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Commitment ceremony proves love is love at any age

Life is full of twists and turns, but sometimes the road leads you right where you’re supposed to be. For Jane Harmes, 77, and Connie Kimos, 80, retiring at Pilgrim Place was a life-changer.

The couple recently exchanged rings, sang each other songs, and recited vows to each other with an ordained minister presiding in front a packed house of more than 200 Pilgrims.

The ceremony was one of the first same-sex commitment ceremonies at Pilgrim Place and the most well-attended, according to Ms. Harmes and Ms. Kimos.

“It was a great hoot—standing room only,” Ms. Kimos said. “We had fun with it.”

The couple met at Pilgrim Place after Ms. Harmes moved there in 2010.Ms. Kimos is a long time Claremont resident who moved to Pilgrim Place in 2006. 

Ms. Harmes said she moved to Pilgrim Place not looking to find a relationship. Ms. Kimos said she was hoping to find someone to spend her life with around the time Ms. Harmes moved to the community. They began as friends when Ms. Harmes moved in.

“Neither she nor I was looking to fall in love with somebody, but we did,” Ms. Kimos said.

They have now been together for more than eight years, but decided only two or three months ago that they wanted to hold a commitment ceremony.

“We wanted to celebrate with a commitment ceremony, and we wanted to have it at Pilgrim Place because this is our community,” she said.

“It was a positive statement in the middle of eight-and-a-half years, and, who knows, maybe eight-and-a-half more years,” Ms. Kimos added. “It seemed right and proper to make a statement and have a ceremony.

They have both found Pilgrim Place to be very accepting and supportive of their relationship.

“Everybody here is very supportive of this relationship and of every relationship that people on our campus have,” Ms. Harmes said. “There are other same gender couples [here] and we’re really fortunate to be blessed to live in a community that is so supportive.”

Ms. Kimos added that Pilgrim Place gives its residents the opportunity to explore new sides of themselves.

“I felt comfortable and able to just be myself for the first time feeling supported,” she said.

Ms. Harmes was a Presbyterian pastor for 24 years, and would have lost her ordination if she engaged in a same-sex relationship, although the Presbyterian Church has since changed its rules on this matter.

“While I was serving, it never entered my mind to think about having a relationship with a woman,” she said.

The high turnout from the community at the commitment ceremony reaffirmed the support that Ms. Harmes and Ms. Kimos have received from the other Pilgrim Place residents.

“That says a lot to us in terms of affirmation and celebration,” Ms. Harmes said.

Ms. Kimos and Ms. Harmes are not the only same-sex couple living at Pilgrim Place, and the community has previously held same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, although they said that theirs was the largest that they remember.

“They’re already supportive of people in a [same-sex] relationship,” Ms. Harmes said, “so it was no different that we happened to meet here.”

She said that she and Ms. Kimos want people to know that “Pilgrim Place is a community that welcomes people in the LGBTQ community, and if someone is in that community and wants to be a resident at Pilgrim Place, they would be very much welcomed.”

Following the ceremony, the two women celebrated with a reception, not surprisingly, also at Pilgrim Place.

— Marc Rod

marcrod1297@gmail.com

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