“A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, June 1999, 68–69
“People coming in and out of my office stop, read it, and say that it is the most marvelous thing they have ever read!” says one city official in Waynesboro, Virginia, referring to the framed copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” hanging on the wall outside his office. This comment was in response to a project launched by Waynesboro Virginia Stake members who presented over 100 beautifully framed proclamations and an additional 180 unframed copies to nonmembers throughout the area as a part of a 1998 stake public affairs effort.
With the thought of sharing the family proclamation message with others, the Waynesboro stake director of public affairs, Tanya K. Skeen, approached stake president Larry J. Harman with the idea of having each of the nine stake units set a goal of presenting 10 framed copies of the proclamation to friends, associates, and leaders in their communities.
President Harman not only approved the idea but enthusiastically budgeted a sum of money for the framing of the proclamations. In particular situations, unframed copies seemed more appropriate to share. However, the significance of giving framed copies, ready to be hung, rather than an unframed copy was threefold: it emphasized the value of the document, it demonstrated a greater respect toward the recipient, and it was more likely to be displayed and hung.
Many sisters in the stake painted designs on the framing mats to add a personal and artistic element to the displays. Susan McDaniel painted the mats of over 70 proclamations, freely giving of her time and talents. She employed many different styles that would be appropriate for a variety of individuals, from CEOs to pediatricians, from local and state government leaders to radio announcers, and from fire fighters to school principals.
President Brent Christensen, a counselor in the stake presidency, says, “We are grateful for the impact which the family proclamation is already having throughout our stake and are especially excited about the interest which has been expressed by those who have received it in the nearly 300 presentations which have been made over the past year.”
Cherie Snead, stake assistant director of public affairs, tells of one experience where young men and women from the stake presented the mayor of Charlottesville with a copy of the proclamation on a Monday night. “At that particular meeting,” Sister Snead says, “a controversial subject was scheduled to be discussed. The large room was filled to capacity, with even the aisles being filled. The meeting was also being televised live. The first order of business was our young men and young women making a presentation to the mayor and city council of the family proclamation.
“The room seemed charged with tension, which dissipated as a parade of smiling youth approached the podium and made the presentation. The youth then explained that inasmuch as it was Monday evening, that this was family home evening for members of our Church and asked their families to stand. The positive response was indicated by two ovations! The following day many favorable comments were made by people who had watched the broadcast.”
Copies of the proclamation, framed and unframed, have been presented in a wide variety of settings, formal and informal. They have been presented at the close of a service project rendered by members, at a banquet, and at an appreciation dinner for fire and rescue workers. Rolled up and tied with satin ribbons, copies have been presented as favors to wedding guests. In every case the proclamation has been warmly received by men and women from different backgrounds, occupations, and nationalities, and the recipients have discovered that the givers share a high regard for the family unit.—Dawna Sexton and Tanya K. Skeen, Charlottesville, Virginia