DOWNEY - First Baptist church of Santa Fe Springs will hold a special service May 27 to honor the 60th wedding anniversary of Harold and Martha Neal.The couple has lived in Downey for more than 40 years. Harold became pastor of Rio Hondo Baptist Church - located across the street from Warren High School's baseball diamond - in 1971. He was pastor of the Baptist church in Santa Fe Springs from 1999-2000. The Neals are expecting friends and family from all over the country to attend the special service, including their oldest son, Lonnie, who is minister of music at a Baptist church in Nortonville, Kentucky. The service, under the director of current pastor George Valdez, will focus heavily on the problems of marriage and how to deal with them. It may be especially useful for couples having problems in their marriage and for couples planning to marry. The service begins at 10:30 a.m. The church is at 10300 Orr and Day Rd. The Neals were married May 4, 1952 at the home of a family friend. At the time, Harold was making $2 a day working on a farm and Martha had no income. Harold wore the new suit his mother had bought him for his eighth grade graduation ("It still fit, so why buy a new one," Harold said) and Martha received a $10 wedding dress from a local department store. The flowers came from nearby homes and wild flowers, and the wedding cake was donated by a local deacon who worked at a bakery. The entire wedding cost $7, including the ring. "The town had a population of 250 people and everyone in town knew they were welcome," Harold said. "Every room in the house was packed. The windows were all wide open and the crowd encircled the house, trying to hear...The pastor was standing with his back to the front door. Maybe he was planning to leave early." After the ceremony, the pastor asked where they planned to go on their honeymoon. When Harold replied he had no plans, the pastor offered to take them along on his planned trip to Springfield the following day. At 11 p.m., the pastor dropped off the couple at a motel and returned the following morning. "I think we have the distinction of being the only couple who had the preacher and his wife with them on their honeymoon," Harold joked.
********** Published: May 17, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 05