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DAVID ADAMS reports…

Marriage remains on the national agenda in Australia this month with the launch of the second annual Marriage Week.

Held from 13th to 19th September, the week – which comes after more than 470 people gathered at Parliament House last month to mark the inaugural National Marriage Day – will see churches across the country holding events to honor and celebrate marriage.


PICTURE: Åse Meistad (


“(I) believe that God gave me a very clear vision that He wanted the church shaken to minister to marriages, for Him to be honored within marriage, in the church and also the wider community.”

– Dennis Outred, Marriage Week co-organiser

Organiser Dennis Outred says the events will range from special messages being given at church on Sunday morning, to vow renewal services, dinners honoring the longevity of marriage, film evenings and pre-marriage classes.

Mr Outred, along with his wife Ann, is a national co-ordinator of The Marriage Course and The Marriage Preparation Course – courses aimed at building healthy marriages which are run under the auspices of Alpha Australia.

Mr Outred says the first Marriage Week was held in September last year after he was given a vision in 2007.

“(I) believe that God gave me a very clear vision that He wanted the church shaken to minister to marriages, for Him to be honored within marriage, in the church and also the wider community,” he says.

Noting that he believed that the idea was not just for Sydney, the couple created the Marriage Week website and partnered with Christian radio station Hope 103.2 to run a ‘pilot’ in September last year which, along with churches in Sydney, involved others from as far afield as Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Dalby in Queensland.

This year more than half of Australia’s Christian radio broadcasters are supporting the event and will be broadcasting interviews with people “who have a passion for marriage” including former professional tennis player Dr Margaret Court, Dr Allan Meyer, of Careforce Church in Melbourne, Liberal MP Kevin Andrews and Dr Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages.

The week also has the support of at least 27 organisations ranging from the Australian Christian Lobby to Focus on the Family Australia and the Australian Prayer Network.

Mr Outred points out there is no cost to churches who want to become involved and adds that there is an increasing number of free downloads available on the Marriage Week website for those that do.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition to have National Marriage Day – held on 13th August – become an annual event.

The petition was presented to parliamentary representatives at this year’s National Marriage Day breakfast. The breakfast also saw the announcement of the inaugural National Marriage Day ambassadors – former Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, and his wife Marlena.

Mary-Louise Fowler, organiser of the breakfast and the national vice-president of the Australian Family Association, says that Australia need to invest more in promoting marriage.

“The purpose of National Marriage Day is to draw attention to this, and General and Mrs Jeffery will be splendid champions for marriage.”

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week show that the number of new marriages registered in 2008 reached a 20 year high last year with more than 118,000 marriages registered while the number of divorces dropped to 47,209, the lowest number of divorces granted in a single year in 1992.

The number of marriages per 1000 people in Australia, however, has dropped to 5.5, down from seven in 1989. But the number of divorces per 1000 people now sits at 2.2, a figure which represents a 20 year low.


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