Long before the personal computer, the Internet and Facebook; long before the inspired Proclamation on the Family; and long before Apostle M. Russell Ballard’s monumental book Counseling with our Councils, there lived a family--my family. The year was 1975 and my family at the time consisted of my wife, Susan, and five of our children--Kathryn (not quite 7), Karen (5 1/2), twins Kenneth and Kristine (3 1/2) and Karla (4 months). I was working in the Pentagon as an Air Force officer and both my wife and I had numerous responsibilities both in and out of the home. Life was very busy in the Taylor household. Susan and I felt completely overwhelmed as we tried to manage in an orderly fashion.
Our “Eureka” moment came in the spring of that year when I was sitting in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) priesthood class of the Arlington Ward Seventy’s Group. The lesson was about the duties of a father and one of the suggested ideas at the bottom of the lesson was that you could hold a family council. We had no discussion about the family council at all but I can still remember the feeling that sunk into my soul as the thought was presented in passing. I raced home from the meeting and shared the idea with Susan. She was willing to try anything that might help. And so with no real understanding or much information as to how to begin, we held our first family council on June 1, 1975. Little did we realize that this would turn out to be one of the most important dates in the history of the Gordon and Susan Taylor family.
This website shares our journey and discovery. A journey of our family as we learned little by little the powerful influence a family council can have on the spirit, mission and organization of a home. I learned things along the way. The progression of our family councils is fun to track as we read the volumes of minutes we took over the years.
From Arlington Virginia we moved to Germany where I was given the opportunity to serve in a LDS stake presidency. The theme for our ward conference visits one year was D&C 88: 119 which outlines how to create a house of God beginning with organizing. I was prompted to speak about organizing a family and during the course of speaking in the various wards, my mind and heart were flooded with ideas as to how to improve and better implement the family council idea. It was here that I came to learn that we should cover the three-fold mission of the church - (Perfecting individual, Sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ, and Linking our families living and dead), in our little family council as does all other councils of the church. Our agenda has reflected that concept ever since as we took the mission of the church down to a family level.
A few years later we were assigned to Scott AFB in Illinois and I got involved in teaching a course on parenting skills in the community. It was during this time that I realized there is a difference between a family council based on democracy where the majority rules and what we were actually doing in our family council where God is the head and our decisions are based on His laws and commandments. We also discovered along the way that we could find no better goal for our family than that which the Lord has for each of us as recorded by Moses to bring to pass our immortality and eternal. And since we are indeed raising His spiritual sons and daughters, we began to look at our children with the great potential they certainly do have. We saw the family council as an extension of the Grand Council in Heaven as a meeting of God’s children working together to return home.
Lest you think our journey has been all success and fun, I can assure you that there have been failures along the way. There have been real growing pains like anything else worthwhile, but we stuck with it. Our councils now are much different as Susan and I sit quietly Sunday afternoon and continue to ponder and plan how we can better serve and show gratitude for our many blessings. They are a bit boring at times without the input of the children but they continue to help us focus on those things of most worth.
In 2003 I asked our now eight grown children to share some of the benefits they had seen from family councils as they grew up. I found their thoughts insightful: •we could talk about things that were on our mind •calendar and share our lives •we could suggest the substance of the agenda item •created unity •provided responsibility at a young age •taught us how to plan and execute goals and to prioritize what was important •kept us organized •we could express concerns in an open forum •fun to be on the same page with goals and direction •importance of communication and being involved in the lives of others •provided an opportunity to be heard •knew what was expected of us
There is a book that supports this website. It has taken years of writing and rewriting as we continue to learn new things about the family council concept. I started it in the mid 1980’s and it has gone through many revisions. I suppose the learning will never end.
Like Beethoven who often commented that his music was revelation and it would “roar and storm” about him until he had set it down in notes, I really can’t take credit for the melody that has resulted from our family council experiences. The inspiration came from our loving Father in Heaven and I will be forever grateful for the thoughts, insights, and promptings along the way.