At the end of March, Medicine Hat (Alta.) Christian Reformed Church hosted the third annual Conference on the Family. Over 150 people attended either in person or via livestream. The conference is a combined effort between different faith groups and community members concerned about the state of the family in society, including Medicine Hat CRC, the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), as well as the Islamic Association of Medicine Hat. Jeremy Williamson, a member of Medicine Hat CRC, was on the organizing committee for this year’s conference. “This is a community effort, with support from many different people of many different walks of life,” Williamson said. “It has brought groups together that have not worked together in this way for 100 years. The family really is the foundation of society and is the one of very few things that everyone has in common.”
When asked about the driving force behind the conference, Williamson mentioned the challenges facing families now and in the future, noting that the purpose of the conference is for “building up, defending, strengthening, informing, and preparing families.”
The first conference was held in 2017 at the LDS Stake Center and the second at Victory Lutheran Church. The plan going forward is to rotate the venue between supporting organizations. This year’s keynote speakers included James E. Evanson of LDS, and Jojo Ruba, the executive director of Faith Beyond Belief. Evanson’s topic was “Building Strong Families and Communities,” and Ruba spoke on why the right worldview matters.
Though there are differences among the conference’s supporting groups, Medicine Hat CRC pastor George Koopmans said belief in parents as responsible teachers and guardians is the common ground.
The conference is “supported by Protestants, Roman Catholics, [people who belong to LDS], Muslims, and others who believe that parents have the fundamental right and responsibility for shaping their children’s ethical and moral perspectives,” Koopmans said.