Brentwood Church of Christ joined the Wedded Bliss Foundation, Inc. and hundreds of cities around the country in highlighting and promoting marriage in the Black community through Black Marriage Day activities.
This year, Brentwood hosted its third annual Black Marriage Day event to a capacity crowd on Saturday, March 16, 2013. This event began in 2011 by Thomas & Clarene Mitchell, members of Brentwood, as a way to celebrate their marriage and it has grown to a much anticipated event. This year’s theme is “Marriage Changes Things.”
Black Marriage Day is a national initiative to create a cultural shift in the way marriage is viewed and celebrated in the Black community. Marriage rates in the United States have hit an alarming all-time low; decreasing from 72 percent to 50 percent. Black families are doing far worse. The Black community has the distinction of having the lowest marriage rate in America.
The Black Marriage Day event at Brentwood Church of Christ is just one of the local events held in conjunction with the national observance.
The uniqueness of Brentwood’s is that it began as a ministry by a couple and it is open to all who believe in and supports the importance of marriage in the Black community. “Prior to us getting married in 2009, we took relationship classes and were involved in a Black Marriage Day event,” stated Clarene Mitchell. “So after we got married, we wanted to actively do something together in our church to strengthen our marriage and be of service to others. This event became a natural activity.” The format of the initial event in 2011 was more like a workshop with a small number of participants; the 2012 event tripled in the number of attendees and had a more rigorous program.
“It is vitally important that we highlight Black marriages,” stated Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr. “Healthy Black marriages lead to strong Black families and churches, and this leads to strong societies overall.”
This year’s program features for Brentwood’s Black Marriage Dayincluded; entertainment, by Comedian Marlin Hill, explanation of what Black Marriage Day is, The Marriagehood Game (based on the legendary Newlywed Game), poetry reading, explanation of the Jumping the Broom tradition, and an inspirational presentation by Evangelist Barry Gainey of the Hampton Avenue Church of Christ. One special feature of this annual event includes what the Mitchell’s call the “Marriage Honors.”
They provide a special gift to the couple who is the most newlywed of the attendees and a gift to the couple who has been married the longest. The event was followed by a desert social.
Black Marriage Day has been celebrated annually at locally sponsored events hosted by faith-based and community groups on the fourth Sunday of March since 2003. Marriage activists in more than 300 cities participated in 2012. Black Marriage Day events and the Wedded Bliss Foundation’s Executive Director Nisa Muhammad have been featured nationally by CNN, Black Enterprise, Essence magazines, and the Michael Baisden Show.
“Married couples in the Black community are nearly invisible but they do exist. Many are very happy and have something to celebrate. All we generally hear about is the pain. We’re creating a cultural shift in the Black community to reconsider the benefits of marriage and show the many couples who know that, “Marriage Changes Things,” Wedded Bliss Foundation executive director Nisa Muhammad said.