By Josette Keelor
WOODSTOCK -- There's a misconception that marriage is the beginning of the end.
According to Kelly Day, part-time marriage and family pastor at Shenandoah Community Fellowship in Woodstock, that's the sort of thinking The Wholehearted Marriage seminar will seek to change.
The interdenominational seminar will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1 at 197 Patmos Road, Woodstock, and participants will gain tools for helping prevent troubles that affect couples and their children from worsening into crises.
"Marriage to me is one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but it's also one of the most rewarding things," he said. "There's an intimacy with your spouse that you can't get from anybody else, but you have to be constantly working on it."
Now in its fifth year, the seminar is a big part of the Southern Baptist church's initiative to help strengthen marriages and families. This includes relationships among blended families, single parents and their children, and even those going through divorce.
"They have needs and we want to reach out to them," Day said. "We are pro marriage, but we're also pro people."
Day said he saw a need in the church for a source of help for couples -- a need that inspired him to pursue a degree from Liberty University in counseling, marriage and family, and training through the American Association of Christian Counselors.
So often couples who come to his church office blame each other for problems in their marriage, but he tells them they need to look at themselves first.
This year's seminar will host two speakers instead of one, offering a male and female perspective on marriage -- Dr. Greg Smalley, who wrote the book "The Wholehearted Marriage," and his wife Erin.
Greg Smalley, executive director of the Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family, works with marriages and families on a fulltime basis and offers humorous stories rather than preaching about marriage.
In a recording of one of his presentations, Smalley said adopting a "no losers" solution to arguments is essential if couples are going to feel like partners.
"It is not acceptable for either one of us to walk away from an interaction feeling like we had lost," he said.
Shenandoah Community Fellowship also offers a yearly couples retreat and a marriage and family class on Sundays that brings in 40 to 60 participants. Day said community members are welcome to participate, even if they don't attend the church.
The seminar is also community-based and will include a reception Friday night and a continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The cost is $60 per couple, but Day said scholarships are available to those who can't afford tickets. The church is also looking for sponsors for future seminars.
"We're making it more available to our community," he said. "This isn't about Shenandoah Community Fellowship, but as a community bringing marriages together and understanding the need."
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Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org