With the aim of encouraging and strengthening the family worldwide, the World Congress of Families will gather for the first time in the U.S. in Salt Lake City on October 27-30.
Civic and religious leaders in Salt Lake City will welcome heads of organizations, parliamentarians, and civic and other leaders from around the world at WCF IX, which is hosted by Sutherland Institute, to discuss the issues facing families today.
“The family is and always will be the most effective means of providing a safety net for the oldest, youngest and most vulnerable among us,” said WCF IX Executive Director Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse at a press conference May 12 in Salt Lake City. “Governments, schools or service organizations cannot duplicate what a loving mother and father can do as they raise and nurture their children.”
WCF co-founder and international secretary Allan Carlson announced the upcoming congress at the media event and gave a short history of the organization. The World Congress of Families was conceived January 1995 in Moscow, and its main goal is to fulfill the call to action in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights statement: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.”
Since WCF’s inception, members have welcomed people who want to celebrate, support and strengthen the traditional family, joining congresses in the cities of Prague, Geneva, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid and Sydney.
Pamela Atkinson, officially representing Utah Governor Gary Herbert, welcomed WCF IX: “On behalf of the governor and the state of Utah, we say welcome to this conference, this congress that has made such huge strides in educating people all over the world about the value of family. … I’m delighted that it’s coming to Salt Lake City, because Salt Lake City not only has a great deal to teach about the value of family, but has a great deal to learn.”
Some of the organizations that will participate in planning the October conference include the Utah state government; The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society; Sutherland Institute; The Worldwide Organization For Women; and United Families International.
On the Agenda
The events for WCF IX will include musical numbers by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Piano Guys, as well as video productions and celebrated speakers representing diverse cultures and religions.
Speakers will include Nick Vujicic, Sheri Dew and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, with opening statements by a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and several speakers who are among the 100 most influential religious leaders in America.
The Importance of the Family
WCF IX Director Crouse reminded press conference attendees how people of faith have championed liberty and civil rights throughout history. She called for respectful discourse in the public arena in national and international public squares.
“We join people who, throughout history and across cultures, have supported the natural family as an essential, indispensable component of a civil society,” said Crouse.
Some of the major issues families face today include sex trafficking, teen sex, divorce prevention, lack of abstinence among the unmarried, sexual exploitation, and marriages in need of strengthening — to name just a few. Crouse stated the importance of the traditional family in combating these problems.
“It’s within that secure, familial environment that children find the individualized, personalized haven they need during infancy and childhood,” Crouse said. “That haven is where they can best be trained in the values that will make them competent and confident leaders in the future. That’s where the well-being of individuals is forged and where the essential qualities for strong nations are instilled.”
Involving the Next Generation
Conference organizers said they anticipate an audience of several thousand delegates from approximately 50 nations. Among those delegates will be hundreds ages 18-27 who will have competed for the opportunity to attend via a conference scholarship. There will be some special sessions targeted specifically for them.
The WCF-IX will offer a special track for young people who will learn how to create a strong, united family — and learn how family is a source of future freedom for them, their own families and their societies. WCF IX also will have sessions about family issues of special interest to this demographic.
Religious Leaders Weigh In
Leaders from a variety of religions have spoken out in support of the WCF’s efforts:
“As an evangelical leader in Utah, I’m so impressed that men and women of all faiths, cultures and ethnicity will gather as one powerful voice to affirm the traditional family and the historical values that honor God’s design for families.” ~ the Rev. Gregory Johnson, Standing Together Evangelical Church
“Defenders of the family from about the globe must come together at the World Congress of Families to restore the family as the first social institution and as the center of civilization in all places.” ~ Elder Dallin H. Oaks, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
“Because core issues of life and human relationships are found at their highest expression within the natural institution of the Family, The Holy See considers it very important to speak of the Family, not just to its own Christian members, but also to every person of good will at World Congress of Families events.” ~ Archbishop Paglia, Roman Catholic Church.
Why This Author Is Going to Attend
There is power in this statement: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” Attending this congress and implementing the principles learned there will help our society progress toward this worthwhile goal.
To register for WCF IX Salt Lake City, visit http://wcf9.org. The event is expected to sell out, so get your tickets soon.