The World Congress of Families Model:

A Remembrance In October 1997, John C. Howard and Allan C. Carlson formed The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, publisher of The Family in America and parent organization of World Congress of Families. The Howard Center, to this day, is a Virginia corporation doing business in Illinois, in large part, due to the partnership created between me and these wonderful gentlemen—I came from ten years in Congress and a fledgling non-profit based in Virginia to provide the legal entity that became The Howard Center. By March 1998, my family and I lived in Rockford. And by May of 1998, I was in Rome, Italy, huddled with two-dozen people from around the world in a tiny first-century church basement, deliberating the next step in the newly formed World Congress of Families (WCF). As Executive Vice-President of The Howard Center, and in a formal administrator’s role for the WCF, my place at that table was to support Allan Carlson; protect the WCF brand for The Howard Center; and care for our international guests. As a longtime culture warrior, knowing that the decisions the group made in Rome would have lasting impact on the future of the WCF, my informal self-appointed role was to ensure that our work had a sustainable vision as, ultimately, the group crafted what has now become the defining document within the WCF world—its definition of the natural family.I remember the group’s struggle with the first few words of that definition’s opening sentence, “The natural family is the fundamental social unit . . . ” I knew that if we lost on this point, we would lose the lasting value and effect of this fledgling movement. Allan, however, was able to steer the group in support of this key point of pro-family doctrine, and, as a result, the second WCF gathering in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 1999, was themed with those exact words.From those early years, those words have, with only minor revision, led the official declarations of all WCF meeting
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