Chris Grace to head new center for relationships

Center for Marriage and Flourishing Relationships to open spring of 2015.


Chris Grace, Professor of Psychology. | Rebecca Pearsey/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Augusta McDonnell, Writer

Chris Grace, vice president of student planning and development, will head the new tentatively-named Center for Marriage and Flourishing Relationships due to open July 1, 2014. | Rebecca Pearsey/THE CHIMES [file photo]


Chris Grace, vice president for university planning and student development, is stepping down from his position as a member of the President’s Advisory Council to head the new tentatively-named Center for Marriage and Flourishing Relationships, opening July 1, although the official launch will occur spring of 2015.


The center will be a place for the university to bring in experts who are scientifically-sound and well-respected scholars who can give practical advice to people about relationships to help them flourish, Grace said.

“If you bring in the right experts and the right people, we think the center can provide good, clear thinking, and clear, solid, helpful, practical advice to help people in relationships of all kinds and prepare them for happy, divorce-proof marriages,” Grace said.

The center will open July 1, but the official launch of the center will not happen until spring of 2015.

Services offered will potentially include intensive marital therapy, certifications for pastors or lay leaders for pre-marital counseling and the sponsorship of a relationship retreat for young couples. Premarital training will be offered to engaged couples or psychology professionals who hope to mentor engaged couples.

“Divorce should be one or two percent of people, if it’s 25 or 30 percent, that’s still too high, that’s whack. Here’s our tagline: ‘That’s messed up, we’re gonna fix it,’” Grace said, referring to the current divorce rate.

Junior psychology major Leda Brenes said she knew several engaged couples who were seeking out better ways to be prepared for marriage.

“Having that help available would open the minds of these people to any help that they might need,” Brenes said.

The cost of receiving support from the center will vary depending upon the service, according to Grace. Some free events will be held, including talks given by faculty and information sessions.


“We want to give people tools, not popular current fads. We want to provide students, pastors, churches, companies and organizations with thoughtful researched ideas, concepts and findings to help them flourish,” Grace said.

Junior biological science major Yesenia Porras pointed out that many Biola couples may already be involved in counseling with a pastor from their church.

“They might say, ‘why go to a stranger when you can have that personal touch,’” Porras said.

However, junior psychology major Camila Matus said she thought seeking counseling from a professional with years worth of training could prove more helpful than meeting with a pastor.


Biola University currently houses two other centers: The Center for Christian Thought and the Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts.

Academically oriented centers originate from faculty-fueled interest and expertise, Grace said.

“Here at Biola we can view relationships as Christians in a way that helps them flourish because we know the way God has designed us and made us,” Grace said.

The university will support for the first three years, said Grace. Student tuition will not pay for the costs of the center. At the end of the third year, the center will invite donors interested in the center to support it.

“Our goal is to get the center started using strategic aspiration funding dollars, something similar to seed money,” said Grace.

Although the center does not have a designated space, Grace hopes that the physical location will be determined within the next year.

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