107 couples say 'I do' again in same church before revamp

IT WAS an emotional evening for the 107 married couples at the Grace Assembly of God church in Tanglin Road yesterday.

The couples, who had held their holy matrimony in the church, walked down the same aisle again and renewed their wedding vows yesterday.

The event was to bid farewell to the church hall, which will be torn down by next month as part of plans to build a new expanded building for worshippers.

Mr Jeff Lee and Madam Madeline Ling, both 65, were married in the church 40 years ago, when it was just a small bungalow at the site. That was built in 1959 before being replaced by the current building 20 years later.

The couple, who are now based in the Philippines, flew back just for the occasion. "I have been coming here for service since 1963, so there is a bit of sadness to see this building being torn down," said Madam Ling.

Equally sentimental was Mr Ho Siew Cheong. The 54-year- old engineer joined the church when he was 21. He met his future wife, Madam Low Wai Cheng, now 50, there four years later and they married in the church in 1988.

While Mr Ho felt sad to see the familiar building go, he knows it is for the better. "We will have a new church building here soon," he said.

Couple by couple, the smartly dressed men and women entered the church's hall to the applause of friends and relatives.

But it was Mr Oh Beng Khee, the church's former senior pastor, and his wife Mary Lee who drew the loudest applause and cheers. The couple, both 72, had been married for 50 years - the longest of all couples present.

Partners held hands and looked at each other while they recited their wedding vows.

The pastor ended the vow renewal ceremony with "you may now kiss the bride" - drawing laughter, and tears of emotion, from many onlookers.

The Grace Assembly of God church has another location at Bukit Batok West.

Currently, the main hall at the church's Tanglin branch can accommodate some 700 members. The new building, which will take more than two years to complete, will be able to house 1,500.

Its members will temporarily attend services at Furama RiverFront Hotel while the new church is being built.

leepearl@sph.com.sg