TAVARES, FL (February 15, 2010) – Those attending the worship service at Bridges Covenant Church on Valentine’s Day were surprised to find themselves at a wedding.
The worship service actually was the wedding of Mike Chalifaux, a drummer with the church’s music ministry, and his fiancée, Kathy Phillips, who also is a member of the congregation.
Pastor Mark Andrews suggested the idea. “When I first began doing the pre-marital counseling with Mike and Kathy as well as planning the service, it became obvious that something big was coming,” he said. “They both shared, in different words, the sentiment that they had been married before and that the service had been all about them. This time they wanted it to be about God, to have the wedding and the marriage be completely Christ-centered.”
Andrews told the couple that having the wedding would give them the opportunity to have a Christ-centered service and would coincide with the month-long teaching series titled “Staying in Love.” He explained, “It will be a perfect way to act out the very ideals we are teaching about.”
The couple prayed about the idea and was eager to follow through with it. They said they hoped the wedding would inspire others as well as be an opportunity to share the event with their extended “family.”
“This might rekindle some relationships, a lot of hearts might be changed, lives could be changed,” Mike said prior to the wedding. “What a great opportunity to do something bigger with our wedding. At Bridges we always say, ‘love God, love people, serve the world.’ And this is a way that we can really put that into action.”
“When you have a wedding, you invite your family and friends,” Kathy said. “This way our church, our faith family, is included in this amazing day. We feel so loved and accepted by all the people at church, and we feel inspired by being a part of Bridges – who else would we want to share this day with?”
Kathy said she believed that although people would be surprised on Sunday morning, “They will embrace celebrating this day with us, because we are family.”
She was right. The 180 people who attended the service gave their blessing to the idea as well as to the couple. Tara Holcomb, a member and “very surprised usher,” said she was excited about the opportunity to participate.
“Several of my friends mentioned they really liked how the vows were changed from ‘I do’ to ‘I will with God’s help.’ ” Holcomb said.
“I have never seen anything like this before in all my years in the Covenant,” said retired Pastor Aaron Hardley. “It was wonderfully integrated into the teaching series for the month. What a great way to illustrate the grand theme of God’s love in a visible way.”