Joining with Kentucky's Family Foundation in Kentucky, Marriage Savers took on the goal of decreasing the state's high divorce rate and strengthening marriage across the state. Kent Ostrander, Foundation director, organized pastors in ten cities to meet with Marriage Savers every morning and afternoon for a week. The event was covered by The Kentucky Citizen, and the objective was to persuade clergy to create 'Community Marriage Covenants' in which the city's pastors sign an agreement to help. Their strategy included the following points:
- Prepare couples for a healthy lifelong marriage by requiring couples to take a premarital inventory and meet with trained Mentor Couples to discuss their relationship issues and learn communication skills.
- Enrich all marriages with an annual event.
- Restore marriages in crisis by training couples whose own marriages once nearly failed to mentor those in current crisis.
- Reconcile separated couples with a workbook course taken by the committed spouse with a friend of the same gender to help him/her grow so much they attract back the errant mate. It works in most cases.
- Stepfamilies normally divorce at a 70% rate, but if a 'Stepfamily Support Group' is organized, 80% of these marriages are saved – the mirror opposite.
- Kentucky has America's third highest divorce rate.
- Kentucky's marriage rate plunged 44% in only 19 years. Why? The number of cohabiting couples has soared 18-fold to 7.8 million couples – nearly quadruple the 2.2 million marriages a year.
- Most unwed births are to cohabiting couples. They have jumped 8-fold from 225,000 to 1.7 million, or 41% of all births in the U.S. (which is 20 times worse than Japan's national unwed birth rate of 2%).
The vision of The Family Foundation's Kentucky Marriage Movement is to elevate the Biblical model of marriage and to encourage healthy marriages for our families, churches and communities across the Commonwealth. To that end we were encouraged by the results of the Marriage Savers approach to raise marriage rates and lower divorce rates and cohabitation rates in communities across the US. The Lord's vision for our Ten-City Marriage Tour was the communities of churches in the unity of the Spirit for the sake of Marriage and Christ's Bride. It is certainly a God-sized vision to offer this to all the churches and communities across Kentucky. Our desire is to be faithful and trust the Lord to continue His vision as He desires.
Feel free to download a copy of the article about the event in "Kentucky New Era." To help launch a local 'Community Marriage Policy' in your community, contact Marriage Savers at (301) 469-5873. You can read the full 700 Club story here. Efforts like these toward marriage strengthening also encourage national visibility for work to reduce divorce, cohabitation and unwed birth rates and to increase marriages---all critical elements toward family restoration.