News Release

2020 Strengthening Families Conference held in Accra, Ghana.

The Family: The Building Block of Society

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday, 17 September 2020, held the second edition of the Strengthening Families Conference in West Africa. This year’s conference held in collaboration with the Ghana Ministries of Gender, Children and Social Protection; Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs; the National Commission on Culture; and other partners, was held virtually due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The Conference with the theme “The Family, the Building Block of Society” had speakers from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The Christianborg Stake Center on the grounds of the Africa West Area offices of the Church served as the control center with participants joining in from across West Africa and globally via Zoom.


In his opening remarks, Elder Hugo E. Martinez, President of the Africa West Area of the Church directed everyone to the document on the family -The Family: A Proclamation to the World -released by the First Presidency of the Church in 1995 which outlined basic doctrines regarding the family as God ordained it to be, marriage relationship, husband and wife roles and their responsibilities to their children, among others. He asked everyone to study and apply the contents of the document in their family relations. Quoting President Harold B. Lee, he said, “The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”

Elder Larry S. Kacher, First Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency spoke about the responsibility of a husband and wife to themselves and to their children. From ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’, he quoted: "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.’’ He concluded by saying, "The family is not only the building block of society but the building block of eternity. when the family falls apart, the society also falls apart."

Speaking from Bo, Sierra Leone, the Deputy Regional Coordinator, Family Support Unit, South Sierra Leone Police, Mr. Foday Munda Jabati, stated that the strength of any nation lies in the family foundation and style of that nation. He said, "The family is a flexible organizational unit of individuals with different roles and responsibilities, privileges, obligations, rewards, and options."  Quoting former American President, Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Jabati said, “The strength of any nation lies in the homes of the people.” He therefore urged government and other institutions to do more for the family by effectively supplementing and complementing the family.

From Benin City, Nigeria, the Acting Head, Department of Psychiatry, Central Hospital, Benin City, Dr. Okunzuwa Imariabe Osawaru, speaking on the topic, “The Family, the Building Block of Society, Then and Now: Matters Arising,” stated that in 1989, through Resolution A/44/82 the United Nations recognized the family as the basic building block of society. It(the UN) proclaimed 1994 as the first International Year of the Family, and since 15 May, 1994 the International day of the family has been celebrated every year. He commended the Church for establishing and organizing a conference aimed at strengthening the family. He Stated that the traditional family was under attack. ‘’Today we hear of single-parent families, stepfamilies, blended families and other arrangements such as same-sex families. While these variations may be valid according to modern laws, it must be admitted that they are often contrary to the doctrines of the church.  Their sheer appearance is worrisome to the camp of traditionalists on account of the distortion, or outright dysfunction, they portend and display.’’ He therefore called on the Church, governments, organizations, and individuals to help protect the family.

Speaking  from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on the topic ‘ The Family’s Role in Building a Strong and Stable Nation’, Metchro, Epouse Ahimin Yokou Sillvie Rosebelle, Assistant Director, Family Promotion Department, Ministry of Family, Women, and Children, stated: “We often hear that building a strong nation requires strong institutions. However, institutions are strong only when they are respected and valued by the citizens of the country; citizens are none other than members of different families. Therefore, to build a strong and stable nation the focus should be on building strong and stable families”

Speaking on the topic, “Family Values,” the Chief Director, Ministry for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs-Ghana, Mr. Benjamin Afful, stated that a nation or society’s achievements in other areas will mean very little when the family unit, whether at the nucleus or extended level is in shambles.

He said that families should show compassion, responsibility, love and kindness, and that when family members appreciate the importance of their own family values and share such with others, they and others will begin to live in love and unity. It is the responsibility of members of the Church to live in such a way that their neighbors could see in them the light of Christ in their education, work, character, and relationship with others. Strong family values insulate the family from negative external influences.

Acting Director for Gender Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Thywill Eyra Kpe, on behalf of the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana, Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morrison, presented the Keynote Address at the conference. She thanked the Church for collaborating with her ministry in organizing the second edition of the conference and pledge continuing partnerships in future editions.

The conference ended with closing remarks from Elder John Atta Koranteng an Area Seventy in the Africa West Area. He spoke about how changes made by leaders of the Church have helped members during this pandemic. Changes such us home-centered gospel study and reduction in Church Sunday Worship time from 3 hours to 2 hours.

Over 800 participants joined in this year’s conference.

The Strengthening Families Conference intends to create an ongoing, cooperative, catalytic environment where the tools of action and real change are both sought for and imbedded at every level of society. This Conference is not intended to be merely an outlet for philosophical or social observation. Focused action and tangible improvement are expected. As partner organizations, and every person within them, we invite a commitment toward measurable and sustainable efforts to strengthen family structures throughout West Africa. The Conference seeks to educate all levels of society, highlighting the family as the most effective catalyst for positive gains in social issues and nation building.

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