Baptist and Reflector
SHELBYVILLE — It’s not common for a church to go the extra mile in celebrating a couple’s wedding anniversary.
But, then again, not many couples are married for 75 years.
New Bethel Baptist Church in Shelbyville helped James and Frances Arnold celebrate 75 years of marriage on Aug. 13. They were married on Aug. 8, 1942. They were recognized during the service and a covered dish meal and reception was held in their honor after the morning service.
Not only have they been faithful to each other, they have been faithful to God and to the church, observed pastor Jonathan Curry.
Curry said his first impression of New Bethel Baptist Church was James Arnold “because he met my family at the door and gave us a bulletin. It was a great first impression.”
Arnold, who was born and reared in Shelbyville, has been a member of New Bethel for 80 years. He was saved and baptized at the church at the age of 13. Except for the time he served in the military during World War II, he has been at the church the entire time. Over the years he has been a deacon, Sunday School teacher, RA leader, and general handyman, repairing whatever was needed at the church, his pastor said.
Mrs. Arnold also has been an active member for about 70 years, faithfully attending since her husband returned home from the war.
“The church has been very important to us and our family,” said Linda Stimpson, the Arnolds’ daughter. “My parents put God first,” she affirmed, adding that they “are amazing parents. They believe in setting an example.”
The secret of their long marriage is simple, said James Arnold. “I love her. She’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever come across,” he said.
His wife agreed. “I love him or I wouldn’t still be with him,” she said with a chuckle.
Mrs. Arnold did note, however, that marriage requires “give and take. You can’t always get your way,” she said. “You can’t get mad and you have to forgive,” she added.
In addition to their daughter, the Arnolds have a son, James Arnold Jr. (deceased), four granddaughters, and nine great grandchildren.