Kansas Sen Brownback holds Marriage Summit
Sat Aug 28 16:11:44 EDT 1999
from: Smart Marriages
August 24, 1999
For Immediate Release Contact: Jeff Meyers 913 345-9700, Mike Mc Manus
301 469-5870 or Erik Hotmire 202 224-8950 (Brownback)
Sen. Sam Brownback Hosts America's First Marriage Summit
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS, will host America's first state-wide
Marriage Summit in Topeka, KS August 28. He is inviting Kansas clergy of
all denomintions to come with one couple in a strong marriage, to learn
how their churches and communities could dramatically push down the
rate. The Summit will be held from 9 - 4 p.m. at Prince of Peace Lutheran
Church, 3625 Wannamaker Rd.
"I was inspired to hear how Pastors Jeff Meyers of Christ Lutheran
Church in Overland Park and LeRoy Sullivan of Bread of Life Church In
Kansas City organized the clergy of that area in a "Community Marriage
Policy" that has brought down the divorce rate by 35% in only two years,"
said Brownback. "In 1995 Johnson and Wyandotte Counties had 1,530
divorces. They adopted a Marriage Policy in 1996. And in 1997 there were
only 1,001 divorces."
"I would like to see Kansas become the first state to cut its
divorce rate in half. In 1998 the state had 10,691 divorces and 20,878
marriages. That's right at the national average, of one divorce for every
two marriages. It is time for Kansas churches and synagogues to learn
Kansas City, KS how to save marriages."
Sen. Brownback will give the opening address. Pastors Meyers and
Sullivan will speak about what their Marriage Savers Churches look like --
with mentor couples preparing, enriching, and restoring marriages. The
other speakers are Mike and Harriet McManus, Co-Chairs of Marriage Savers,
a group which has helped the clergy of 110 cities adopt Community Marriage
Covenants two dozen of which have pushed down divorce rates
They will outline how any congregation can help couples achieve these
Avoid a bad marriage before it begins by giving a
inventory that can predict with 80% accuracy who will divorce,
prompting a tenth of couples, those in weak relationships, to break
Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged, an assurance that with
95% certainty, that they will have a lasting marriage
Strengthen existing marriages in every congregation
Save 80%-90% of marriages headed toward divorce
Reconcile more than half of the separated
Enable 80% of those in stepfamilies to be successful
"What God has joined together, the church should hold together,"
says McManus. "Unfortunately, too many churches are `wedding factories'
which grind out weddings with little thought if they will work or not.
there are some churches, such as Jeff Meyers' Christ Lutheran, which have
virtually eliminated divorce. I call them "Marriage Saver Churches."
"Jeff's experience is one reason Marriage Savers has set a goal to
bring down the divorce rate by 50%, by the year 2010. When President
Kennedy set a goal to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, it
took a massive mobilization of 400,000 people working a decade. We are
setting a more important goal. But it will take an even bigger
mobilization -- perhaps 2 million Mentor Couples in America's 300,000
churches, who can help other couples to build and sustain life-long
marriages to slash the divorce rate in half.
Marriage Savers, Inc., founded by Mike and Harriet McManus,
persuaded 5,000 clergy in 37 states to adopt "Community Marriage
covenants which include Catholic, Mainline and Evangelical Protestant
Churches, that are bringing divorce rates down dramatically. Modesto,
California, the first city in which 95 clergy signed a Community Marriage
Policy in 1986, has seen its divorce rate fall 30% in 13 years. Peoria's
divorces fell 22% in six years.
More recent cities with a covenant have gotten a higher percentage
of pastors involved and better press, resulting in even more rapid
of divorce. Nationally, U.S. divorces fell only 1.3% in 19 years (from
1,179,000 in 1979 to 1,163,000 in 1997). By contrast, in a single year,
divorces plunged 14% in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 15% in Evansville, Indiana
and 21% in Dalton, Georgia. Thus, those cities' divorces are plummeting
11-16 times faster than the United States in one-nineteenth of the time,
200-300 times the US rate.
In a Community Marriage Policy, clergy agree to require rigorous
marriage preparation over a four-month period that involves taking a
"premarital inventory," a questionnaire of more than 150 questions and
meeting with an older solidly married Mentor Couple" four-five evenings to
discuss the issues on the inventory. Mentors also teach couples how to
improve their skills of communication and conflict resolution. Clergy are
also agreeing to train "back-from-the-brink" couples whose marriages once
nearly failed, to help those now considering divorce to reconsider. The
model is analogous to Alcoholics Anonymous, in which people who have
conquered their drinking problems tell the currently addicted of their
steps back to sobriety.
McManus wrote a Manual to Create a Marriage Savers Church with
step-by-step ideas on how to train Mentor Couples to help others be
successful at every stage of the marital life cycle -- from selecting a
mate, revitalizing an existing marriage to restoring a troubled one. But
the Manual is not for sale; it is only given during two days of training
Mike McManus is not a member of the clergy or a counselor, but is
journalist. His column, "Ethics & Religion" is syndicated by The New York
Times, and appears in 60 papers such as The Kansas Christian. He and his
wife, Harriet, have been leading marriage preparation at Fourth
Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD since 1992. He is also the author of
four books on marriage such as Marriage Savers: Helping Your Friends and
Family Avoid Divorce. His work at Marriage Savers has been featured on
major TV networks in the United States, ABC' "World News Tonight", NBC's
Nightly News, CBS' "48 Hours, PBS, "Oprah," and on BBC and CBC. Last week
the BBC did a major story when McManus spoke to British leaders.
"Around the Coalition" shares information on marriage and divorce and on
skills-based educational approaches. Opinions expressed are not
necessarily shared by members of the Coalition.
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