Sunday Denise and I celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary

left to right:  young Paul, Rev. Paul Saddler Sr., Kim Saddler, Nick Hood, III,, Denise Hood, Dr. Lisa Brand, Atty. Eric Tucker, Rev. Denise Goodrich Neil, Wali Neel


Sunday, my wife Denise and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  On a rainy Saturday in August of 1976 Denise and I stood before the altar at the St. Paul AME Church in Columbus, Ohio.  We had planned a backyard wedding at her house, but the Lord had other plans.  It rained the entire week before our wedding day and on the day of the wedding, the heavens opened up and poured like it would never end.  So, the wedding was moved at the last minute to her church.  Denise’s grandfather, Thomas Nelson Page, was a presiding elder in the AME Church who co-officiated with the pastor of the church, Rev. Thomas Liggins.

After the wedding we went downstairs and had a backyard wedding reception moved to the church basement.  I tell couples every chance that I get that the amount of money you spend on your wedding is not an indication of how happy you will be.  As I recall, we had: “Church red-punch;” two watermelons, scooped out, floating with grapes, melon and other fruit; chicken salad sandwiches; wedding cake and I think, maybe ice cream, and that was it.  We have done very well for 40 years with a “Church Red Punch” and watermelon wedding reception.

Friends and family came from around the country and we had a great time.

Sunday was interesting and special because this was our 40th anniversary.  The whole weekend was interesting, but indicative of the life I lead as a pastor and life Denise leads as the wife of a pastor.  Friday, we left Detroit late for Columbus, Ohio to spend the night with her mother.  Saturday morning after breakfast, we drove from Columbus to Cincinnati, Ohio for the wedding of one of our young church members.  There was a lot of construction on the road which almost made us late for the wedding.

During the drive to Cincinnati, we talked a lot about our marriage- the courtship, dating, and ultimately the wedding and 40 years of marriage.  We have been fortunate in that our marriage has been spared fighting, cussing and sleeping on the couch.  While we are not rich, we have similar values and do not spend a lot of money on frivolous things.  Both of us have accomplished a great deal and I am convinced that our marriage has served as the foundation for everything else that has come our way.  We have raised two successful sons and watched them grow in their maturity.  We have a wonderful daughter in law and granddaughter.  We are quite fortunate and extremely blessed.

I offered a prayer during the wedding reception and around 8:30 in the evening we drove to Cleveland, Ohio, where I would preach the next day at the Mt. Zion United Church of Christ, where Paul Saddler is the pastor.  We did not arrive in Cleveland until after 1 AM.  We spent the night with Lisa and her husband, Eric.  Lisa and Denise have been friends since junior high school.

After worship, we had dinner at a local restaurant.  We were joined by Kim and Rev. Paul Saddler, Rev. Denise Goodrich and her husband, Wali, Dr. Lisa Bruestine and her husband, Atty. Eric Tucker.

Each of the persons around the table has known us for most of our 40 years in marriage.  I asked each couple and individual to share their favorite, “Denise and Nick” stories.  Paul shared a couple of stories including one where he and Willard Hill (from New Orleans) set off the alarm at our house and greeted the police sitting on our front steps eating ice cream.  Each person and couple told their favorite memories, each was funny and fascinating to me what each person recalled.  Eric, the husband of Lisa, who has known us the least amount of time, she married him after her first husband died an early death, baked a chocolate cake in honor of our anniversary and the restaurant served it to us following dinner.  This was actually a great wedding anniversary, because the people at dinner, for the most part have known us our entire marriage.  True bonds of friendship will last a lifetime.  We did not plan the dinner far in advance, but it turned out really well.

This was a different kind of wedding anniversary.  Each of our anniversaries have been low key.  Usually, we go out to dinner, exchange small gifts, talk a bit about where we are in marriage and let the night take care of itself.  At 40 years, it seemed like we should do something a little more, so we shared time with a few folks who have known us most of those years.

The Bible has several Bible verses that have to do with marriage.  I share one with you today from the Book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 5: 18Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, [1]


Lord, please bless this union, let it last a life time.  I thank you for the love you have brought together.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo set up by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III and taken by a guest at the restaurant

Additional Prayers, Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at





[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Pr 5:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.