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Web sites offer singles way to share their religious values
Some Fredericksburg-area residents find love through religion-based Web sites

Date published: 7/16/2005

By JESSICA ALLEN

Kenneth Shirley married Stephanie Henson on their third date.

The Orange County couple had actually been e-mailing and talking to each other for four months before they tied the knot.

When Kenneth Shirley, who lived in Texas at the time, met Stephanie and her two sons in Indiana in December 2002, he said he knew she was the one.

He proposed in January and they were married in February 2003.

Shirley, the 35-year-old resident engineer at Virginia Department of Transportation's Fredericksburg office, said he owes it all to a Web site.

"I literally found the love of my life through eharmony.com," he said.

Some people are skipping church singles' groups to click for the perfect mate on faith-based online dating services.

Web sites such as eharmo ny.com, verypersonal.com or jdate.com allow people of various faiths to bypass awkward first dates by sharing their personal information in a nonjudgmental environment.

Streamlining the dating process can shorten the time it takes to find that special one, especially when everything is on the table, Kenneth Shirley said.

As a civil engineer, he worked about 70 hours a week on construction projects and didn't have time--or felt comfortable--meeting women at bars. There were four single women at his church in Texas and one at work. None were his "cup of tea," Shirley said.

A friend suggested eharmony .com.

Shirley posted his personal information, such as age and height as well as his "must-haves"--be financially responsible--and his "can't stands"--no drinking or smoking.

He had about 60 matches. The number dwindled as he began to share more information online. He and Henson hadn't sent pictures yet, which helped them really get to know each other, Kenneth Shirley said.

"I knew that it was the brain, heart, soul that I was marrying," he said. "I was so lucky I got a woman who is beautiful inside and outside."

The Rev. Erin Sharp of Alexandria said dating for people of faith is hard, but a man or woman of the cloth has it even harder.

The former associate pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Fredericksburg decided to try chris tiancafe.com and match.com. She said it was still hard finding someone.

"Potential matches thought I'd be quoting the Bible at them or something," she said. "Plus, they knew their expectation for pre-marital sex was thwarted right off the bat!"

She continued to search online and found David Bailey in June 2003. The two are engaged to be married this September.

Sharp, who now serves as the senior pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, works near Bailey's home and job in the D.C. area.

"I was so blessed to meet David. We're really an incredible fit for each other in so many ways," Sharp said. "We're both Christian and find Christ directing us to inward devotion and to outward work for social justice."

Staff librarian Sandy Mahaffey contributed to this story.

To reach JESSICA ALLEN: 540/368-5036 jiallen@freelancestar.com


Faith-based dating sites

Here are some Web sites to check out:

soulmatch.com (for all faiths)

jdate.com (for Jewish singles)

christiancafe.com (for Christian singles)

verypersonal.com (for Muslim singles)

eharmony.com (incorporates religion with other traits)