Healthy marriages St. Matthew's priority


Special to the Advocate


MADISON — St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church makes healthy marriages a priority through its new marriage ministry.


The program is designed to strengthen and celebrate lasting, Christian marriages.

In conjunction with “Mississippi Healthy Marriage Week,” Feb. 7-14, the church held a Valentine’s dinner catered by Amerigo restaurant and included ballroom dancing lessons and the chance for couples to renew their wedding vows. More than 45 couples attended.


“The Valentine’s dinner was a huge success,” said Carol Lukens who, along with her husband Horace, coordinates the St. Matthew’s marriage ministry. “We wanted to create an opportunity for couples to enjoy an entertaining night out, while celebrating their marriage. And we did just that.”


The Lukens were involved in marriage ministry for many years at their former church, Asbury United Methodist Church, in Tulsa, Okla. Horace Lukens (right) is a licensed clinical psychologist with 40 years in church, private practice and hospital settings, while Carol Lukens has an M.Ed. in counseling and has worked in church, university and private practice settings. Both are trained as life coaches and work from a Christian perspective.


To show support of Mississippi Healthy Marriage Week, members of the St. Matthew’s congregation stood on the steps of the state capitol during a rally Feb. 7 held by the Mississippi Marriage Initiative, while a representative from the governor’s office presented a marriage proclamation signed by Gov. Haley Barbour declaring the importance of marriage in Mississippi.


“Knowing that husbands and wives make decisions every day that will either contribute to wholeness or brokenness in their relationship, the St. Matthew’s Marriage Ministry team is committed to being a means of God’s grace – encouraging and supporting wives and husbands as they journey together in the covenant of marriage,”  said the Rev. Rod Borders, St. Matthew’s senior pastor.


Currently, the St. Matthew’s marriage ministry offers marriage education workshops which help couples better communicate and resolve conflict; regularly scheduled events which, like the Valentine’s dinner, provide opportunities for fun and meeting other couples; and “Milestone Anniversaries,” celebrating special anniversaries. Planned for the near future are a couples retreat and small groups for couples. Other focuses such as marriage mentoring and premarital preparation are being considered.


“We have a lot of fun activities scheduled throughout the year,” said Carol Lukens. “Our main focus right now is to help couples build a strong, lasting foundation for their marriage.”

To learn more about the St. Matthew’s marriage ministry, contact Horace or Carol Lukens at 601-790-4784 or