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The wedding of the year

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The Great Sound Lawn of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel was the setting a week ago of what turned out to be the wedding of the year. Exchanging vows were Pastor Gary Simons, the widely esteemed President of the Cornerstone Foundation and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church at the eastern end of Church Street, Hamilton, and his Taiwanese-born bride Belle Shih-Han Huang. Some 600 people, many from Pastor Gary's congregation, were on hand for the 9am Saturday morning start of this event. Many had arrived an hour or two early, while others, also concerned about parking problems had spent the night before as guests of the hotel. In addition there were over 30 overseas guests from Taiwan, Holland, Las Vegas, Haiti, Philadelphia, New York, Nebraska, and Virginia to witness the big day. It was not a traditional wedding. A duet entitled The Prayer was rendered by Kennisha Hughes and Karen Melendez, soloists from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as families of the bride and groom entered the lawn. Then Pastor Gary walked along with his best man Pastor Joshua Samuels and the Officiant, Pastor Jim Cymbala, Senior Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Then Pastor Gary along with the pastors arrived followed by the eight groomsmen. The ceremony began with cars driving up the Fairmont Hill from main South Shore road carrying the bridesmaids and the stunning bride. The nuptial was filled with Pentecostal joy, worship, prayer, and love as the couple became one with the exchange of vows. Many tourists and other guest's guests walked out on their balconies to be a part of this event and they joined in the cheering as Pastor Cymbala presented Gary and Belle Simons for the first time ever. The secret about the intriguing story of how this couple met has long been out. Taiwan is a diverse island of city-life, mountains, beaches and farmland, and is south of Japan, north of the Philippines, east of China, and far west of Hawaii. Belle grew up in a country that is only three percent Christian. Belle said her mom accepted Christ and miraculously took her to church. She accepted Christ at the age of 14, and developed a desire to learn God's Word. She grew greatly in her faith in University while completing her undergraduate degree in Food Science. Belle speaks 3 languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English. She decided to give 2 years of her life to full-time ministry securing a position on board the MV Logos Hope (book ship) that has visited Bermuda twice. Belle also visited various countries in Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa. While on the ship she served in various areas such as Guest Relations, Medical Ministry, Hospitality, before joining a specialised group called the Line-Up Team. That team prepares the ship's arrival by organizing needs-based programmes and ensuring the ship meets the governmental and immigration requirements of the country they are about to visit. That is what led Belle to come to Bermuda for three months where she and Gary got to know one another as friends, which eventually led to a romance many months later. Pastor Gary Conway Simons was not raised in a Christian home, but accepted Jesus Christ at age 14, the same age of Belle. He was taught God's Word by Pastor Mark Hall when he attended Calvary Gospel Chapel in Southampton. He was like a dry sponge soaking up the Word of God and had the desire to attend Bible school. He attended Word of Life Bible Institute where he received honors obtaining a diploma in Bible and then continued on to the World of Life School of Youth Ministries, Missions, and Evangelism where he obtained a diploma with high honours. He then transferred to Philadelphia Biblical University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bible and then a Master's of Science in Christian Counselling at their Graduate School. Pastor Gary then served as Assistant Dean of Students for five years at Bermuda College before leading Cornerstone Bible Fellowship as the Senior Pastor for the past ten years. Also he would teach each year on board the

Logos Hope. Gary said that while busy serving God at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, he would pray intensely from time to time for God to bring the right woman into His life. He recalled how he travelled with his friend Ivan Raynor and boarded the

Logos Hope which was docked in The Netherlands, Holland. 'As I boarded the ship in April, 2009... I saw Belle. Her beauty was obvious, but her manner made her even more beautiful. While ministering on the ship we had one last night free. Belle accepted their invitation to go out with them to see some of the city with a small group of people. She accepted. But it was not until many months later 'that we started to become good friends and over a year later that we actually trusted God to be a couple. 'I am 'sooooo' thankful to God that He gave me Belle. He gave me the best gift after all!' said the beaming pastor.

Global couple: Pastor Gary Simons and his bride Belle Shih-Han Huang
Family: Gary and Belle Simons with her mother Jade Lee, brother Jay Huang and sister Nicole Huang.
The bride making her grand entrance on the arm of her godfather.
Belle and the guys: Ushers and groomsmen included Joshua Samuels (Best Man), Nathan Samuels, Alonzo Johnson,Jay Huang and Michael Simmons, among others not identified.