What keeps a marriage together for 48
years and going strong?
Where does the strength come from to withstand the challenges of managing careers,
raising children, coping with cancer, and overcoming the death
of a child?
For Cedric and June Dempsey, co-speakers
for the 20th annual Community Prayer Breakfast held May 8 at
Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena, the answers to those questions
are found in these words: faith, friendship, freedom, family,
friends, fun, fitness, and forgiveness. And undergirding
The Dempseys spoke to a crowd of just over
1,000 gathered for the annual event which brings together young
and old, working and retired, leaders and followers, students
and teachers of any race, any religion, and from any neighborhood.
The Community Prayer Breakfast celebrates
shared values while respecting one another's differences. This
year's theme was "Coming Together in Faith."
Cedric Dempsey is the president of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association. June is co-founder
of the Academic Preparation for Excellence program at the University
Their ties to Calhoun County go back to
their years as Albion College students and later Albion
teachers. They then made career moves that have taken them to
various parts of the country. Today they reside in Indianapolis.
An exchange program that June Dempsey helped
establish with Israel has involved local people and earned her
and Cedric, the Partners for Democracy Award of the America-Israel
Friendship League. Sharing the platform for their remarks, they
moved easily between moments of candor, banter, and introspection.
They poked fun at themselves and at one
another while relating several pieces of advice based on the
lessons learned in their nearly a half century together:
- Be passionate about life.
- Make sure you do what you enjoy
and that you enjoy the journey.
- Prepare well for
whatever you choose to pursue.
- Employ teamwork in
accomplishing any task.
- Persevere by practicing your faith.
- Don't ever let the sun set on your anger.
("It might mean staying up very late.")
- Don't take yourself too seriously.
- Give one another freedom and space
in order to grow.
- Respect one
- Stay physically fit.
- Learn to forgive.
June Dempsey said it was her grandfather
who inspired her to seek a faith life as she witnessed
the difference faith made in his life when he would take her
with him to church. Cedric Dempsey said it was his coach at Albion
College, Walter Sprandel, who had the greatest influence
on him as Coach Sprandel role modeled many positive attributes.
"Faith is a sustainer," the Dempseys agreed. "Now that one of every
two marriages is ending in divorce it is important to find a
person who shares your faith. Neither of us can imagine a marriage
without love and respect."
Drawing from a Biblical passage, June Dempsey
concluded by saying, "these abide but the greatest of
these is love."
The Prayer Breakfast, co-chaired by Carolyn
and Peter Christ, was also an opportunity for members of
the community to share their faith and talents.
Rose Miller delivered
the Prayer for Fellowship; the Community Brass Ensemble
performed various selections; the LaMora Park Adult Choir
sang "In the Sanctuary"; Ruth Lincoln offered
a reading from the Torah and the Old Testament; Sam Leonard
gave a New Testament reading; Ted Dearing delivered the
Prayer for Family, Community, State, Nation, and World; Sally
O'Dell shared a community leader's testimony; Count Laws
led the singing of "Amazing Grace" and Dr. Charles
Coleman gave the Closing Prayer. Susan Boyer and Roxanne
Duncan assisted as sign language interpreters for the deaf.
The Prayer Breakfast was both videotaped
for airing throughout May on AccessVision and audiotaped.
Audiotapes may be purchased by calling