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SINGLES-GROUP LABELS OFTEN DON’T FIT

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Unlike some unmarried women, Angie Pratt didn't join a singles group to find a husband.

Honest."I had moved back from California, and I just needed to meet people my own age, make acquaintances," said Pratt, who was 29 four years ago when she joined the Fellowship of Christian Adult Singles at Salt Lake Christian Center.

"The first time I went there, I really had to talk myself into going. You know, you hear things" about singles groups.

Pratt heard things like, "It's a meat market" and "You'll be the only woman there."

At one of the first meetings she attended, Pratt was the only woman. But the 11 men in attendance couldn't have been nicer.

"I was surprised there were so many single men," she said. "It was like, `Wait, get me out of here.' "

But she stayed, and it was a good thing she did. One of those 11 men was Greg Pratt, a shy and quiet type who caught her eye.

At each weekly meeting, Angie and Greg slowly got to know each other. When they discovered they worked near each other, they agreed to have lunch one day.

"That first time we got together, the next day something spoke to me and said, `This is the man you're going to marry.' And he had a similar experience," Angie recalled. "I wasn't expecting that at all."

The couple met in January 1991, started dating in April and got married that November. Angie gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, 10 months ago.

The Pratts aren't the only couple to marry after meeting through the Fellowship of Christian Adult Singles. And other church-affiliated singles groups in the Salt Lake area have similar histories.

Ken Quintana, Salt Lake representative for the North American Conference for the Ministry of Separated and Divorced Catholics, knows of one such couple who will be married soon. They met through the Anchor Group, which helps newly single adults readjust to unmarried life.

"What pleases us more than seeing someone get married is to know that they've succeeded, that they don't need us anymore and can stand on their own two feet and face anything that's thrown at them with their heads held high and their self-esteem intact," Quintana said.

But marriage, preferably to someone of like faith, is definitely a goal of some singles who join church-based groups.

Adam Hart, adult program director for Salt Lake's Jewish Community Center, can offer some personal encouragement to those looking for a partner. He met his wife, Kim, through a Jewish Community Center singles group in Nashville.

"A lot of them are skeptical, thinking these things don't happen and so forth," Hart said. "And I say, `Well, you know, there really is hope you'll meet another Jewish person, someone you'll spend your life with."