Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Saving the Church Through Families

Elizabeth Castle speaks to leadership training attendees about understanding the family as a system.
Image attributed to: Britni Brannon
A small group takes a closer look at objects that have multiple, intricate parts and draws lessons about families.
Image attributed to: Britni Brannon

Ellen White described family as the tie that is “the closest, the most tender and sacred, of any on earth” (Adventist Home, p. 18). Unfortunately, many families are crumbling. It is no surprise then that the Family Ministries Department seeks to equip and encourage leaders in local churches to support one of the most complex but crucial relationships we know as humans—that of the family. As part of that effort, the department held the first of two Charting Our Course Leadership Training sessions for this year on April 13 and 14. Nearly 30 people attended and listened as presenters Elizabeth Castle, Sid Crandall, Jo Dubs, Sylvia Knoch, Donna Crandall, and Kathy Schleier discussed an aspect of family ministries, including communication, strengthening marriages, and spiritual parenting.


“We’ve got to keep families together for the sake of the next generations and keeping people in church,” said Schleier, who spoke on the effects of divorce on children. “The biggest thing is to realize that in our churches, families are hurting, and we are forgetting the children in divorced families.”


Schleier serves as the executive director of Family Frameworks, an organization she started in 2004 to minister to and strengthen families. She said her vision for the Adventist Church is that individual churches would take advantage of the tremendous resources that exist and adopt a program that would reach out specifically to families.


Linda Kulik, a school social worker and family ministries director for the Ooltewah Church, attended the training to augment her professional background with what others in the church had to share.


“Family ministries is my passion,” she said. “In my perception, everything rests on that. It takes all of us pulling together—the church is a family, and it’s a family that’s made up of families. If we’re going to minister outward, we have to be working on healing our families within so they can then take that healing and touch others.”


Kulik also explained why the health of families is key to the church’s vitality.


“I look at how the parts affect the whole. None of us is in isolation. So whatever’s going on in this little part, it affects everything, even though we may not realize it at the time. I see how Satan is so incredibly determined to take down the family because if he takes down the family, he takes down the church, and that’s his goal.”


Kulik said the training reminded her of how she is called to partner with Christ in reaching others and that “His burden is for every one of His children. We are his family. And He promises to give us what we need, so I need to remember: Don’t look at myself, don’t look at my training—just look up to the Father, and He will lead.”


The second training session will be held Oct. 19-20. To learn more, contact Donna Crandall at 800-567-1844, ext. 342.


Written by Britni Brannon, Communication assistant director

Photos by Britni Brannon