July 30, 1999

        What follows are articles from the August/September Marriage Savers Newsletter,
which explain how we trained our first batch of certified trainers from 22
states at our first national Marriage Savers Institute at the Smart Marriages 1999
Conference.  They also explain the need for anyone who wants to use our new
manual to attend two days of  training and the cost for that
training.  We have not yet set dates for the training in the different states, but
will do so in September. We will also train additional churches and
certified national trainers here in Washington Dec. 6-7, 1999. - Mike McManus

First Training to Create a Marriage SaversÆ Church

        "The Achilles Heel of this movement is that fewer than 10
congregations are full-fledged Marriage Savers Churches. However, 5,000
pastors have signed a Community Marriage Policy pledging to train mature,
married couples to serve as mentors to work with engaged couples, newlyweds
or those experiencing marital difficulties,' " said Mike McManus, President
of Marriage Savers in his opening remarks to 70 leaders of marriage
ministries gathered in Arlington, VA June 30 and July 1 at the group's
first national conference.

        "The movement Marriage Savers has sparked is a mile wide and an
inch deep. We have had pastors sign Community Marriage Policies in 110
cities in 37 states.  And divorce rates are plunging in two dozen of these
communities by spectacular amounts.  Nationally, divorces are down only
1.3% in 19 years.  By contrast, they plunged 14% in Chattanooga in one
year, by 15% in Evansville, IN and 21% in Dalton, GA � also in one year.
So they are coming down 11 to 16 times faster than the nation in
one-nineteenth of the time. Combining those numbers, divorces in those
cities have plummeted 200-300 times more quickly than the U.S.!

        Why? Those cities had good press coverage when they announced their
Community Marriage Policies. So the effect may be indirect. Clergy's public
support of marriage may have encouraged those in tough marriages to
persevere, rather than give up, he suggested.  "The divorce climate was
changed back to a marriage climate simply by having the clergy agree to a
plan to reduce the divorce rate.

        "But what could happen if the churches actually delivered on their
promises, and became "Marriage Saver Churches?" he asked. "What if they
actually trained couples in good marriages to help:
        � prepare couples for a lifelong marriage by giving them a
premarital inventory,   and teaching communication and conflict resolution
        � strengthen existing marriages by holding an annual enrichment
        � restore troubled ones by pairing "back-from-the-brink" couples
who survived marital stresses, with those now considering divorce

        Obviously, the divorce rate could be reduced even more

        "In recent weeks, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of man's
landing on the moon, we learned that 400,000 people worked for a decade
toward that goal," said McManus recently. "Surely, a more important goal is
to save America's marriages. My dream is that the nation's 300,000 churches
which have been sleepwalking as far as marriage is concerned � will agree
on a goal to cut America's divorce rate in half by the year 2010, and will
mobilize a million Marriage Mentors to do so."

        To help congregations make marriage a priority, Mike and Harriet
McManus took two new steps.  First, they invited the nation's "Pioneer
Marriage Savers," those people who have created new mentoring programs to
save marriages � to tell their stories directly to community trailblazers,
men and women who have created the best Community Marriage PoliciesÆ.  The
pioneers trained the activists how to take this movement deep � how to
actually create Marriage Saver Churches.  And the whole two-day conference
was videotaped, so that organizers can go back to their cities and use the
tapes to train clergy and Mentor Couples how to plant these reforms that
can save up to 90% of the worst marriages.

        Second, the McManuses unveiled a new 166 page Manual to Create a
Marriage Savers Congregation to give step-by-step guidance on how to build
key reforms into any interested church. "From this meeting we expect to
certify national trainers from 22 states who will use the Manual and
videotapes to teach how to plant these reforms in thousands of churches,"
said McManus. Additional certified trainers will be equipped December 6-7
in Washington D.C.

        Up to this first national meeting, only Mike McManus knew all of
the leaders. "I wanted the marital pilgrims to meet each other, learn from
one another, and gain a new vision for the enormous task ahead of us," he
told them.

        One section of the Manual profiles five model Marriage Saver
Churches, which can be read on our Website: marriagesavers.org. Another
section suggests the first step to become a Marriage Saver Church is to
create an "Exploratory Team"  including both clergy and lay couples in
different forms of solid marriages: a 20-40 year marriages without trauma,
a couple in a healed relationship who once considered divorce; and a
stepfamily that has truly blended.      Subsequent sections of the Manual
provide step-by-step guidelines on how to create Marriage Mentor programs,
like the successful models outlined below.

        Marriage Savers training of local churches for two days is
inexpensive, and is scaled according to the congregation's size.  A church
of less than 200 attending on Sunday would pay only $200, which includes
$100 worth of materials, such as the Manual and the FOCCUS Facilitator
Notebook. A congregation of 200-500 would pay $300; one of 500-1,000
members, $400; 1,000 to 1,500 members, $500; 1,500 to 2,000 members, $600.
Those with more than 2,000 would pay $750.

        For this sum, a pastor and up to five couples can be trained over
two Saturdays.  However, at these costs, it will be necessary to gather
8-10 churches to be trained. Training is required to receive the Manual.

"The Marriage Savers Pioneers"

        The highlight of the conference were talks by "Marriage Saver
Pioneers" who told how they created mentoring programs which can save
80%-90% of the worst marriages:

        1. Rev. Richard and Phyllis McGinnis, explained how they created a
"Marriage Ministry" using "back-from-the-brink" couples, who meet with
those now considering divorce, to share how they rebuilt their marriage.
So effective were seven Marriage Mentors in their church, that 38 out of 40
troubled marriages were saved. The McGinnises have also planted Marriage
Ministry  in seven other churches -- including model Marriage Saver
Churches --saving 196 out of 216 marriages.  That's a 90% success rate in
the transplants! Their methodology is detailed in Section 8 of the Manual.

        2. Joe and Michelle Williams, who have each been married four
times, created a course for the separated called "Reconciling God's Way."
Based on difficult personal experience, they created a 12-week course in
which an estranged spouse selects a same gender friend to help them make
it.  Well over half of the separated rebuilt their marriages.  See Section
9 of the Manual.

        3. Mrs. Sally Malone told attendees she feared that due to
pressures from four stepchildren, her second marriage to Van Malone would
not last six months. A Stepfamily Support Group created by Roswell (GA)
United Methodist Church saved their marriage. Normally 65% of stepfamilies
divorce, but their SSG saves 80%.  Details on how to create an SSG are in
Section 10 of the Manual.

        4. Dr. Barbara Markey, who is also a Catholic nun, developed the
FOCCUS/REFOCCUS inventories that are the most mentor-friendly in America.
They also cover issues omitted by competitors: questions on Cohabitation
and Marriage as a Covenant.

Manual Available Only With Training
by Mike McManus

        The new Marriage Savers Congregational Manual will not be
distributed commercially, as originally planned.  It will only be given to
churches who send a pastor and Mentor Couples to be trained over two days,
in how to create five different forms of mentoring to help couples:

        � Avoid a bad marriage before it begins
        � Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged
        � Strengthen existing marriages
        � Save 80% to 90% of the worst ones
        � Reconcile over half of the separated
        � Help stepfamilies be successful

        Training is essential. Writing my book, Marriage Savers, which
describes many successful mentoring programs was not a sufficient tool. Nor
was it enough to create a Marriage Savers Resource Collection with six
videos, two books and a Leader's Guide for a 13 week Sunday School course
for potential mentors.

        Nor was it enough to ask pastors to pledge, as they have in many
cities to "train mature, married couples to serve as mentors to work with
engaged couples, newlyweds, or those experiencing marital difficulties.'
Even after agreeing to do so in over 100 cities, pastors have not acted on
their commitment, except in a few churches.

        As I wrote in the Manual, "Our central conclusion is that the
reason there are so few Marriage Saver Churches at present is not a lack of
will or desire on the part of clergy who have signed a Community Marriage
Policy, but a lack of knowledge of the steps needed to create such a
church. Therefore, this Marriage Savers Congregational Manual will spell
out the steps that were taken by one or more of the five successful
Marriage Saver Churches."

        Of the five model Marriage Saver Churches profiled in the Manual,
four were started by lay people, such as Harriet and me at Fourth
Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Only one was started by a pastor, Rev.
Jeffrey Meyers of Christ Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS. (To see what
he thinks of the importance of Mentor Couples, see his column on page 6.)

        Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Lay Person, you can start a Marriage Savers
Congregation. If you have enjoyed a solid marriage for 15, 25, 40 or even
50 years - or if your marriage was once in deep trouble, and God has
restored it; or even if you are in a second marriage which is now
harmonious, you have a graduate degree in marriage.

        You can take your earned degree (your Mr. and Mrs.!) to other
couples in your church, and then to your pastor and say, "We want to create
a Marriage Savers Church. We will become trained and do the work. We simply
want your blessing and oversight."

        We will have nationally certified trainers in 22 states who will be
able to train anyone this fall.  The exact schedules of these trainings has
not yet been set. However, more nationally certified trainers will be
prepared in Washington December 6-7.  Write or call us for more information on
how to get started 301-469-5870.  Or see our Website, www.marriagesavers.org.

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