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Strengthen your marriage in the new year

As we come to begin a New Year I’m reminded that none of us know what challenges or opportunities the New Year will bring. It is a moment when many of us will make resolutions for change in our lives, and the types of resolutions will vary tremendously for the various areas of our lives..
One area I am focusing on this year is relationships, and especially the relationship of marriage. Marriage is truly under attack in our society. More people are wondering what the value of marriage may be, while others are finding it difficult to remain committed in the covenant of marriage.
I must say that my heart is broken anytime I receive word that another married couple has separated. My colleague, Randy Kirby and I have spent much time talking about this need in our congregation and community, discerning how we can help to strengthen marriages. If the church does not expend efforts to strengthen marriages, then who in our society will? In every marriage ceremony I always say that marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships, but many couples do not have the tools to maintain their relationship.
Therefore, Randy and I have decided to expend our efforts in helping to build strong marriages. The Alpha Course offers an excellent marriage workshop called The Marriage Course. The Alpha course has been in existence for more than 30 years. It began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, England in the late 1970s, as a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting. Nicky and Sila Lee are on the staff at Holy Trinity Brompton, and in 1996 they co-authored The Marriage Book and began teaching The Marriage Course, a seven week course of basic principles to strengthen marriage. Thousands of churches are using this course to strengthen marriages around the world.
We believe we can make a difference in our church and our community with myself, a former member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and Randy Kirby, with a Ph.D. in Pastoral Care. Randy and I have both taught courses on marriage and we are very excited to begin teaching The Marriage Course in our congregation.
This course will be open to all couples in our community. It is not a Presbyterian course; it is a course to strengthen marriages!
The Marriage Course is held over seven evenings with practical talks that are informative and fun, and private discussion times for couples. There is never any group work, and couples are never asked to share anything about their relationships with anyone other than their partners. Participants discover how to communicate more effectively, grow closer through resolving conflict, improve relationships with parents and in-laws, develop greater sexual intimacy, discover one another’s love languages and much more.
Sunday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church in Lewis Hall there will be an introductory meeting, The Marriage Course Party. (You may park in the lot off of Innes Street.) This will be a time of dessert and a time to learn more about The Marriage Course and how it could help you create a stronger marriage. The Marriage Course offers help to couples that are struggling and it also helps a couple doing well to do even better. It is intended for couples who have been married one year or 65 years!
If you would like to join us for The Marriage Course Party please call the church office 704-636-6674 or go to our website for more information. If you know couples who might be interested please share this meeting with them.
I cannot think of a better New Year’s resolution to begin 2012 and to give my wife than the resolution to work on having a strong marriage. I hope you will join us in this exciting moment for all of us!!
Dr. Jim C. Dunkin is pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury.

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