CATTARAUGUS - Over the years, St John's Church in Cattaraugus has been a place where couples have come to pledge their love before God, family and friends. Since this is the year in which the church celebrates its own 125th anniversary, it seemed only fitting to Pastor Harland West, that time be set aside to reflect on the role the church has played in the celebration of love and marriage. (Fredonia residents, Pastor West and his wife recently celebrated their own 63rd wedding anniversary).
Accordingly, on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 9 a.m., St. John's will host a worship service honoring the holy state of matrimony. Pastor West is eager for those who exchanged their vows at St John's to return on that day to the place where their partnerships started. He would like to enlarge the invitation to include any couples in the Cattaraugus area and surrounding communities to join in the celebration even if married elsewhere than St. John's.
Whether the couple has been married a matter of months, years or decades - even if one spouse has preceded the other to eternity - they doubtless have vivid memories of their wedding day. Those recollections may be light-hearted or humorous, or perhaps still awed by the solemnity of the occasion. Whatever the case, the Sept. 16 service promises everyone an opportunity to relive this important milestone. A renewal of marriage vows will be incorporated into the worship service for all who wish to participate.
At the altar at St. John’s, high to the left is the ornate candelabra that used to be carefully lit before each service, then hoisted to its proper place with pulleys. On the right are two of many handmade banners, constructed by successive confirmation classes for use in special services, in this case the Sept. 16 celebration of marriage.
Pastor West has even come up with an unusual challenge in conjunction with the event.
"I'd like to add the cumulative years of marriage represented by the attendees," he said. "Since 2012 is significant as a church milestone, let's see if we can add the years of marriage to equal - or even exceed 2,012 years."
Following the service, a reception will be held in the church hall. People are encouraged to bring photographs or other mementos of their wedding days to share. This will be a wonderful time of fellowship to share memories, and to celebrate love yesterday, today, and forever.