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CRE promotes healthy relationships at other universities nationwide

For the past seven years, the Center for Relationship Enrichment has facilitated a program off-campus called “Growing Healthy Relationships.”

“[The program] is intended to offer an opportunity for married and engaged couples to learn communication and conflict skills to grow a stronger relationship,” said Derek Gwinn, coordinator of relationship education for the Center.

The program, which is funded by a grant, is a one-day experience, with a follow-up session one month later, said Gwinn.

Gwinn also said the program is by invitation only, and the schools invited to partake in the program are specified by the donors. The Center does not broadly market the program, but “that’s not an uncommon thing for grant agencies,” Gwinn explained.

Cary and Tracy Balzer, both staff at John Brown University, are one of several presenting teams that help facilitate the program with one or two retreats a semester. This is their fifth year working with the program.

“Generally, the retreats are narrowed down to one of two topics. This year it focuses on communication. Next year it will focus on conflict. The material stays consistent, though,” Tracy Balzer, director of Christian formation, said.

The sessions start on a Friday night talking about the foundation and principles on love in a relationship. On Saturday, there are three separate sessions—two that focus on the specific topic for the year and the last which focuses on a Christ-centered marriage, explained Balzer.

“The extent of the retreat really depends on the school,” she said. “Some campuses make it a big retreat while others set it up like a seminar on their campus.”

The Center does not hold these seminars on the University’s campus for specific reasons.

“We are here and available on JBU’s campus every day,” Gwinn said. “We offer programs for both pre-marital and dating students here. We offer good quality programs at no cost to students here. Other schools don’t have these resources,” Gwinn said.