May 27-June 2, 2013
Church Ministry News
East Gate Barclay Memorial Church celebrates 110th anniversary by helping 65 couples renew marriage vows
Reported by Chen Yi-hsuan
Written by Lydia Ma
East Gate Barclay Memorial Church in Tainan is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. The church has already held some special meetings and fun activities to mark this special milestone and there are still some events planned for the remainder of the year. The most recent special event that the church planned was held on the afternoon of May 26 at 3:00 p.m. During this special thanksgiving service, the church helped 65 couples, all of whom were church parishioners, to renew their marital vows to one another.
The sanctuary was decorated with many flower wreaths and the red carpet was rolled out for that service. The brides wore wedding gowns and their husbands wore suits and ties. The air was abuzz with joy and excitement as these couples got ready and waited for their cue by the entrance of the chapel. In many respects, the occasion felt like the biggest wedding of the century in the city and many passing cars, passerby, and people living near the church either slowed down to take a peek or walked into the church to see what was going on.
Two famous political figures were invited to attend this special renewing of vows. Former President Lee Teng-hui was invited to give a brief sermon and he spoke on “The Significance of Religious Faith”. Lee encouraged his listeners to walk according to God’s will and to trust in this invisible God who truly exists. He hoped that as people pursued Christianity, they would come to know their identity. He also hoped that whenever they encountered difficulties, this faith would help them think outside of the box and find solutions.
The other famous political figure in attendance was Tainan Mayor William Lai. “I usually congratulate couples with the words “May you bear a son soon!” whenever I attend a wedding,” he said jokingly. His comment was met with a roar of laughter from the audience as many of these couples were elderly people. The mayor then went on to underscore the importance of healthy families in a healthy and happy city. He said he was very happy to see churches placing such an emphasis on marriages and families. He also gave a brief introduction of the city’s childcare stipend for married couples with young children.
PCT General Secretary-elect Lyim Hong-tiong presided over the pledging of marriage vows. He asked these couples to hold hands and he then asked all the husbands and all the wives the same 2 questions. The first question was, “Do you firmly believe that your marriage was arranged by God?” The second question was, “You must always treat your spouse with gentleness. You must build a Christian family and honor each other’s families. Are you willing to do that before God and these people?” All 65 couples responded to both questions with resounding affirmations.
Following the renewal of these marriage vows, some husbands kissed their wives while others who were shyer gave them a hug. Then, former PCT General Secretary C.M. Kao and his wife collected certificates made by East Gate Church and gifts from the city government on behalf of every couple, which were later handed to all 65 couples.
When he was invited to comment, Kao said that churches and marriages are like seeds and both need careful nurturing in order to bloom as beautifully as the flowers decorating the chapel. He urged East Gate Church to bloom where it had been planted and glorify God and be a blessing to people.
The couples who renewed their vows greeted their guests and their friends at the end of the service and took group pictures with their families and friends. The church also arranged a banquet inside the church in the evening of that day to celebrate this special occasion and give it a happy ending.
Former PCT General Secretary C.M. Kao and his wife (top) and Taiwan Church Press President Joseph Chen and his wife (bottom) were among the 65 couples who renewed their vows on that day. Photo by Chen Yi-hsuan.