Monday, April 18, 2011

When Trey proposed marriage almost 20 years ago we were in a quandry about many of the wedding details. We had been living in Maryland just 8 months but had begun dating while back in Seattle. We didn't have a home church and thought it made more sense to get married where I grew up. The tricky part was where to have the ceremony and who to marry us. Earlier in our courtship we attended Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington and quickly fell in love with Pastor Ken Hutcherson-a former NFL linebacker-turned-preacher who was larger than life. He was the kind of man who told it like it was, loved God with all his heart and soul and spoke tenderly about his wife and children. We knew it was a long shot but we sent him a letter (way before email was an option) asking if he would consider performing our ceremony. Surprisingly, he agreed as long as we committed to pre-marital counseling at a local church. I say "surprisingly" because I'm certain we weren't the only ones asking for favors. His church was growing by leaps and bounds and he was in high demand. While preparing for the big day, we didn't give it much thought as to the impact this man would have on our guests. In typical 24-year-old fashion we were pre-occupied with ourselves, making August 1st, 1992 the most perfect day and sailing off into "happily ever after." Leave it to Hutch to shake it up.

It all started with the rehearsal. Not only had I disappointed my own grandmother by choosing to get married in a Protestant church, but when Trey's 85-year-old southern grandmother walked into the sanctuary and caught sight of "Hutch" at the altar, her first question to her daughter was: "Who is that man?" "He's the minister, Mom." Big sigh. As we practiced for the wedding day, Hutch proceeded to give our entire wedding party a talking to about what he expected from them. No grape juice that might spill on my dress. No whining or fussing and calling attention to themselves about anything. No late arrivals. He made it clear that it was our day and nothing and no one would get in the way of that. He immediately earned respect from the skeptical and redeemed himself with both grandmas. I was a little surprised at how strong he spoke but I trusted his motives. He really did have our best interests in mind.

Judging from his earlier speech, I knew we were in for more of the same during the ceremony. Once again, Hutch did not disappoint. Just before the vows, he gave an amazing description of the significance of using gold as a symbol for the marriage relationship heating up. He sugar coated nothing. He followed with imploring our witnesses to accept that they had just as much responsibility for the success of our marriage as we did. He took nothing lightly and I know his words did not fall on deaf ears. For years to come we heard comments from friends and family that they had never been to a wedding with a pastor like this--ever. Some of our friends even ordered a copy of our video so they could hear his message once again. One couple were inspired to began attending his church and he performed their marriage ceremony shortly thereafter.

Once we moved back to the Northwest, we always talked about wanting to see Hutch again. Living almost two hours away from Kirkland with a busy family made it difficult. We kept up with him through the news. In the past 6-7 years he has becoming a major figure in local politics speaking out about that which he believes is unbiblical. He has made a name for himself beyond the pulpit but, more importantly, he has never compromised his integrity or convictions in the process. Many on the other side would call him a polarizing figure but he is simply a man who will not go down without a fight and will die for his beliefs. Unfortunately, we also learned that this is the path he is currently on. Prostate cancer entered his life 8 years ago and has been slowly ravaging his body. He is a shell of what he used to be physically but his spirit and conviction has only become stronger.

Last weekend, Quinn had a soccer game just miles down the road from Antioch so we took the opportunity to risk that he might be preaching. He was! When we walked in and I saw him sitting in the back of the church prior to the service, it was sobering to see the physical changes He looked at us quizzically and when I said "We're Trey and Dana, you married us 18 years ago," his face lit up and warm hugs followed. It was sooooooo good to see him. We introduced him to the boys and they loved his humor and teasing. Although they were most impressed by the Super Bowl ring displayed on his right hand. (Maybe we can find some spiritual significance in this.) The service was incredible and his preaching as amazing as ever. It was well worth the trip.

Thank you, Hutch for staying true to who you've been called to be. You continue to inspire just as you did for a starry-eyed young couple and their unsuspecting family and friends 18 short years ago. Godspeed, dear friend.

August 1, 1992

Antioch Bible Church
April 10, 2011


2 Responses to “Hutch”

Andrea Pasquan said...

Love this! Since I was only 10, I didn't know much of the background of this. I just remember him causing some "unrest" in family haha. He sounds like an incredible man of God who has impacted many for the Kingdom. How cool you got to see him again.

five little acorns said...

Wow...amazing...I grew up in Kirkland, had dear, dear friends that attended Antioch...and remember Hutch from way back then! Had no idea he was part of your story. Thank you for sharing this--what a cool opportunity to get a photograph of him with your whole family all of these years later!