Five couples from Georgetown (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church have committed to helping keep marriages in their congregation strong and healthy through their Marriage Mentorship Ministry.
Marriage mentors from Georgetown CRC.
“Marriages are in trouble,” said Rev. Gary Van Leeuwen as he faced the challenge of broken marriages in the church and in the broader community. “We need to start taking better care of them.”
Wilma Grin, one of the organizers of the newly formed ministry, took a marriage mentorship training course with her husband, Albert, and six other couples through the Heart to Heart Marriage and Family Institute. The group soon discovered that the mentorship program wouldn’t be used unless there was a culture in the church that addressed marriage issues and the importance of working toward healthy marriages.
“So we got together as couples and decided to raise the profile of marriage,” said Grin, adding that the ministry is taking shape as they go. “We want to help shape the culture of marriage as a lifetime pursuit, not the one-day event that is the wedding day.”
Van Leeuwen noted that marriage mentorship is not meant to replace marriage counseling but to prevent marital struggles from getting to the point where it’s too late.
Recognizing that healthy marriages make healthy churches, Van Leeuwen said they hope to be intentionally present in each other’s lives, especially during vulnerable times like the first year of marriage, the beginning of parenthood, the loss of a child, or other stresses.
“People in struggling marriages are often unable to put their time and energy into serving the Lord. . . . And we often hear, after the fact, that the church wasn’t there for them. We want to change that,” Van Leeuwen said.
The group has been putting together opportunities, such as the Alpha Marriage course as well as a weekend seminar on marriage, to strengthen marriages.
They have also brought the issue to Classis Toronto (the regional group of churches), hoping to combine resources and experience with other churches.
“Even if we can save just one struggling marriage, this is worth the effort,” Grin said.
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