23 May World Congress of Families – UFI was there!
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
“Families are the rampart against tyranny!” is as true today as it was six years ago when I first heard it at the beginning of the first World Congress of Families I ever attended in Warsaw Poland. Working to preserve families for international and personal peace is the object and design of each World Congress of Families.
This week we welcome back Laura Bunker who represented us in Sydney Austria at World Congress of Families. A UFI Board member and Director of Youth and Family Programs was an invited speaker and left a lasting impression of the power of the family on WCF attendees. Laura Bunker who is UFI’s President-Elect moderated an outstanding presentation by some of the Congress’s best participants on “Love in Marriage”. Laura’s recap, which follows, contains an inspiring message of the importance of every single person’s efforts to strengthen the family. It is so easy to feel we are alone and losing this battle to preserve the family. I know from my experience at past World Congress of Families that, that simply is not the case. We are neither alone nor losing and we each have a vital part in preserving the family.
You may not have been able to travel around the world to attend the Congress, but your regular donations to UFI make it possible for us to be your voice and convey your strength and love for families—a strength and love that is contagious in nature and affects for good, families around the world. Thank you for whatever contribution you are making to preserve families at home and around the world!
President, United Families International
G’day Mates! Sydney, Australia was a wonderful site for the 7th international World Congress of Families this year–the land is beautiful, the people are friendly, and they value the importance of family.
The theme for last week’s 7th World Congress of Families (WCF7) was “Healthy Families-Healthy Economy.” Attendees included leaders in government, religion, academia, business, and entertainment, as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and everyday citizens who are heroically working to strengthen families in their communities, states, and nations. They hailed from all over the world including Taiwan, the Philippines, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Peru, Mexico, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Belguim, Germany, France, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as Australia and the United States.
United Families International sponsored a table at the World Congress of Families, where we had the honor of talking with people from many countries. We shared resources to support them in their efforts to strengthen and protect families, such as our Family Issues Guides, and UFI’s websites: World Family News which helps people keep abreast of current family issues throughout the world, and World Family Forum which offers family strengthening tools to help families flourish.
We also distributed copies of the book, The Family and the MDG’s: Using Family Capital to achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals. The book addresses how family capitol can be used to achieve the goals that include eradicating hunger and improving education and maternal health. “Family capitol is based on the fact that families are greater than the sum of its parts. A family has more capability–capitol–than a similar group of non-related individuals.” UFI’s board member was an invited speaker, and highlighted the book in her excellent presentation on how family capitol has successfully solved real health and economic crises in different areas of the world. In other words, “harnessing the unique strengths and contributions of families” is the best way to solve the world’s problems.
One message we heard repeatedly from conference guests was, “Coming here to the World Congress of Families has been so encouraging. Now I don’t feel so alone!” In your efforts to strengthen and protect the natural family, please know you are not alone! Many people just like you all over the globe are doing just what you are doing, feeling just what you are feeling, and having a positive influence for good in their corner of the world.
For example, we met Errol and Arlene Naidoo from South Africa who explained, “Even though our organization is small, we’ve been able to have an influence in Parliament and public opinion.” We spoke with Duke Paul von Oldenburg of Belgium, who, in his “spare time,” works as a leader in a European pro-family coalition focused on the issues of marriage, life, and education for children. We also talked to Maxime Lagorce, a young Frenchman who has helped with the pro-marriage movement in France and other countries. This movement is gathering millions of followers, young and old!. We became friends with Dr. Suja Koshy, a college professor in India, who also teaches parenting workshops. Suja gave an outstanding presentation on ways to bring families closer together, despite the isolating influences of cell phones and other technology. (For speaker quotes and photos, please see below.)
The intent of the Sydney World Congress of Families was described by Chairperson Mary-Louise Fowler: “It gives people encouragement to go home and spread the news that my job (as an advocate for the family is) really important. It’s a little one, but it’s important, you know? What we do actually has an impact on the overall strength of society. Everybody has a part to play.” Dr. Alan Carlson, the original founder of World Congress of Families reminded us, “Our job is to build again a family-centered civilization.”
As the conference came to a close, we were sad to say goodbye to our new “mates,” but encouraged by their work, and hopeful that we can see them again at next year’s World Congress of Families in Moscow, Russia, on September 10-12, 2014.
When the 2014 World Congress of Families was announced, the Russian delegation made this plea: “We need support from the international community–it is important to show that people in the West are fighting for traditional families.”
We hope you will consider joining us for the next World Congress of Families! In the mean time we wish you well in your continued endeavors to strengthen and protect the natural family in your corner of the world.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013 WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Dr. Suja Koshy, Laura Bunker
Moderator Laura Bunker
Konstantin Malofeev, Russia: “I grew up when Christianity was not welcome. Now I live in absolutely a different country. I’m inviting you to our country with the support of our government.”
Bishop Peter Elliott, Australia: “The family remains the basic and vital living cell of society, a little community of life and love, bringing hope to the world.”
Ian Harper, Australia: “I am an economist, but more importantly I’m a husband, a father, and a grandfather. The family is where you are accepted for who you are , not what you’re worth. The healthy family helps us to say ‘no,’ enough is enough. It keeps us grounded in what really matters.”
Brad Wilcox, USA: “Children from intact two-parent homes are more likely to thrive. Both parents matter. In developing countries, extended families help buffer the effects of single parenting.”
Theresa Okafor, Nigeria: “We should stress the natural family–stress the word nature.”
Pat Fagan, USA: “There is a relationship between weekly worship and replacement rates. Countries having fewer children are also attending church less. If we grow the young married family with children, who worship God weekly, everything falls into place.”
Steve Mosher, USA: “What I was seeing in China in 1979 I thought was overpopulation, but I was wrong. As population numbers grow, so does the standard of living. Poverty is not solved by eliminating people. People are our only way out of poverty.”
Alexy Komov, Russia: “There is a huge spiritual Christian revival in Russia. Now is the time to have a new pro-family union.”
Nick Tuitasi, New Zealand: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Miriam Grossman, USA: “Once upon a time sex education was about biology. Now we have sexuality education that teaches about gender discrimination, and that children are sexual beings from birth and entitled to sexual pleasure. Sex-ed began as a social movement. It’s about sexual freedom and sexual license.”
Janice Crouse, USA: “All marriages have imperfections. But by striving towards the ideal, the marriage builders keep the ideal alive. Good marriages generate life and energy that radiate outward, affecting all in their path. The way they live generates something akin to a magnetic field that helps to hold a community together.”
Peter Muers, Australia: “There have been changes in cultural expectations. I received a phone call when I was at a business dinner. It was my future son in law asking to marry my daughter. My co-workers couldn’t believe he actually called me to ask, that they weren’t already living together, and that they were actually going to get married.”
Rabbi Shimon-Cowen, Australia: “Freedom is not the freedom to be naughty. Freedom is the freedom to be good.”
Maxime Lagorce, France: “Social media are a big part of the new pro-family French Revolution, ‘La Manif Pour Tous.’ Over a million people attended each March for Marriage rally in Paris on March 24 and April 21. The movement is gaining momentum, with the younger generation who sees themselves as victims of the 1960‘s sexual revolution. Students continue to hang banners throughout the city, and hold nightly candlelight vigils for marriage and children. It is also spreading to different countries.”
Father Jaros?aw Szymczak, Poland: “With 30 years experience as a marriage counselor, I notice that the counter culture has made an idol out of personal happiness. There is only one thing to do to be happy: to love. Your spouse will never be perfect the way you want it, because everyone has a different version of perfect. There is always something you can change: your happiness, yourself.”
Ted Baehr, USA: Showed the new movie “Return to the Hiding Place,” produced by Peter Spencer. This wonderful family movie about the youth who were hidden in Corrie Ten Boom’s home when the Nazi’s occupied Holland, is expected to come to theaters within a year or two.
Ian Grant, New Zealand: “Every child comes out of the womb looking for someone who is looking for them.”
Francine and Byron Pirola, Australia: “Marriage is supposed to make you holy–wholly extend you and challenge you. To be loving, you change the way you are. Dumb-loving is what we do every day without thinking. Smart-loving is what makes a difference. Daily appreciation of your spouse is part of that. Every day, tell them something you appreciate about them.”