Compassionate has marriage getaway

The Bartons, left, and the Hardens, were among those who attended the marriage retreat last month sponsored by Compassionate Outreach Ministries. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.

Last month, nearly 50 couples took part in a marriage retreat sponsored by Compassionate Outreach Ministries, and as usual, the destination was a surprise for a weekend of romance and fun-filled experiences.

Bishop Larry and First Lady Margaret Dennison of Compassionate have been sponsoring the annual retreat for the church's married couples since December 1995.

The couples experienced the beauty of Savannah, Ga., with tour guides giving detailed summaries of the rich Southern history surrounding the city, which included the various wars that had been fought, historical landmarks and statues erected in honor of certain individuals, and not to mention the rich detailed architecture of the buildings, with the large beautiful and bold columns, some of which have been featured on such networks as HGTV.

The couples also were treated to lunch at the Lady and Sons Restaurant owned by culinary master Paula Deen.

After a day filled with surprises and activities in Savannah, the couples journeyed to another surprise destination. They did not have to wait long, but they were in awe as they pulled into the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Amelia Island in northeast Florida. One of the wives said, "We were treated as royalty, ahhh. It just took our breath away."

The Dennisons gave each couple a basket filled with fruit, chocolate and other goodies to enjoy.

During dinner that night, the couples received words of encouragement from Dr. Geraldine Eady, founder and coordinator of Destiny Crusades and the Proceeding World Leadership Conference in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

Eady spoke briefly on some of the pitfalls that can destroy marriages and things that couples should avoid in order to have a successful marriage.

The couples were also treated to a special testimony from Lucious and Evangelist Clovia Lewis of the Central Florida Institutional Church in Jacksonville. Lucious Lewis spoke of his years of crack cocaine addiction, which caused him to leave his family and live on the streets.

Evangelist Lewis spoke about how the Lord touched her heart, and because of the love she had for her husband, the Lord worked on her in a way that she was able to wait for her husband to return home. During that time, she said she had a peace and a confidence that, although she did not know when he would return, she was assured that he would return home one day. And he did.

The next morning following breakfast, Eady continued her message and offered words to inspire and encourage the couples to keep working to make their marriages the best that they can possibly be.

Eady offered the following advice:

* Marriages must be built on Jesus Christ, first and foremost.

* It is not enough to have a happy marriage. You need a godly marriage.

* Pray together (couples must be in agreement).

* Study the scriptures together and have love one for another.

* Real love expresses itself (love is not what you say, but what you do).

* Use kind words and don't always be so defensive.

* Find little things to show appreciation for one another.

* Keep your stress levels low.

* Stay completely together and love one another.

* Recognize the covenant of your relationship.

* Guard your marriage.

* Keep open communication in your marriage.

* Seek forgiveness, not excuses.

* Small things make a difference.

* Finally, marriage can work, but you have got to work it.

The Dennisons are concerned about marriages and stand firm on the word of God and in the knowledge that marriage is not something that you can leave to chance. Marriage does work, but there is something couples have to do: "They have to work it."

In a few weeks, the Dennisons will celebrate 34 years of marriage.

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