Dressed in a white wedding gown, veil and gloves, Ms. Matete slowly made her way to the front of the congregation and recited the wedding vows, committing the rest of her life to the Church “till death do them part”.
The function attended by 200 locals and 20 flower girls was a rare occasion as Irene declared her love to the church.
“Will you be faithful to the Church and serve the Lord with all your heart?” questioned Rev John Ngayi. “Yes, I will,” the 54-year-old widow responded with a broad smile to loud cheers from the congregation.
According to Irene, the decision to marry the church was influenced by the hardships she went through at the hands of her late husband Silas Alembi. The couple had been married for 39 years and together they had 5 children.
“Out of respect for my children and because they saw what I went through, I decided not to get married to another man and chose the Church instead,” explained Matete.
She did not want to divulge what kind of difficulties she experienced in her marriage. However, Samuel Olukune, one of her husband’s relatives, said the couple had endless squabbles due to her husband’s love for liquor.
According to SDE Matete said her children had supported her decision not to re-marry as they all witnessed her suffering at the hands of their father, who was a painter.
The other reason that influenced Irene to get married was so that she can maintain the norms and standards set by the society.
She said performing the church ceremony was important as it would open the door for her children, especially her eldest son, to marry in church. He is planning to have a wedding in December.
Matete also desires to be a church leader and to achieve this, a wedding is a prerequisite. According to Pentecostal Assemblies of God norms, one must be married to be elected a leader in the church.
In the absence of her husband, she chose a friend, Judith Ocholla, to act as her groom at the ceremony. This was important for the sake of Luhya traditions.
“According to our traditions, a child cannot have a marriage ceremony if the parents did not have one. So it was necessary for her to marry before her son’s ceremony in December,” said Olokune.