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A faith-based marriage enrichment program developed in Jacksonville appears to have driven divorce rates down. Can the model be replicated?

BRADFORD WILCOX AND ALYSSE ELHAGE

OCTOBER 17, 2019

In 2017, something unprecedented took place in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Baptist Association and local Catholic Diocese joined forces to co-sponsor a large marriage education and enrichment program for the Duval County area. What inspired local Catholics and evangelicals to come together was a privately funded community campaign to strengthen marriage. Over a three-year period, an organization called the Culture of Freedom Initiative (COFI) worked with about 50 Protestant and Catholic churches and over 40 local nonprofits to reach about 50,000 adults in Jacksonville.

Tommy and Sondra Davis are one of the Jacksonville couples whose floundering marriage was saved as a result of the campaign. Tommy says he was “99% out of his marriage” when a counselor with Live the Life, COFI’s main nonprofit partner, convinced him and his wife to attend an intensive marriage enrichment event called Hope Weekend.

“That Hope Weekend didn’t just save our marriage,” Sondra says. “It changed our lives.”

Indeed, according to a new report…

 

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The average American couple gets married around the age of 30. Many young adults believe that forming unions closer to that age reduces their risk of divorce, but we also have evidence suggesting that religious Americans are less likely to divorce, even as they are more likely to marry younger than 30.
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