Calvary United Methodist Church, at 403 S. Main St. in Mount Airy, is helping married couples get reconnected through a five-week program starting April 23.
The program, A Few Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage, is based on the book "10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage" by David and Claudia Arp. As part of the event, which will be held every Saturday through May 21, married couples are invited to come to the church at 6 p.m. to watch a 15 to 20 minute video offering tools to help revitalize and reinvent their marriage. A brief discussion will follow, after which couples will go on dates to practice what they learned.
And, program organizer Kathy Barna, who serves as director of youth ministry at the church and will be commissioned as a United Methodist deacon in June, said couples don't have to worry about coming up with inexpensive date ideas on their own.
"I have on the center of each table, I will have all different kinds of lists of about 75 inexpensive things you can do on a date," she said. "There's all kinds of ideas — go get an ice cream; go out to a restaurant; go to a home improvement store and dream of what you want to do next to your house."
Barna said she worked with Mount Airy Main Street Manager Ashley Collier to get local business involved. Several area businesses will be offering coupons and discounts on the evenings the program is held. When couples arrive at the church, they'll be given a pamphlet listing participating businesses and what they're offering.
Whether you've been married one year or 50, Barna said, you're welcome to join in. And you don't have to worry about finding a sitter for the kids.
"Volunteers from the church will be stepping up and volunteering to watch children … to say we really care about this community and the health of this community," she said. "It starts at home. I feel very strongly that we need to be giving back right at home, right in the heart of the matter, because that's where it grows from. It's expensive to go out. Child care is expensive."
Parents are asked to arrive at 5:45 p.m. if they are dropping off children. Those taking advantage of the free child care option must stay within Mount Airy town limits for their date and be back to pick up their children no later than 8:30 p.m.
Barna, who has been married for 29 years in June, said she came up with the idea for the program while speaking with the church's pastor, The Rev. Steve Larsen, about her son's upcoming nuptials.
"My son is getting married in September and he and his fiancé are going through pre-marriage counseling and classes, a requirement of the church she attends, and they're doing that and we [were talking] about how wonderful that is and 29 years later, gosh, it would be nice to sit down and have those conversations [discussed in counseling] again," she said.
Barna said she wanted to hold a program to remind couples of the tools needed to continue that passion in marriage. This series of programs offers couples the chance to re-learn what they may have forgotten over time, she said.
"Life gets in the way and you forget that you learned those tools," she said.
The program was also inspired by Barna's desire to hold another outreach event in the community after the success of the church's recent "Free Cup of Joe" initiative during the holiday season, during which church volunteers served free coffee to members of the community.
"I saw how successful that a [Free] Cup of Joe was," she said, so she realized, "We need to keep this going. We love the community and they need to know it."
"[Free Cup of Joe] really was a great bridge to reach out to the community, so I started thinking a healthy community starts at home," she said.
Couples are encouraged to attend in whatever manner suits them, she said, whether they come for one date night or all five.
"It's really a thing that you can just come to one night," she said. "I want it to feel safe ... sometimes when you tie church with things people feel uncomfortable and I want people to know this is a safe place … no matter what level you participate in with it you're going to get something out of it that's going to be helpful to your marriage."
Marriage, she said, is a "precious treasure," and this series is the church's way of helping couples nurture it.
"We take care of our cars and we invest in our houses and we invest in financial institutions and it's really important that we invest in what I think is a treasured possession which is our marriage and the church can help with that," she said.
To register for the program, visit www.calvary-mtairy. For more information, call the church at 301-829-0358.
Morgan Chapel United Methodist Church, at 6750 Woodbine Road in Woodbine, will hold a spaghetti dinner April 27.
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The dinner, which will start at 4 p.m. and end at about 8 p.m., will feature a bountiful spread made and served by members of the church, organizers said.
"Pretty much most of the women at the church [prepare the meal]," said Teresa Crowe, who is in charge of publicity of the event. "The men cook the spaghetti — I have to give them credit — they make the meat sauce [also]. Everyone works hard and they work together."
Menu options will include spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and tossed salad, as well as baked goods for sale.
The meal is $8 for people 12 and older, $4 for children 4 to 11 years old, and free for children younger than 4. Carryouts will be offered for $9.
The event, which takes place once each spring and fall, is a fundraiser "to raise funds for our church to keep everything up and running and help out the community," Crowe said.
"It's for a good cause and the food is delicious," she said.
For more information, contact Crowe at 410-970-3003.