I love a love story, and apparently, so does the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton of Integrity, the group that serves GLBT Episcopalians. We share her words on a remarkable marriage:
On the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, 1974, Louie Crew and Ernest Clay decided to be married. I never tire of hearing their romantic story.
It was love at first sight. They had met at the elevator just outside the sixth-floor tearoom of the Atlanta YMCA, September 2, 1973. They were both native Southerners; one white, the other black. They commuted, as lovers often do, 100 miles every weekend for five months just to be with each other. Not one
of their friends was surprised when they decided to marry.
They carried each other across the threshold into the dining room of their Fort Valley, Georgia apartment, where the table was set with two wine glasses from Woolworth’s, two lit green candles and a vase with one early narcissus. Alone together, in the presence of Jesus who promises always to be there whenever two or more gather in his name, and in the midst of the Holy Spirit, they opened the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and, in the sight of God, nervously exchanged these vows:
“I take thee to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I plight thee my throth.”
They settled into their apartment and set about fashioning their lives in accordance with the teachings of Christ, trying to live quiet lives of obedience to those vows. For thirty years they have not only succeeded, they have become role models for many, many people of all sexual orientations – which, of course, meant that they couldn’t be very “quiet” about their life together.
Scripture tells us that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and I believe that to be true. Indeed, I believe that there is great rejoicing in heaven on this 30th anniversary of the commitment they made before God. Never have these words had more meaning to me: “What God hath joined together, let no
man put asunder.” (That would be God, not ‘the church’.)
It may be thirty years late, but as a priest in this church I ask you to join me as I am bold to ask God’s continued blessing upon them even as they have been a blessing to so many of us and church – this time, in the words of the 1928 Prayer Book:
“God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost bless, preserve and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting.”
Somebody in the church give me an Amen.
Amen, indeed. Congratulations to the happy couple. We wish them 30 years more of love and faithfulness.