More than 30 teenagers vow celibacy until marriage at ceremonyBY SEAN GRUBER Staff Writer
After 17-year-old Keone Cooper took her oath of sexual abstinence and her family members placed a sterling silver ring on her finger, she said one word described her experience: pride.
Cooper, the president of the Delta GEMS and one of 37 teenagers participating in the Purity Ring ceremony at Christian City of Praise Church on Saturday, said the act would define her life both immediately and in years to come.
“I wanted to live a good life. I know this oath will help better my future,” she said. “I think it would be good for all teenagers to make an oath like this.”
The ceremony, organized by the Augusta alumnae chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, used a mix of faith and mentorship to encourage teenagers to keep their virginity until marriage.
Delta GEMS co-chairwoman Renetta DuBose said the event, the first ring ceremony held by her organization in the area, was meant to make sure teens remain on the “straight and narrow” and to strengthen family bonds.
“If I can help someone act more like Christ in their everyday behavior and help improve a child’s life, my purpose is fulfilled. I’m happy to contribute to others in that small way,” DuBose said. “Iron sharpens iron, and ceremonies like this help make sure we grow stronger in our faith and in our families.”
The teens at the ceremony, all from Richmond or Columbia counties and ranging in age from 14 to 18, received in-depth mentorship discussing consequences of premarital sex in the month before the ceremony. The rings they received were paid for by the sorority, which collected donations for their purchase.
DuBose said the rings were an important symbol designed to help the teenagers keep their vows.
“It represents their commitment to Christ. It’s a reminder of what they promised and also a symbol of the benefits they gain by holding to their vows,” she said.
Family members, religious leaders and Richmond County school officials attended the event, and many personally congratulated the students as they received their rings. Many became emotional, sometimes crying or hugging the teens before they returned to their seats.
Nancy Kelton-Traylor, a minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church, gave advice to those making the pledges.
“At one time, we couldn’t talk about this subject during worship. We couldn’t even say the word ‘sex’ in church. But times have changed now, and this discussion needs to be had,” Kelton-Traylor said. “Like Esther, be obedient to God’s call to purity. … If you do this, you’ll be less likely to slip and fall.”