A West African proverb says that ‘the ruin of a nation begins with the homes of its people.’ Today Canada stands at the threshold of destruction, thanks to the breakdown of the family.
This is particularly true in the inner city, where nearly four out of five homes are headed by a single female. And if the direction of the inner city is to change, Rev. Byron Grant, chairman of the Urban Family Conference (UFC), says it must begin with “the foundation of society — the family. It is only through spiritual renewal and a commitment to following God’s blueprints for the home and family that we can stop the destruction and pass on a godly heritage.”
The UFC began in 1988 in Harlem as an offshoot of Campus Crusade for Christ’s Family Life Conference. The basic concepts of the original conference were adapted to meet the specific needs of fragmented, single parent, divorced and multi-guardian homes in the inner city. To date, UFCs have been held in some 20 cities across the U.S.
More than 30 churches and agencies have joined together to bring the UFC to Broadway Church May 5 – 6. Ev Baerg, director of Campus Crusade’s FamilyLife ministry in Canada, is encouraged by the response.
“We are excited to be able to bring the basic material that has reached so many thousands of people over the years to a group that would otherwise never be able to afford coming to the traditional hotel or resort event. If other UFCs held in other cities are any indication, this weekend will see many broken underprivileged homes begin a path to restoration!”
Speakers will include Dr. Tom Fortson, executive vice-president of Promise Keepers in Colorado, and his wife Toni, as well as Larry Mercer, former associate pastor at Oakcliff Bible Fellowship and current administrator of Buckner Children and Family Services in Dallas, Texas. For the past 20 years, Mercer has worked with children and families in various social service and ministerial capacities, ranging from foster care to family preservation.
Unique to Vancouver, there will also be a full-fledged ‘Kid’s Track’ where children and youth will learn through mime, drama, crafts and games how to build positive relationships with their parents and siblings. On Saturday morning, they will join over 200 other children for the KidStreet Urban Children’s Outreach, a ministry to inner city children in Vancouver. Mike Meeking will also bring his Meeks the Clown act to the conference.
Other features of the conference include cross-cultural services, such as translation and hosting, as well as a prayer and counseling center, agency displays, family book center, and a Native liaison worker to assist those who have faced abuse. Volunteers are needed in many areas, as are ‘One to One’ hosts, who are needed to sponsor inner city couples who could otherwise never afford to attend.