The Big Promise at Wellspring, Congleton

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‘Marriage Week’, aiming to break the world record for wedding vow renewal!

Every year more than a quarter of a million couples across the UK signify their commitment to each other by getting married – they make, explicitly or implicitly, promises to each other that form the bedrock on which successful marriages are built.

And every year Marriage Week celebrates all those promises down the years, and seeks to encourage and support couples in their marriages.

This year, ‘Marriage Week’ planned to draw attention to the ‘BIG Promise’ (celebrating, supporting and strengthening couple across the UK) by setting a new Guinness World Record for couples wanting to reaffirm their vows.

So on Saturday 8 February 2014 at 5:15pm, thousands of couples at venues across the UK reaffirmed their wedding vows simultaneously for ‘The Big Promise’ world record attempt.

The couples taking part in The BIG Promise event, launched in the Houses of Parliament during Marriage Week 2013, hope to break the current world record of 1089 couples renewing their vows which was set in the US in 2009.

Dave Percival, The BIG Promise project coordinator, said:

“The thought of thousands of couples from Newquay to Orkney saying together ‘We will!’ is just fantastic.  The occasion will be both serious and huge fun – a bit like marriage really!”

Here in Congleton 'The Big Promise' ceremony took place at Wellspring Methodist Church on Canal Street, conducted by Revd Derek Balsdon, with Graeme Smith officiating as an independent witness (all other Guinness Book of Record guidelines being adhered to for authentication).

Nine couples took part in Congleton’s event, sharing afterwards in a reception of light refreshments.

Taking part in the world record attempt, Alan and Eileen Rafferty, married in 1976 said that they had been planning to renew their vows on a future anniversary but with this event coming up and it being on Alan's 64th birthday, they felt that it was appropriate to do it now.

Other Couples renewing their vows were, Revd Keith and Anne Jarvis, married 50 years this coming August; John and Margaret Swindon, married for 37 years; David and Pam Hargreaves, married for 45 years; Alan and Liz Clarke, married for 31 years; Revd Derek and Hilary Balsdon, celebrating their Silver Wedding next month, Peter and Margaret Bradley, married for 45 years, David and Catherine Tucker, married for 52 years and Brian and Audrey Furness, married for almost 56 years.

Brian and Audrey Furness from Lower Withington said that they wanted to be a part of this occasion so they could 'stand up and be counted', to be seen as Christians celebrating and reaffirming the vows they made before God over half a century ago.

The ubiquitous wedding hymn ‘Love Divine all Love Excelling’ commenced the service with the equally reiterated words from St Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 about the qualities of love in relationships.

During the ceremony, the Revd Derek Balsdon focused on St Paul’s words from Corinthians which were not written for weddings, but to express the depth and delight of Christian love.  Paul’s words challenge us, not just to love our spouses and family and friends, but to love everyone.  In life and in marriage we are called to love one another as God loves us.  

Following the ceremony, Peter and Margaret Bradley said that they had been unsure about renewing their wedding vows but having done so, they were delighted to have now made a recommitment of their marriage and Christian faith.

Couples from left to right: John & Margaret Swinden; Peter & Margaret Bradley; Revd Keith & Anne Jarvis; Revd Derek & Hilary Balsdon; Alan & Eileen Rafferty; David & Pam Hargreaves; Alan & Liz Clarke, David & Catherine Tucker and Brian & Audrey Furness 


Revd Keith and Anne Jarvis proudly sporting their wedding photograph from 1965





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