12 MINUTE READ
From this day forward
Godly advice. Memorable photographers. Fun backstories. To help celebrate Valentine's Day, couples recall their weddings at First Free.
Sophia Vale
February 13, 2024

In honor of Valentine’s Day, please enjoy this digital photo album highlighting and celebrating some of the many couples who have gotten married at First Free Rockford over the years. Whether they’ve been married 6 months or almost 60 years, each of these marriages have one thing in common—they are centered on Christ.

Ty & Sierra Parker – September 8, 2023

“The best marriage advice we have received is that at the end of each day, whether it was a good or bad one, take a moment to look at your partner and remember all those reasons you fell in love with them in the first place. It helps turn differences and disagreements from an argument to a team building goal as you work to grow together with Christ in the center of your relationship.”

Sebastian & Hadassah Martin – August 6, 2021

“Clayton Ganziano married us while serving as youth pastor at First Free. The advice we received that has remained constant in our marriage is that we are not each other’s ‘other half.’ We are two unique whole individuals that were brought together to love and support each other in everything.”

Andrew & Abby Finley – April 25, 2020

“Andrew and I got married at First Free on April 25, 2020 when we were in the depths of COVID-19. Pastor Luke, our photographer, Andrew and myself were the only ones in the whole church! It was the best day of our lives.

Since the world was shut down we ended up going home and celebrating with frozen pizza. We still laugh about this to this day!

Almost 4 years later we look back fondly on our wedding day and how the Lord was in all the details.”

Steve & Georgia Kewish – April 27, 2019

“Though not married in the First Free building, Steve and I met in the Sojourners adult community group, and are both members of First Free. We were married on a snowy day in April. Yes. April 27, 2019. We’ll be celebrating our 5th anniversary this year.

Jim Snyder married us and read Psalm 121:7, ‘The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life.’”

Chad & Megan Clauson – July 14, 2017

“Megan and I were married in July of 2017. Our advice is always try to put your spouse first and be intentional about listening to each other.

Alex & Natalie Hanna – September 18, 2016

“Growing up my mom always said, ‘God is either God, or he’s not.’ Do we trust and believe that God is who he says he is, that he will do all he has promised and more? That statement has really become foundational to our marriage, especially as we navigate the ups and downs of foster care. As foster parents our greatest joy has come in the form of our daughter’s adoption. However, foster care has also been the cause of our most traumatic experiences. As such, we remind ourselves individually, as a couple, and now as a family with a young child, that God is God, and he is good.”

Trent & Amy Brass – July 27, 2002

“Trent and I got married on July 27, 2002 by Pastor Bertie Holmgren. It was a joy-filled and magical day! We will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary this year. The covenant of marriage has given us the opportunity to grow in the fruits of the Spirit while supporting each other on life’s journey. The best advice we were given is to never go to bed mad.”

John and Donna Miller – March 2, 1997

“We met at First Free in the New Beginnings class and were married in the Chapel on March 2, 1997 by Pastor Larry Lindquist. The Bible verses we chose on our wedding day was from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12…

‘Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.’”

Mike and Katrina McIntosh – February 18, 1995

“We were told to do this before we got married and we still do this today: whoever cooks, the other one does the dishes.”

David & Tracy Palmer – 1991

“We were married at First Free in 1991. We have been married 32 years. 

Wedding day memory: My cousin who was taking video of the ceremony fainted during our ceremony, taking the camera and a tripod crashing to the ground. Dr. Terry Buzzard ran over and took care of my cousin while Pastor Larry Lindquist who was officiating told us everything was OK and under control and not to look back. It was interesting to see that video later and hear the conversation with Terry and my cousin. 

Advice we can share: It takes God at the center of the marriage. You make a choice daily to stay committed and love your spouse.”

Brian & Kristyn Thor – June 2, 1990

“Marriage advice – make each other laugh every day!”

Side note from Kristyn: We actually don’t have many wedding pictures. Our photographer turned out to be a crook…was being prosecuted for stealing from his disabled mother, I think. And we had to take him to court to get any photos! Took over a year to get them and by that time the novelty/honeymoon had worn off!

Chuck & Ginny Anderson – June 10, 1989

“Chuck and I were married on June 10, 1989 in the sanctuary of First Free. We will be married 35 years this June. I wore my mother’s wedding gown and my mother-in-law’s head piece—they matched perfectly! Our wedding sermon was on mutual submission. Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Years later, we read the book, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs that focused on the verse at the end of this passage, “However, each one of you (husbands) also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Eph. 5:33). The last part, “the wife must respect her husband” is so often neglected in this topic and is as key to a good marriage as a husband laying his life down for his wife. It’s all about mutually serving each other. Keep Christ at the center and he will help you in every trial.”

Jeff & Jill Polsean – January 14, 1989

“Our marriage advice is to serve God together, appreciate each other, say ‘I’m sorry,’ listen and talk about everything. A commitment to God and each other, love, respect and trust is the foundation for a great marriage.

Jill and I met at First Free on Dec. 6, 1987. She was being introduced as a new member  and when I saw her the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘That is the woman you’re going to marry.’ A friend of mine was at the service. I asked her if she knew Jill, if she would introduce me, and she did. I asked Jill to lunch and she said yes. We were engaged 8 months later and married in the sanctuary where we met.”

Dave & Linda Norberg – November 30, 1985

“Keep going on dates as a couple when married, and go for lots of walks together as a couple.”

Jim & Lauren Killam – June 1, 1985

“We were married on June 1, 1985…so we are approaching 39 years. We think it may work out long-term. 

The audience didn’t see this view, of course, which is a good thing. They might have fled in terror. This was before the big video screens or even digital cameras, so our photographer did all of this with a film camera and double exposure. Today it looks a little too Wizard of Oz-ish, but we do still have the picture hanging in our house, along with our vows. We both remember that day as the happiest of our lives, at least so far.

That’s Pastor Jim Forstrom officiating. We all look like we should be on top of a wedding cake.”

Tim & Patti Clauson – March 28, 1981

“We were the first couple to get married in the main sanctuary with Lareau Lindquist and Tim Dahlin officiating.”

Joe & Kim Whitchurch – November 5, 1977

“Kim and I were married on 4th Ave and 6th Street in 1977 by Lareau Lindquist. Funny thing, that night the famous Christian trombone player Bill Pearce was to play a concert at First Free later in the evening after our marriage ceremony and Lareau kept referring to me as ‘Bill.’ He had a lot on his mind. I didn’t even notice but Kim did. Lareau every now and then would meet me at Red Lobster for lunch…so he was easy to forgive. Kim has fond memories of his preaching through Nehemiah.”

Steve & Bev Ralph – October 8, 1977

We were married in the old church in 1977. The recessional song at our wedding ceremony was ‘To God Be the Glory.’ The past 47 years have held joys and challenges, but through it all, and for the future, we pray that our lives will declare to others that our faithful God walks with us each day.”

Ace and Gwen Holsinger – June 22, 1974

“We were married on June 22, 1974 at First Free. Proverbs 3:5-6 are verses that are meaningful to us.”

Sam & Donna Creek – June 23, 1972

“Sam and I were married on June 23, 1972 at the old church at Fourth Ave and Sixth St. Pastor Ken (Meyer) married us a month before Sam was sent to Thailand for one year during the Vietnam War. We had letters and two phone calls that year for communication. God was and still is so faithful. Genesis 2:24 comes to mind, ‘Leave and cleave.’ We are grateful for each other and the family we’re blessed with.”

Robert & Ginny Brass – June 27, 1970

“Do everything in love!  1 Corinthians 16:14.”

Gary & Nancy Wiebe – December 27, 1969

“Gary and I were married at First Free in the old church building at the corner of 4th Avenue and 6th Street in Rockford on December 27, 1969. I went to Bolivia, South America to teach missionary children at a Wycliffe base. I met Gary there who was a Mennonite volunteer. I asked Gary if he had any advice to send to you and he jokingly said, ‘Go to the ends of the earth if you have to, to find someone to marry!’”

Jerry & Carolyn Norquist –
August 5, 1967

“We were married at First Free in 1967 and that adds up to 56 years of marriage, for which we are grateful. Proverbs 3:5-6!”

Dennis & Nancy Anderson – June 12, 1965

One of the traditions that a couple who was married at First Free did was to sign their names and wedding date to the underside of the kneeling bench that was used during the ceremony when the pastor prayed over them.

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding in all things acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”

Sophia Vale
Sophia Vale is a wife, mother and the communications director at First Free Rockford. She loves cooking, being active and spending time with her friends and family. She lives in Rockford with her husband and two daughters.

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