Church Helps Couples Explore Keys to Successful Marriage

Post a Comment » Written on January 27th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Gustav Skogens

LITTLE FALLS, MN (January 27, 2009) – Pastor Lois Hokanson of Grace Covenant Church called Krousey’s Bridal Service to ask if she could leave some brochures about how to build a good relationship within stepfamilies. However, she got more than she hoped for.

In the middle of that conversation last August, store owner Barb Krousey interrupted Hokanson and invited the church to host a display at the Minnesota Perfect Wedding Expo January 4, 2009. “I will be your best advocate,” Krousey said.

In her work, Krousey meets hundreds of brides every year. She realizes the need for marriage support and dealing with problems within a new stepfamily.

The annual Wedding Expo is held in Little Falls the first Sunday of January. The event is sponsored by the Central Minnesota Wedding Professionals, an organization of merchants involved in wedding-related businesses. The group consists of only one business from each of the services that are typical for weddings, such as floristry, catering, bridal services, photography, hair styling and jewelry.

This year, besides the displays from the businesses, six other entities were represented at the Expo. Grace Covenant was the first church ever to be included.

Grace Covenant’s booth was called “Marriage Builders” and the responses from the 300 people attending went far beyond expectations. In addition to information about upcoming stepfamily classes and marriage enrichment programs, three books related to marriage were on display. A local Christian bookstore said several customers requested the books the following week.

Representatives of Grace Covenant were surprised by how many of the couples at the Expo plan to remain in Little Falls following marriage – it is a community of only 9,000 residents.

The assumption had been that most newlyweds would prefer life in a larger city. Also, the couples did not seem like they wanted to rush things; most were not planning to get married until 2010 or 2011.

The representatives were disconcerted, though, by the attendees’ puzzled reactions to their introductory statement: “We’re here to help you have a healthy marriage that is long lasting.”

It seemed like most engaged couples didn’t have a clear vision of how to accomplish that.  Some said they lacked good examples of long-lasting marriages among their friends and family. Others commented that cohabitation made them doubtful of a committed relationship.

Those comments have strengthened Hokanson’s belief that Grace Covenant’s ministry is critical for helping young people who desire a happy marriage, but have no idea how to achieve it. She has begun working with the Adult Ministry Committee on ways to reach out to engaged couples.

Increasingly, couples choose not to have traditional church weddings, so they generally don’t get premarital counseling through churches, says Hokanson.

Therefore, partnering with the Central Minnesota Wedding Professionals is extra important, she adds. Through them, the Covenant Grace has now full access to the contact information of the attendees of the Expo, including wedding dates.

Editor’s note: Gustav Skogens is a North Park University student completing an internship with the Department of Communication.

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