high point for the Family Ministries Department during the past five years has been the commemoration of 90 years of ministry to families in our church. With the establishment of the Home Commission in 1919, well-known author and educator Arthur Spalding and his wife, Maud, launched a worldwide effort focused particularly on parent education. Since then, family life educators have built upon this heritage. Today the department trains leaders, produces resources, and fosters family research that address parent-child relationships, as well as premarital guidance, strengthening marriage, family evangelism, and family issues related to sexuality, divorce, abuse, and violence.
General Conference Family Ministries (GCFM) seeks to coordinate a worldwide strategy to strengthen Adventist family members’ relationships with God and each other to bear a winsome witness to others. An important part of this strategy, and a valuable means of strengthening world church unity and faith, is the development of a global consensus regarding key understandings of Adventist family life education. High priority has been given to building Bible-based curriculum frameworks that can be used for developing leaders, preparing resources, and evaluating other family life education materials. Following on the success of Human Sexuality: Sharing the Wonder of God’s Good Gift With Your Children (2004), now in 12 languages, an international team of family professionals has worked to produce the second in this series of curriculum frameworks: Christian Marriage: Intimate Covenant for a Lifelong Journey (2010).
Arthur Spalding, first director of the Home Commission, and his wife, Maud, developed family ministries in more than 30 countries.
The department provides resources to support three special Sabbaths in the church calendar during Christian Home and Marriage Week in February and Family Togetherness Week in September. Alongside the resource-rich departmental Web site www.
adventistfamilyministries.org, the growing library of materials published in the past two decades now includes five new volumes: Managing God’s Resources at Home, Relationships Where Grace Is in Place, Relationships Where Love Is in Place, Families Building Relationships for Now and Eternity, and Becoming Family. These tools—sermons, miniseminars, children’s stories, leadership articles, and other ministry helps—enable pastors and local church family ministry leaders to build strong families and foster relational health at home and in the church.
In cooperation with division Family Ministries departments, GCFM promotes the training of leaders as family life educators. Collaboration with academic institutions has led to several certificate programs being offered at Andrews, Loma Linda, Montemorelos, Pacific Adventist, and Sahmyook universities, as well as at Avondale and Fulton colleges. A noncredit departmental Certificate in Family Life Education is also available upon completion of a 110-hour introductory course in family ministries. This quinquennium, more than 100 division, union, and conference/mission departmental directors in several world divisions have completed the departmental certificate.
The greatest blessings of ministering to families are evident as they reflect the core principles of Christianity in their relationships and as their homes become centers of contagious joy in Jesus. Ultimately, the success of our denomination’s strategic plan for the enhancement of quality of life, unity, and growth in the world church can only rise to the level of health and well-being experienced within the family, its most fundamental unit.
This article was published June 24, 2010.