Jonathan and David Wells, ready to dig.
At Large In Ballard: Commitment to service
By Peggy Sturdivant
Why get married on a random day in August when you can combine lifelong commitment with social justice?
Why sleep in after your own wedding and reception when you can show up to volunteer in your neighborhood the morning after to dig in the still-frozen ground and clear invasive plants?
No reason at all for the group registered “Wedding” for Nature Consortium’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service at Pigeon Point in West Seattle on January 16, 2017. In fact registering for the day of service was part of the RSVP for the wedding and another incentive to move the nuptials from August 2107 to the last weekend with Barack Obama still in the White House.
Wedding was assigned to Group Two, just south of Pathfinder School. Wearing pink and blue knit caps the two grooms themselves were chipping into the dirt in preparation for planting. “We wanted to fulfill Obama’s message of hope,” David Wells (neé Deblock) said leaning on a shovel. “This whole weekend is about social justice for us.” He was in pink hat and his groom Jonathan Wells in the blue.
They decided within days of the presidential election to move up the date. “It felt like all the hope and fun had been sucked out of the room,” David Wells said, “But this created a sense of positivity.” They also downscaled their plans slightly; instead of a reception at Daybreak Star, they took advantage of an already scheduled food truck and celebrated at Optimism Brewing. “Appropriately,” Wells added.
Jonathan Wells added the decision to marry earlier is also financial. He’s a physician for Neighborcare Health and has concerns about potential funding cuts.
They also worry about what may change for human rights, “In this new and uncertain future,” as David Wells framed it.
A weak sun began to turn the ground into mud as the newlyweds and many of their guests worked adjacent to West Seattle Honor students. The students were gingerly removing stalks of Himalayan blackberries with loppers. Asked why this specific service event above the Duwamish Greenbelt, Jonathan Wells said, “This is our neighborhood.” The Nature Consortium does restoration programs in seven different parks. Other volunteers were from local businesses and non-profits, Campfire, and individuals.
Peeling off work gloves for a few minutes, Jonathan and David Wells showed photos from less than 24 hours earlier. Before their ceremony at First United Methodist Church on Denny they did photos with their wedding party throughout Seattle Center. Their gift to their attendants was Converse sneakers, each in a color of the rainbow. For their own shoes they added sparkle, “Because Converse doesn’t sell shoes with sequins in our size.”
They had a cake made by a friend, Jello shots and crowd-sourced cupcakes. But underlying their matching rainbow ties is that both grooms are religious. However it’s a mixed marriage, Methodist and Lutheran. David Wells is Coordinator of Intergenerational Faith Ministries at Central Lutheran Church. He’s a self-described army brat and pastor’s son. His groom Jonathan Wells was raised Methodist. They both go to church; a fact that attracted them to one another immediately.
Even when the wedding was planned for that random summer date they had decided on the “gorgeous” church and the pastor, Cindy Salo of Central Lutheran, David’s boss. “She’s been officiating at same-sex weddings for nearly 30 years,” David Wells said, “long before it was legal. She actually could have been defrocked.”
Instead of gifts they asked for donations to their favorite causes. No honeymoon. The chose of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday three-day weekend so out-of-town guests could attend and volunteer with them. No wonder the sun shone on their wedding, and the day after as they worked the ground, now married. “The hope continues,” David Wells said, and they both went back to work.