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‘He Got Down on One Knee and Had the Ring and I Was Like ‘Absolutely Yes,’

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By Je’don Holloway-Talley | Special to the Birmingham Times

ALETHIA & CECIL BARKER

Live: Hoover

Married:  May 28, 2011

Met: Late November 2009, at The Worship Center Christian Church’s former campus in Center Point. Alethia was on the praise and worship team, and it was Cecil’s first rehearsal as the church’s new drummer.

“I kinda had a thing for drummers [but] what attracted me to Cecil was his worship,” Alethia said. “Even though he was drumming he still stopped to give God praise; it was his love for God that captured my eye.”

“I noticed Alethia at my first rehearsal and the thing that stuck out to me was her natural beauty. She was well-manicured, and her hair and makeup were nice but not overdone. I could tell that what she looked like was also how she would look if she didn’t have any of it on and I find that highly attractive,” said Cecil. Asked how they made a connection, “she came after me,” Cecil laughed.

“[Flirting with Cecil] was a joke,” Alethia said. “Cecil was driving around with a box of Gain washing powder in his car and my friends dared me to ask him for some… and then the next time we came to rehearsal, he came in with some McDonalds and I said ‘Hey, where’s mine?’ and he said, ‘this time I ain’t got it, but I got you the next time.’ And then after that, I found him on Facebook and messaged him. We talked on there for a little while and then exchanged numbers.”

“Like I said, she came after me,” Cecil laughed.

First date: Spring 2010, at the Guitar Center in Hoover. “Cecil loves drums, so he picked me up and we went there. He was playing the drums and trying different drumsticks and we were talking about his love for drums and music in general,” Alethia recalled.

“The fact that she didn’t find it weird that that was the route we took for our first date was great. The goal with Alethia was not to approach the relationship the way I approached others in the past. I didn’t go the conventional route, I was vulnerable enough with her to show her what I loved from the start,” Cecil said.

Soon after their first date, the couple started a twice-weekly tradition. “We would go on day dates on Wednesdays before Bible study, and on Thursdays before rehearsal at Ruby Tuesdays and ate at the salad bar and got to know each other better,” Alethia said.

The turn: April 30, 2010, over the phone during a drive home after church. “I said some very specific words about us,” said Cecil. “I told her I didn’t want to play any games and that if we were going to continue she had to accept who I am, and where I am in my life. At the time I was only 25 years old and there’s a 4-year age difference and I assumed that because [she was almost 30] she would want to get married sooner than I would, but she elected to stay with me.”

“I remember trying to get a definite answer on where we were early on, and he said just go with the flow. I was thinking to myself I am older than he is and I didn’t want to be with somebody six and seven years and still dating them. But, I prayed on it, and decided to flow with it and we made it official,” Alethia said. “He had told me he wouldn’t be ready for marriage for 5 or 6 years, but I also remembered what God had told me and I knew it wasn’t going to take that long.”

Alethia and Cecil Barker met in 2009 at The Worship Center Christian Church and married in 2011. (Provided Photos)

The proposal: October 2010, in the church parking lot at the Worship Center Christian Church’s former campus in Center Point.

“I proposed to her six months before I proposed the conventional way. I hugged her and said ‘May 28th’, and she said, ‘what?’ And I said, ‘that’s our wedding date.’ And I didn’t know anything about what day that fell on, I just knew I heard the spirit of God, and when I hugged her that’s what came out my mouth. But I officially got on one knee and asked her to marry me in front of everyone at rehearsal at the church in March 2011,” Cecil recalled.

“I was straight confused because I was like, ‘what is May 28th? where did that come from? And after he told me I started crying because I was happy, but I was also tickled because just six months ago he said it would take five or six years for him to be ready to get married,” Alethia said.

“Then in March when he got down on one knee, he came into rehearsal acting weird and kind of stand-offish, so I kinda had an attitude. But then after rehearsal, he got on the microphone and called me down from the choir stand to come to the pulpit, and I was like, ‘what is he doing?’ Then he got down on one knee and had the ring and I was like ‘absolutely yes,’ and I cried again,” Alethia said. “And my daughter Ayana [five years old at the time] was there and she started crying too.”

The wedding: At Mount Hebron Baptist Church in Acipco [Birmingham], officiated by their pastor, Bishop Vanable Moody of the Worship Center Christian Church. The couple’s colors were orange and grey.

Most memorable for the bride is her walk down the aisle. “My dad has passed on now, and he walked me down the aisle so I still have those photos to go back and look at,” Alethia said.

Most memorable for the groom was his surprise wedding guests. “My family from Chicago surprised me. My mother invited them, and I had uncles, aunts, and cousins come down from Chicago that I didn’t expect to be there and I thought that was really dope,” Cecil said.

The newlyweds honeymooned in Gatlinburg, Tenn. “I just remember being away with him and enjoying being with him as my husband, it was so surreal to be married,” Alethia said. “I agree, spending time and still processing being married,” said Cecil.

Words of wisdom: “Being open and honest and being able to handle the honesty that is given to you. Don‘t be afraid to speak on how you feel about anything and allow the other person grace in receiving what you put out,” Alethia said. “Give space and allow room to come back and kumbaya later on. Also, without God being the center and the focus of our marriage we wouldn’t still be together, we allow him to lead us and guide us.”

“Always keep in mind that your spouse was an individual before they met you so a lot of what you’re going to experience with your partner doesn’t have anything to do with you but rather their growth as an individual, so just be patient,” Cecil said.

Happily ever after: The Barkers attend the Worship Center Christian Church [both campuses on Derby Parkway and Bessemer] where Alethia serves on the praise team, and Cecil is the production manager. They are a blended family with three children, Ayana, 20, Joshua, 16, and Azariah, 11, from their union.

Alethia, 42, is a Homewood native, and Huffman High School grad, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Strayer University [online] in business administration and works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama in the claims department.

Cecil, 38, is a Chicago, Illinois, native, by way of West Alabama. He graduated from Livingston High School [Livingston, Ala.], and works as the production manager for The Worship Center Christian Church.

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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