Two local Latter-day Saint families joined Elder D. Todd Christofferson onstage Thursday, Sept. 24, during a presentation at the Catholic World Meeting of Families in the Pennsylvania Convention Center on "Principles and Activities That Unify Mormon Families."
Elder Christofferson led the families through an unscripted discussion of their real experiences using family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family activities, family history and family councils to grow closer and stronger.
"God cares deeply about the experiences we have in our families," said Elder Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "He cares about what unifies us and what helps us grow together. My hope is that through our experience today, God’s Holy Spirit will inspire you about how to achieve greater unity in your own family and helping others to achieve the same.
Church leaders produced a full-color, four-page handout with a brief explanation on each practice and provided it to each of the several hundred people who attended the session. The handout also included a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World."
Most of the attendees were Catholics, including the archbishop of Philadelphia, another bishop and a handful of priests
"We are grateful for this world meeting," Elder Christofferson said, "for those who have organized it and for all who are participating. It is an honor to stand with you in support of the family."
He chose the Dee Bostic family from West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the Jeremy and Brandy Anderson family from Wilmington, Delaware, to create a panel discussion that included children from ages 5 and up to parents and a grandmother.
The Andersons explained how they manage to read seven verses of scripture together after dinner each day with a busy family with five children — Caden, 16, Ruby, 14, Ashton, 12, Wyatt, 8, and Ivy, 5. They each read a single verse.
They take turns saying family prayers at night in order of age. Jeremy Anderson prays on Sunday, his wife Brandy on Monday, and then the children by order of age the rest of the week.
Dee Bostic is the single mother of four — Kara, 18, Haley, 17, Corryn, 15, and Hunter, 10. Her mother, Kathryn Campbell, lives with them. The family gathers at 5:30 a.m. for family prayers each day.
Waking up so early is difficult, especially for the teenagers. For a while, Sister Campbell played John Philip Sousa marches until each was out of bed and in the hallway for the prayer. Still, each child said it is worth it.
"We get along better when we say prayers together in the morning and at night," Corryn Bostic said. "It's kind of a great start because when you wake up you're with your family in the morning. It brings us together and we're happier. I feel more prepared for the day, and I feel like we all feel that way."
During the discussion, Elder Christofferson called on every member of each family to talk about their practices. When two Catholic women in the audience asked questions about where the parents and children get ideas and resources for family home evening lessons, teenagers Ruby Anderson and Corryn Bostic encouraged them to visit LDS.org.
Dee Bostic and Jeremy Anderson said they often draw lessons from problems or challenges their children had during the previous week.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke briefly at the session. He is the host of the World Meeting of Families 2015.
"You're wonderful families," he said to the Bostics and Andersons. "I think any church would be proud to have you as members."
The World Meeting on Families is gathered every three years. This year's conference has 18,000 participants from around the world.
Archbishop Chaput spoke at Brigham Young University in January. He said he invited Elder Christofferson to make Thursday's presentation because he believed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has something to offer Catholics.
"When we planned this, we tried to reach out to different faith communities to get some help on how to be good families, and I don't think anybody does it better than the Mormon community, the Latter-day Saints," Archbishop Chaput said. "We have a lot to learn from you, and I'm grateful you're willing to help teach us."
Email: [email protected]