Sunday Service includes Surprise Wedding


Church services often include baptisms and professions of faith, but at The River Christian Reformed Church, a recent Sunday morning service also included a wedding.

On March 20, 2011, the Redlands, Calif., congregation heard that God’s love redeems all of life, including relationships, as they witnessed the covenant of marriage between Philip Daugherty, 42 and Weslene Haines, 53.

The couple, whose lives included a history of drug use and jail time, had been living together for three years prior to finding a home at The River CRC.

Rev. William Verhoef, pastor of family life at the church, said, “They were both clearly open to a fresh start with the Lord. They have wanted to get married for some time but finances were an issue.”

A California marriage license costs $83. Verhoef initially planned to bring the couple to the county clerk. But Rev. Scott Elgersma, senior pastor, suggested they hold the wedding during the church’s new members worship service when Philip was baptized and Weslene reaffirmed her faith.

During the sermon, Elgersma highlighted that God uses extraordinary plans to redeem brokenness. “We then moved to redeeming a broken relationship by having a Christ-filled, God-glorifying ceremony to end the service,” said Elgersma.

When the council heard the wedding idea, there was unanimous agreement. “So many folks got on board. A wedding dress was found for Weslene. The deacons helped Philip rent a tuxedo. Instead of the normal coffee and cookies after the service in the fellowship hall, there were cakes,” said Verhoef. The deacons also arranged for the marriage certificate and fees.

“It feels so great to be part of a new family, to belong to something so good,” said Haines.

For many in the congregation, the wedding came as a surprise.

Christine Nydam said, “I was definitely surprised. Our church has been so supportive of the ministry of helping those who need a little extra help. Having baptism, profession of faith, and a marriage all during a Sunday church service was a wonderful blessing and testimony.”

Shirley Ten Have agreed. “We have heard about God's love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness from the pulpit. Now we have witnessed it as well.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said the new Mrs. Daugherty.

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See comments (6)


I think this will be one service everyone in the church will remember. How wonderful for everyone present, and shows that Gods love know no bounds.
Praise be to HIM.

Wow Scott - talk about a living parable on redemption! Beatuiful


Jeannie DeGroot

What a great idea! We feel that a church service is a great time for weddings! And this one, showing love for each other and a new found faith, a loving community, and love for God. WOW!

Congratulations to the couple and a couple of pastors with a sense of mission and adventure.
I'm so glad that events such as a wedding within a worship renew our commitment to making all aspects of our lives submit to the redemptive work of our Lord.
Shalom to y'all.

In 1974 we got married in the Sunday morning service in Amsterdam, Holland. Reason: giving thanks and getting the marriage blessing in the middle of the whole congregation, not on a weekday with, apart from relatives, 20 members of congregation at the most. The congregation was invited for coffee and cake afterwards, just like the couple in California. Great to hear this news. Maybe a practical idea for choice in big cities where congregation members have a hard time to be present at midweek weddings.

Son, I'm looking forward to reading article. God is so good. Joey and I were absolutely blow away this weekend. Over 30 guys in a 2 bedroom cabin. Led by a group of 1970's Jesus Freaks. 30 x 50 foot chapel the young guys slept in. Five of the geisers as they became know as were extremely talented muscians. Worship was the best I've ever experienced. God moved on these geisers many moons ago. For instance 2 work the prison system and a 47 year old paroled 29-lifer was just pouring out Jesus and inspired all. Much more to tell you but must get after work. I'm sending you my last two emails that I sent/received.