New Westminster's Union Gospel Mission is filled with joy, hope and new beginnings as the mission celebrates its first ever wedding.
Twenty-three guests and mission staff gathered to celebrate the wedding of Randy McGee and Michelle Wehrli on Aug. 29. It was the first wedding to be held at New Westminster's Union Gospel Mission.
Manager Bill Wong and his staff were thrilled to host the special occasion and have been filling the role of wedding planners. It wasn't that long ago that Wong was regularly banning Randy McGee from the mission, but lately he's been counselling McGee and Wehrli and coordinating the finishing touches on the couple's three-tiered wedding cake.
Wong, a longtime friend and pastor of McGee and Wehrli, also performed the couple's wedding ceremony. Wong was more than happy to do so, having witnessed the positive changes in McGee's life despite some dark days.
"A few years back, I was smoking crack cocaine outside of UGM when Bill came along, tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Could you please not do that here, Randy?' So, off I went," McGee said in a press release. "When I was done, I came back to UGM, went straight to Bill and apologized. Sure enough, Bill forgave me."
Mutual respect, trust and honesty have remained foundational to Wong and McGee's 15-year friendship, leading McGee to take chances to make better choices for himself rather than resent Wong for those times when he asked him to leave the centre.
Wong has enjoyed witnessing the personal growth in McGee and Wehrli, as individuals and as a couple.
"Despite how we feel about the choices people make, or the actions they take, we have to keep at it and remember that there is always hope for each individual," he said in a press release. "For someone who feels hopeless, a strong relationship, built on trust and honesty, and rooted in love gives them the strength they need to find hope for their own future."
McGee and Wehrli met outside of Union Gospel Mission in 2003 when Wehrli, who had recently become single and homeless, sat crying on the pavement. McGee came along and provided a shoulder to cry on.
Two years later, McGee proposed to Wehrli at mission in New Westminster.
"We both look forward to growing old together," McGee said.
Before they tied the knot, the couple met with Wong for four pre-marital counselling sessions that have led to drastic improvements in their relationship. They say the session improved their ability to understand one another and to communicate effectively.
"If we have a problem now, instead of arguing we sit down and talk about it," Wehrli said.
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