All posts by Richard

Brussels parliament from Chingford

Buzzing like a bee kind of a day!

Got a lift to Chingford station from my old buddy Steve Sullivan.  Steve is originally a Kiwi but has lived his entire life in YWAM England.  He is the nicest person in the entire World – no kidding.  Got the train to Liverpool Street, except that it broke down on the way, which meant an hour with a carriage full of very grumpy, very cold commuters.  When I arrive at St Pancreas station, I had missed my 11 am Eurostar to Brussels.  However the nice lade in the office, just popped me on the next one at no cost!  How cool is that.  Arriving in Brussels about 4, I had just an hour to get to the European Parliament whereupon I joined MEP Anna Zaborska and Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE to launch International Marriage Week in the main debating chamber of the parliament building.

Meanwhile things are popping and fizzing everywhere else, see my last post from Sheila Weber.  Nola Leach Chair of MW UK has posted a Marriage Week promo video, and over 1000 people were at a great event last night in London.

Tomorrow I leave super early to catch a 6.30 flight to Budapest to be with our Hungarian friends n the Hungarian parliament for their launch event.

 

I did enjoy last night hanging out with my YWAM buddies, shared a few stories around the virtual camp fire, which was just great.

Smashed our 664,000 record

It seems as though close to 1 million people will be attending Marriage Week events in the USA alone. We have counted up over 4,000 individual events with an average attendance of say 250 people.  Whilst it’s not all about the numbers, it is all about the numbers because if we are trying to create a shift in culture, then we need a certain volume of the population to do that, so the numbers are important.

Arriving in Budapest I was shocked to see the frozen Danube, I hope it’s thawed out by March when we have our international conference on board a floating conference centre.  The launch event was epic with several live TV crews and many photographers and reporters.  Afterwards I did a 15 minute TV interview for Hungarian state TV, I hope to have a copy of it soon to post.  Events are happening all over Hungary but it’s too early to count them up.  Had lunch with the team which was great fun, arriving back into Gatwick I was picked up by Wayne from Advantage Cars, didn’t want to drive home after such a long day.

Arriving in Prague last night I was met by my good friend Roger Harsh, who works here full time with YWAM.  This morning we went to the Government building where the press launch was being held. I spoke about the importance of marriage skills in relationships, and afterwards did interviews on Czech TV news and another TV station.  My good friend, Petr Cincala the national coordinator over here did a little video interview with me which is here. Petr has confirmation of 160 events but reckons that is fairly conservative really.

I went with Jiri Unger, President of European Evangelical Alliance to see a bridge where couples who can’t afford a marriage lock a symbolic padlock to the bridge, and then throw the key into the river.  I’m now waiting around for my flight home, it’s 1 pm, and I leave at 9.30, so just hanging around really.  I’m back here again next weekend with Luke Tanner to teach a marriage seminar in Jablonec.

Meanwhile Rolf Dieter has complied an image library on Facebook which is worth a view.

EU Parliament via Chingford!

Buzzing like a bee kind of a day!

Got a lift to Chingford station from my old buddy Steve Sullivan.  Steve is originally a Kiwi but has lived his entire life in YWAM England.  He is the nicest person in the entire World – no kidding.  Got the train to Liverpool Street, except that it broke down on the way, which meant an hour with a carriage full of very grumpy, very cold commuters.  When I arrive at St Pancreas station, I had missed my 11 am Eurostar to Brussels.  However the nice lady in the office, just popped me on the next one at no cost!  How cool is that.  Arriving in Brussels about 4, I had just an hour to get to the European Parliament whereupon I joined MEP Anna Zaborska and Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE to launch International Marriage Week in the main debating chamber of the parliament building.

Meanwhile things are popping and fizzing everywhere else, see my last post from Sheila Weber.  Nola Leach Chair of MW UK has posted a Marriage Week promo video, and over 1000 people were at a great event last night in London.

Tomorrow I leave super early to catch a 6.30 flight to Budapest to be with our Hungarian friends n the Hungarian parliament for their launch event.

 

I did enjoy last night hanging out with my YWAM buddies, shared a few stories around the virtual camp fire, which was just great.

Guest post from Sheila Weber, Exec Director MW USA.

FOX NEWS commentary by National Marriage Week USA executive director Sheila Weber was number 5 on google news yesterday! “A New Path to Upward Mobility–Get Married and Stay Married.” Full text below.

On February 7, 2012, U.S. Congressional Representatives spoke for 45 minutes on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to commend Americans to celebrate National Marriage Week USA. Elected officials encouraged Americans to strengthen their own marriages, to promote the benefits of marriage for our nation, and to encourage caring citizens to reach out and help others. Photos from a U.S. Congressional Reception and the video of floor statements are on the home page of www.NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org.

Full Text Below

A new path to upward mobility — get married and stay married

By Sheila Weber

Published February 07, 2012
FoxNews.com

Marriage, we have just learned, is a major cause of the growing great divide among American upper and lower classes.

Last week, in advance of National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7-14), I took note of fresh news about marriage that should make every American stand up in alert attention. 

In mid-January, the Pew Research Center told us 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married in 1960; but today just 51% are–a record low. 

This means fewer folks are getting married, or staying married–not a great sign since research proves children (our future citizens) do best when raised with both parents. It’s also not a great sign, since we need to replenish our younger population in order to maintain fiscal provision for the aging baby boom generation.

Then a new book, “Coming Apart,” by Charles Murray, says that a retreat from marriage among the working class is a key factor in the growing economic divide in America.

Murray says that marriage is more or less holding its own among the upper middle and upper class, but falling off a cliff among the working class and lower class. Perhaps Occupy Wall Street should take notice.

“Coming Apart” cites statistics from a theoretical upper-middle class town, showing 99% of children lived with both biological parents in 1962 and 84% of children did so in 2004. 

Admittedly that’s a drop, but nothing compared to the theoretical working class town where 96% of children lived with both parents in 1962 yet only 37% did so in 2004.

Research is overwhelming on the fact that this disadvantages children on an enormous scale–think increased teen pregnancies, increased prison populations, and children who grow up with no modeling for how to attain healthy marriage in the next generation.

So what can be done? New York Times columnist David Brooks, who cites “Coming Apart” as probably the most important book of the year, calls for a two-year mandatory national service program to teach responsible behaviors. (Murray cites a loss of the four core American values–marriage, honesty, industrious, and religion–as all contributing to the growing economic woes of the working class.) 

Brad Wilcox, head of the National Marriage Project, calls for creators of film and television to promote the values by which the elite live, but because they are stuck in the grips of nonjudgmentalism, do not promote the values of marriage, hard work, obeying the law, and faith as the path to human flourishing.

In these economically challenging times, we must commit ourselves to lowering the high cost of retreat from marriage. 

The Institute for American Values reports that 40 percent of all American babies are born outside of marriage today, and taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year for divorce and unwed childbearing. 

Charles Murray reports that less than 5% of white college-educated women have children outside of marriage, compared with approximately 40% of white women with just a high-school diploma. 

The National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting reports that 72 percent of all African-American babies are born outside of marriage. The vast majority of men in prison are from fatherless homes. We can’t build prisons fast enough–prison population has jumped from 300,000 to 2.3 million in 3.5 decades.

Single motherhood most often impoverishes women and children.

Marriage builds the economic stability of children, supports the raising of a healthy next generation, and is a cornerstone for the economic health of our nation.

So here’s an equally compelling solution. Let’s call for a marriage education movement to sweep across the nation. Leading family therapists estimate that only 3 percent of couples ever seek therapy and usually only when there is a crisis, which can sometimes be too late.

This is why caring leaders are creating a new national observance designed to strengthen and support marriages, called National Marriage Week USA to be observed from February 7 to 14 each year.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a marriage, I encourage you to take care of it. 

Whether you are married or not, Americans should be supportive of promoting marriage prior to childbearing and the strengthening of marriage at all socio-economic levels. 

Nothing short of the future of our country, and our way of life, depends on it.

Sheila Weber is Executive Director, National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7-14) and the Let’s Strengthen Marriage Campaign.

Read more and share at: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/02/07/new-path-to-upward-mobilityget-married-and-stay-married/print#ixzz1llNco7SP

Let’s strengthen marriage!
Sheila Weber
Executive Director, National Marriage Week USA
www.NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org
sheila@nationalmarriageweekUSA.org

The Perfect Storm

Hosted by Andrew Selous MP, the Parliamentary launch for Marriage Week UK took place this evening in the Palace of Westminster, London.  Leading academic from the University of Denver, Scott Stanley articulated his “perfect storm” scenario as a generation of children enter the “couples marketplace” with extremely poor “attachment experience” as a result of serial partners in the parental home.  He explained that we were on the cusp of  a social experiment which mankind had not toyed with in our history. Sobering words indeed.

Nola Leach chats to Lord Northbourne, Andrew Selous MP and Richard Kane in backgroundSir Paul Coleridge spoke about his experience as a High Court Judge, following which he is keen to start the Marriage Foundation, to champion marriage all year round.  Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Kinloss, from Finchley Synagogue explained in a brilliant fashion how marriage and community are entwined in his community. Nola Leach CEO of CARE described some of the other major events occurring this week.  I did a nice little talk suggesting that our nation had forgotten to respect marriage, choosing instead to denigrate it to just a different choice for couples. I also explained that 21 nations were doing Marriage Week currently.  The audience were made up of about 90 leading figures from the voluntary sector including; Reg Bailey CEO of Mothers Union, Nicky and Sila Lee, from The Marriage Course, Lyndon

Bowring Executive Chairman of CARE, Mick Brooks CEO of CWR, The Bishop of Hertford plus 2 other Bishops, Lord Northbourne, 4 MP’s plus other distinguished guests to numerous to mention.

For any sceptics out there who think this is not really serious, Scott Stanley citing our own Harry Benson emphasised the fact that a child born to a married couple has a 9% probability of experiencing his parents breakup, compared to a 34% probability of his parents splitting up if his parents are unmarried.   Or in other words four times more likely to split if parents are unmarried.  So if you were a child being born today, which family type would you choose?  Why not make a donation as a thank you for your marriage; click here for tax efficient online giving

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama hits a high note

Spoke last might to a room full of Ambassador’s which went very well.  I just told 4 great stories, worked so well, had great chats with some amazing folks, from some wild places.  I didn’t know that Congo has really good economic growth!  This morning (really early) listened to President Obama talk about the important stuff, then a tour of the British Embassy.

Capitol Hill

The launch was excellent.  Five Senators spoke responding to talks from myself, Brad Wilcox and Chuck Stetston.  We had lunch with a Senator and met a senior staff member from Eric Cantor’s office (leader of the majority).

This is the 3rd year the USA has had a National Marriage Week, but the first Congressional Launch.  They reckon about 3000 events will be taking place next week, 650 packs have gone out from Focus on the Family.  That’s probably about 500,000 people physically attending a Marriage Week event.

Final preparations for the Parliamentary launch in the Houses of Parliament next Monday, followed by a similar event in Prague, Budapest and for the first time in the EU parliament!

Check out the US site at www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org

Congressional launch for MW USA

Just arrived in Washington DC for a series of meetings, presentations and the Presidential Prayer Breakfast.  We are here to help give National Marriage Week USA a big Congressional launch, so Tuesday evening I will be saying a few words at the launch event in the Senate, then it’s handshakes all round and perhaps do some media interviews if they decide that would be good.   Just finalising details for the UK Parliamentary launch next Monday too.  As usual US immigration was “challenging” and as usual once you get through immigration, the USA is a great place, pretty nice weather today as well.

A relational take on the nativity, part 4.

Jesus on Facebook.

Imagine, baby Jesus being born into a modern family.  He would have to compete with all the excellent distractions that are part of modern life.  Perhaps Joseph and the three kings might have peeled off to play Fifa on Xbox after a few moments with the babe!  Maybe Mary might have left the babe to set up a Facebook page for Jesus!  Now there’s a thought.  This Christmas in advanced economies, you will experience so many compelling and intoxicating distractions that will try to steal your heart from each other and from considering the superb idea that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and born into a manger as a vulnerable, needy infant, and therefore what does that mean? Superbly impressive, that the one who can’t get any bigger, chooses to become really small.

So, as you navigate the complexities of family life all bundled together in a sort of annual psychological, sociological, relational experiment that we call Christmas – may I suggest that you talk about planning a joint task or adventure together, it was, I suggest a great adventure for God to join mankind as an infant, which once again reminds us that we are built for adventure!  It was for each other’s sense of adventure that you probably hooked up with each other in the first place. Don’t let life and it’s demands take all vestiges of adventure from you, generate some new plans together.  Maybe get fit for a marathon, or navigate the Amazon (the river not the shop), so long as it’s a joint adventure that’ll be great.

 

A Relational take on the nativity, part 3.

If you can’t have a great marriage, an ok one is, well, ok.

The three kings following the star to the manger must have been quite a sight.  They just wanted to be there because they knew it was a pretty special moment in time, and decided to harness astronomical technology to get them to where they wanted to be.  I guess nowadays they would have used GPS technology to guide them, which inevitably means sooner or later calling a call centre.  This is difficult for me as just this week my mobile phone provider of ten plus years to whom I have paid copious amounts of cash, offered up as a monthly sacrifice completely disowned me for an entire 90 minutes of call centre nightmare.  The three kings can teach us a thing or two here.  The lesson is, “if that’s what has to be done then just do it”, don’t make a fuss.  They didn’t really want to end up in a manger, a nice five star hotel was probably more their thing.  However, when the Saviour of mankind was born, there was no place they would rather be.  So, if you have to wash up, cook or put up with dodgy relatives this Christmas in order to be with your loved ones, my advice is just get on with it, like the three kings had to and be a blessing to those around you.  It may be that for a host of reasons realistically you will never have a stupendous marriage, well, if that’s the case – good news is that an OK marriage is well OK.  That dosen’t mean you can stop making an effort, it just means that you can have realstic expectations.  Finally, if you have to prevail with a call centre, just be patient, act humbly and remember they really are real people.

A Relational take on the nativity part 2.

Life is a journey

Joseph was a complete star!  In fact the Star of David should really be renamed the star of Joseph (only joking honest).  He must have taken some serious mocking for Mary’s pregnancy.  I can just imagine, and I bet you can too his explanation of events to his pals as they gathered around the watering hole!  Then off they go on this jaunt to Bethlehem, at the command of the occupying army, to register themselves.  With Mary heavily pregnant, it must have seemed all wrong, and insanely stupid to do such a thing.  Joseph probably would have been focused on the journey, making sure the donkey was ok for the trip, sort of a resigned grumpiness regarding the whole affair.  Perhaps inside he was pretty angry about the whole drama!  I like to think that he just dealt with it in a manly way, and stoically “put on a brave face”.  This Christmas members of your family might have issues going on that you aren’t aware of, or don’t fully understand.  My advice is to just quietly support them in any way you can.  Sometimes people are carrying terrific burdens and just need a bit of support, and not a full on analysis of all the options and issues.  Quiet shoulder to shoulder support Joseph style, could be just what they need.  Equally, at times, what people really need is a “good listening to”! and Christmas is a great time, to just give people space to talk.

A Relational take on the Nativity. Part 1.

Was the manger so bad?

Clearly Joseph and Mary would have preferred to spend what turned out to be the birth night in a nicer place than a stable.  It would have been pretty smelly, probably dirty too with vermin and fleas dancing around – not too nice!  However, since that was all they could muster on the night, they adjusted their expectations and, as it turned out it set the scene for a superb evening. If baby Jesus and three kings can all have a bit of a party in a manger then let’s worry less about where we live, what we drive and other external considerations.

Many marriages are ruined by the compelling drive for more and better possessions.  No-one on their death bed (which by the way is where we all end up) has been heard to say “I do wish I had spent more time making sure all our iPods or TVs were the latest and greatest technological epiphany”.  Not one bit.  In the final act, it’s time spent hanging out, having fun with loved ones which makes for a peaceful departure.  That and a sense of moving on from this life to the next with a sense of purpose.  So, if you are coming under pressure to spend more, worry more or strive more.  My advice is to consider the manger, and live more simply.

 

Leaders guide finished

So exciting!  I have finally completed the first draft of the Marriage Week UK Leaders guide.  This little booklet includes; Media guide. Organising an event. Seminar notes based on “The Brush Past” and Directory of all year round resources.  So, it’s off to the designers now, and available as a download really soon.  Special thanks to Sarah-Jane Marshall for all that typing.

 

Going East

Did my seminar this afternoon.  Fairly poor attendance but met some great people from Nepal and Indonesia who both seem very keen on setting up Marriage Week, so that’s great because that’s what it’s all about.  Nepal was particularly interesting because I’ve been talking to someone in Katmandu already, who amazingly is a friend of the lady this afternoon!  The Marriage Week International conference is now taking bookings at on line, 31st March 2012. Budapest, Hungary. Tired now, not doing too well with this jet lag lark., it’s past midnight in my head, and only 4.30 here.

Less relational traction is a real concern

Divorce and marriage rates fall!  Fewer people marry according to the Government’s own data collection unit.  This is alarming for anyone who knows anything about commitment theory.  Basically marriage particularly for men is a loud and clear indicator for long term commitment in the relationship.  It seems as though we chaps just respond well to the public nature of a marriage.  Sort of a statement of intent in the presence of pals, uncles, neighbours and colleagues that binds us in more clearly.  Lose marriage, and society will become more fluid with less dedication about.  Not good at all.  A society with less relational traction is a real concern.

To find out more visit Marriage Week UK go to events and sign up for the 6th Relationship skills conference, at which you can hear the World’s leading expert in this field. Professor Scott Stanley PHD.

 

LAX

First time in the City of Angels!.  I just thought since LAX sounds so cool, that the airport would be pretty neat; felt like Heathrow Terminal 2, if you know what I mean.  Got to prepare my talk for tomorrow.  Just got my daily 37 emails from wifi in the lobby, photo’s tomorrow promise.