Joe and Bobby will be married in Birmingham, Alabama on October 26, 2013. For more infomation on the wedding participants, please see this statment.
- by Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince -
It has been said that coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous. All we know is that our lives changed the day we met some 12 years ago.
Having both come out of failed relationships, neither of us were looking to establish a new one when we met, but we believe there were reasons we both were at Pensacola Beach that day.
Fear can sometimes separate a person from many things; pursuing a calling, applying to graduate school, or even developing a relationship. Fear of a commitment can prevent love from developing.
1 John 4:18 tells us "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
A few weeks after that chance meeting in Florida we met for dinner. And the rest is history.
We have seen each other through such life altering events as loss of a career, the death of a parent, and a devastating house fire.
We've also celebrated the joy associated with the birth of a grandchild, family Christmas gatherings, other holidays, and the weddings of several family members.
Through all of the mourning and celebration a sense of unity and determination has developed. A shared purpose in life, to create a better world around us either through little things or big things, allows us to pursue common goals and develop plans that benefit our combined families and our circle of friends.
The fire in September 2012 allowed us to replace our lost possessions jointly. This is different from the way most couples merge, and from the way our previous years had been spent. Practically everything we own now reflects the joining of our two lives. It allowed us the realization that our possessions are not the important things in our lives; rather, the commitment and love that we reflect are the important things.
Joe was raised in Methodist churches and Bobby joined The UMC a few years ago. We both appreciate the "Methodist way" of approaching difficult subjects and we agree with the denomination's position on many complex issues.
We both recognize that the Book of Discipline is an imperfect document, and we appreciate the call to inclusiveness where Methodists are to support all persons "fully in the life of the church."
Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination.
The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all persons are open, welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the community, and the world.
It is from these words in the Book of Discipline that our right to marry in the church is derived. In fact, another of our motivations to marry comes from the Book of Discipline as well.
The community provides for the potential for nurturing human beings into the fullness of their humanity...We therefore support social climates in which human communities are maintained and strengthened for the sake of all persons and their growth.
The commitment to love in marriage helps bring us toward the fullness of our individual humanities. And marriage strengthens our relationship in ways that benefit the entire community.
We were married in a civil ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September. This marriage, while granting certain legal rights and benefits, is not recognized in our home state of Alabama, nor by the church that we serve.
In October we will be joined in a Holy Ceremony officiated by Bishop Melvin Talbert as he lives out his calling to offer all ministrries to all people through Biblical Obedience. Joe likes to say that our marriage is a two month, three part celebration. Our union was blessed, along with many other couples, by Bishop Talbert at Reconciling Ministries Network’s convocation. A few days later our civil marriage took place.
Our holy wedding in the presence of family and friends will make the celebration, and our lives, complete.
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