In the 1970’s most pastors lived in a parsonage next to the church; Dave and Carol, along with their six daughters, lived in the parsonage across the lawn from Bethany Church.
A new,local Baptist pastor called while Dave was busy conducting VBS, “Could I use your church for a wedding this next Saturday? We don’t have a building, and this young couple wants to be married in La Crosse.”
Dave wanted to get to know the pastor, so without thinking too far in advance, he said, “Sure, it will be ready for you.” He never heard from the pastor again during the week to make further arrangements on using the church.
Saturday rolled around and Dave had a softball game along with a church picnic at the local park. When he returned home, a crowd was milling around the outside of the church: Dave had forgotten to unlock the church door. The door was quickly unlocked, and the crowd found their way inside.
There had been no rehearsal; no planning by the couple or the pastor. When it was discovered that there was no pianist or music, the pastor ran over to the parsonage. Dave was trying to cool down from the afternoon of softball and intense sun.
The pastor looked a bit frantic when he asked, “Is there somebody here that could play the piano? And does anybody sing?”
Dave was quick to answer, “Sure my wife can help you out, and the girls will sing.” Carol stared incredulously at Dave; Carol spoke silently with a hand to the hip, released a deep breath, and stared at Dave with a squinted eye. Dave was too busy smiling and visiting to notice.
Dave told the girls to slip on a skirt and get over to the church. Carol and her teenage daughters followed the pastor back to the church.
The service started when the couple walked to the altar to be met by the pastor. Carol played, while Becky, Rachael, Rhoda, and Ruth sang a song they had sung many times before, "Savior like a Shepherd Lead Us".
While the girls were singing, the pastor blurted out to the couple, “Wait a minute, I can’t do this,” and left the couple standing at the altar alone. He ran out the side door and headed back to the parsonage. The girls kept singing: all four verses- twice.
Again he knocked on the door, and Dave greeted him again, still in his softball uniform. “Could you marry this couple?”
Dave said, “Let me get cleaned up and my clothes changed.”
“No, no, I need you now. The couple is at the altar,” pleaded the Baptist pastor.
Dave trotted behind the pastor to the church: still sweaty, dirty, and with his softball uniform. Dave jumped up on the platform to take his place in front of the bride and groom. The bride saw her new minister and fainted. Dave saw her coming and caught her before hitting the floor.
Dave slipped into the choir room and put on a choir robe while the bride was revived. He returned to the podium and married the couple.
After the service the Baptist preacher asked, “Where did you get that black book?” He had come to the ceremony without ever preaching a wedding, had no vows prepared and no idea how to perform the ceremony.
Living in the parsonage did have its advantages. This just happened not to be one of them; it was usually Carol that paid for Dave’s enthusiasm.
The Baptist pastor left the ministry: he was last seen in northern Wisconsin working in a factory.
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