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Conference for couples is a lasting gift

January 28, 2002

Conference for couples is a lasting gift



St. James

By MARLO BARNHART
marlob@herald-mail.com


Instead of the more traditional Valentine's Day presents that quickly wilt or get eaten, this year there's a gift for couples to give each other that might last a lifetime.

Tickets are available now for a satellite broadcast of Couples Conference 2002 at St. James Brethren Church, hosted by Focus on the Family creators James and Shirley Dobson, as well as Gary and Norma Smalley and their sons, who run Smalley's Relationship Center in Branson, Mo.

Kristy Bowers, director of Christian education at St. James, said the churches of the Williamsport Ministerium are purchasing 300 advance tickets for the April 19-20 events.

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"In a few short days, all that's left of those heart-shaped boxes of candy and bouquets of flowers are the empty wrappers and wilted blooms," Bowers said.

But the information gleaned from the two-day conference could help couples nourish existing relationships, heal damaged relationships or lay solid foundations for new relationships, she said.

Already there has been a lot of interest within and outside the church. And Bowers said most say they are pleased with the low cost.

Early registration for couples is $60 and for a single, $30. The standard registration is $70 a couple and $35 for singles.

There is a three-hour evening session on April 19 and a full day of programs, discussion groups, refreshments at breaks and a light lunch on April 20.

Accommodations have been arranged at the Sleep-Inn on Sharpsburg Pike for out-of-towners, Bowers said.

Topics will include keeping commitments, resolving conflicts, learning to nurture, setting your purpose and developing personal character.

In addition to the Smalleys and the Dobsons, the sessions will feature Josh McDowell, a well-known youth leader; Tony Evans, a Christian speaker; and Gary and Barbara Rosberg, family counselors.

"We didn't want to exclude singles," Bowers said. "Maybe the person's mate won't come but for that person's own interest, they can come."

She said married couples, engaged couples, boyfriend-girlfriend couples and others are invited to attend.

Bowers said she is giving a ticket package to her daughter and her fianc, even though they won't be getting married for a while.

She said it's money well spent in today's society where marriages break up at an alarming rate.

"We live in a disposable society," Bowers said.

Tickets may be obtained from Bowers at St. James Brethren Church, and at Christian Light and Shepherd's Table bookstores.

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