In November of last year, the School of Family Life celebrated the 20th Anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. There was much to be appreciated and learned from the event.
The School of Family Life Director, Dean Busby, began the meeting by making a wonderful parallel between the first verses in the Gospel of John, and the proclamation on the family. The first verses of the gospel read:
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14. And the Word was made flesh…
Busby then compared Christ being made flesh to the doctrines in God’s Plan of Happiness found in the proclamation. “What the proclamation did more than anything,” said Busby, “Was to coalesce and organize the doctrines about the family into one constitutional document. The question is: can we take this declared word and make it flesh? Can we bring it to life in our lives and in the lives of those around us?”
“The proclamation can become [flesh] by our choices and by the way we decide to give it meaning each day.”
The School of Family Life, over which Dean Busby serves as chair, has its own special mission to “provide instruction that fosters commitment to the principles in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
A student speaker from the School of Family Life, Savannah Keenan, served her mission for the LDS church in St. George, Utah and Santa Maria, Brazil. She taught the gospel of Jesus Christ within the homes of many. She said, “I learned through these experiences that anywhere in the world, and in any situation, and in any kind of home, every single family can and will be blessed as they apply the principles taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
The leaders of the LDS church have counseled the SFL faculty to focus on promoting principles found in the proclamation on the family. SFL professor Dr. Sarah Coyne told about a time following a difficult period in her life where she felt inspired by God to do something to follow that counsel. She began a longitudinal study in which she looked at “digital natives”— kids who have never been alive without internet readily available. It will be a study that will follow them into their young adult years. She studies both the good and the bad that came from media use, answering questions like “What are the precursors to developing an addiction to media?”
“Kids spend more time with media than anything…including sleeping,” said Coyne. So it is important to give parents “tools to help children not only survive, but thrive in this media environment.” And then she testified, “One of the ways we can strengthen the family is to understand the ways that families use media.”
“I testify to you that God is in the School of Family Life,” said Coyne, “We’re part of a plan that is bigger than us all.”
The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “We call upon responsible citizens…everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” And the School of Family Life has chosen to take that calling seriously. While it may be intimidating to be part of something so important to the world’s future, Coyne offers her encouragement.
“We do not have to do these things alone,” she said, “He will guide our thoughts and our efforts to be able to be the kind of scholars that he needs us to be; scholars that will build his kingdom and defend the family, scholars that will be a voice of reason and goodness in a world that desperately needs it right now.”
President Kevin J Worthen, as the keynote speaker, also offered some wonderful insight on the importance and relevance of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. “[The Proclamation] puts many social issues for us in an eternal context,” said President Worthen, “And that makes all the difference in the world: when you start understanding what God is trying to accomplish in that context.”
He then shared an important insight from the LDS Church Handbook:
God established families for three reasons:
- To bring us happiness.
- To help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere.
- To prepare us for eternal life.
President Worthen continued:
“The proclamation on the family is a constitution for us about what things are most important in our lives… it provides us with specific advice on how to make [God’s] plan real in our lives.”
The School of Family Life plays an integral part of the FHSS college mission and we thank their faculty and students for their important contribution to it. May the Family: A Proclamation to the World be a constitution for our family lives, and may we become the scholars and people our Heavenly Father wants us to become.
Watch the full celebration below:
What ways have you found to implement the Proclamation in your family’s life?