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home : lifestyle : entertainment   May 24, 2016

6/11/2013 6:28:00 PM
Free clergy service encourages marriage


Carl Hardie, minister of Ottawa Church of Christ, lifts his arms in celebration while witnesses applaud after he presented Mr. and Mrs. Dwain and Kathy (Carter) Sampson at the conclusion of their wedding ceremony in Ottawa’s Washington Park on Saturday. NewsTribune photo/Amy Flanery
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Carl Hardie, minister of Ottawa Church of Christ, lifts his arms in celebration while witnesses applaud after he presented Mr. and Mrs. Dwain and Kathy (Carter) Sampson at the conclusion of their wedding ceremony in Ottawa’s Washington Park on Saturday.
NewsTribune photo/Amy Flanery
Newlyweds
Dwain and Kathy (Carter) Sampson of Ottawa
David and Kathleen (Adams) Scott of Ottawa
Michael and Barbara (Qualman) Obog of Romeoville
Nathan and Alicia (Velazquez) Varcoe of Peru
Gregory and Brandy (Downey) Molina of Marseilles
Jakob and Kelsey (Murphy) Kiefer of Marseilles
William Jr. and Julia (Kellogg) Walsh of Ottawa
Joshua and Emily (Wargo) Greer of Streator
Marco and Erin (Carter) Cooksey of Marseilles

Amy Flanery
Lifestyle Editor



OTTAWA — Some brides wore white sundresses while others appeared in formal wedding gowns, but at the end of the day, nine couples were married thanks to a free clergy service offered Saturday in Ottawa’s Washington Square Park.

The event was the second of its nature provided by Carl Hardie of Ottawa Church of Christ, Pastor Paul Bladen of Deer Park Community Church and retired Baptist minister Ralph Deming. The ministers offered their services last fall after learning of some couples who remained unmarried simply because of financial limitations.

“We thought this was something that would be helpful, and it was,” Hardie said.

Bladen said the ministers consider it an honor to perform a marriage ceremony.

Nine couples were married at the first free weddings event as well. The only expense required is the $30 fee paid to the county clerk for a marriage license.

At Hardie’s request, local businesses stepped up to make Saturday extra special for one lucky bride. Kathy (Carter) Sampson of Ottawa wore a dress borrowed from Marien Mae Bridal Boutique in La Salle while her groom, Dwain, was decked out in a tux courtesy of Mister Penguin in Ottawa. The bride carried flowers donated by TPM Stems of Ottawa, and the couple received a cake donated by Handy Foods of Ottawa.

“It means the world to me,” Kathy said of the donations. “It pretty much made my dream wedding come true.”

Her groom provided rings for the ceremony.

“He surprised me,” she said. “I didn’t know he had those.”

The Sampsons said their vows surrounded by a small crowd of family and friends. Kathy’s uncle John “Boogs” Bansberg gave her away.

Kathy said the couple had been planning to get married for more than 13 years, and when they learned of the free weddings, they jumped at the chance.

“We don’t have a lot of money,” she said, “so we figured go ahead and get the license, go ahead and get married.”

Hardie said finances should not determine whether a couple can be married.

“We didn’t have very much money when we got married,” he said, “but that didn’t mean we weren’t sincere.”

David and Kathleen (Adams) Scott of Ottawa were married with just two witnesses and a flower girl — 7-year-old Selena Higgins, the bride’s cousin. Kathleen said she learned about the free clergy service when applying for a marriage license at the county clerk’s office. The couple had planned to look for a pastor to marry them, and the outdoor wedding appealed to them.

“It’s a little different, getting married in a park,” Kathleen said.

Michael and Barbara (Qualman) Obog of Romeoville decided to tie the knot after 23 years together.

“Everybody has their ups and downs but we love each other and that’s all that counts,” Barbara said. “In the eyes of God, now we’re legal,” she laughed.

Each of the nine newly-married couples received a copy of the book, “What Every Family Needs,” by Carl Brecheen and Paul Faulkner as a gift from Ottawa Church of Christ. Hardie said the book is one of the best he’s come across for advice on marriage and raising a family.

Bladen had a piece of advice for those who would like to be married but find themselves alone for now.

“I would suggest to anybody who’s serious about having someone to love: If you don’t have someone right now, wait — you’ll find somebody, or they’ll find you.”

Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or ntonline@newstrib.com.










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