Author: Andrea Bruns
Categories: Campus Life|Impact|Spiritual Life

Rev. Jeff and Mrs. Mary Sanders will be the guest speakers for the 5th Annual Couples Retreat, sponsored by the Houghton College Counseling Center. The retreat will occur Friday, November 2, at 6:30 p.m. through Saturday, November 3, at 3 p.m., and will involve a follow-up "Great Date Night" Saturday, December 1. This retreat costs $15 per couple and is open to seriously dating, engaged and newly married student couples.

This year’s retreat, based around the theme “Communication: the Key to your Relationship,” will help students build skills needed to deal openly and honestly with issues that arise in their intimate relationships.

Rev. Sanders is an ordained minister and currently serves as the associate dean for relationship education at Bethel University’s College of Arts and Sciences in St. Paul, Minn. At Bethel University, Sanders teaches “Perspectives on Christian Marriage”, and at Bethel Seminary he co-teaches “Spiritual and Personal Formation: Foundations and Traditions” with his wife.

Mrs. Sanders serves as the associate director of spiritual and personal formation at Bethel Seminary.  She is also a marriage and family therapist in Roseville, Minn., where she and her husband share a part-time practice.

Together, the couple leads marriage retreats such as the Couples Retreat, which was developed through the Center for Relationship Enrichment, an organization based at John Brown University. Their insight will help nurture effective communication within intimate relationships.

“Students have enjoyed having a block of time to spend with others who are in serious relationships,” stated Wendy Baxter of Houghton’s Counseling Center. “Couples will be encouraged to develop the skills of dealing with conflict in such a way that it actually enhances and deepens the relationship, rather than diminishing or whittling away at it. The Sanders have hearts for helping young adults establish a firm foundation upon which to grow a solid Christian partnership that will weather the storms of life which tend to come up over the course of a marriage.”

The retreat will begin in the Dieter Board Room on Friday evening and continue on Saturday with catered breakfast and lunch at the Fountain Bistro in Belmont. During the follow up “Great Date Night,” occurring the afternoon and evening of Saturday, December 1, the couples will travel to the Geva Theater in Rochester, NY to see Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

Couples who are seriously dating, engaged, or newly married can embrace this opportunity to build communication skills within their relationship.

The Couples Retreat is underwritten by a grant which is administered by the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University.  This is the 5th year that Houghton College has received this grant and been able to offer this program to its students.

Registration will be limited to the first 20 couples to sign up at Houghton’s counseling services. If you are interested in learning more, contact Wendy Baxter at