Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the greatest champions of the traditional family, will be giving the keynote address on the opening day of the World Congress of Families. Beginning on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, thousands of high profile pro-family religious leaders, lawmakers, dignitaries, parliamentarians, scholars, producers and every-day child and traditional family advocates will gather together in this significant congress. This conference comes at a pivotal time in history when the traditional family and religious freedoms are being threatened around the world. I attended a World Congress of Families in Sydney, Australia and learned from some of the best and brightest international pro-family scholars and religious leaders in the world. So many of these voices are drowned out, buried and even omitted in public discourse and the media. This is why this conference is so important. It provides the opportunity for critical research, presentations, experiences, and first hand accounts to see the light of day.
A highlight of this conference for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the keynote address by one of our Apostles. This is significant because it shows, without question, the Church’s supportive and firm stance on protecting and defending the traditional family in the public square. It is also significant because it falls on the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Elder Ballard, one of the original apostles who signed his name on this prophetic document, is no stranger to defending God’s plan for the family. In fact, it seems as if at least 50% of his talks have been somehow related to God’s plan and pattern for the family.
In the October 2005 General Conference, Elder Ballard said the following:
It was then and is now a clarion call to protect and strengthen families and a stern warning in a world where declining values and misplaced priorities threaten to destroy society by undermining its basic unit.
The proclamation is a prophetic document, not only because it was issued by prophets but because it was ahead of its time. It warns against many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families during the last decade and calls for the priority and the emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage and to parent-child relationships.
The proclamation’s clear and simple language stands in stark contrast to the confused and convoluted notions of a society that cannot even agree on a definition of family, let alone supply the help and support parents and families need. You are familiar with such words from the proclamation as these:
- “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”
- “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
- “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”
- “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
- “The disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
And the last words of the proclamation express the simple truth that the family is “the fundamental unit of society.”
Today I call upon members of the Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to this great proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike General Moroni’s “title of liberty,” and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts.
… The world needs to know what the proclamation teaches, because the family is the basic unit of society, of the economy, of our culture, and of our government. And as Latter-day Saints know, the family will also be the basic unit in the celestial kingdom.
In the Church, our belief in the overriding importance of families is rooted in restored doctrine.”
I am grateful Elder Ballard is the keynote speaker at this significant and timely conference. Anyone who is interested in the family can attend! You don’t need to be a scholar or a dignitary. There is power in every-day people going to these events to learn, grow and find out what where they feel they can make a difference. Even if it is simply to make a difference in your own family and neighborhood. One of the things I hear over and over again from people is that they simply don’t know where to begin. If you are reading this and have felt that you need to do more to defend children and families (but may not know how), this is your chance. If you can only go for one day, they have made it incredibly affordable (only $30 at www.wcf9.org). There are hundreds of young adults flying in from all over the world to attend. Young mothers and fathers are finding babysitters for the day or taking off work so they can come and learn. Grandmothers and grandfathers who are concerned about the world around them and want to do their part to make it better for their grandchildren. Whoever you are and whatever your story, this is the place for you.
Representatives from Mormon Women Stand and other LDS-based organizations and media outlets will be reporting daily from Salt Lake City. We also look forward to hearing your thoughts, impressions and experiences on this historic conference!
To help commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, please watch this historic clip showing the original announcement by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the General Relief Society Meeting. It is powerful!
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