The Mission Anglican Church (TMAC) in Pensacola, Florida, offered Alpha’s seven-session The Marriage Course this winter, helping to “warm up” couples both within the church and from the community at large. It was the church’s second time to host the class.

marriage vows“The last time we offered The Marriage Course, we were expecting maybe 10-12 couples and ended up with almost 70 people that first evening, which was wonderfully overwhelming,” says the Rev. Lisa Browning, one of TMAC’s deacons and the church’s Executive Pastor.

For the second course, the church opened its parish hall to 20 couples from the very newlywed to those who’ve been married over 30 years. Some of the favorite topics included dealing with family/in-laws and a chapter called “Good Sex!” All sessions included time for couples to discuss the evening’s topic, and ended with homework to complete before the next session. Couples expressed appreciation for the course because it gave them the opportunity and tools to discuss things they otherwise might not have talked about.

marriage retreatThe Mission’s Rector, the Rev. Ron Browning, decided to add something different to the course this time. On March 14, the final evening, the couples enjoyed a very special dinner, prepared by a team from the church and served on china on nicely decorated tables. After finishing dinner and session seven of the course, the group moved from the parish hall to the sanctuary where Fr. Ron performed a group renewal of marriage vows. Afterward, the couples returned to the parish hall where they enjoyed a wedding “reception,” complete with wedding cake! One couple had never had a proper reception with cake, and another never got to have a wedding ceremony in the church. One husband remembered that his wife had carried calla lilies for their wedding years ago and brought her a beautiful bouquet for the vow renewal.

“It was a particularly meaningful way to end the course, and it’s something we will definitely continue to do at the end of each Marriage Course group,” Lisa says.

Learn more at The Mission Anglican Church.