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Christian Union: The Magazine
October 7, 2021

Newlyweds Thankful for CU Community at Harvard

By Anne Kerhoulas, Staff Writer

When it comes to marriage, our modern culture tends to focus on the couple. But for Joshua Walton ’21 and Jessica Edwards ’21 (now Walton), it is the power of living in Christian community that has brought them together, encouraged them, and forged a supportive foundation for their new marriage.

Walton and Edwards both joined the CU Gloria community during their freshman year as a result of the first-year outreach led by upperclassmen. After attending a handful of events, meeting other students involved with the ministry, and hearing about Bible courses, both Joshua and Jessica attended the fall retreat where they solidified their desire to invest in the community. 

“I met a lot of people at the prefrosh pizza party that included me in the Bible course, as well as a lot of great upperclassmen, freshmen, and mentors at the fall retreat that later pushed and challenged me spiritually throughout my four years of college. I wanted to join because of the great community and opportunities for spiritual leadership and guidance,” Joshua reflects.

a waltons Joshua and Jessica Walton (Facebook photo)The two found mutual interests in CU Gloria; serving at Y2Y, a homeless shelter in Harvard Square; and through the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. “Through serendipitous interactions with each other we started talking a lot more,” Jessica told The Harvard Crimson.

When they both returned to campus for their sophomore year, they started dating. 

At the same time, Joshua joined CU Gloria leadership as he became an assistant Bible course leader for a freshman Bible course.

“Serving in leadership pushed me to be more consistent and intentional about seeking God and growing in faith and attending Bible course and events like Doxa, retreats, socials, etc. consistently. I was put in different spaces and around different people that helped me grow emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “Events like pre-retreat with long worship and prayer sessions helped me connect to God and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Leadership also challenged me to set an example for others, be bold in my faith, and to reach out and evangelize in order to have uncomfortable conversations with nonbelievers.”

But beyond serving in leadership, the CU Gloria community helped keep the young couple rooted in the Lord. “I'm so grateful for the joy that Josh and I were able to share within the HCFA community,” Jessica said. “We have a great group of friends who are constantly rooting for us and praying for our relationship, and the accountability that I received from women in my Bible course and Renee as the Bible course leader and ministry fellow was really great for me to remember to center God in our relationship and to consistently pursue sexual purity before marriage.”

LIkewise, Joshua felt the support of a community who was invested in him personally, but also his relationship with Jessica: “Participating in Christian community provided us with great accountability among HCFA's ministry fellows as well as our friends who were always open to listen, give advice, or pray into our relationship. My experience in HCFA pushed me to value godly values and qualities over worldly qualities, as well as to emphasize sexual purity.”

But it was not only emotional support that CU Gloria provided, it was also the instruction through Bible courses and in one-on-one discipleship that cast a greater vision for marriage for the couple. “HCFA helped solidify my ideas on what it meant to pursue a marriage rooted in Christ and gave me examples of couples and mentors who were either married or dating intentionally that I could turn to for guidance, advice, and prayer on our relationship,” says Jessica.

“HCFA exposed me to the Biblical framework of marriage that I hadn't really discussed much outside of the community, and provided me with other friends and mentors to talk to if I had any questions about what the Bible says about marriage or discernment regarding Josh's and my transition from dating to engagement to marriage.”

Joshua agrees, saying, “HCFA provided us a great, solid Biblical foundation for understanding the purpose and dynamics of marriage as well as great resources, mentorship, and spiritual leadership while navigating the dating / engagement period and leading up to marriage.”

In an interesting turn, during their junior year, both Jessica and Joshua were asked to be on the CU Gloria executive team. Having a dating couple lead the ministry in such a high-capacity proved to be fruitful even though their year on the executive team was mostly from afar due to COVID-19.

At the beginning of their senior year, Joshua travelled to Jessica’s hometown to speak with her parents and propose. The two married on July 10, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee and currently live in Washington D.C. where Jessica works as a software engineer for Microsoft and Joshua is a third grade teacher through Teach for America. As the two begin their new life together, they acknowledge that the CU Gloria community played a vital role in their college experience.

“HCFA gave me an incredibly joyful and loving community, as well as supported my spiritual growth and helped keep me accountable, which was particularly important during the past couple years during stressful moments in college, throughout the pandemic, and throughout our dating, engagement, and marriage relationship,” says Jessica. “I'm so incredibly grateful for the HCFA community and all of the impact it's had on my entire college experience and can't imagine where I would be without such a strong and supportive and prayerful Christian community.”

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