by Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Nathaniel Batchelder and Patricia Hoerth celebrated Holy Matrimony the afternoon and evening of Saturday, June 9. The union formally joins in wedded bliss two of Oklahoma City’s best known Progressive activists, appreciated for their eclectic friendships, many of which surmount some of the divisions that now afflict the common culture.
The wedding ceremony was held at Church of the Open Arms on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Oklahoma City. Presiding ministers were the Revs. Kayla Bonewell, Susan Ross, Donna Compton and Scott Spencer. Elise D’Angelo assisted them with sound systems.
The couple and the packed church of friends and family heard stories both amusing and touching from the ministers. Compton recalled working at a family newspaper, The MidTown News, in the 1980s. There, she first engaged Batchelder when he wrote frequent commentaries and editorials arguing for liberal causes and beliefs.
Compton remembered Nathaniel’s involvement with The Oklahoman Board of Editorial Contributors in the 1990s, while Compton pointed with appreciation to his management of the Peace House News over the past several decades. Fondly remembered were members of the Sisters of St. Benedict, Catholic nuns who founded The Peace House which Batchelder still runs on North Robinson Avenue.
Hoerth was praised for creative work over many decades, as a photographer and journalist and co-founder with her sister Ann Denney of the Turtle Rock Farm spiritual retreat. Born and raised in a family of Farmers, she was celebrated for her generous spirit and seeming unwillingness to speak ill of anyone, even those with whom she disagrees on important issues.
Those who did not already know this datum learned it in the course of the ceremony – Batch and Pat met at a protest rally. Their first date was driving together to an environmental conference of Progressive activists.
According to a brief narrative the couple prepared, flowers and plants adorned the worship space thanks to the work of Lia Woods, Tesa Linville, Edith Siemens and the CommonWealth Urban Farms team – growing, harvesting, arranging and installing the aforementioned fruits of creation. Working the wedding reception and the event itself were Mike D’Armand, Ron Bashant, Sandra Hoyt and Kenny Wright.
Still ahead, the after-wedding dinner was to include, from Fertile Ground Cooperative, compostable plates, cups, tableware and other items to assure a “Zero Landfill Event.” Sheesh Mahal restaurant, a popular eatery on May Avenue, was to provide food for the evening meal, while Victor Gorin would deejay the dancing at Mosaic Methodist Church on the near-west side.
At the wedding itself, Pat’s grandnieces and nephews – Jane, Dottie, Conner and Jack McFerron – helped with flowers and rings. As predicted the children raised “the adorable quotient.”
Spiritual readings, proclaimed by members of the couple’s family, included a portion of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, and the Italian poem known as the Peace Prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, ending with the memorable words that “it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
Members of Mixed Company provided music, including Batchelder’s recasting of Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song.” The company also rendered an exquisite harmonic interpretation of “I can’t help falling in love, with you.” That song, immortalized in Elvis Presley’s popular version, was originally composed by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss. That trio drew inspiration from a romantic tune first composed by Jean-Paul-Egide Martini in the Eighteenth Century.
The couple exchanged vows of mutual respect and love, and the promise of fidelity.
For a few precious moments, Batchelder on guitar and Hoerth playing an upright bass, joined an instrumental ensemble that included Robyn Lemon Sellers on flute and Conna Wilkinson at the piano. The quartet performed Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major,” an exquisite melody evoking a quiet spring, best known as theme song for the motion picture, “Ordinary People.”
Near the end a “love feast,” explained by Rev. Spencer as rooted in the traditions of Moravian Christians, was held. It featured bread from organic local wheat, flowing from the work of Bruce Johnson and drink. Guests experienced the bread with each other, exchanging the words of the wedding’s theme, “Love Shared.”
The ceremony concluded in song, soon after Rev. Bonewell declared to the couple and their friends, “I pronounce them united in marriage.” Thus concluded the formal joining of spiritual beings, humans like each of us, now known as Nathaniel Horton Bellmon Batchelder and Patricia Hoerth Bellmon Batchelder.
Blessings to both, for many years to come.