The Words of the Stone Family
Sydney, Australia -- UPF Australia was invited to be part of the Local Organizing Committee for World Congress of Families VII, held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney May 15-18. The theme of the Congress was "Happy Families, Healthy Economy: A New Vision for National Prosperity and Social Progress."
The World Congress of Families was founded in 1997 by Dr Allan Carlson as a project of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in the USA. It has become the world's premier event in support of the family. Its aim is to bring together pro-family people in all fields to engage, explore, and shift certain key public debates worldwide towards strengthening the natural family. The Congress was first held in Prague in 1997. Subsequent Congresses were held in Geneva, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, and Madrid, and dozens of regional conferences have also taken place.
This year, well over 100 speakers presented a feast of academic research, best practices, and practical advice to support strong family life.
UPF contributed to the international and interfaith flavor of the Congress through sponsoring prominent Muslim academic Associate Professor Mohamad Abdalla from Griffith University to participate in the forum on "Faith and Family." The other speakers in that forum were: Cardinal George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney; Rabbi Gad Krebs, Rabbi at Kehillat Masada Synagogue, Sydney; and Dr. Paige Patterson, President of the South Western Baptist Theological College, USA.
Mrs. Lynn Walsh, Director of UPF's Office of Marriage and Family Education, gave a very well received presentation on "Marriage: an Instrument of Social Development."
Another important forum sponsored by UPF was the "Indigenous and Pacific Island Family Forum." This forum examined the importance of the family in the unique and beautiful traditional cultures of the Australian Aboriginal and Pacific island extended family models. Speakers in this forum included indigenous women leaders Ali Golding, Pearl Wymarra, and Anne Weldon. Presenters representing the Pacific Islands were Bev Adair (moderator) and Dr. Toby Curtis, Maori leaders from New Zealand; Seini Afeaki, Project Officer in the NSW Department of Health originally from Tonga; Agnes Kola from Papua New Guinea; Pastor Fepai Kolia from Samoa; and Rev. Norman Keinaania from Hawaii. Hon. Serge Vohor, Minister of Health and former Prime Minister in the Government of Vanuatu, also addressed the Congress in the opening plenary.
One speaker after another showed clearly how healthy families lead directly to the well being of nations. A wealth of data, fact, and evidence was presented, together with inspiring stories and testimonials. Many marriage and family topics were covered, including:? The Causes and Cost of Family Breakdown?, What Families Are Best for the Economy??, Philosophical Roots of the Cultural Revolution?, Secular Humanism and Family Values?, The Demographic Winter?, The Impact on Children of Legalizing "Same-Sex Marriage,"? Society's Role in Building Marriage and Family Life, The Work of the Home: A True Profession?, AIDS Prevention through Strengthening Families?, Marriage as an Instrument of Human Development?, The Pornography Industry?, and Reaching the Next Generation with a Pro-Family Message.
The Congress featured something for all. There was a formal Congress dinner overlooking Darling Harbour, which featured the world-renowned photographer Ken Duncan and his work. The entertainment was also distinct and magnificent. There was a meet and greet cocktail, the screening of "Return to the Hiding Place" with producer and star present, singing by a Tongan youth choir, and presentation of the Congress theme song and a fashion parade, which was beautiful.
At the close of the Congress the delegates adopted a resolution, which included the following:
We, the delegates of the World Congress of Families VII, assembled in Sydney Australia, this 18 May 2013 affirm that the sustained prosperity and happiness of nations rests on the foundation of strong natural families.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by every nation on earth, states that "men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family … The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." (Article 16.1, 16.3)
In agreement with earlier World Congresses and with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we hold that the natural family is the basic unit on which human societies are built and is the best environment for the moral, social and emotional development of children.
The natural family is the most efficient way of nurturing and educating children, of looking after the health and welfare of its members, of creating a vital domestic economy, of building cohesive communities, and of extending a compassionate hand to individuals and households, whatever their situation."
After three full days, the 650 attendees left inspired and empowered to go forth in defense of the natural family, an institution described by UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon as "the only institution created by God … the school of love where people can learn how to?love each other and live together in peace, and the training center where we practice how to build a palace of peace in the world."
The next World Congress of Families is scheduled to be held in the Kremlin in Moscow, in September 2014.
Among the speakers were:
Brad Wilcox: Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, and a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D: Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America. She is a recognized authority on national and international issues. She has debated at the Oxford Union, the world's oldest debating society.
Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D: Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Washington, D.C., since October 2007.
Louise Kirk: UK Coordinator for the Alive to the World character education program since 2007, working closely with its Latin American creators, ALAFA. She has prepared a guide to help parents to take sex education back into the home called Sexuality Explained: A Guide for Parents and Children.
Bob McCoskrie: Founder and National Director of Family First New Zealand, a household name in New Zealand, advocating on behalf of families and speaking common sense and values into a number of family issues in New Zealand.
Karl Faase: Senior Pastor at Gymea Baptist Church in Sydney's southern suburbs. He is one of the most experienced Christian radio and television presenters in Australia.
Paige Patterson: President of South-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, Dallas Texas. He brings to the position three decades of experience in the education of pastors and missionaries.
John Anderson: Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, well-known as a politician of deep Christian conviction and integrity.
Ian Harper: One of Australia's best known economists. He has worked closely with governments, banks, corporates and leading professional service firms at the highest level.
Patrick Parkinson: Professor of Law at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the President of the International Society of Family Law. He is a specialist in family law, child protection, and the law of equity and trusts.
Ted Baehr: Founder of Good News Communications, Inc., MOVIEGUIDE® and the Christian Film and Television Commission® ministry. He is an internationally renowned speaker, lecturer, media scholar, film critic, and educator.
Dr. Miriam Grossman: Author, MD, psychiatrist with over ten years of clinical patient care, most recently on the staff of UCLA's student counseling center. She received her medical degree from NYU Medical School and is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. Her book, Unprotected, was published in November 2006 by Penguin Group.