2015

General Conference Session Supplement

Family Ministries directors of world divisions gather in Cape Town, South Africa, for a mini advisory in 2014.

Willie Oliver

Director

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GC Department Report

Family Ministries

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n October 8, 1919, the General Conference Committee created the Home Commission. It became operative in 1922 with Arthur W. Spalding as director, who worked in this capacity with his wife, Maude, until 1941.

Today, just a few years shy of 100 years of family ministries in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we stand on the shoulders of Adventist Family Ministries’ giants, such as the Spaldings, Holbrooks, Flowerses, and others. Building on this rich legacy, the ministry is involved in leadership training; resource development; and encouraging research and work in such areas as premarital education, marriage strengthening, parenting education, family evangelism, sexuality, and other important issues such as divorce, abuse and violence in the family, single adults, and elder care.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament affirm the importance of family relationships. And Ellen White declares: “Society is composed of families. . . . The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.”* To be sure, we know that when we have strong marriages we are more likely to have strong families, strong relationships, and strong churches. And when we have strong churches, we are more likely to preach the gospel with power and joy to help hasten the coming of Jesus Christ.

Growing God’s Family

In its worldwide coordination and strategy, Family Ministries seeks to strengthen, inspire hope, and bring healing to marriages, families, and individuals through the abundant love and saving grace of Jesus Christ. Essentially, our vision is to prepare families for the kingdom of God, which will help hasten the coming of Jesus Christ.

The objectives of Family Ministries are:

  • To proclaim the reviving and restorative message of the everlasting gospel within the context of family living.
  • To affirm and strengthen every Seventh-day Adventist family as a primary discipling unit.
  • To enable parents and families 
  • to increase the likelihood of successful transference of Seventh-day Adventist Christian values to the next generation.
  • To create a “family of God” experience in every Seventh-day Adventist church; and to empower families for winsome witness.

To meet these objectives, we have the following priorities:

  • Training in Premarital Education. Every division director completed certification during our world advisory in PREPARE/ENRICH (P/E), one of the leading modalities in the world for premarital preparation and for helping married couples strengthen their marriages. Based on a long-standing relationship with Life Innovations, Inc., we have developed a Seventh-day Adventist edition of the Couple’s Workbook, the principal resource couples use to process their results from taking the P/E inventory that is administered online.

    Since the world advisory most of the 13 world divisions have certified their union directors in P/E, as well as the certification of conference directors and local pastors in several unions/conferences around the world. P/E has been translated into Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Training events have taken place within these language groups, with certifying pastors to administer the P/E inventory. Recently a P/E training event took place in China; and efforts are already under way to translate P/E into Chinese to be used more effectively with couples across China.

  • Providing Resources, Leadership Training, and Enrichment. Reflecting the strategic plans of the General Conference, Family Ministries provides resources for the three family-strengthening Sabbaths in the church’s calendar: two Sabbaths in February for Christian Home and Marriage Week, and one Sabbath in September for Family Togetherness Week. Since 2012 we’ve published four Family Ministries planbooks with the themes “Revival and Reformation: Families Looking Up”; “Revival and Reformation: Families Looking Out”; “Revival and Reformation: Families Looking Across”; and “Revival and Reformation: Building Family Memories.”In India, SUD Family Ministries director Victor Sam and other union and conference leaders pose with Willie and Elaine Oliver (front, center) during a leadership conference.We have also partnered with such General Conference departments as Education, Health Ministries, Ministerial Association, and Youth Ministries on initiatives that enrich the lives of people around the world mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

    To help strengthen marriages and families around the world, leadership certification programs and/or marriage and family conferences were hosted in all 13 world divisions of the church, as well as the two attached fields (Middle East and North Africa Union and the Israel Field). The largest marriage conference during the quinquennium took place on February 7, 2015, on the campus of Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica, where the Jamaica Union Conference (IAD) hosted 2,000 couples who renewed their vows in recommitment to their respective spouse at the end of the daylong conference.

  • Supporting Outreach and Evangelism Initiatives. In support of the church’s Mission to the Citiesinitiative, Family Ministries launched Mission to the Families in the Cities and developed the Family to Family resource with a church guide and a family guide, to encourage every family in the church to participate in the mission of sharing the gospel with their unchurched neighbors, relatives, and friends. PDF files of the resource can be downloaded directly from our Web site at www.family.adventist.org.

    To model the priority of being directly involved in the primary mission of the church, we conducted family evangelism series in Romania (EUD), the Philippines (SSD), Jordan (MENA), the Seychelles (SID), and Serbia (TED).

  • Nurturing Today’s Busy Families. To nurture healthy relationships around the world, Family Ministries created a weekly television program called Real Family Talk With Willie and Elaine Oliver. Now in its fourth season, this 30-minute award-winning program airs on Hope Channel and can be accessed online from anywhere in the world at www.hopetv.org/realfamilytalk.

    In addition to writing family-related articles for several church publications, and a blog for Revived by His Word (John 1-10), we write relationship-enhancing columns in Adventist World Online (Real Family Talk) and Message magazine (Relationship Rx). We also write daily inspirational messages on social media to reach our diverse publics. We have developed a family worship app available on iTunes and recently published a book titled Real Family Talk, which answers questions about relationships.

  • Praying for Families. Family Ministries has a virtual prayer box on our Web site where each week we receive and pray about requests from all around the world. God has answered these prayers in amazing ways, and we look forward to what He will do in the future.

What a blessing it is to work with a worldwide team of dedicated leaders who are helping to grow God’s family through Family Ministries. We continue to see evidence that strong families and strong relationships help to create churches filled with people who are experiencing the joy of being part of God’s family now and for eternity. For more, connect with us at www.facebook.com/Adventist FamilyMinistries.

*Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 15.

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