Members of the Rogers Arkansas Stake in Northwest Arkansas recently held a strengthening the family event called “Family Strong.” The Church-organized community event invited members of the stake and its communities to learn practices and principles to strengthen families.
“We were so excited to share some of the fruits of the gospel with our friends and neighbors — the family-strengthening practices of this Church,” said Rogers Arkansas Stake President Greg Chandler.
President Barry Wall, a counselor in the stake presidency, explained that when the stake was reorganized in 2014, the change gave the leadership an opportunity to consider what the Church’s greatest contribution would be to the specific communities in which they lived. In the early stages of planning Family Strong, validation came from the words of the late Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In his talk “Why Marriage and Family Matter, Everywhere in the World” Elder Perry said, “The restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world.”
Family Strong followed a pattern of “see, learn and act.” At Family Strong people saw practices modeled; next, they experienced them firsthand through the activities at the fair; then they left with information to apply the principles in their own families.
Family Strong was designed for families to experience the activities together, staying in family units as they played and learned. To meet this objective, Family Strong offered a family play area with shared-family games, jump ropes, and team-building activities.
Every 15 minutes, professionals led presentations on parenting, relationships, finances and other family topics. One room explored the power of family mealtime where families ate free street tacos while playing a conversation-starting game that they took home with them.
Families had the opportunity to participate together in service projects that benefited a local food bank and a children’s advocacy organization. Visitors were invited into a make-shift living room to watch and participate in a family home evening. Families were invited into a photo booth where they dressed up and laughed as they captured the fun and unity of the day.
“We just presented our third Family Strong in October to one of the far-flung branches of our stake,” said Valerie Chandler, one of the activity organizers. “The next day we saw some of those same families worship together with us at sacrament meeting. We can’t wait to do it again.”
Dale Hunter, who runs the weekend snack pack program for children at a Berryville foodbank, contacted the Church via email to share her excitement after participating in the fair. “I want to thank you for inviting me to participate in Family Strong. There was so much energy and spirit there, and I appreciated so much being able to be a part of it. There were so many good messages there! Peace in Christ.”
“This event is portable and inexpensive, but don’t be tricked by its simplicity, Family Strong is mighty! It offers our stake members a reminder of practices that will strengthen their families, and it gives them the chance, through inviting, to hold up a family banner for their friends and neighbors to rally around,” said Sister Chandler. “Our goal is to do our part in Rogers, Arkansas, to model and then teach what President Henry B. Eyring called for in November 2014 at the Vatican: ‘a renaissance of happy marriages and productive families.’ ”