MORE than 100 couples renewed their wedding vows last Saturday during a recommitment service at the Portmore Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Catherine.
The recommitment, the church said, was held "to reaffirm the values and importance of marriage", given the rate of divorce in Jamaica and the reluctance of young people to get married.
Highlighting Statistical Institute of Jamaica data, the Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) of Seventh-day Adventists said in a news release that "1,960 divorces were granted by the Supreme Court for 2011 and more than a half (53 per cent) of divorces granted were to persons who had been married for between five and 14 years".
The programme, the church added, was part of the CJC's strategic plan to provide family life education and enrichment for families within the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon and St Catherine.
Raymond and Clarice Smith, who live in Salt Pond, St Catherine, renewed their vows after 53 years of marriage. The couple have been members of the Adventist church since 1962.
"It's a good feeling up to now," Clarice said with a broad smile. "We need to have more couples committing to each other for long periods of time."
She admitted that without the love of God and forgiveness they would not have reached this far.
"Forgiveness is the most important aspect of our marriage, because without it we would not be together now. Couples must forgive each other if they are to have a lasting relationship because problems will arise from time to time, but we need to get past them through love and forgiveness," she emphasised.
Pastor Howard Grant, children and ministries director of the CJC, praised God for keeping him and his wife Ava-Gaye together for 15 years.
"To be married for 15 years is a wonderful experience," Grant said. "The challenges have been great, but we have always resolved that communication, commitment to our friendship and trust in God enable us to exude love to and for each other.
"Forgiveness is also a key factor to any successful marriage," he added.
The recommitment service saw the couples repeating their vows, signing a commitment card, and praying for each other.