Family’s Fifth Generation Weds in Central Nebraska Church

Carla and John Jacobs

Holding hands as the minister reads, Laura Jacobs and Shawn Goodwin practice for their big day inside a little church.

“I had this church picked out before I even met Shawn,” says Laura. “I’ve known that I wanted to get married in this church forever.”

Laura says it’s partly because this chapel, part of the grounds at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, is where her mom and dad, who now live in Minden, said ‘I do’ back in 1984.

“I’m sure I’ll be reminiscing about 32 years ago,” says John Jacobs.

“Aw, that’s sweet,” adds his wife Carla.

“Nothing’s really changed inside, it’ll be just like when we were in there,” he says.

But the family’s ties to this Danish church didn’t begin with John and Carla. The Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church was built in 1888 in Hamilton County, and stood there until it moved about 40 miles west to become one of Stuhr’s first living history buildings when the museum opened in 1967. So it’s also where Carla’s parents, Bob and Ann Jorgensen of Aurora, gave their own vows in 1964.

“We were the last couple married in the church while it sat north of Hampton,” says Ann.

Ann says her parents and both sets of her grandparents also tied the knot in the same church, so where to get married was an easy choice for her and Bob.

“All the other generations had, it was my home church, so yes, that’s where we were going to get married,” says Ann.

Carla says she didn’t initially think of having her ceremony in the same place since the church had moved, but quickly warmed to the idea of going to the museum.

“I’m kind of a traditionalist and I’m really into the whole family history and whatever, so it seemed like the right thing to do,” she says.

Fast forward to 2016, and Laura says their legacy around the green and white church is clear.

“I’ll be the fifth generation on my mom’s family to get married here,” says Laura. “There’s a lot of tradition here. Strong marriages.”

As the three living generations pose for pictures, the bride and groom say it adds just a little more to already special moments.

“First time we came here she was like if we ever get married it’s going to be in that church,” says Shawn. “I was like alright, that works for me.”

The couple both serve in the Army and are stationed in Maryland. Carla says her daughter only spent her college years in Nebraska, so they were a little surprised at her wish to continue the wedding location tradition.

“It means a lot, getting married here,” Laura says. “I feel like there’ll be a lot of nostalgia, family is all together and that doesn’t happen very often anymore, so it’ll be a really nice day.”

Her family agrees.

“She’s kind of a special gal and she’s our oldest granddaughter, it’s going to be real, real special,” says grandpa Bob.

“It’s really special that she thought of it, that she would want to get married here,” agrees grandma Ann. “I think she knew what it would mean to us.”

“It makes us proud that she decided to do the same thing that we did and her grandparents did and great grandparents and great-great grandparents,” says Carla.

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