By Curt Yeomans
Faye Hopkins knew it was love at first sight when she walked into an Atlanta service station in 1940 and laid eyes on John, her future husband.
The future Mrs. Hopkins was with her sister, Dorothy, and needed some gasoline, and a general check-up on her car.
Faye was 16, and John was 24. He asked her for a date. She said "Yes."
Months later, the pair was married. They've been married 67 years.
"We've had a great life together," John Hopkins said. "She never did have to buy anymore gas after that, by the way."
The couple was one of 47 couples recognized Thursday during a luncheon sponsored by the Marriage and Family group at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro. The couples were honored for staying married for more than 50 years. All the couples are members of the church.
The couples have been married for a combined 2,620 years, said Irvin Pearre, the church's minister to seniors.
Pearre said the couples serve as a testament to how a marriage can weather stormy periods when the people are committed to each other, and to God.
"So many marriages fail, so we wanted to honor these couples for their commitment, and to show an example to younger couples that it [a long, loving marriage] can be done," Pearre said.
Mimi Holland, the chairperson of the church's Marriage and Family group, said the couples who have been married for more than 50 years can show younger couples the reality of what a marriage is like.
"Every marriage goes through hardships," Holland said. "They can show young people the hardships only last for a short period of time, but they have to stick to it. It takes hard work to make a marriage last for 50 years."
John and Faye Hopkins said the key to making a marriage last a lifetime is to have love and understanding. They also said a couple has to realize there is some give-and-take involved when it comes to marriage.
"Her [Faye's] mother told us, when we got married, 'It's a game that most play, but it's not always a game,' " John Hopkins said. He added, "The couples who pray together, stay together."
Holland said religion helps a marriage last because a religious community is full of people who can provide support when a couple goes through hardships. As she looked across the dining room, Holland said she saw "incredible commitment."
"You might say it's love, but it's really more than love," Holland said. "It's that commitment. It's security. It's being able to grow old with somebody. As I see everyone smiling and laughing [at the luncheon], I can see marriage has meant something positive to them."