Rev. James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church (Chicago) married 17 of his congregation in honor of the churches 25th Anniversary.
Meeks made the following offer to his congregation about six months ago. ‘ If 25 of you tie the knot, I’ll foot the bill for the wedding expenses.” This was to include wedding dresses and flowers that were donated by his parishioners. In addition Meeks himself provided the following a reception for 25 friends and family, wedding photography, premarital counseling and a one night stay at Swissotel — all free of charge.
This was Rev. Meeks way of promoting marriage in the African American commnity eventhough all participants were not all African American. In addition as part of thier 25 year anniversary the church body also wrote 25,000 letters to U.S. troops overseas and donated $25,000 to Haiti relief efforts.
Each couple had a special area in the inside the 10,000-seat House of Hope on the city’s Far South Side. In their special area they could pose for pictures with their family and this also gave them a special place for their families to be seated.
During the ceremony, when it was time for the Brides and Grooms to kiss one another Rev. Meeks patiently paused so that the families of the couples could have a few moments to take pictures of their precious moment.
Meeks called the wedding the most “magical” moment” he could remember in 31 years of preaching.
“I said to [the couples] last weekend that every one of them are heroes to me because they decided to do what we at the church believe is the right thing to do,” he said.