Move over Duggars. There’s yet another American family with 19 children capturing both headlines and intrigue. Meet the Bates, a family in Knoxville, Tennessee, that jokingly describes its hectic home as sometimes resembling “a 3-ring circus.”
Gil and Kelly Bates are evangelical Christians who don’t use birth control, believing that God is fully in control of the family’s size and scope. All of their 19 children — 10 girls and nine boys — were, in fact, conceived biologically, according to Charisma News.
“God has blessed us with 19 children. We’re not a perfect family! We have the same struggles that other families have, only multiplied!,” the Bates proclaim on their official website. “But in spite of extra laundry, extra chores, extra diapers, and extra noise; we have an extra measure of laughter, an endless supply of fellowship, and an added dose of faith to get us through it all!”
Their oldest son, Zach, is 25 and their youngest Jeb is 2. The other 17 children are: Michael, Erin, Lawson, Nathan, Alyssa, Tori, Trace, Carlin, Josie, Katie, Jackson, Warden, Isaiah, Addaliee, Ellie, Callie, Judson.
A full profile on each family member, including Johnny and Kitty, the family pets, is available here.
Gil, a preacher who also runs a tree-cutting business, supports the frugal family. And while Kelly, 47, has said that she’s still open to having additional children if that’s what God wants, she recognizes that the clock is ticking.
Some will certainly wonder why the family has chosen to have so many kids — a question they tackle in-depth on their website, explaining that they didn’t want to limit their faith in God.
“The more we studied and prayed, the more God began to move on our hearts that children really are a blessing. And knowing that, we agreed, why should we tell God to limit our blessings?,” Gil and Kelly Bates write. “If those blessings came in the form of money, we’d all say, ‘Fill the pot!’ So we asked God to give as He saw fit and with each child, He has given us an extra measure of grace . . . to cope, to love, and to enjoy!”
A recent “Good Morning America” report highlighted the family’s uncommon size and experience, focusing on the wedding of daughter Alyssa, 19, who married John Webster, son of Florida congressman Daniel Webster, back in May.
According to the report, Alyssa, the third child to marry among the 19, was subject to the family’s strict rules while dating Webster. During their year-long engagement the two were never alone together and they had barely any physical contact before their union.
Also, anyone who plans to marry a Bates child must share in the family’s strong Christian values, including Webster.
Much like the family’s size, Alyssa’s wedding guest list was massive, with 600 people being invited to witness the nuptials. And among them: the Duggars, stars of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” who are friends with the Bates.
But unlike their famed reality star friends, the Bates don’t have a TV show. In fact, they don’t even own a TV set. That said, they’ve developed a massive following online, according to “Good Morning America.” Find out more about the family here.
(H/T: Charisma News)