Merlene Davis: Couple's wedding banquet is a matter of faith

Christian Torp and Tanya Ferguson plan to feed strangers in need at their party.
Christian Torp and Tanya Ferguson plan to feed strangers in need at their party.

After Tanya Ferguson and Christian Torp exchange vows at their wedding Saturday, not much about the rest of the day will be traditional.

The couple are inviting everyone who lives near Duncan Park or near William Wells Brown Elementary School to the wedding reception, which will be at 1 p.m. in Duncan Park on North Limestone.

The head count for the festivities might be near 1,000 people and will include anyone who drops by, including the homeless.


Torp said it has to do with living their faith.

In Luke 14: 13-14, Jesus said when "you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.

"Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

That scripture is where the idea of the open reception started.

"She took it and ran with it. I thought we would invite members of the church," Torp said of Ferguson.

That wasn't what Ferguson had in mind. She wanted to build relationships with the residents around their church, Greater Soul Deliverance Tabernacle on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and around the East Seventh Street Kids Café, where she volunteers.

One of their pastors said the couple were taking their faith from a "them" theology to a "we" theology.

"It wasn't about those people, but us," Ferguson said. "We not only wanted to be of help, but to show our faith."

At the reception, Ferguson and Torp hope to give out canned food, clothing and personal-hygiene products to those in need.

It hasn't gone as smoothly as she had hoped. A year ago, when she began to solicit donations from area businesses, she was told to return 30 days before the event.

Now, however, with the reception only four days away, the businesses are blaming the economy for their inability to donate food, paper products, water and sodas or even portable toilets to the festivities.

Ferguson has managed to get several volunteers to help with the set-up and tear-down, but more are needed. Representatives are coming from the Lexington Fayette County Health Department with information about services offered there, from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to register voters, and from AVOL with information about HIV/AIDS.

Ferguson, an "Air Force brat," has lived throughout the United States. She settled in Lexington after her mother and sister moved here several years ago to be near the medical care that her sister needed for her failing kidneys.

Torp graduated from Cornell University and attended the University of Kentucky Law School. In his first year, however, he had a near-fatal motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for nearly a month and caused brain injury.

Nevertheless, he returned to law school a year later, finished, and later won the right to take the Kentucky Bar Exam after first being denied. He passed, and he credits everything to God.

The couple plan to honeymoon on a month-long mission trip to Uganda, where they will work with Zion Project Ministries, which rescues young girls from human sex trafficking. Ferguson, who has been on a mission trip to Uganda before, sits on the organization's board. That trip changed her life.

The couple will live on Ohio Street, where Torp has set up his law offices to help the poor.

Neither of them is entertaining the thought that their reception plans will fall through.

"People have been so supportive," Ferguson said. "It has been awesome."

"We are trusting in God with everything," Torp said.

To donate items or money for the block party/reception, call Ferguson at (859) 684-8729.