ACCORD – MARRIAGE PREPARATION COURSE As a minister have you thought of using an ACCORD Marriage Preparation Course - to help with and enhance the preparation you offer to couples about to be married? You may ask: Why have a marriage preparation course rather than simply an interview with the minister? Even though both approaches will cover much the same ground, it is not a case of one being better than the other but rather of comple-menting each other. During an ACCORD Marriage Preparation Course each participant works mainly with their partner, in ways that would not be possible when meeting two-to-one with the minister. Interviews on the other hand allow the minister to explore more deeply any specific issues in a couple’s relationship that would be impossible or inappropriate to do in front of a whole group. What if my benefice has insufficient weddings to provide a large enough group for a course? Normally ACCORD courses work most effectively with between six and ten couples, though we have run courses with numbers outside this range. For situations in which the number of participants is likely to be smaller than the minimum we frequently work with couples from two or more benefices; for instance, Nailsworth and Amberley have very successfully run com-bined courses for the past five years. Who runs the courses, and does the minister need to be present? In the first instance two ACCORD trainers come to a location in the benefice(s) concerned to run a course. Though ministers don’t have to be present, in practice they usually choose to be. While ACCORD is willing to provide leadership for courses in following years, we encourage incumbents to ask anyone they think appropriate to attend and observe the course with a view to running it themselves subsequently. We are happy for them to use, and if need be adapt, our material. What do the courses cover? How well they know each other – the families they grew up in - situations that cause stress – how they view marriage – being honest about anxieties – arguments and how to resolve them – how they make decisions – how they make the money go round – questions of children. What is the duration of a course? Normally courses are run on a Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm, with tea/coffee breaks at 11am and 2.30pm and a sit-down lunch from 12.30pm to 1.15pm. (Having the whole course on a single Saturday is the only really practical choice, as many couples nowadays live away from the place in which they will be married.) Refreshments are provided by the benefice. What does it cost? The overall cost of the day is usually covered by an additional charge (typically £10) to all couples getting married that year, whether or not they attend the course. Experience suggests that the best approach is to make clear at the time of the first contact with the couples that they are expected to attend. ACCORD simply charges £20 plus £2 per participant for travelling and copying costs. What is the usual response to the course by couples who attend? Almost invariably couples say that the courses are both useful and enjoyable, and an excellent chance to chat with others in the same position. The refreshment breaks are much appreciated as times when couples can get to know one another, and it is not uncommon to see them at the end of the day fixing future dates when they can get together even though they had never met before.