The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa on March 8, 1966 · Page 22
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The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa · Page 22

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Location:
Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 8, 1966
Page:
Page 22
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Hashing a ready grin, Mr. Utterback shook his head at my question. He thought a moment. Outside, cars Whizzed by on Highway 346, a blacktop road through fields of black dirt and kingsize corn stalks. Inside, a record player gave-forth with the vigorous tune written in 1857 by William Pitts, a country physician. Over and over it played, softly, persistently. "You're asking if the Little Brown Church has a heart," Mr. Utterback summarized. "Let me give you a couple illustrations and you can decide for yourself." He told the story of the middle-aged couple who had stood on the brink of a semantical disaster. During their wedding ceremony, Mr. Utterback had asked the bridegroom (a widower): "Will you love, cherish, honor, comfort and keep her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other women, keep yourself only unto her; so long as you both shall live? "Ill try," answered the bridegroom. The clergyman's mouth dropped open. The flabbergasted bride-to-be reddened, wheeled and dashed past her friends and out the church. The marriage appeared over before it began. But Mr. Utterback and his wife, Ruth, stepped into the picture. They took the distraught couple aside and talked to them at length. Had the bridegroom been as arrogant as his answer indicated? No. In fact, he was quite humble, ascertained the 27th pastor of the Little Brown Church. The bridegroom's first marriage had been less than successful and he felt he was partly at fault. His "111 try" answer merely indicated that he would try with all his heart to make the union a fruitful one. The minister and his wife set the couple down to a home- cooked meal in the Utterback's residence in nearby Nashua. Two hours later, they became man and wife. "And do you know that I still get a card from them every Christmas," Mr. Utterback said. "The husband always ends it by saying: "'And Im still trying.'" Mr. Utterback has married some 30,000 couples in his long career in the ministry, but for all his romanticism, he has a pragmatic side, too. The Little Brown Church, I found, possesses a magical quality. The visitor feels a deep sense of respect and humility in its hallowed interior. Its bucolic simplicity and solemnity melt away one's cynicism and "worldly sophistication." The marriage shrine is used so often that the energetic minister has united 18 couples in a single day. "From 8 in the morning till 11 at night," he said. "But I don't mind. Marriage is one of the most sacred and holy gifts God gave to man. Each one is a source of great joy to me." Those who wait impatiently on a busy summer day, however, sometimes regard the ritual in another light, he said. "One sizzling day in July a couple arrived without appointment, wanting to get married. I told them to wait, and I'd try to squeeze them in. "Three hours later, they were still sitting in the back pew. As I passed by them after a wedding, I remarked: 1 see you're still PATIENTLY waiting.'" "'No sir,'" the bridegroom answered respectfully. "'We're just waiting.'" Some 1,000 couples -are married each year at the Little Brown Church (an average of almost three per day). Rarely are any of them similar. Mr. Utterback has had faintings (once both the bride and groom went down), a "hypnotized" groom who had to be nudged in the ribs to respond, and innumerable delayed ceremonies. "I always look at.the size, of the father when the bridegroom tells me he forgot the wedding ring or marriage license —at home ISO miles away," the preacher quipped. Mr. Utterback has had several triple weddings (once a mother and her son and daughter). He also permitted an Indian chief to sing to his bride during the marriage rite, On another occasion, the Utterbacks took in a contused, hurt young man; the best man at a wedding there earlier in the day. He had been naive enough to think that he would ride back to St. Paul with his brother and sisterrin-law. After a hot meal and some help with the bus fare, the youth boarded a bus for home. Does die Little Brown Church have a heart? There is little doubt in my mind. SHELTON TOWERS HOTEL • Midway between Untied Nation* ft Rockefeller Center. 1200 fine air-conditioned roomt with TV. Superb food. Swimming Pool, Solarium. Singlet from $ 8.85 Doublet from $11.85 p* fcWMBjpOfl Avt*a 4vrh n) ^Tni h Tel Plaza 5-4000 1EW YORK CITY MAIL THIS MONtY-SAVINO COUPON-SO GLADIOLUS BULBS rtOM HOUAM6 ONLY $100 Bfe^^a M** Tbeae medlam tin Moamfac ~V*rleUea ire already -~"~ 2 to 3 incne* In drcamfereiwe and wOl ptodiiue a rainbow at bloom*. We mis flaming reda, vtvtd yellow*, deep tut- pie*, white*. eriiMon. violet. mollta '- -•- -- •• v- • Mtfl thto eenpon NOW tad *et roar Mfifaew mte •MOflmcnt of SO bloomlnc. 5te dtdtora* Balbi. 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