Local couples share their stories


They say that behind every good man is a good woman. Well, behind every good couple is a good story.
We asked some local couples to share how they met, and the results
ranged from a pep rally to a geology class to a funeral.

We’d love to hear your stories, too! Share your meet-cute on social media
with the hashtag #HowWeMet, and be sure to tag us!



By Brian Smith

Famous last words

     Kim graduated from MRA in 1995. I began working at MRA in 1997. In 1998, Kim and some friends returned for a homecoming pep rally at MRA and we were introduced. A few months later, we “officially” met at a birthday party for a friend in February 1999. We spoke for three hours that night, but a friend was interested in her, so I waited to see if he would call her.

     After a week, my friend had not called Kim, so I did. We had our first date in March and continued to see each other until May, at which time I returned home to Tennessee to pursue two coaching jobs where I was raised. My immortal words to my friends as I pulled away: “No woman is going to keep me in Mississippi.”

     Having no peace about either coaching job and missing Kim immensely, I prayed for clarity as I felt that God was leading me back to Mississippi. I phoned a friend and asked him to let me know if he heard about any openings in the metro area. MRA had filled my teaching position but not my coaching position.

     That morning, the person hired for my teaching position informed my headmaster, Tommy Thompson, that she could not explain her reasoning but could not accept the position. Mr. Thompson called me and invited me back to MRA.

     So four weeks after leaving, I returned to Mississippi with ring in hand to ask Kim to be my bride; thankfully, she accepted. God truly blessed me with a godly woman who loves and encourages me and our children every day. In June, Kim and I will celebrate 19 years together, and I can’t wait to experience what each additional one will bring.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” – Proverbs 31:10


Brian Smith is in his first year as head of school at First Presbyterian Day School in Jackson. Brian is in his 22nd year in education, working 16 years at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and five years at Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg. Kim Smith is an ob/gyn nurse at The Woman’s Clinic. They have been married 18 years and have two children, Carter and Taylor.




By Chellese Hall

Two transplants find each other

     I couldn’t tell if I dramatically caught the gaze of my new crush as I peeked out of my gracefully clenched prayer eyes, or if he was intentionally making eye contact with the 40- person congregation to make us feel welcome. Looking back on that fateful, sweltering August afternoon where I first met my future husband, I choose to believe the former.

     We officially met at what is now known in West Jackson as a Community Night, where an open pavilion with music playing, along with smoky barbecue and sweet watermelon welcomed a friend and me. I had been lured by the well-known church trifecta of “food, fun and fellowship.”

      However, Alan and I got to know each other for the first time with my prayer eyes open on a Third Thursday at the Mississippi Museum of Art a few weeks later. He shared about his journey from the Pacific Northwest and I gave mine from the Midwest to the Deep South, which made us both proud Mississippi transplants.

     Just as he intentionally made eye contact during a crowded service, he was intentional in our friendship for the following two years before we started dating. In those years, we both solidified our purpose to pursue social justice in our personal and professional lives.

     More importantly, I got to see his heart for adventure and compassion in action through an infinite number of small group meetings, movie nights, birthday celebrations, house parties, weddings, praise team practices, a wisdom-tooth recovery soup drop-off and a 5K training run where he finally told me that he, too, was interested in being more than just friends.

     To this day and for the rest of our lives together, we will be just that, friends and oh, so much more.


Alan Grove recently proposed to Chellese Hall at the end of her first semester exams in Washington D.C., and they plan to wed at the end of the summer. Chellese is pursuing her master’s in public administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management and education, while Alan works at Common Ground Covenant Church in West Jackson.




By CJ Rhodes

From a funeral to a wedding

     On April 1, 2010, I was called to pastor Mt. Helm Baptist Church, Jackson’s oldest historically African-American congregation. I was also single, but following a recent breakup, I wasn’t looking for a relationship anytime soon. Besides, Mt. Helm was my first pastorate and I was ready to get to work.

     A few days later I presided over my first funeral there. Our former church musician, Mr. Calvin Thomas, whom I never met, was to be laid to rest. The somber congregation gathered to pay their final respects; my pastoral predecessor encouraged me along the way before delivering the eulogy.

     Somewhere near the beginning of the service, a beautiful young woman entered the sanctuary. Allison later told me that I caught her eye as well, though she couldn’t believe I was the pastor because, in her words, I was too young to be a preacher. She certainly caught my eye, but I didn’t think much else about it until the repast, when our then music minister, Mrs. Naomi Sams, decided to play Love Connection.

     “Hello, Pastor,” she said, standing over me as I ate fried chicken and an assortment of Southern-style vegetables. “I want to introduce you to someone. Her name is Allison. You’re single, she’s single, and I think you two should date.”

     I shyly introduced myself to the beautiful angel who’d caught my eye in the funeral. We were both stunned by how forward Mrs. Sams was, but later discovered that Allison’s mother had conspired with Sams to make the introduction.

     I called Allison at work a couple of days later, beginning several months of courtship that would ultimately culminate in a proposal in the same sacred place I’d first laid eyes on her.


CJ and Allison Rhodes live in Jackson and are the blessed parents of Carroll III (Duke) and Cornelius (Jozy) Rhodes. Allison is assistant director of human resources at Madison County Schools. In addition to pastoring Mt. Helm Baptist Church, CJ is director of Student Religious Life at Alcorn State University and an adjunct professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary.




By Susan Alderman

‘Love is a burning thing’

Andrew and I met in a geology class we were both taking at Ole Miss because we needed science credits for our degree. I recognized him from when a mutual friend had introduced us at Celtic Fest in Jackson, and he recognized me as the girl who’d boasted her father knew more about Superman than he did.

I was trying to go out of my comfort zone and develop a real platonic friendship with a guy, so I asked if I could sit next to him while Dr. Kathy Grace played classic songs thematically related to the subject matter for that class (“I fell into a burning ring of fire,” etc.).

We both made A’s in the class, but I totally failed at not falling for the guy I was trying to be “just friends” with. Y


Andrew Alderman is a local attorney and a youth minister at St. Columb’s Episcopal in Ridgeland Church. Susan works with client marketing at the Center for Pregnancy Choices in Jackson. Married for seven years, they live in Ridgeland with their daughter, Zoe Rose.