Believe in 7/7/07? These couples do

An alluring date drew them to tie the knot.

Posted: July 08, 2007

The Almighty created the universe, and on the seventh day he rested. So it is written.

Yesterday, on the seventh day of the seventh month in a year ending in 07, some might have seen significance in the confluence of numbers.

Many married. Many played the lottery.

Two forms of chance, one more blessed.

At least two women decided to marry their men, on that date, because of that date.

A mother. And a daughter. In the same Philadelphia ceremony.

"For me as a believer, it has a special meaning," said Michele DelValles, 39, sitting alongside her daughter, Shameka Henderson, 21.

It was only moments after DelValles had married Wendolus Hart, 34, and Henderson had married Walter Bailey, 21, at the Church of Faith at 38th and Brown Streets in the city's Mantua section.

It was DelValles' idea to have the four commit themselves on the date, but it was more than a set of numbers.

"It was significant to my fiance," Hart said of DelValles, because as with the completion of Creation, the date "signifies the completion of our relationship in marriage."

For those who believe in the New Jersey Lottery, the numbers were uplifting, if far less spiritual.

They lifted the hopes of Michele Liontas, 48, of Mount Ephraim.

"I've been playing 777 as one of my usual numbers," Liontas said after buying five instant lottery tickets at the Cherry Hill News Shop on Chapel Avenue.

"But I never made the connection today, to the date."

Nearby, in Merchantville, the annual car show had taken over the town.

"People have been betting sevens all day long," and far more than usual, said Sam Al-Jobeh, owner of the News Nook on Central Avenue.

They started Friday, perhaps concerned that "lottery officials were going to stop taking any number with a seven," he said.

In Pennsylvania on Friday, lottery officials did stop selling tickets numbered 7777 or 7707 for two of yesterday's drawings.

So many people were betting those numbers that a computer shut off access because the payoff had reached its limit. The New Jersey Lottery has no payout limit.

At the Mantua church, Bishop Claude Barnes said before the ceremony that the marriage was especially significant because his nondenominational congregation saw only one or two marriages a year.

"This is so important" for the 150-member congregation, which he has led since 1974, Barnes said, "because in Mantua there are a lot of churches in the community, but the question is: Is the community in the churches?"

Yesterday, it was so. The small church's six rows of pews were packed.

And so was the front of the altar, with three clergy and a host of heavenly petitioners - a flower girl strewing red petals, two ring bearers, the bridesmaids all in red gowns, all the groomsmen in tie-to-shoe white.

"We are doing something that's unique" with the dual marriages, Barnes told the congregation, so that "this day will be different."

Hart said it was the second marriage for him and for DelValles.

A SEPTA bus driver on the Broad Street route, he met DelValles about five years ago when both drove for a shuttle-bus firm.

They worked at a second private bus firm after that. Now both drive for SEPTA.

The daughter, Henderson, is a mentor for Children's Aid Society. Her husband, Bailey, is a letter carrier.

They met two years ago, Henderson said, when each tutored in an after-school program.

And, yes, the two couples and the three clergy did have moments of confusion, which the congregation enjoyed with polite laughter.

Who was to give a ring to whom, and who was to say what to whom?

On the seventh day of the seventh month, only the Almighty might have known, without hesitation.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 610-701-7614 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Sam Wood contributed to this article.

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