From This Day Forward Marriage Conference
Atlanta, GA  *  January 24, 2004

ATLANTA, GA: Approximately 100 couples from across the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists met at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta on January 24 for a one-day celebration of marriage commitment event entitled From This Day Forward.

Willie Oliver, director of Family Ministries for the North American Division, and his wife Elaine addressed topics including, "The Joy of Oneness" and "Sexual Oneness." Mike and Brenda Aufderhar, co-directors of Family Ministries for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, spoke on "Forgiveness," "Problem Solving" and "Communication." The day concluded with a recommitment service that provided every couple the opportunity to renew their marriage vows.

"It's just like a tune-up or maintenance-we maintain everything in our lives but our marriages sometimes get put on the back burner," says attendee Ellis Smiley, who has been married to his wife Janice for 20 years. Ellis adds, "I have thoroughly enjoyed (this event) and I only wish more couples would come and receive the benefit that is being offered here."

"Marriage is a creation of God and we want to see marriages that thrive and are the best that they can be, not just 'wow, we avoided divorce,'" says Mike Aufderhar. "My wife and I want to inspire hope for marriages and lift the ideal a little higher."

"We do what we do because our commitment is for the second coming. If families are strong - you have strong centers for discipleship and you have a strong witness. It's evangelism without pitching a tent," says Willie Oliver.

"Good healthy marriages make our churches stronger," says Southern Union Family Ministries Director Allan Williamson. This was the first time the From This Day Forward marriage commitment event has been held in the Southern Union. Williamson says the event will be held in the Southern Union again in January of 2005 in Charlotte, NC.

Written by: Jamie Arnall, Former Communication Director for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists