Friday, June 24, 2016

Our Grief has not subsided, but we remain devoted to our Mission

A Very Personal Note from Thomas Wade Clegg III

Your notes, calls, e-mails and gifts in memory of Rev. Elisheva Clegg, who died in the UVA Medical Center on April 6, have been so meaningful to me and our four children,  plus Sam McLawhorn  and those who have supported our charitable activities over the last eight years.  Please know that in due course I will make contact and respond to your comments and wishes.

Our personal life as ordained Interfaith Ministers, although separate from the IHS public charity, was used as a supportive branch for funds for the charity.  Elisheva was so enthused each time we wrote and performed a wedding, but especially for the last six years when we allowed couples to participate with charitable giving as a part of their fee.

So Much Has Changed and Will Take Time to Adjust

Emotionally, I found myself forgetting simple things and just needing to withdraw for short periods.  I know we are behind in writing e-mails and posting blog notes, but that negligence on my part will change. The emails and blog postings may be shorter, but this next month we will provide more details on those who have been helping.

So Many Have Asked: What happened on April 5-6 that led to Elisheva's death?

I can only tell you that Elisheva did NOT die from cancers in both her lungs. She was working through a well-planned program with the UVA Cancer Center Lung Specialists, beginning at the first of the year.  I have every confidence that the Lung Cancer Center was in route to a complete and fruitful result had Elisheva lived for the removal of the cancer from her right lung which was scheduled for April 7.  She died the day before her final operation.

April 5th beginning at about 5:30 PM was a nightmare in slow motion

Elisheva walked to our upstairs bedroom, following a long conversation of planning for the remainder of the summer.  She called me to come upstairs. She was having intense pain in her back and chest and needed assistance. The ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and we were in UVA Hospital ER within the hour. She remained in ER for at least 6 hours

From slow nightmare to panic alarm

During the transition process from her ER rolling bed to the room bed, Elisheva experienced further distress and a code was sounded. The room filled with a multitude, all working feverously for almost twenty minutes until a heartbeat was noted. Twenty minutes is a long time.

The next move was down the hall to ICU

More hours passed. The description of exploratory intrusion to find the source of the internal bleeding will not be related.  The exploratory was necessary if the bleeding was to be stopped, but the cumulative efforts ended at 0944 hours.

The death certificate reads

Elisheva C. Clegg died of cardiac arrest, hemorrhage, chest wall trauma. Other significant conditions:  PEA arrest from unknown cause, CPR resulting in chest wall trauma.  Now you know what happened as concisely as I can offer.

Some final thoughts

I got through the funeral that Sunday, but I do not remember who was there. Elisheva was there in a lovely wooden coffin which my daughters selected for cremation.  I only had one wish and that was to have all four of my very adult children and their children hear from so many friends what generosity she provided with her life.  She loved so deeply and offered such kindness.  There was never a day when she did not say to me, one of the following several times:  "I love you so much."  " Do you know how much I love you?" " Let's do 20 more years, OK?" And I said, "Twenty years plus one!"   And she would kiss me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Reverend Elisheva C. Clegg passed away unexpectedly in Charlottesville, VA on April 6, 2016 at the age of 72.

Elisheva is survived by her husband of 43 years, Thomas Wade Clegg III; her children, Ari Jolly and her husband John Jolly of Jacksonville, FL; Yalda Clegg and her husband Scott York of Alexandria, VA; Kristine Bechtel and her husband Todd Bechtel of Charlotte, NC; Wade Clegg IV and his wife Jolene Clegg of Los Angeles, CA, and sister in law Judith Clegg of Tupelo, MS.  She was also the loving grandmother of Chandler and Jack Jolly, Zachary and Joshua Bechtel and Arthur and Elsa Clegg.
Elisheva C. Clegg was born on January 22, 1944 in Kaiserslautern, Germany and was a war baby survivor of WWII.  She met and married her soulmate Thomas Wade Clegg III on June, 25, 1972 while he was stationed with the US Air Force serving at Ramstein AFB in Germany.  The entire family moved to the United States when Wade completed active duty with the US Air Force in 1974.
Elisheva was compassionate and found her calling in counseling and helping others in times of need.  She received a master's degree in pastoral counseling and became an ordained interfaith minister.  She also attended the UVA medical center chaplaincy program.

She was a kind, generous, witty, dedicated individual to all who had the privilege of meeting her.  She was extremely passionate about helping those who were unable to help themselves in times of crisis.   It was this need that led her, Wade and co-founder Sam McLawhorn to create the nonprofit charity Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS).  IHS is an independent, non-religious, ALL volunteer, nonprofit, 501(c)3 public charity.  IHS assists long distance families who are underfunded with lodging and food and other critical needs including items such a providing new infant car seats for UVA's pediatric clinics.

A celebration of Elisheva's life is scheduled for this Sunday, April 10th beginning at 2:30 pm at Grace and Glory Lutheran Church located at 683 Thomas Jefferson Pwky VA-53 (Palmyra) VA 22963 (434-589-2217).

In lieu of flowers, please consider Elisheva's efforts in raising funds for her charity, IHS at or mail to:

PO Box 163
Palmyra, VA 22963

Saturday, February 6, 2016

First Things First - THE PLAN

So many of the readers of my e-mails are couples, or families of couples, whom we have already married.  The fog of planning for the wedding of which we were participants as wedding ministers has drifted into the past; but, the memories of bringing together all the vendors and support activities down to one date is remembered as a challenge. So much can be accomplished with such ease when attention to this one-time special occasion is given adequate time to plan.

Many considerations must go into planning a wedding, whether hosting a small or large audience. What is the most convenient time (Spring, Summer, Fall?) and location (farm, home, vineyard, chapel, etc.?) to insure that most guests can schedule attendance and make the trip with ease and expectation that a holiday or storm season will not leave them in an airport hundreds of miles away?  Budget considerations are prominent in all planning. Inside or outside for the ceremony, the reception, the music, the d├ęcor, the sound, the photography and alternatives for moving inside based on inclement weather.

A very deliberate list for planning has such merit.

AND THAT LIST NEEDS TO BE MADE AND EXPLORED WITH A KEY PLANNER FOR EACH BUSINESS WHO WILL FILL ALL THE SLOTS AS VENDORS.  Once you have decided on the desired month, an idea of venue for your budget, then discuss present availability based on those days which are available for booking.  Then - make a call list to check with your priority list of support people and their availability for the date. AND PLEASE PLACE THE WEDDING MINISTER ON THAT CALL LIST AS TO AVAILABILITY IN THE EARLY PLANNING.

Most Weddings which are structured to host family and friends are based on two parts:  The actual wedding service or ceremony and the party which follows.

We are concerned with the ceremony and providing a service which represents the depth of feelings which a couple wishes to express for the most important gathering of family and friends in their lives. As soon as a couple has a projected idea for a date, or a weekend, and a venue, or at least a town and state ... then go to my website home page at and access the "Contact" sheet across the top of the page, or the inquiry note at the bottom of the page.

Complete that short inquiry and send.  This is the most immediate method for learning if dates and times are open, and how long you have to make our participation permanent.  Once we have this basic info, exchanges can begin.

Read the website and blog postings and learn more about all contacts. There needs to be a feeling of comfort with each vendor, but most certainly with a wedding minister. It is he or she who is allowing your audience to know that they are attending the most special day in your journey together.

If you are a family member or close friend of a bride or groom just beginning to explore for the "big day," pass this item along to them. It may be the information that frees them from unnecessary stress.  That alone is often a wonderful gift for a nervous couple in need of guidance.

Just sharing ...  Reverend Elisheva

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When Family Participation is Really Special!

On October 10, 2015 the late afternoon weather was perfect at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, Virginia for the wedding of Emily James and Johannes Harkema. There were a lot of Europeans at this gathering. The Harkema family flew in from the Netherlands.

Family and friends are often asked to participate in a ceremony. Sometimes a talented friend or sibling will be asked to sing. Sometimes a family will have multiple musicians, and form a band for this one-time special occasion. Most certainly, readers will be found to give diversity to the ceremony.

On this day among the participants was Poet David L. James, Professor of English from the Orchard Ridge Campus, Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Dr. James is Emily's uncle. He wrote and delivered a special poem entitled "Our Hope."

With the permission of Professor James, and for the first time in print for public enjoyment, please find the very personal words written for Emily James on the occasion of her marriage to Johannes Harkema.

OUR HOPE    for Emily and J.J., Oct. 10, 2015

it's easy to see
the love in your eyes, in your faces.
we can even feel
the love in your hearts, beating
just under the skin.
but it's the love six, ten, seventeen,
twenty-nine years from this very day-
like a well-worn pair of shoes,
like your favorite ripped ball cap,
like that shirt you will never throw out,
thin and frayed, stained down the front,
it's that kind of love
we hope for.
love that won't let go in any storm,
that sits up with you late at night
when you're sick,
a love that forgives and understands
and steers you back when you lose your bearings
and drift away.
it's a love that plants itself
in your heart
and branches through the blood stream,
like ivy wrapping around the ribs
and hip bone, down the arms and legs
until you can't imagine a world
without each other,
without his hand around your waist,
without her laughter in your ears,
that's the love we want for you,
a love that lifts you
into the sky like it's normal,
like it happens all the time,
and when you look ahead, all you can ever see
is the future smiling in the distance,
waving for you
to follow. 
David James 

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Marriage License ... A Couple's Responsibility

Even though my e-mail attachments to inquiries fully explain how we work and make many helpful suggestions, sometimes over the course of every year, someone will not read these critical items for accomplishment. One item which is sometimes skipped over, and wrongfully ASSUMED, is that the minister will obtain a marriage license for the couple. As most will recognize, this is not a logical assumption. The marriage license must be purchased by the couple and presented to the minister or officiant at the ceremony.

The Rules and Fees are different in each state

Virginia is our prime area for performing weddings, although we do travel into adjacent states.
We are still asked to come to parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Most North Carolina requests are simply too far for travel. Also there will be extra costs for the minister's lodging. There are Interfaith Ministers in many major metro areas of that state. However, each state and the District of Columbia have an easily accessed Clerk of the Court with a Marriage Bureau. I mention these areas specifically, for I am registered and approved for performing legal weddings in these states and in DC, as well as many other locations.

Allow me to speak about Virginia in general, then call a local Clerk for the details

In every county in Virginia is a Clerk of the Court. In the Clerk's Office is a Marriage Bureau, or similar name. Each office can be accessed by phone or on-line website. Information is fully spelled out on these websites, but if anything is not absolutely clear, pick up that phone and call and take notes. If needed, the couple can visit the Clerk's Office for clarification.

Most licenses are about $30-$35, but can be higher. The license is good for a period of sixty (60) days, which means that you do not want to make a purchase until you have a solid date for the actual ceremony. You do not want the license to expire before a legal wedding can be performed. If it does, you will have to purchase another license. My suggestion is to purchase the license from 7-14 days before the ceremony.

In Virginia the license is provided to the minister or officiant by the couple, on or just before the wedding date. The minister will retain the license, complete and sign it (no witnesses are required), and mail it directly to the Clerk within days of the wedding. The couple is given information by the Clerk's Office at the time of purchase regarding cost for original copies (only a few dollars per copy) and where to send a request for copies. The couple needs to keep this information for any future need for copies of the marriage license.

In Virginia a couple can purchase the marriage license at any Clerk's office and use it immediately at any location within the state. A license is only good in the state where it is obtained.  There are waiting periods and other restrictions in other states, but once you have the license in Virginia, you are not restricted for immediate pursuit of being wed. The state of Maryland has some restrictions such as a waiting period of 48 hours from purchase until hosting a ceremony, and the license in Maryland is only good within the county where the license was purchased.  This makes Virginia less problematic for late purchases, but a couple's planning should not be allowed to wait until the last week day before a ceremony. Don't be surprised when a government office is closed for a holiday. If you do wait, problems can arise, and a legal wedding may be delayed. Just sharing.

A Final Note of Importance ... I do not marry couples inside courthouses

A couple may think that ministers will marry them in a courthouse or the Clerk's Office. I do not perform weddings in courthouses. On the marriage license form is a block which I must mark as a "religious" ceremony, and religious ceremonies are not performed in courthouses. I do perform "non-religious" ceremonies, but that is not the same as a "civil" ceremony performed inside a courthouse setting.  Many Clerk's offices do not have arrangements for marrying a couple in their facility, while others may be able to schedule a couple for an Officer of the Court to perform a short civil ceremony.  Use your time wisely to get the details needed for planning.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Most Pleasant Place for a Most Intimate Wedding

Over the last ten years we have been asked if we perform "elopement" size weddings. What that generally means is just a couple alone or perhaps a few friends or family members (usually six or less) accompanying the couple. So - YES ... we do perform very small weddings at homes or farms, and under large shade trees at one favorite public location mostly on week days away from the crowded venues geared to weekend events. The location is Pleasant Grove Park, located along Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53) just 12 miles from Mr. Jefferson's home of Monticello, between Charlottesville and Palmyra, Virginia.


A Magnificent change has taken place over the last few years at Pleasant Grove


The large 800 acre park now has something for everyone, but one dynamic transformation has been the renovation of the 1854 William Douglas Haden House, which had been empty for years. The Haden House is now a Visitor's Center and Museum, and offices are open daily Monday-Friday. The House Museum hours are open for four hours on Saturday and Sunday. There is a restroom building next to the parking lot at the rear of Haden House open during business hours, and many locations under the large shade trees for reserving time for a wedding. There is even the opportunity during normal business hours to use the small reading room upstairs in the House, if inclement weather intrudes for an outside ceremony.  


Your best bet for details is to call Malinda Payne Monday-Friday at (434) 589-2016  


Reading Room for Inside Wedding

Again, here is the link for more information about Fluvanna County's Pleasant Grove Park. When mapquesting the location, the address is 1736 Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53), Palmyra, VA 22963. What will be a truly pleasant surprise is how reasonable the fees are for reserving space and equipment for weddings and family gatherings. As time allows, check out Fluvanna County's latest and greatest addition for creating memories. THEN - give us a call or send an e-mail and let's plan your wedding in this lovely country setting.  


Grinding Wheel Outside

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vows ... The Key Moment in Every Wedding Ceremony

Intimate Loving Couple This element is the verbal exchange between the couple that expresses the sincere promises they are making to each other regarding their intention for the marriage. Perhaps a visit to a dictionary definition of the word vow allows for a start: "a solemn promise or assertion ... by which a person is bound to an act, service or condition." On the basis of this definition alone, the decision to write your own vows or adapt traditional vows makes perfect sense.  After all, if you're binding yourself for life, shouldn't you have a say in what it is that you're binding yourself to?

Think about it!

Not so long ago, wives were bound to obey their husbands. For hundreds of years no one gave that "obey" clause a second thought. It's only in recent times that people have begun to blaze their own trails.  When it comes to vow exchanges now, there is indeed flexibility. Mixing and matching traditional vows, incorporating lines of poetry, or writing completely original material are all acceptable, at least in the weddings we perform. However, the solemn nature of the vows has not changed. You are still making a pledge before all, so keep this question in mind: "What exactly are you promising your betrothed?"

Vows seem to create the most apprehension for many couples

In well over half of our weddings, a couple will decide to allow us to review and write vows for their review, after receiving their in depth questionnaires, which are used for the process of discovery as to their hopes and dreams and other matters of the heart.  Through their openness in answering questions about their relationship and how it evolved for a lifetime partnership, each individual is forced to write down those pertinent aspects of their growth together, and therefore the exploration touches on the uniqueness of their journey and the qualities which convinced each of them to make this public commitment for all to share.

The Questionnaires are not a test; they are a tool for knowing each couple intimately

hearts-icon.jpg This exploration in writing has proven to be the answer for personalization of text for all elements of the ceremony. It is also a marvelous stimulus for capturing and highlighting thoughts for personalizing vows, and/or at least providing the minister with insights for originating a couple's vows. The words spoken by the couple as promises or vows may be memorized, read from a card, or recited after the Minister.

Our approach for a Couple who originates and delivers their Vows has proven helpful

Couples must discuss the comfort level of each partner, especially when it comes to writing and delivering the vows in front of a gathering.  Some partners simply are very uncomfortable personally speaking in front of an audience at a time of high emotion. However, when the couple has concluded this direction, and wish to withhold sharing of the text with each other until the actual ceremony, then each partner e-mails the minister a copy of the script in advance. The Minister will review each script for balance for timing and tone, and relate back some suggestions which might enhance one or both deliveries.  This necessity for feedback has only occurred when a Bride had an abundance to relate, and the Groom's words were much too short. In addition, when a couple submits their vows early enough, the minister has time to tailor his or her address so as not to repeat the couple's thoughts for each other. After all, the vows should be given priority and never over-shadowed or repeated in other elements. Just ideas to consider.

Let your imagination be your guide

Whether customizing your own vows for personal delivery, or making a list for reciting after the Minister, develop vows that are meaningful to both you and your partner, that say something unique about your love, and that exemplify the way you envision your future together. Although your guests will be there to hear you speak your vows, this part of the ceremony is strictly between you and your intended. Listen to your heart ... the words will follow.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

P.S.  There are three books which we frequently access for reference for wedding elements.  We recommend:
  • "The Everything Wedding Vows Book," 3rd Edition by Don Lipper and Elizabeth Sagehorn
  • "Sacred Ceremony" by Dayna Reid
  • "Alternative Weddings," by Jane Ross-MacDonald
Some of the thoughts in this article on vows came from these sources.