It seemed, to those in attendance, that they were nearing the end of the Anniversary Banquet saluting 25 years of pastoral service of Dr. Therm M. James, Sr. at the Bethany Baptist Church. Pastor James was making his remarks. He expressed appreciation to members, family and friends for all they had done to support him during his years of service. He spoke of his love of seeing men and women saved and serving the cause of Christ. As Pastor James continued he talked about his gone too soon first wife, Lynnette, the mother of his four children. He said, “Twelve years ago with no warning, no clue, suddenly my wife was gone, Twelve years ago with no warning, no clue, suddenly the mother of my children was gone. Twelve years ago with no goodbye, no see you later, suddenly my wife was gone.”
There was a pause. Pastor James continued, “And so today, just as suddenly, I take another wife, I have license in hand, my friends and family are here. Mr. Turner, go to the back, your daughter is waiting for you.”
E.P.I.C. MIC DROP, chairs flew back and cameras came out, people went crazy. No one kept their seat at the table, people screamed and jostled for a spot to see. The bride, the former Jijuwania Turner, could barely get down the aisle.
When asked what was it like to pull off a surprise wedding, the new Mrs. James said that she was a ball of nerves. “My chest got so tight.” I was sitting in the room saying, “I just can’t do this. I just can’t do this. When Therm’s sister came to get me, I told her, I just can’t do this. Then I just got so full. I tried to subside myself with my breathing. Then I saw my dad and the look on his face, my dad said, ‘something told me to wear my tux, but I didn’t.’ Everything was like a rush. Tears were flowing from my eyes. I was so full of emotions. People were screaming, they were everywhere, going down the aisle was like going down the soul train line.”
This tremendous love story is of special interest to me because the lovebirds, both alumni of Morgan State University, reconnected at the homegoing service of my beloved mother in February 2006. The bride, a faithful member of New Shiloh Baptist Church, sang in the concert choir at Morgan during her undergraduate years and beyond, directed by my beloved uncle, Dr. Nathan Mitchell Carter.
Their first date, at Outback, lasted well over three hours. That they enjoyed each other’s company was immediately known to both of them. From this blossoming friendship love grew. Pastor James was certain that should he marry again it would be Jijuwania. About a month ago, they were leaving a movie and he shared his idea for a surprise wedding at his upcoming banquet. Her reply, “Who does that? That is your day.” She said she was up until 4:30 in the morning in awe and disbelief. She went to work that day not sure if he was serious. Pastor James told his two sisters and they went to work, sleuth style, ordering a cake and managing other details. Jijuwania told her parents that Therm was having his 25th anniversary banquet and he would love it if they would come. They said they would. She sold tickets to church members and friends, telling them there were a few extra tickets she wanted to help sell. As the day got closer, she did tell her mother, who wouldn’t? She found the dress that she had envisioned. A promotion at work, blessings by the bushels, with new responsibilities meant that she had to tell her boss. She crossed off the days on her calendar, still in disbelief. Last Thursday, when her betrothed showed her the marriage license, Jijuwania had to pinch herself. It was really happening. That day, when the banquet preacher, Dr. David L. Kelly, ll was about to begin his message she slipped out of the banquet to change into her gown.
The beautiful ceremony, officiated by Rev. Dr. James Fuller and Rev. Dr. Ann Lightner Fuller and her husband Rev. Dr. Stanley Fuller, took place in the banquet hall at New Psalmist Baptist Church. The newlyweds agree that had they planned for a year the day could not have been better. Bam! Just like that, in the twinkling of an eye love and happiness filled the air and ruled the day.
photo credit: Therm James, Jr.