By offering a mix of storytelling, comedy, inspiration and education, the Chautauqua Lake Men of Integrity want area residents to celebrate marriage Nov. 2-10.
Led by Jim and Jill Kelly and comedian Ken Davis, the CLMI's Celebrate Marriage Week will focus on helping couples with relationship-related issues.
According to Jamie Sposato, CLMI chairman, the organization began six years ago and is led by six men from various area churches.
Jim and Jill Kelly will speak at Chautauqua Suites on Friday at 7 p.m. as part of the Chautauqua Lake Men of Integrity’s Celebrate Marriage Week. The week will also feature comedian Ken Davis, who will perform at Reg Lenna Civic Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10. Available for $25 on reglenna.com, each ticket grants admittance to all Celebrate Marriage Week events, including those featuring the Kellys and Davis. Programming will also take place throughout the week at area churches.
AP file photo
"We felt that there were a lot of things available for women - nothing against that - but we just felt like there needed to be something for men out there to encourage their walk with the Lord," he said.
The organization aims to help men spiritually, with marriages and with parenting. CLMI hosts breakfasts for men at area churches multiple times each year. The breakfasts feature worship, speakers and more.
"We started off with that," Sposato said. "From there, we wanted to host a large event in October or November, where we bring in someone from the outside to speak about something that would encourage men. We ask the guys at the breakfast if they wouldn't mind giving to our organization. Those offerings help pay for the breakfast and promotion of these big events to help bring in speakers."
A ministry of The Better Place, CLMI brought psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman and others to Jamestown in previous years. The group had never offered a week's worth of programming, however.
"This year we decided to focus on making it a week-long thing and establish the fact that some churches can get involved and maybe choose a night throughout the week," Sposato said. "Jim and Jill Kelly, they went through a major thing with their marriage. We started looking at dates, and it just so happened they had an open date, and Ken Davis had an open date, so we figured, 'Let's just make a week out of it.'"
The Kellys will speak at Chautauqua Suites on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Davis will perform Saturday, Nov. 10, at Reg Lenna Civic Center at 7 p.m.
"Without a Word," written by Mrs. Kelly, will be a topic of discussion Nov. 2. The book describes Mrs. Kelly's life with her pro football Hall of Fame husband and their family's private struggle.
According to Mrs. Kelly's website, jillk.org, the book includes "how eight years with their severely disabled, terminally ill son, Hunter, unfolded in a redemptive and transforming manner" for the Kellys.
"It's going to be a sit-down interview, where they'll talk about the struggles that occurred," Sposato said. "Their marriage was just falling apart. They were almost on the verge of divorce, and through the power of prayer, they stayed together. The two of them giving their testimony is probably going to be the big focal point. Yes, there's going to be a little Hunter in there, there's probably going to be a little Buffalo Bills talk too, but the focal point - I think - will be their marriage and how God worked and orchestrated them to stay together. I think it's going to be really good for people who might be struggling."
Chautauqua Suites is located at 215 W. Lake Road, Mayville.
Davis will finish off Celebrate Marriage Week. The best-selling author and Christian comedian has made many radio and TV appearances and tours nationally.
"He is very well known around these parts, so I think that's going to do real well," Sposato said. "We wanted couples to be able to say, 'Let's go out and laugh.' This is a time when you can go out, enjoy each other and enjoy Ken."
Reg Lenna Civic Center is located at 116 E. Third St., Jamestown. Available for $25 on reglenna.com, each ticket grants admittance to all Celebrate Marriage Week events, including those featuring Jim and Jill Kelly and Ken Davis. Programming will take place throughout the week at area churches.
"We talked to some pastors, and we didn't want to tell them what to preach," Sposato said. "We just asked them if they wouldn't mind preaching something on Sunday (Nov. 4) regarding marriage. If they don't want to do that, that's totally fine. We also asked different churches throughout the week, Monday through Friday night or even Sunday night, to host a mini-workshop. We have about six churches set up right now. If we get churches the night before, we're fine with that too if they want to host something."
The workshops will last for an hour or two. Topics include marriage and money, communication, and others.
"They're topics that people who are married might need help with," Sposato said.
For more information, contact Sposato at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presented in partnership with Heritage Ministries, Family Life, the Crown Theater and Willow Bay Conference Center, Celebrate Marriage Week can be enjoyed by both unmarried and married couples, according to Sposato. The events aren't geared toward children.
"We focus on the men for the breakfasts, but we try to focus on something for the couples for our major event," Sposato said of Celebrate Marriage Week. "We want couples to come. If women want to come, that's fine."