“Are you the pastor here?” he asked.
The parson turned and looked down from the step ladder where he was changing the message on the church's sign. “Yes, I am. Can I help you.”
“I hope so. I wanted to talk to you about renting your church for my wedding.”
The parson descended from the ladder. “When are you getting married?”
“Come inside with me,” said the parson. He folded the ladder, carried it in one hand and the letters from the sign in the other as he walked toward his office. Charlie Brown, his faithful canine companion, followed the two as he snifed the visitor to determine his denomination.
Inside the office the parson set the letters on a side table, invited the man to sit and then plopped himself into the comfort of his rocker. “What's your name?”
“Frederick,” he replied.
“Why do you want to get married here?” asked the parson.
“We drove by here and thought your church looked pretty and would be a good place for a wedding.”
“I'm glad you found us quaint.”
“So, you doing anything next Saturday?”
“Yeah, I'm going to be with my granddaughters.”
“You can't do the wedding?”
“I can't. My church requires pre-marital counseling before I can perform a marriage. You folks don't have time for that.”
“Well, that's okay. My soon-to-be wife has a second cousin who said he'd do it. So, what's the rent?”
“The church is not for rent.”
“I don't understand.”
“Do you go to church?”
“No, sir, I don't. I don't think I've been in a church except for right now since I was ten or twelve.”
“Then why do you want to get married in a church?”
“Isn't that what everybody does?”
The parson smiled, “No, it's not. A lot of people get married outside the church.”
“Your living room. There are all kinds of possibilities. I've done weddings in historic houses, in the Fox Theater in Atlanta. It's not the church setting that makes the marriage, it's the couple's commitment.”
He stared at the parson a long moment. Then he said, “Ain't you suppose to talk to me about I should join the church?”
“I thought that's what you'd do.”
“Do you want to join the church?”
“Then get your wife-to-be's second cousin to marry you in a place that has meaning for the two of you. Don't get married in a place that you picked out because it looked pretty.”
“You're right. I'm going to talk to Helen.”
The two rose and the parson walked to the door with him. He shook the parson's hand.
“Thanks for the talk. Hey, you want to come to the wedding?”
“I'd love to,” said the parson, “but I wasn't kidding about the granddaughters.”