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By highlighting the opportunity to broaden support groups, connect with new people of the same faith and revitalize spirituality, the Cooks drew 2,300 attendees from 19 countries to their home city of Denver. The reality is the vast majority goes to the conference to meet someone, Cook acknowledges.They started recruiting in 2013 after gaining chairmanship of the event that has experienced ups and downs since its 2005 inception. Most of 2014’s attendees were women (a 2-1 ratio), creating a bit of competition and some angst—a dynamic Northrop says is also present at the National Catholic Singles Conference (photos shown at right), which has a similar gender split.“It’s given more impetus to the conference that I understand better now in my 30s than I did in my 20s what people struggle with,” says Northrop, the event’s founder and director.“It’s difficult to be single when you want to be married and have a family.”As the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, the holiday remains a reminder to many that their partner hasn’t come yet.Online dating—now as mainstream as meeting someone at a social event or church gathering—opens up more relationship opportunities than were available in the past.However, the rate of marriages in this country has dropped while divorce remains an all-too-frequent outcome.They added a video scavenger hunt and randomly paired groups of six attendees for a walking tour of Denver to facilitate introductions.Events like the National Catholic Singles Conference in August 2014 and the International Singles Conference, produced by the Denver Church of Christ’s Wade and Debbie Cook in September 2014, are outlets for attendees to meet others who share the same faith while exploring the challenges of forming and maintaining relationships.
In general, most women at both events are between the ages of 30 and 45, and are a mix of those who’ve never been married, divorcees and widows.
Icebreakers, as one might expect, play a larger role at the singles conference than at leadership and campus meetings the Cooks also plan.