April 29 through May 1 was a special weekend for married couples at Camp Au Sable. Family Ministries director Gail Micheff organized a spiritually refreshing weekend with a theme of “How Marriages Grow.” The retreat focused on God-centered growth in the marriage relationship. Sixty-eight couples attended from all over the state, with one couple from as far as Indiana.
Presenters Ron and Collene Kelly minister at the Village church in Berrien Springs. The Kelly’s shared inspiring advice for all couples, whether they were newly-weds, golden anniversary couples, or just engaged. Above all, they encouraged respect and trust as the pillars of marriage, with God in the center of both individuals’ lives—always.
They also offered practical solutions to real-life, real-people problems during a question-and-answer time. Attendees submitted anonymous questions, which the Kelly’s answered from the front. Thus, all couples benefited from the anonymous struggles of others.
The Kelly’s compared a marriage to a garden. Sometimes there are weeds in a garden that need to be removed, but they need to be removed gently, after the partner has been showered with love, so as not to harm the relationship. You also need to water a garden, and plant seeds, if you wish anything to grow.
At the top of the weekend program, Micheff selected a quote that said, “What you did naturally when you were dating, must be done intentionally when you’re married.” The affection and intentionality that came naturally during dating years must be continued during marriage.
Some couples in attendance were on the verge of divorce. Others were newly-wed. Some were struggling to have children. Others were non-Adventist, who came through a desire to grow closer to God in their marriage. One such couple is now studying the Bible with the Kelly’s.
No matter the circumstances, the Kelly’s encouraged the couples to stay together—that with God on their side, they could weather all storms. Together.
Camp AuSable’s Chef Miguel Larcher provided delicious food throughout the weekend, especially on Saturday night, when he and the kitchen staff served gourmet desserts in a beautiful, banquet setting.
There were other activities Saturday night, too: board games in the Eagle Lodge, ice cream in the camp store, or a go-cart excursion. Couples chose which activity, or activities, they wished to attend, and spent the evening together, fellowshipping with other couples, and with each other.
When the camp emptied on Sunday, participants went home with a multitude of godly advice, at least one goal on how to better their marriage, and tools to equip them as they grow their marriage together.
The next marriage retreat will take place in November at Crystal Mountain in northern Michigan. More details will be available at misda.org.