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70-year commitment highlights Danvers marriage renewal ceremony

Posted by Ryan Mooney  June 18, 2012 10:03 AM

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Lisa Poole photos/for The Boston Globe

Thayne and Karin Symmes of Essex, former longtime Danvers residents, receive a blessing from Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, during a marriage vow renewal ceremony Saturday on the lawn of the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers. They were married in the Calvary church in 1942 and celebrated their 70th anniversary.

The 33d annual Danvers Family Festival kicked off with the Baron Mayer Award/Champagne Gala on Friday, and continued with the first-ever, townwide marriage renewal ceremony on Saturday afternoon.

In all, 15 couples renewed their wedding vows in front of more than 50 family, friends, and other spectators at the Rotary Pavilion on the lawn of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers. The ceremony, presided over by Reverend Thea Keith-Lucas of Calvary Episcopal Church, included music, prayers, and a blessing of rings. The event went so well that volunteers hope to make it a regular part of the nearly month-long family festival.

"We had a wonderful time doing it," Rev. Keith-Lucas said. "I know some of my volunteers are already tossing around comments like 'So when we do this next year,' so, we haven't officially decided to do it, but everybody really enjoyed it, so I think it's very likely."

Couples received a certificate to commemorate their marriage renewals, and parishioners of Calvary hosted a reception of light refreshments at their church on Holten Street, just a short walk from the ceremony.

"There were a good number of folks there," said Fran Weil, the church's event coordinator. "It was just fabulous."

One of the certificates presented was to Thayne Symmes, 92, and his wife Karin, 90, longtime residents of Danvers who currently reside in Essex. The couple was married at Calvary on May 10, 1942, and celebrated their 70th anniversary on Mother's Day before renewing the commitment they made to each other nearly a lifetime ago in front of a large congregation of family members, of which they certainly have no shortage. The couple has five children, 16 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

"They're incredible," Rev. Keith-Lucas said. "They talked about what it meant to them to be married for so long, so that was a real honor and a treat to have them and their family there."

It was more than just current or former parishioners that renewed their vows. The ceremony was open to people of all faiths, including those married in a religious or civil ceremony.

"We had folks who just read about it in the paper and had been meaning to renew their vows, and were just excited to have the opportunity to come down and join in," Rev. Keith-Lucas said. "So it was a nice mix of folks from the parish and other people who came out for the ceremony."

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