I was fresh out of seminary and serving my first full-time church. Suz and I had moved to a rural community, population 814, in the lake area of Missouri. The church folks quickly took us to their hearts and made us feel like family. They were gracious and loving to me as I tried to learn how to be a pastor. So, with that bit of background, here's the story.

It was on a Tuesday, a warm September evening when the phone rang at the parsonage. A man called me to ask if I would conduct a wedding for him and his fiance. They were wanting to get married on Saturday, just four days away. Well, I didn't know much, but I knew that as a pastor I was supposed to provide some kind of premarital counseling based on my thorough knowledge and expertise after 3 1/2 years of marriage. The man said that was fine with him as long as we could get together before Saturday. As it turned out, Saturday morning was the only time we could meet, so we set the appointment for 9:00 a.m. They wanted the ceremony at 5:00 p.m. that same day. The last thing he said took me completely by surprise. "Preacher, we're gonna have the wedding at the donut shop." I couldn't hide my shock. "The donut shop?" He replied, "Yeah, yeah, we need to do it at the donut shop cause we want Curtis and Nadine (who ran the donut shop) to stand up with us, and they don't get off til six." Caught off guard and not knowing what else to say, I reluctantly agreed.

After I hung up I got to thinking about the whole conversation. Already I had the sneaking feeling that this was something I would soon regret doing. Why couldn't they just wait until 6:00 and then come over to the church with Curtis and Nadine for the ceremony? I didn't know this couple and Curtis and Nadine were good Lutheran folks, so I took some solace in the hope that maybe I could get through this strange scenario without anyone else noticing my participation. Was I a little naive about small town living or just plain stupid? Stay tuned, then you decide.

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