From This Day Forward Marriage Conference
South Bend, IN * October 8, 2005
SOUTH BEND, IN: About six years ago, the North American Division family ministries committee established intiatives for the upcoming quinquennium. One initiative was to conduct marriage enrichment events throughout the North American Division, in every Union Conference. Willie and Elaine Oliver and a team of presenting couples instituted From This Day Forward marriage conferences, designed to "encourage stronger, healthier marriages and families." Couples were provided the opportunity to "experience practical, professionally-sound, biblically-based direction for their marriage."
From This Day Forward marriage conferences had been presented in every union except the Lake Union. However, on Oct. 8, 2005, Lake Union couples were invited to participate in this one-day celebration of marriage commitment opened to the general public and held at the Marriott in South Bend, Ind. The North American Division department of Family Ministries, Lake Union Conference, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin conferences sponsored the event.
Registrations grew, and on the day of the conference over 70 couples participated. Most couples were from the Lake Union territory, but there were couples from as far away as California and New Jersey. Most couples were Seventh-day Adventists, but other denominations were represented, invited by their Adventist friends. Dr. Reger Smith and his wife Katherine attended to celebrate the gift of their 55-year marriage; one couple was engaged and wanted to learn necessary skills for a strong marriage before they even started. Many couples were in between and came for a variety of reasons.
Presentations were made by Elaine and Willie Oliver from the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Brenda and Mike Aufderhar, from Wenatchee, Wash., and Sue and Don Murray, certified family life educators who currently commute between Mich. and Md. Musical selections were provided by Mike Brown and John Diller of the South Bend Church.
The event lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During this time, the speakers presented topics, such as: "The Joy of Oneness," "Communication," "Problem Solving," "Sexual Oneness," and "Forgiveness." The couples appreciated the presenters' enthusiasm for marriage, openness, and real-life examples shared to help illustrate the principles taught. The seminars also included video clips, group exercises, couple dialogue time, prayer, role-playing, and much more.
The day concluded with a recommitment service, where couples were invited to stand together and read marriage vows provided on "Our Marriage Covenant." Some sealed their agreement with a kiss, at the invitation of Willie Oliver.
The marriage conference impacted those present in a variety of ways. Here are a few comments shared when asked for thoughts about what the couples experienced:
"I sensed a closeness and a bonding with my husband. Also, I believe the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident as the group shared with each other throughout the conference. I appreciated the 'together' times."
"It's been a good experience. I feel very positive about the tools my husband and I are taking with us."
"Unforgettable! Wonderful! Inspiring! Very instructive!"
"Excellent! I realized I love my husband more than I thought I did (a lot)."
"God has a plan and this was timely."
"My wife and I have a wonderful marriage, and today helped us to preserve the joy that we now experience."
If you missed this wonderful opportunity to enrich your marriage, you can take advantage of similar conferences offered in 2006.
Written by: Diane Thurber, Lake Union Herald managing editor