FINDING LOVE: Romance and Renewal at Rolling Ridge
by Rev. Michael Reed
It’s February—a month of thematic contradictions. We move from Valentine’s Day—celebrating the bliss and extravagance of romantic love—to Lent, a call for renewal and reminder of our all-too-human finitude and spiritual legacy.
Though we’re not a wedding venue, Rolling Ridge has hosted more than a few weddings over the past 75 years. In some cases, they reflect generations of families, intertwined with the story of the Ridge. We’d like to introduce you to two couples—three families—who illustrate the connections between love and legacy at Rolling Ridge, and the role the Ridge has played in blessing the ties that bind.
Kevin and Bonnie Spicer met and married at Rolling Ridge. Kevin, a manager at a local lumber business, has a boyish energy, even as an adult. He’s married to Bonnie, a Director of Social Work in a Massachusetts hospital. Though their children are in their teens and twenties, they still laugh and tease each other about their own teenage love story.
Bonnie and Kevin Spicer, Then and Now
“We met at Rolling Ridge,” said Bonnie. “I was a junior in high school. Everyone kept telling me: ‘You have to meet Kevin.’” She met Kevin one brisk morning in February 1980, on the last day of a Midwinter Institute youth retreat. Kevin was there to provide a ride to some mutual friends, when he ran into Bonnie, who was standing in the courtyard. Both of them were wearing running jackets, and they struck up a conversation. Kevin got Bonnie’s address, and the two began exchanging letters.
Years later—and after dating and then losing touch for a time in college—they found themselves at the Rolling Ridge Point of Pines, exchanging vows. Their families helped decorate for the wedding, with white ribbons and pink geraniums to match the dresses of the bride and bridesmaids. A local group of United Methodist Women catered lunch, and a jazz band played under the Tyson patio.
The Spicer Wedding at Rolling Ridge
It was Bonnie’s parents—Rev. Robert and Betty Sweet—who have the longest-standing connection with Rolling Ridge. Bob first arrived in 1949, when he was just twelve years old, and only a year after the property was purchased by the Methodists. He says that his time at Rolling Ridge significantly shaped his journey into ministry. Later in life, he and Betty both helped direct children’s and youth camps—including the Midwinter Institute, a series of retreats that were impactful not only for Kevin and Bonnie, but Cynthia Good as well.
Cynthia Good—an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, and former Chair of the Board of Rolling Ridge—remembers attending camps at the Ridge from an early age. Her high school years here were especially formative, making vivid the connection between faith and social justice—a theme that Rev. Sweet routinely emphasized, and one that Cynthia articulates keenly. Years later—and unconnected to the Sweets and Spicers—she and her husband Alan were married at the Ridge.
“For the wedding, we decided we could invite nobody or everybody, so we invited everybody,” says Cynthia. Four hundred people showed up for the ceremony and stayed for the reception—with the catering and decorations provided by friends and family, and the back-of-house service augmented by a local youth group.
The Wedding of Cynthia Good and Alan Pratt at Rolling Ridge
That idea—inviting everybody—is, in Cynthia’s mind, indicative of the legacy of Rolling Ridge. “Rolling Ridge has always strived to be inclusive,” she says. When asked about the traditions and values of the Ridge, she thought back both to her time as Board Chair, and also as a high school student. “I think the legacy of Rolling Ridge looks like a consistent witness to faith and faithfulness. It looks like bringing people together. It looks like training in justice, in spiritual growth. It’s about being a place where people learn to grow and experience grace.”
Each of these stories capture an essential aspect of romantic love and spiritual legacy, for both are abiding indicators of what is at the center of our lives: the relationships and values we live by, and the ones we wish to pass on to future generations. Some of the most central and significant moments in people’s lives happen right here at the Ridge—as Kevin and Bonnie, Bob and Betty, Cynthia and Alan can all attest. It’s why the continued work and enduring legacy of Rolling Ridge is so important. It’s why we’re not only looking behind, but looking ahead, to the next seventy five years. It’s a timely reminder that the contrasting themes this time of year—this season of love and Lent, romance and renewal—aren’t such strange companions after all.
Associate Executive Director at Rolling Ridge