Cheers poured from the nearly full overflow room at Greater St. John Bible Church when the Rev. Ira J. Acree came down the stairs shortly after the Sunday morning service Feb 12.
While the Austin pastor was also there to celebrate his 47th birthday, the main event being held below the church’s main worship area was Acree’s book launch and signing.
Released shortly before Valentine’s Day, “In Pursuit of Mr. Right” is aimed at helping women find and keep “Mr. Right” and to guide them through the challenges of dating from a spiritual perspective.
The book received a warm reception from members of the church, especially the 30 to 40 women waiting in line to have their books signed.
“It’s about the single woman in search of a man. It gave me a different perspective on dating,” said Sherida McCoy, 37, a 14-year member of the church. “It made me question and rethink ways that I had done things in the past.”
According to Acree, difficult questions are frequently skipped when people enter into new relationships, sometimes leading to harmful consequences.
“When you first start off dating you don’t have to get a credit check on the person, but if you’re trying to get serious and take it to another dimension, you need to know something about that person’s background,” he said. “You’ve got to play hardball, and you’ve got to ask the tough questions.”
Acree and his wife, Margaret, will be celebrating 24 years of marriage next month, noted Mrs. Acree, who said she expects the book will help them stay together another 24 years.
She recalled the initial idea for her husband’s book originated in a speech he gave last August.
“When he did the sermon, I said, ‘You need to put that in a book, because that’s a message that can help women.’”
She added that practical questions can make all the difference in a burgeoning relationship, the sort of questions that can have long-term affects, such as:
“Do you have children and, if so, do you pay child support?”
“Are you still married?”
“Do you have a job?”
The sort of questions that can be ignored in the heat of the moment.
“You’ve got to be careful in dating, and you’ve got to make sure that before you spend your life with someone you know something about that person’s history, know something about their background,” the Rev. Acree said. “Too many times in life people move by sex and don’t go any deeper.”
According to some women in line, the book is not only a lesson on spirituality in their dating lives, but also provides guidelines on social interactions, including validation against a certain social stigma (noted in Chapter 2 of “In Pursuit of Mr. Right”): the unspoken rule that women should never approach men, but instead should wait to be approached.
“It gives you a spiritual perspective on dating, but it’s still real life,” said Kenyatta Davis-Brownlee, 35, the second person in line for a signed copy.
“Although I’m married, I think it’s something I can learn and pass on to friends.”