OHIO TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The Christ Church at Grove Farm in Ohio Township will be the site of one of the biggest weddings in town this Saturday. It will host the nuptials of Ben Roethlisberger and Ashley Harlan.
When Senior Associate Pastor Bruce Cote first heard the wedding would take place at his church, his reacted with alarm.
“‘Oh, no!'” he recalls saying with a laugh, “because immediately my mind and our mind went to ‘Wow, this is going to be big'”
Big it is. Over 500 invited wedding guests are expected to hear the couple recite vows.
“This is a very important day,” says Cotes. “They are standing before God. They are choosing to stand before God to make their vows to one another. They are setting a very important example.”
Since his initial reaction, Cotes has had time to digest the news about how big the wedding will be. He says the church has known of the wedding there for months.
“It’s not new news to us, and we’ve kept the privacy of the moment of the day, tried to keep it confidential to protect the couple,” he confirms. “It’s important for them to have their privacy.”
Cote says Roethlisberger and Harlan have been worshiping at the church for 18 months. They attend every Sunday in a smaller sanctuary at what the church calls Third Service.
“Different styles but the same substance of the gospel,” Cote explains. “Third service will be edgier, more guitar driven.”
He says Third Service attracts a younger crowd.
But despite their celebrity, the Pastor says the couple are just regulars among the 1,400 Sunday church-goers.
“Whoever it may be, we treat everyone equally, the same, hopefully well. That’s our intent, so that’s our intent with Ben and Ashley, to allow them the space they need to worship the God they love,” he says.
Across the hall from the Third Service is a much larger worship space. The wedding ceremony will take place in the larger sanctuary under a cross.
Cote says the details of the service are under wraps, but it will sound traditional. Attendees can expect music, Bible readings, no communion, and words similar to the Anglican or Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.
“The ceremony itself, the prayers, the vows, we would all be familiar in hearing,” he says. “We’ve probably all been at a wedding where we’ve heard similar words, similar prayers.”
Despite all the public interest, Pastor Cote has one request of fans and locals.
“Give this couple the privacy that every couple that is married in this worship space is given.”
There will be lots of security to keep out wedding crashers, says Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert Micklos.
“This is a special event for these people,” Micklos says. “It’s a private event. It’s private property, and they need to respect that.”