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Two weddings and a class this Sunday at CWC

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POSTED May 4, 2013 1:07 a.m.


The Bulletin

A double wedding is something you don’t expect to see happening in a classroom. Unless, of course, you’re talking about Sheilah Urtega’s Couples Devoted to Christ class at Christian Worship Center.

For the first time since this program started about 10 years ago, four people are tying the knot this Sunday in a ceremony that is made even more special because it will take place during the 9 a.m. class.

The two engaged couples who will be exchanging their vows in the small building next to the main church on Button Avenue are Leila Manges and John Vanderwerff, and Jeremy and Marissa Woodward. Presiding over the marriage of Manges and Vanderwerff will be Pastor Ed Rivas of the Christian Worship Center. Chaplain Dave Blanco, also of CWC, will officiate in the ceremony uniting the Woodwards in marriage.

“We don’t have much financial means right now so we’ll have the reception some other time,” said an excited Manges.

She and her fiancé have been together for seven years and are not currently employed. But she is half-way through her studies at Heald’s College in Stockton to become a pharmacy technician and hopes to receive her Associate in Arts degree in about a year and then get a job. He has a commercial truck driver’s license and is right now looking for a job. They have three children ages one-and-a-half, five, and six.

“Two couples will be getting married and it’s all thanks to Jesus. With a little support from fellow Christians in our Couples class, we all came to a decision to get married,” said Manges about the life-changing step they are taking this Sunday.

She strongly feels “it’s an act of God” that she and her fiancé are finally taking the big commitment.

“He’s been praying over it because, I guess, he was reaching a point where he was wanting to finally get married,” Manges said of her fiancé.

“We were already engaged when we joined the class,” she said.

They decided to give Couples Devoted to  Christ a try because “we were at the point where we had relationship issues, like, we weren’t sure if we were ever going to get married, and personal things as far as our personalities and lifestyles are concerned – things we had to work on,” Manges said candidly.

That was a year-and-a-half ago. During that time, they have gained a lot of insight into their relationship and have received plenty of support from the other people in the class about Christian values.

“That’s what so special about them,” Manges said of the other engaged and married couples in the class.

And that’s what Couples Devoted to Christ is all about, explained Urtega who has been teaching the class for the last ten years.

“It teaches Christian biblical values applied to everyday living as a married couple. It’s a one-of-a-kind class – that’s what my perspective is. It’s a class where everybody belongs, and it allows them to open up and they get to see real-life concerns and circumstances and how to navigate through that as a Christian,” Urtega said.

This is the first time in the last decade when two couples from the class are getting married, she added.

While most of those attending the free class are either engaged or married – they even have a couple who have already been married for 45 years – there are a few people who come to the sessions without spouses, said Urtega.

The class, she said, is Bible study, sharing, and real-life action all rolled into one. For example, some couples don’t even know how to talk to each other. “So we go down to the details on how to be successful in marriage,” how to have a Christ-centered marriage, and that “your marriage should be blessed,” Urtega said.

Devotionals are also a big part of the class, as well as personal celebrations.

“We celebrate people’s birthdays. We really try to do whatever we can to make them feel that someone loves them, especially Christ,” she said, adding she is very happy for the two couples who are getting married on Sunday.

“They just want to show their commitment in Christ,” which is why the couples made the decision to exchange vows during the class, Urtega said. “It’s not about the ring; it’s not about the (wedding) dress. For us, it’s about God and doing things the right way.”

The couples, she said, “have accomplished one of the things that we talked about (in class) and God bringing them together.”

Normally, couples do the marriage counseling before the wedding, she said. In the case of the two couples being married on Sunday, they will be having that marriage counseling “after the fact” and will be set up on a six-week program.

“We’ll give them all the tools they need to succeed (in their marriage,” Urtega said.

Contact Rose Albano Risso at or at (209) 249-3536.

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