On Valentine’s weekend, February 11th – 13th, BranchCreek was host to an exciting weekend-long retreat for married couples and soon-to-be-married couples. It was our Second Annual conference, entitled, Marriage: The Journey. We were delighted to meet and greet 240 men and women from our church community as well as visitors from throughout the greater Philadelphia area.
This years’ event took a slightly different approach from the premier event in 2010, where our own teaching staff held live plenary sessions, combined with small break-out groups. This year we opted to offer a brand new 6-session video conference, called The Art of Marriage, which is produced and distributed by Family Life Ministries. Family Life is widely known in the Christian community for their live weekend retreats for marrieds called “Weekend To Remember”. They’ve been so successful with attracting and helping married couples at all levels of age and tenure, that they decided to create the new video format and encourage local churches to “host” the weekend seminar series. We feel especially fortunate to have been given the opportunity to present it here at BranchCreek in its national premier release.
Our own Pastor chuck faber was the “emcee” for the entire presentation, following an opening welcome to the attendees by Pastor Craig Bishop. With his usual flair for slightly wacky humor, Pastor chuck was able to set a relaxed and enjoyable tone for all with a series of games and light-hearted stories that he introduced between video sessions. Also, his inspiring prayer for the crowd helped many to focus on Christ as the center of our lives as well as our marriage.
There were so many memorable moments that were apparent during the Friday night and Saturday sessions. One couple from the Allentown area reported to a Marriage Conference team member that they had actually met six years ago at a singles event held at BranchCreek. They did not then, nor do they now attend Branch Creek but were thrilled when they realized that this church was the place where they first met, and that meeting led them to a wonderful marriage five years ago. Wow!
Another visiting couple offered that they were simply “curious” about the weekend and the affordable price of only $39 per couple was too hard to resist. After the Friday evening sessions, they went home to complete their homework assignment and anxiously looked forward to returning Saturday morning. By the end of the conference they had made a commitment to start attending church together on a regular basis, and felt that BranchCreek could provide them the type of Christian teaching and guidance they could most benefit from. We couldn’t agree more!
An optional Sunday brunch was offered for attendees at nearby Bay Pony Inn, and was a hit with all who enjoyed their delicious food. Tables were abuzz with folks giving their personal testimony about the positive impact that the weekend had on them individually and as a couple.
There were many such stories told throughout the weekend, but perhaps the highlight was on Sunday morning at the conclusion of the second morning service, when Pastor Jeb Shore led 30 couples through “re-commitment vows” of marriage. It was moving, indeed, to watch 60 people file down to the front of the auditorium to publicly declare their love and commitment to their spouse. And finally, with all the glory to God, 27 individuals informed us on their evaluation forms that they had declared Jesus Christ as their personal savior during the weekend.
What more could we ask? Hallelujah!
-Jean Curtis, Marriage Conference Team