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Woodynook Christian Reformed Church, near Lacombe, Alberta, has much to celebrate this year. Nineteen couples from the congregation are celebrating more than 50 years of marriage.

Nearly half of them were married in the church and have spent their entire married lives as members.

The legacy of each family and God’s faithfulness continues as the pews fill with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Woodynook CRC has 19 couples married more than 50 years.

Rachel deKoning Kraay

Woodynook CRC is in a predominantly rural farming community. That’s one of the reasons why Irene Reitsma, married to John for 54 years, thinks there are so many couples married for so long.

“There was no doubt in our minds that [our marriage] was for life, and being on the farm, we worked together building the farm and a family. The church was the center of our life,” she said. “That was probably the strength in some hard times. We have been blessed being able to live and raise our children in a rural area.”

Irene Prins and her husband, Frank, married 51 years, agree. “We like to think it’s our farming community that has helped us stay connected. We have worked and played together every day.”

And their secret to a long-lasting marriage? “Talking things over, keeping no secrets, and giving each other space to develop the gifts God has given each of us,” said Irene. “Love is a decision, not a cozy feeling. It is a commitment.”

Femmie TenHove, married to Eb for 54 years this year, said there is no secret to their lasting marriage. “Commitment to our Lord and each other, our strong faith,” she said. “Living in a farming community, we depended much on our Lord and each other, through the good, bad, and worse. We learned to endure trials and celebrate triumphs. We were a close-knit community, very much in tune with each other, though we didn’t always agree!”

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