Friday, June 24, 2016

Our Grief has not subsided, but we remain devoted to our Mission

A Very Personal Note from Thomas Wade Clegg III

Your notes, calls, e-mails and gifts in memory of Rev. Elisheva Clegg, who died in the UVA Medical Center on April 6, have been so meaningful to me and our four children,  plus Sam McLawhorn  and those who have supported our charitable activities over the last eight years.  Please know that in due course I will make contact and respond to your comments and wishes.

Our personal life as ordained Interfaith Ministers, although separate from the IHS public charity, was used as a supportive branch for funds for the charity.  Elisheva was so enthused each time we wrote and performed a wedding, but especially for the last six years when we allowed couples to participate with charitable giving as a part of their fee.

So Much Has Changed and Will Take Time to Adjust

Emotionally, I found myself forgetting simple things and just needing to withdraw for short periods.  I know we are behind in writing e-mails and posting blog notes, but that negligence on my part will change. The emails and blog postings may be shorter, but this next month we will provide more details on those who have been helping.

So Many Have Asked: What happened on April 5-6 that led to Elisheva's death?

I can only tell you that Elisheva did NOT die from cancers in both her lungs. She was working through a well-planned program with the UVA Cancer Center Lung Specialists, beginning at the first of the year.  I have every confidence that the Lung Cancer Center was in route to a complete and fruitful result had Elisheva lived for the removal of the cancer from her right lung which was scheduled for April 7.  She died the day before her final operation.

April 5th beginning at about 5:30 PM was a nightmare in slow motion

Elisheva walked to our upstairs bedroom, following a long conversation of planning for the remainder of the summer.  She called me to come upstairs. She was having intense pain in her back and chest and needed assistance. The ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and we were in UVA Hospital ER within the hour. She remained in ER for at least 6 hours

From slow nightmare to panic alarm

During the transition process from her ER rolling bed to the room bed, Elisheva experienced further distress and a code was sounded. The room filled with a multitude, all working feverously for almost twenty minutes until a heartbeat was noted. Twenty minutes is a long time.

The next move was down the hall to ICU

More hours passed. The description of exploratory intrusion to find the source of the internal bleeding will not be related.  The exploratory was necessary if the bleeding was to be stopped, but the cumulative efforts ended at 0944 hours.

The death certificate reads

Elisheva C. Clegg died of cardiac arrest, hemorrhage, chest wall trauma. Other significant conditions:  PEA arrest from unknown cause, CPR resulting in chest wall trauma.  Now you know what happened as concisely as I can offer.

Some final thoughts

I got through the funeral that Sunday, but I do not remember who was there. Elisheva was there in a lovely wooden coffin which my daughters selected for cremation.  I only had one wish and that was to have all four of my very adult children and their children hear from so many friends what generosity she provided with her life.  She loved so deeply and offered such kindness.  There was never a day when she did not say to me, one of the following several times:  "I love you so much."  " Do you know how much I love you?" " Let's do 20 more years, OK?" And I said, "Twenty years plus one!"   And she would kiss me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Reverend Elisheva C. Clegg Has Passed Away

Reverend Elisheva C. Clegg passed away unexpectedly in Charlottesville, VA on April 6, 2016 at the age of 72.

Elisheva is survived by her husband of 43 years, Thomas Wade Clegg III; her children, Ari Jolly and her husband John Jolly of Jacksonville, FL; Yalda Clegg and her husband Scott York of Alexandria, VA; Kristine Bechtel and her husband Todd Bechtel of Charlotte, NC; Wade Clegg IV and his wife Jolene Clegg of Los Angeles, CA, and sister in law Judith Clegg of Tupelo, MS.  She was also the loving grandmother of Chandler and Jack Jolly, Zachary and Joshua Bechtel and Arthur and Elsa Clegg.
Elisheva C. Clegg was born on January 22, 1944 in Kaiserslautern, Germany and was a war baby survivor of WWII.  She met and married her soulmate Thomas Wade Clegg III on June, 25, 1972 while he was stationed with the US Air Force serving at Ramstein AFB in Germany.  The entire family moved to the United States when Wade completed active duty with the US Air Force in 1974.
Elisheva was compassionate and found her calling in counseling and helping others in times of need.  She received a master's degree in pastoral counseling and became an ordained interfaith minister.  She also attended the UVA medical center chaplaincy program.

She was a kind, generous, witty, dedicated individual to all who had the privilege of meeting her.  She was extremely passionate about helping those who were unable to help themselves in times of crisis.   It was this need that led her, Wade and co-founder Sam McLawhorn to create the nonprofit charity Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS).  IHS is an independent, non-religious, ALL volunteer, nonprofit, 501(c)3 public charity.  IHS assists long distance families who are underfunded with lodging and food and other critical needs including items such a providing new infant car seats for UVA's pediatric clinics.

A celebration of Elisheva's life is scheduled for this Sunday, April 10th beginning at 2:30 pm at Grace and Glory Lutheran Church located at 683 Thomas Jefferson Pwky VA-53 (Palmyra) VA 22963 (434-589-2217).

In lieu of flowers, please consider Elisheva's efforts in raising funds for her charity, IHS at or mail to:

PO Box 163
Palmyra, VA 22963

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Every Virginian Should Have The Right to Marry!

Email to Senator McEachin, Senator 9th District, Commonwealth of Virginia:

On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 7:11 PM, < wrote:
Reverend Thomas Wade Clegg III
Mail Box 105, 265 Turkeysag Trl, Suite 102
Palmyra, VA 22963

February 1, 2016

Sen. McEachin:

Rainbow bright color flag with intertwined ringsI am writing to ask that you vote against SB 40 when it comes for a vote before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

This bill would allow all clerks and deputy clerks in the commonwealth to refuse to issue a marriage license to any couple if the clerk objects to the marriage based on "personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds."

That means government officials could deny the right to marry to couples if the clerk doesn't like their sexuality, skin color, political affiliation or for any other reason. This is just wrong.

Fundamental reasons why SB 40 should be defeated are:
  • - Freedom of religion does not mean freedom to discriminate
  • - No law authorizes or requires an accommodation of religious beliefs that burden others.
  • - SB 40 would deny Virginians the fundamental right to marry.
  • - Allowing couples to get licenses elsewhere does not save this bill.
I hope I can count on you to do the right thing for Virginia and your district and vote against this awful, discriminatory bill.

Thank you.


Thomas Wade Clegg III

From: Senator Donald McEachin []
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2016 8:49 PM
Subject: Re: Every Virginian should have the right to marry!

Dear Mr. Clegg,

Thanks for writing me about sb 40. Please know I share your concern. I do not believe we should be legalizing bigotry or prejudice. I believe all Virginians deserve equal opportunity, justice and fairness.

Thanks for your advocacy on this important subject.

Take care,
A. Donald McEachin

Thursday, October 22, 2015

When Family Participation is Really Special

On October 10, 2015 the late afternoon weather was perfect at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, Virginia for the wedding of Emily James and Johannes Harkema. There were a lot of Europeans at this gathering. The Harkema family flew in from the Netherlands.

Family and friends are often asked to participate in a ceremony. Sometimes a talented friend or sibling will be asked to sing. Sometimes a family will have multiple musicians, and form a band for this one-time special occasion. Most certainly, readers will be found to give diversity to the ceremony.

On this day among the participants was Poet David L. James, Professor of English from the Orchard Ridge Campus, Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Dr. James is Emily's uncle. He wrote and delivered a special poem entitled "Our Hope."

With the permission of Professor James, and for the first time in print for public enjoyment, please find the very personal words written for Emily James on the occasion of her marriage to Johannes Harkema.

OUR HOPE    for Emily and J.J., Oct. 10, 2015

it's easy to see
the love in your eyes, in your faces.
we can even feel
the love in your hearts, beating
just under the skin.
but it's the love six, ten, seventeen,
twenty-nine years from this very day-
like a well-worn pair of shoes,
like your favorite ripped ball cap,
like that shirt you will never throw out,
thin and frayed, stained down the front,
it's that kind of love
we hope for.
love that won't let go in any storm,
that sits up with you late at night
when you're sick,
a love that forgives and understands
and steers you back when you lose your bearings
and drift away.
it's a love that plants itself
in your heart
and branches through the blood stream,
like ivy wrapping around the ribs
and hip bone, down the arms and legs
until you can't imagine a world
without each other,
without his hand around your waist,
without her laughter in your ears,
that's the love we want for you,
a love that lifts you
into the sky like it's normal,
like it happens all the time,
and when you look ahead, all you can ever see
is the future smiling in the distance,
waving for you
to follow. 
David James 

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Marriage License - A Couple's Responsibility

Even though my e-mail attachments to inquiries fully explain how we work and make many helpful suggestions, sometimes over the course of every year, someone will not read these critical items for accomplishment. One item which is sometimes skipped over, and wrongfully ASSUMED, is that the minister will obtain a marriage license for the couple. As most will recognize, this is not a logical assumption. The marriage license must be purchased by the couple and presented to the minister or officiant at the ceremony.

The Rules and Fees are different in each state

Virginia is our prime area for performing weddings, although we do travel into adjacent states.
We are still asked to come to parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Most North Carolina requests are simply too far for travel. Also there will be extra costs for the minister's lodging. There are Interfaith Ministers in many major metro areas of that state. However, each state and the District of Columbia have an easily accessed Clerk of the Court with a Marriage Bureau. I mention these areas specifically, for I am registered and approved for performing legal weddings in these states and in DC, as well as many other locations.

Allow me to speak about Virginia in general, then call a local Clerk for the details

In every county in Virginia is a Clerk of the Court. In the Clerk's Office is a Marriage Bureau, or similar name. Each office can be accessed by phone or on-line website. Information is fully spelled out on these websites, but if anything is not absolutely clear, pick up that phone and call and take notes. If needed, the couple can visit the Clerk's Office for clarification.

Most licenses are about $30-$35, but can be higher. The license is good for a period of sixty (60) days, which means that you do not want to make a purchase until you have a solid date for the actual ceremony. You do not want the license to expire before a legal wedding can be performed. If it does, you will have to purchase another license. My suggestion is to purchase the license from 7-14 days before the ceremony.

In Virginia the license is provided to the minister or officiant by the couple, on or just before the wedding date. The minister will retain the license, complete and sign it (no witnesses are required), and mail it directly to the Clerk within days of the wedding. The couple is given information by the Clerk's Office at the time of purchase regarding cost for original copies (only a few dollars per copy) and where to send a request for copies. The couple needs to keep this information for any future need for copies of the marriage license.

In Virginia a couple can purchase the marriage license at any Clerk's office and use it immediately at any location within the state. A license is only good in the state where it is obtained.  There are waiting periods and other restrictions in other states, but once you have the license in Virginia, you are not restricted for immediate pursuit of being wed. The state of Maryland has some restrictions such as a waiting period of 48 hours from purchase until hosting a ceremony, and the license in Maryland is only good within the county where the license was purchased.  This makes Virginia less problematic for late purchases, but a couple's planning should not be allowed to wait until the last week day before a ceremony. Don't be surprised when a government office is closed for a holiday. If you do wait, problems can arise, and a legal wedding may be delayed. Just sharing.

A Final Note of Importance ... I do not marry couples inside courthouses

A couple may think that ministers will marry them in a courthouse or the Clerk's Office. I do not perform weddings in courthouses. On the marriage license form is a block which I must mark as a "religious" ceremony, and religious ceremonies are not performed in courthouses. I do perform "non-religious" ceremonies, but that is not the same as a "civil" ceremony performed inside a courthouse setting.  Many Clerk's offices do not have arrangements for marrying a couple in their facility, while others may be able to schedule a couple for an Officer of the Court to perform a short civil ceremony.  Use your time wisely to get the details needed for planning.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Most Pleasant Place for a Most Intimate Wedding

Over the last ten years we have been asked if we perform "elopement" size weddings. What that generally means is just a couple alone or perhaps a few friends or family members (usually six or less) accompanying the couple. So - YES ... we do perform very small weddings at homes or farms, and under large shade trees at one favorite public location mostly on week days away from the crowded venues geared to weekend events. The location is Pleasant Grove Park, located along Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53) just 12 miles from Mr. Jefferson's home of Monticello, between Charlottesville and Palmyra, Virginia.

A Magnificent change has taken place over the last few years at Pleasant Grove

The large 800 acre park now has something for everyone, but one dynamic transformation has been the renovation of the 1854 William Douglas Haden House, which had been empty for years. The Haden House is now a Visitor's Center and Museum, and offices are open daily Monday-Friday. The House Museum hours are open for four hours on Saturday and Sunday. There is a restroom building next to the parking lot at the rear of Haden House open during business hours, and many locations under the large shade trees for reserving time for a wedding. There is even the opportunity during normal business hours to use the small reading room upstairs in the House, if inclement weather intrudes for an outside ceremony.  

Your best bet for details is to call Malinda Payne Monday-Friday at (434) 589-2016  

Reading Room for Inside Wedding
Again, here is the link for more information about Fluvanna County's Pleasant Grove Park. When mapquesting the location, the address is 1736 Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53), Palmyra, VA 22963. What will be a truly pleasant surprise is how reasonable the fees are for reserving space and equipment for weddings and family gatherings. As time allows, check out Fluvanna County's latest and greatest addition for creating memories. THEN - give us a call or send an e-mail and let's plan your wedding in this lovely country setting.  

Grinding Wheel Outside

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Central Florida's First Same-Sex Marriage

The following article was received from U.S. Representative Alan Grayson's most recent involvement to secure equality in the State of Florida. Alan Grayson represents the 9th District of Florida. It was so appealing that I wanted everyone to have a chance to read what wonderful work he is doing for the LGBTQ community. Representative Grayson continues to be a champion and supporter of equality for all. Enjoy .... T. Wade Clegg III 

Following decades of forceful advocacy and exhaustive legal battles, marriage equality finally arrived in the State of Florida this week.

Pursuant to an equal protection court ruling that went into effect at the end of the day on Jan. 5, I persuaded the Osceola County Commission to direct the Osceola Clerk of the Court to open his doors at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 6, and license the first same-sex marriages in the history of Central Florida . When desperate right-wing groups urged prosecution - yes, prosecution - of Court Clerks who carried out their Constitutional duties, I obtained a commitment from our local prosecutor that no such prosecutions would take place. And then, at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 6, I joined the first couple, my friend County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and her partner of 22 years, as their ring-bearer. As we waited for the clock to strike 12, I made a brief speech that night, and I'd like to share it with you. Feel free to share it with whomever you love - no matter what gender they may be.

"We're here tonight for one of the most special of all special occasions. Going back through all of human history, we know that when a couple comes together, it's not just a celebration for them, but at a celebration for the entire community. Tonight we celebrate equality for all. It's bringing people together so that they can be joined in matrimony, and witness two, becoming one. For the first time in Central Florida, that applies to everyone, each one of us.

One of the greatest blessings that any elected official could ever possibly give to his constituents is equality. Justice, peace, and equality. Tonight, a friend of a friend texted me, and said that she wasn't going to get married here tonight. But she's glad that she has the right to do that now. And there are a lot of people tonight who are going to get married, and a lot of other people who are joined now, in equal protection under the law. They are no longer second-class citizens, but first-class citizens, like everyone else. Tonight we see the fulfillment of the real American dream.

The real American dream is not a house, a job, or a 401(k) plan.

The real American Dream is to be all that you can be, no matter what you look like; no matter where you're from; no matter what language you speak; and tonight, no matter whom you love.

Everyone is equal tonight.

Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and all of us can achieve that sanctity in their relationship, that up until tonight has been limited only to some. Starting tonight, it is now open to all.

This is a special time, and we want to recognize the fact that special people have made this a special time. In fact, it took courage to bring us here tonight. I don't think that anyone could have reasonably expected that running for the position of Clerk of the Court would drop one into the maelstrom that we've seen during the past few weeks. Armando Ramirez is a man of courage, a former police officer in New York City, chosen by fate or destiny to be the Clerk of Court and stand here with courage tonight, to carry out these functions.

I want to thank the Osceola County Commissioners. I asked them if they would make this possible tonight. They rose to the occasion. They asked the Clerk of Court to open the offices at midnight, to give our people the earliest opportunity to make this happen, the earliest anywhere in the state.

Equality under the law starts here in Osceola County tonight, and that is something we can all be proud of.

I also want to thank State Attorney Jeff Ashton. When the clouds of litigation started to gather last week, I asked the State Attorney to state clearly that there would be no adverse legal consequences for this man [the Clerk of Courts] to carry out his constitutional duties, and to honor his oath of office, to uphold the constitution, not only of Florida, but the Constitution of the United States. State Attorney Ashton rose to the occasion, and confirmed that. And that's helped to make this evening possible, without conflict.

I know that there are some people who see it otherwise. And I ask them: Who are you to judge? The Pope himself asked that question a few weeks ago: "Who am I to judge?" It's a good question for all of us.

I would say to those who cherish equality, "tonight is your night." I would say to those who don't cherish equality, who have reservations about this, I would say to them this: "Sometimes the best principle of public policy is for everyone to tend their own garden, and stop judging others."

So tonight is a night for everyone to celebrate an enormous accomplishment, an accomplishment for the ages.

It's an accomplishment that in some respects echoes the accomplishments of our parents and grandparents, from the civil rights movements in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Tonight, we not only get to see the mountain, we get to be . . . on top of the mountain.

Rep. Alan Grayson"