AN OUTDOOR public Family Appreciation Day rally, featuring the mayor and a family court judge of the city of Rochester, New York, was held at the Highland Park Bowl in this world-famous Kodak city in a successful attempt to develop an innovative community approach to public evangelism.
By mayoral proclamation Sunday, September 2, was declared now and henceforth as Family Appreciation Day, and a tribute was paid to an outstanding family of the city.
Pastor Richard Jewett, of the Rochester Bay Knoll Seventh-day Adventist church, who has be come relatively well known via his late Sunday night radio show entitled "Dick Jewett on Line" over WAXC, befriended Stephen May, mayor of Rochester. As a result of this cordial acquaintance Mr. May officially set aside this particular yearly day to honor the family relationship as the keystone of society. In proclaiming Family Appreciation Day, Mayor May asserted, "The purpose of this proclamation is to challenge Rochesterians to a new appreciation for the spiritual and social heritage of the family as being essential to perpetuate human happiness and survival in the context of modern living." A questionnaire was prepared and mailed to every pastor in the Rochester area. The pastors were to select the family to be publicly honored that would best represent the principles and ideals of America and Christianity. On the basis of these replies an extraordinary family, that of Floyd Williams, was chosen to receive the public citation and recognition from Mayor May. They are members of the Free Methodist Church and have ten children, seven of their own and three they have adopted. The Williams family prays and works together. They are extremely active missionaries in their church, as well as deeply involved in beneficial civic and community affairs.
Even though New York had been locked in the grip of a record-breaking heat wave, nearly 400 citizens turned out in the 90-degree heat to attend this unique event. Those attending were favored with a concert of gospel and folk music by the Country Gospel Singers of East Palmyra, New York; Rick Shorter and Gwen Simmons of New York City; the Three Together studio musicians from the "On Line" radio program; and Dick Williams, master of ceremonies and sing-along director.
Judge Selke, of Rochester's Family Court, offered a stirring invocation, and Mike Macaluso, chairman of Rochester's Association for a Decent Community, offered the benediction.
Pastor Larry Caviness, New York Conference youth leader, shared the speaking time with Pastor Jewett in highlighting the values of a Christian home and family. He stressed the importance of the Christian home as the stable unit of society, stating, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and the world. Our world is becoming fragmented and unraveled as a result of the breakdown of the family. No nation can long survive such an assault. Let us draw attention to the positive contribution in America's heritage as focused on wholesome family living. May Christ be the head of every household."
In celebrating Family Appreciation Day at the Highland Park Bowl, Pastor Jewett was actually utilizing this fresh approach as a launching platform for a public crusade. Follow-up meetings were held in the Bay Knoll Seventh-day Adventist church, extending over a period of two weeks during which thirteen follow-up Family Appreciation Day topics were presented.