For the first time in it’s history, the World Congress of Families is being held in the United States of America in Salt Lake City, Utah. The World Congress of Families is “the largest gather of pro-family advocates in the world” and invites parents, youth, lawmakers, scholars, religious leaders, and advocates to affirm and celebrate the family.
The World Congress of Families IX opened Tuesday morning with an address from Elder M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Ballard welcomed the event to Utah and focused not only the theology of family, but the need for tolerance. He began his address by reviewing the Plan of Salvation, a key doctrine for Latter-day Saints about where we come from, why we are here on Earth, what happens to us after we die, and how Jesus Christ plays a vital role in all of it. He talked of the temple and how ” the doctrine and theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints literally start and end with family.”
“This very brief overview I hope will help you understand how completely linked our theology is to the traditional family. Society, law, and popular opinion may change, but we know that society’s version of the family cannot and will not substitute for God’s purpose and plan for His children,” Elder Ballard said.
Noting the accusations of bigotry and intolerance towards those with different standards than held by society at large, Elder Ballard encouraged loving one another and working together to find peace. He referenced the recent legislation passed in Utah which helps protect the housing and employment rights of those in the LGBT community while still allowing religious organizations and their affiliates to maintain their own standards.
“If those who oppose us are genuine in their commitment to the values of diversity and equality, we should be able to work together to find compassion and peace… By engaging in compromise and extending love to all God’s children, who are our brothers and sisters, we can create a peaceful, diverse tapestry of ideals and beliefs,” Elder Ballard said.
He concluded his address by referencing the Family: A Proclamation to the World as he invited all in attendance to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unity of society.
The World Congress of Families IX will run through Friday, October 30, 2015. While online registration is currently closed, tickets may be purchased on site at the Grand America Hotel.