By LINDA M. LINONIS
Valentine’s Day revolves around love. For some, the theme of the day fits perfectly into wedding plans.
Couples in love who want to get married in a church will find the Valentine’s Day walk-in wedding offer at Trinity United Methodist Church appealing.
It’s the idea of the Rev. Jerry Krueger, pastor of Trinity UMC, and his wife, the Rev. Susan Brown, pastor of Canfield United Methodist Church. Pastor Jerry said the church’s location next to the Mahoning County Courthouse prompted the thought about weddings. That was boosted by his previous experience in Texas, where justices of the peace often were overwhelmed by prospective brides and grooms on Valentine’s Day.
The ministers said couples will be married on a first-come basis from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; wedding-vow renewal services also will be available. Pastor Jerry said a welcome center at the Chapel of Friendly Bells will greet couples and their entourages, asking for identification and the marriage license.
The two ministers will perform the brief ceremonies jointly or separately, depending on the number of couples waiting to wed.
“The ceremony will include the exchange of vows and rings, blessing, Scripture, short observation about marriage and music on CD,” Pastor Susan said.
The couples will receive a gift bag with a copy of James W. Moore’s “Celebrate the Gift of Marriage.” Photos may be taken in the chapel or sanctuary.
The clergy couple said though the “walk-in wedding” is a catchy phrase, it is a serious commitment between two people.
“They are choosing to be married in church and making an effort,” Pastor Jerry said. “It’s a covenant relationship with one another and God.”
“We value the covenant of marriage, and that will be conveyed,” she said. Scripture passages will include 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind ....” and Colossians 3:12-14, which is about treatment of one another.
There also will be follow-up to the weddings, just as the ministers would do with a scheduled wedding at their churches.
“We want them to know they can use the church as a resource,” Pastor Jerry said.
For young couples planning a family, this may be an opportunity to “reconnect with a church over time,” Pastor Susan said.
The ministers also described the walk-in weddings as an “outreach.”
She added, “The biggest misnomer about marriage is that it’s a 50/50 thing. It’s a 100/100 relationship ... an equal partnership.”
The Chapel of the Friendly Bells, built in 1941, is decorated with simple but elegant white bows, which lend a wedding touch to the Gothic-style chapel.
Over the chapel entrance are the words, “My House Shall be Called a House of Prayer unto all People” — Isaiah 56:7.
Pastor Jerry said the chapel includes symbols from major denominations; people of different faiths are welcome.
He said he has received calls inquiring about the wedding service.
Though the pastor doesn’t have an exact number, the chapel has been a popular wedding setting. For example, during a year in the 1960s, there were 220 weddings there.
The clergy couple met in the seminary in 2003; they were married Feb. 20, 2010.
The ministry is a second career for each; though both said they realized a calling earlier in their lives.
He was in the restaurant business and she, marketing in the arts.