On the weekend of March 9-11, approximately 200 married couples gathered in Providence, Rhode Island, for an inspiring time of learning, bonding and connecting with God, others and the one we love.
The Southern Worship Center of the Boston church graciously invited the Hartford church to join them in the Renaissance Hotel for this memorable event. The theme, taken from the book title authored by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, highlighted three cycles couples can go through with one another.
Though many traveled up on Friday night for an unscheduled evening together in this beautiful location, the actual retreat began promptly at 1 PM on Saturday. The entire weekend included some congregational singing, as well as special songs of love performed by Mark Ayasse, Amy Perreault, Carol McGuirk and Carl Alleyne.
Jimmy and Anita Allen welcomed all to our “Love and Respect” workshop. With the help of Mr. and Mrs. Mug (filled with pink and blue beads that got a little messy), they encouraged all to guard their own hearts throughout the weekend (Proverbs 4:23 ).
The first main speech of the day was delivered by Bryan and Rachel Gray. Through humor, volume, high energy and powerful scriptures – this couple “wise beyond their years” (as introduced by emcee Mark Buchholz) took us through the “Crazy Cycle” that develops when we don’t get what we want and therefore don’t give anything to our spouse. Carlos and Rubis Collado from Hartford and Boston’s Chip and Ruby Mitchell shared about some of the craziness they allowed into their marriages during challenging times. Thank God, he helped them (and all of us) through to the other side.
Following this talk, the large group divided into three classes based on stage in life. There were break-out rooms for empty nesters, prime timers and young marrieds. A host of couples shared on all types of topics dealing with the “Energizing Cycle” of marriage during this two-hour time.
At approximately 5 PM, the classes were over and an amazing night of fellowship, dinner, dancing, food and couple’s time began. A DJ began at about 8 PM. Coffee and desserts were set up for those interested. Tables circled the dance floor as several renewed friendships or made new ones. Others skipped the music and all for their own excursion in the city, a movie and more.
And though daylight savings’ time stole one hour from us – the 11 AM church service start time on Sunday allowed a more relaxed morning for the special getaway. Powerful singing, prayers, and thoughts initiated our worship of God. Ronnie and Tonja Hendrix from Hartford told their moving story of Christ’s work in their marriage and family over the years prior to communion.
Chip and Ruby Mitchell delivered the keynote address on “The Rewarding Cycle.” This is the cycle that is like Christ – you give whether you get or not. Their three points will stick in our hearts and minds – 1. Mutual Submission 2. Your Response is Your Responsibility and 3. Love and Respect Each Other As You Would Christ. Their hand-holding, leaning exercise we all practiced taught us to hang on to righteousness in our marriage no matter what.
About about 1 PM, it ended. Lively fellowship prevailed. Hugs and goodbyes were said. Some headed out to lunch one more time in Providence before heading home. Others lingered in front of the hotel, just soaking in the warmer weather.
As we left, powerful statements of faith were ringing in our ears: “Don’t give based on what you get. Don’t give based on what you want.” “Don’t let your soul mate feel like a cold mate and end in a stalemate.” “You can’t have a child-centered home. You can’t have a work-focused home. And you can’t even have a spouse-centered home.” “Life is not just about you and your marriage. It is a transitional time before you hopefully get to heaven. If God blesses you with marriage for the journey – great. If that is blissful – even better. If not – love and seek God anyway.” “Look at Matthew 25:45-46 . . . . Marriage is serious. It is a salvation issue.”
And there was plenty more.
Thank God for the riches of his grace. He has given us each other – our spouses and a church family that inspires us to live out God’s incredible plan in a way that reveres Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:21 ).
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