By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BALTIMORE, Md.—Bill Higgins, pastor of Northeast Church in Armistead Gardens, and his wife Brenda, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a glorious renewal ceremony at Northeast Church on July 24. Embrace Baltimore Executive Director Bob Mackey officiated. Baltimore Inner Harbor Ministries Interim Director Elwood Ulmer led a prayer as all the ordained men in the church came forward to lay hands on the couple and pray over their marriage.
“Our daughter, Bre, was my maid of honor. That was really special,” Brenda said.
The couple renewed in style. Bill and Brenda each had six attendants. Brenda proceeded down the aisle in a cream colored gown to meet her awaiting “groom.” Over 100 guests attended. The reception, at Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood, included a catered dinner, dancing and sparkling cider toasts. The happy couple fed each other cake, Brenda tossed her bouquet and the pair was whisked out for their “pre-honeymoon” night at a local Holiday Inn before heading off to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the “real” honeymoon.
Bill and Brenda met at a Christmas party in 1979.
“It was like in the book of Ruth when Ruth caught Boaz’s eye,” Bill said. A mutual friend acted as a matchmaker and the couple began dating.
Bill began taking Brenda to Northeast Church, where he grew up and was saved as a child. Brenda heard the gospel and was saved at a Youth for Christ rally about a year later.
The two dated off and on for several years. Bill had been hurt in the past and struggled with his feelings. Brenda was in love.
“I prayed for long time. I said, ‘please let him want to marry me,’” Brenda said.
During a youth conference, Bill felt God moving on his heart to “stop fooling around and get serious.”
Right then and there, before the worship service was even over, Bill took Brenda to a back room of a cabin and proposed. They came out and made the announcement and everyone cheered.
Reflecting on their marriage milestone, Bill said he first and foremost gives honor to God. He also looks to the example his family has modeled.
“My older brother Jerry and his wife Karen will have been married 26 years this November. My younger sister Susan and her husband Bob will celebrate 25 years next April. My younger brother Scott and his wife Cassie will be married 14 years in September. And last but not least our baby sister Lee and her husband will be married 13 years in October. Get us all in the same room and that represents over 100 years of marriage. The icing on the cake is both my fraternal and maternal grand parents enjoyed over 50 years of marriage and were only separated by death and my fraternal grandfather’s parents enjoyed well over 50 years of marriage and were only separated by death.”
Bill said he also gives a lot of credit to the ministries of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Dennis Rainey, president and co-founder of Family Life. Through the years he’s used what he’s learned from those programs in his ministry and in his own life.
One of the many tips Bill gleaned from those ministries’ radio programs is the importance of getting away as a couple.
“We made a commitment to get away, just the two of us, at least twice a year, usually on Valentine’s Day and on our anniversary.
“Bre will eventually grow up and move out. If we don’t keep what we have fresh and alive when Bri’s gone what will we have?”
The Higgins’ also take the biblical advice of “…let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26), very seriously. Well, Bill admitted, they may go to bed angry once in awhile, but somewhere in the night, someone rolls over and says, “I’m sorry.”