NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) _ When it comes to the marriage business, the Rev. Ben Jansen will tie the knot in just about any fashion, just as long as the fashion includes clothes.
″A couple called and asked if I would marry them in the buff,″ Jansen said. ″I thought she said ‘on the bus’ and I said sure. ... I did the wedding, but we all had clothes on.″
What started as a way to supplement his income as pastor of the 70-member Christ Community Congregational Church seven years ago has become a passion for Jansen, and, he says, a very important part of his ministry.
It wasn’t long before Jansen, 42, began getting requests from people who were turned down by other pastors in town because they didn’t want a church ceremony.
Though Jansen takes the institution of marriage seriously, he has no reservations about performing weddings in some not-so-serious settings.
″The Bible talks about commitment - that’s the heart of marriage. It’s not where you get married that matters,″ said Jansen, who also does marriage counseling.
Jansen estimates about 80 percent of the weddings he performs are at homes.
The rest have been in such offbeat places as the top level of a downtown parking ramp, on a 400-foot sand dune with both bride and groom sitting on a motorcycle, on a city skateboard ramp, and at a construction site where a couple planned to build their home.
His biggest wedding was performed two years ago on the ice before 5,000 people at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, just before the start of an International Hockey League game.
Jansen said he doesn’t pry too much into the reasons a couple has for wanting to get married in an unusual place.
″I learned a long time ago that you can’t explain love,″ he said.
DERBY, Conn. (AP) - The birth of Elizabeth Piechocki’s first child was a real labor of love after she won a long battle with immigration officials to be reunited with her Polish husband just hours before the baby’s birth.
Mrs. Piechocki, already in labor, traveled to Kennedy International Airport in New York on Wednesday against the advice of her doctors to greet her husband, Andrzej.
She was admitted to Griffin Hospital’s maternity ward back in Derby on Thursday morning and gave birth to her son, 8-pound, 6-ounce Andrew, at 5:26 p.m., said Marian Schmitz, a hospital spokeswoman.
″Everyone’s doing fine,″ Ms. Schmitz said.
The couple met almost eight years ago when both were working in the village of Ruda-Slaska, Poland. They were engaged to be married before Mrs. Piechocki emigrated to the United States with her family in May 1986.
She visited Piechocki twice in Poland - first to marry him and the second time for a six-month stay. She discovered she was pregnant after she returned from the second visit.
When she immigrated, U.S. Embassy officials in Warsaw assured her that her fiancee would be allowed to join her within 15 months. But a backup in paperwork at the Embassy delayed their reunion, said Steven Snider, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Lowell P. Weicker, R-Conn.
Weicker’s office got involved after Mrs. Piechocki called for help in August, Snider said.
Piechocki’s visa didn’t come through until Monday, Mrs. Piechocki’s due date.
″Fortunately, she was late,″ Snider said.
Piechocki’s visa allows him to remain in the United States indefinitely, and he’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship in five years, Snider said.