United Marriage Encounter
If you would like to listen to a reading of this article then go to purefaithpodcast.com.
In episode 46 of the Pure Faith Podcast, Michele and I had a wonderful discussion with Steve and Cheryl Swallow about United Marriage Encounter (UME). Today I would like to talk to you more in depth about what the United Marriage Encounter experience will give you and your spouse as well as talk more about who they are and what they believe.
Though I could tell you all about UME, I don’t think I could do as good of a job as they can. Therefore, this following statement is from their website, unitedmarriage.com:
United Marriage Encounter is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to improving marriages by introducing practical, ongoing communication tools over the course of an entire Weekend starting on Friday night and ending on Sunday night. A UME Weekend combines practical methods, Christian values, and personal experiences, shared by trained leadership couples, to improve communication between husbands and wives.
The Weekends are hosted by leadership couples, [who are] all volunteers, who teach and demonstrate methods that improve communication, by sharing experiences from their own lives. The Weekend is presented in a conference-type setting with approximately 30 couples. After initial introductions, no other group sharing is required. Each couple is given enough time to talk privately, free from the distractions of everyday life.
You and your spouse will focus on each other throughout the Weekend. You’re given plenty of one-on-one time as a couple to share with each other, trying out the communication tools and ideas presented. It’s an opportunity to learn new ways to communicate and also to connect deeply or even re-connect with your spouse on an emotional and spiritual level.
You may be wondering if you and your spouse are eligible to attend a UME weekend, and I am here to tell you that you probably are. As long as you and your spouse are one man and one woman who are legally married then you can attend. It doesn’t matter what age you are, where you are from or even what your denomination is. Yes, UME is a Christian based organization, but you do not have to be a Christian to attend. If you are worried that you will be bombarded with, or forced to accept, Christianity, then your worries are unwarranted. Though they do use scripture to help teach their methods of creating a stronger marriage, you will not be overwhelmed by it. That is not their mission. Their mission is to help strengthen marriages by giving the couples tools to help them communicate and form stronger bonds. If you are interested in seeing their list of weekends in the USA or would like to register for a weekend then you just need to visit their website.
There are many different segments of Marriage Encounter and they are all formed under one umbrella but for different denominations. So, even though we are talking about United Marriage Encounter, which is non-denominational, if you would like to attend a Marriage Encounter that is geared for Luthern, Catholic, or many other religions then you just have to search for them and you will easily find them. For the sake of this article we are just going to stick with UME. When it comes to their core beliefs, they are, or at least should be, the same as all Christians. Those beliefs are as follows:
1. We believe the Bible is the only, complete, inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is only one God, eternally existent in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity and humanity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of God the Father, in His present rule as Head of the Church, and in His personal return to judge in power and glory.
4. We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female in His image and to reflect His glory, but that as a result of sin, mankind is alienated from God, and is helpless to remedy this lost condition apart from the grace of God, through the blood of Christ.
5. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, and that salvation is the gracious gift of God, received by faith alone, in Christ alone.
6. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a godly life.
7. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all people; those who believe in Christ, to eternal life with God, and those who do not believe in Christ, to suffer eternal separation from God.
8. We believe the institution of marriage to be God inspired as the union of one man and one woman.
9. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, with equality across racial, gender, and class differences.
Next, let’s look at the core values that UME lives by:
We are a Christ-centered ministry. We will honor our Statement of Faith.
We believe God’s plan for marriage is one man, one woman, seeking oneness and serving God and others with grace. We will stay focused on our specific call.
We believe our Weekend experience is God’s call for our ministry and can start a transformation in a marriage. We will offer Christ’s love through our Weekend experience.
We believe married couples deserve an entire Weekend away from everyday activities. We will create an environment for couples to focus on their relationship with their spouse and with God.
We believe the concepts learned on a Marriage Encounter Weekend are ongoing tools to keep a marriage strong and lasting and can lead to stronger Christian families and stronger Christian communities. We will strive to help couples live out God’s plan for marriage.
We believe couples deserve to experience our Weekend regardless of their ability to pay. We will fund our Weekend expenses by encouraging couples to “Pay Forward”, encouraging members to support the ministry annually, and seeking other generous donors.
We believe to make the transformation we must have an ongoing stake in the Weekend couples’ marriages. We will support our UME Communities by upholding them in prayer along with encouraging active involvement in CORE while providing enriching activities and marriage resources.
We believe God expects responsible stewardship of our financial and human rescoures. We will maintain responsible budgets, invest in our volunteers, and conduct our Weekends economically without compromising excellence.
Just seeing what UME believes both in their religious beliefs as well as their core values should be enough to make you want to support their ministry. However, if you need even more convincing then go to our podcast and listen to what Steve and Cheryl have to say about it, and how it literally saved their marriage from ending in divorce. They also gave some suggestions about some books that they have read and bible studies that they like to do in order to keep their marriage centered on Christ. Here are the suggestions that they gave: