Marriage Savers Resources
Marriage Savers Ceremony in Elkton, Maryland,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rev. Alan Bosmeny 410 398-4234
Mike McManus: 301 469-5870
Clergy To Slash Cecil County Divorce Rate
Twenty diverse Protestant and Catholic clergy will create a Cecil County
Community Marriage Policy whose goal is to radically reduce the divorce
rate. Pastors will sign the covenant at 2 pm Friday, June 22 on the steps of
the Cecil County Courthouse in Elkton. It will be the 220th city in America
and the 3rd in Maryland to take this proven initiative to reduce both
divorce and cohabitation rates.
Clergy will require three to six months of marriage preparation. This
represents a dramatic change from the day Elkton was known as a wedding
capital, with more wedding chapels per capita than any city on the East
Coast. Why? Clergy want to slash Cecil County’s divorce rate which averaged
59% from 2000-2005, well above the national average.
Rev. Alan Bosmeny, Pastor of the First Assembly of God, who organized the
clergy to participate, confessed that he and his wife, Donna, were “just a
couple of weeks away from divorce” three years after they married in 1971.
“We loved each other but hated each other,” he says. “Alcohol and drugs were
part of it.” She had moved out, but returned three months later to get her
things. However, they attended a Catholic charismatic prayer meeting, “gave
our lives to Christ, which instantaneously put our marriage back together,”
That experience motivated him to seek out Marriage Savers, an organization
that has helped the clergy of 219 other cities/counties to create a
Community Marriage Policy to reduce the divorce rate. He wanted to help
Cecil churches to “raise the standard for the preparation, strengthening and
restoration of marriages,” as their covenant puts it. He worked with Richard
Ricciuti, Director of Cecil County’s Department of Social Services, who won
a federal grant to strengthen marriages.
Mike and Harriet McManus, co-founders of Marriage Savers, will speak at the
clergy signing of the Community Marriage Policy and will train clergy and
mentor couples from participating churches June 22 from 6:30 pm till 10 pm
and on Saturday from 8:30 am to 5 pm. “Harriet and I are thrilled to help
you launch the Cecil County Community Marriage Policy and to train clergy
and mentors in how to virtually eliminate divorce,” Mike said.
The churches say they will reduce divorce rates by helping couples achieve
four great goals:
- “Provide a premarital preparation of three to six months, which
includes” taking a premarital inventory and meeting with a Mentor Couple
to discuss its results.
- “Provide enrichment opportunities in the church…by marriage
retreats, classes on communication, conflict resolution and building
- “Identify, inspire and train couples with strong marriages to serve
as marriage mentors for: couples in serious relationships, engaged
couples, newlyweds, couples wanting to strengthen their relationship,
couples experiencing marital stress, couples in second marriages or with
- “Provide mentoring for marriages in crisis and in need of
reconciliation and restoration that are at the brink of divorce through
specially trained mentor couples who have reconciled and restored their
These strategies work. The McManuses trained Mentors in their home church
in Bethesda, MD who helped 288 couples prepare for marriage from 1992-2000.
A surprising 55 couples decided NOT to marry, 19%. But of 233 who did marry,
there were only 7 divorces. That’s a 3% failure rate or a 97% success rate
over a decade.“That’s marriage insurance,” says Mike McManus.
Trained Mentor Couples can save 80% of troubled marriages, while therapists
save less than 20%, the mirror opposite. Stepfamilies normally divorce at a
70% rate, but a Stepfamily Support Group” routinely saves four of five
marriages with stepchildren.
Divorce rates of the first 114 cities with Community Marriage Policies fell
17.5% on average over seven years, saving 30,000 to 50,000 marriages by 2001
that would have ended in divorce, reports an independent study by the
Institute for Research and Evaluation. With six more years and 104 more
Community Marriage Policies, perhaps 100,000 divorces have been averted. The
cohabitation rate also fell in CMP counties by 13% from 1990-2000 while it
grew 19% in similar areas. By decade’s end, CMP counties cohabitation rates
were a third lower than others.
For example, Springfield OH clergy signed a Community Marriage Policy in
September, 2004 and saw its divorce rate fall 22% by 2006, saving 310
marriages that would have ended in divorce. One study estimates that each
divorce costs government $30,000 in increased costs for welfare, food
stamps, Medicaid and other subsidies. Those 310 avoided divorces thus saved
taxpayers $4.5 million in the first year, and another $9.2 million in the
Modesto, CA, the first city to create a Community Marriage Policy in
January, 1986, slashed its divorce rate by 50%, saving 1,677 marriages a
year that would have ended in divorce. Also its marriage rate has risen from
about 1,100 a year to 2,500. By contrast, the U.S. marriage rate has
plummeted by 50% since 1970. Austin, Kansas City, KS and El Paso also cut
divorce rates in half.
Mike and Harriet McManus have been on Focus on the Family, the CBS
Early Show, the subject of a Washington Post Magazine cover story
Feb. 29, 2004. Their work has been featured on Oprah, PBS, NBC NBC's
Nightly News, CBS' "48 Hours, MSNBC, TIME, and Newsweek, The
Wall Street Journal, USA Today and hundreds of newspapers. McManus is
the author of Marriage Savers and of Insuring Marriage and is a
syndicated columnist. See