Friday 02 September 2016 at the PCI Church Auditorium, the Perfecting Marriage Team hosted the Marriage Fellowship/Workshop. As guests arrived they were received at the door and ushered to the registration station before being seated. Considering that it was the Team’s second event a first time attendee would automatically assume they have hosted many such events judging by the efficiency on how the evening’s events and activities were run.
The event was more of a Fellowship/Workshop because it was not a one directional Conference setting but allowed for bilateral interaction where everyone was given an opportunity to participate in the discussions and presentations. The array of the topics and activities scheduled for the night meant that married couples, dating, engaged and single people were all catered for, there was something for everyone. The astounding attendance of this Friday evening event was a clear reflection of the teachings in the house on the importance of marriage and family by the father of the house, Bishop H.F. Edwards.
The night was opened in prayer and the event facilitator explained the purpose, the running and desired outcomes of the event, which included break away sessions, presentations and open discussions. The panel was introduced which included Pastor George Smith, Pastor Allistair Halters and his wife, Pastor Andrew Rawlins and his wife, Pastor Dememar and his wife and the Presiding Bishop, Bishop H.F. Edwards, then the topics of discussions which were Finances, Romance, Parenthood, Households responsibilities and In-laws.
After the introductions the panel was directed to the dining room whilst the men and women were led to their respective breakaway rooms. The discussions in the Dining room revolved around giving honest advice as Bishop mentioned that some churches have avoided talking honestly about home life but rather stipulate unrealistic bench marks which at times have been to the detriment of members, mentioning a story of a man who beat his wife and cut her hands for attending church, she stayed on in this marriage because church said no divorce. He also mentioned that Churches manipulate the truth to align to their doctrines, “truth is never convenient, the church wants convenience”.
The mothers of PCI represented by Pastor Rawlins wife, Pastor Dememar’s wife and Pastor Allistair’s wife, concurred that marriage requires commitment and dedication and that what will be discussed may open healing wounds because people may be overcoming certain issues but discussing it may bring back memories but it was important to talk about the issues so people can heal properly.
Pastor Dememar said that there is a place for prayer and a place for open discussions and honest talk and that the church should stop avoiding these talks. Pastor Allistair described that marriage is about being happy and happiness in marriage is both people being at peace mentally, spiritually, emotionally and financially. Pastor Rawlins added that old wounds would be opened for some because the issues or scars had not been dealt with properly in the first place and people may be living with ills due to religiosity at the expense of their happiness. Pastor George mentioned that there are professionals that the church has roped in when the need arises for those who do not want help from church and at times those who do come for help come when it is very late.
Bishop concluded the discussion by saying although the church seeks to preach the message of reconciliation with the hope that people would be honest and ask for help sooner, they don’t, he said “it takes about 30 years to get into the problem, and yet they want us to resolve the problem through a prayer or one or two sessions, it does not work like that”.
The breakaway rooms allowed the men and women to be “alone” and frankly discuss the various topics in order to enlighten and inform their spouses of their expectations and the discussions proved to be very vibrant, enlightening, informative, hilarious and extremely frank. At the end of the allocated time for the sessions, everyone convened in the auditorium to present what was discussed. The first topic and the only topic that was tackled at length was Finances which proved that this is a very critical and fundamental issue that every couple ought to align in order to ensure a good marriage. It also proved that each of the topics of discussion that had been identified needed more time allocated to each to enable an in depth and fruitful discussion, possibly one topic per Workshop.
People were encouraged to ask questions freely then the panel would respond. Bishop Edwards opened the discussions by teaching on the importance of a married couple having a Joint Bank Account serviced by the separate salary accounts for operational purposes. The question he posed to all was “if you share everything else why are you are not sharing the finances?” this opens a door for chaos and ideologies like transparency become just philosophical. From the joint account a budget would then be drawn up according to the order of priority; God first, the non-negotiables, the savings component, all these items would tie down most of the money and leave little room for useless purchases enabling the couple to grow economically whilst retaining their individuality and as far as possible all couples ought to avoid credit. He further reiterated that the bible in Ephesians speaks about mutual submission, joint submission one to another otherwise you set the marriage up for failure and in case of COP (Married in Community of Property) without a joint account, when one partner dies, employed or unemployed it becomes difficult for the remaining spouse to immediately access their deceased partners assets and finances until the estate has been cleared and settled.
Pastor George posed a very important question to all couples in regards to the fact that they may not have known the importance of a joint account prior to Bishop sharing about it but now what were they going to do about it? He also explained that he thinks most people refrain from joint accounts because they feel they would lose their power in the marriage but this separation is also a reflection of the fact that the individuals may not be hundred percent into the marriage. Pastor Allistair mentioned that it was critical for counseling to be on-going in marriage in order to get help and to ask for help, and it is important that the husband be able to say No! and stand their ground irrespective of how strong financially the wife may be to establish their role as the head of the household.
Pastor Dememar explained that people especially men ought to understand that it is not the duty of their wife to wash their clothes, cook etc as a maid but they do it out of love but God designed them as helpmates, to help in the home however it is the husband’s responsibility to take full care and charge of his family. Pastor Rawlins explained that a individuals in a marriage must support each other and not live life independently and he gave an example of a family where the wife came up with the deposit for the house and told the husband she will not get involved with the bond on the balance even though he has to take care of many other responsibilities including school fees etc, and she can afford to assist the husband.
Bishop closed by posing the question to all couples about who will be opening a joint account and by a show of hand it was clear that most people were keen indicating the message had been well received. Thereafter was the closing prayer and pictures of each couple was taken as they walked out the front door.
STORY BY: PCI PRINT MEDIA
PHOTO BY: PCI PHOTOGRAPHY CREW