"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future,” commented writer Alex Haley. When it comes to the institution of the family, July is an important month. Not only has July has been designated as Black Family Month, but the month is also recognized as National Family Reunion Month.
Since 2006 under the direction of Shaun McLaughlin, the national celebration of Black Family Month has been dedicated to the enrichment of Black families through, education, health and self improvement. In addition, since many family reunions are held in July, this month appears to be an ideal time to promote unity and celebration of the Black Family.
A valuable resource dedicated to strengthening and maintaining families is the Family Reunion Institute of Temple University. Since its inception in 1990, the organization has seen family reunions as a ways to support and fortify the extended family. The mission of the Institute includes the following statement:
“We see the family reunion as a catalyst for carrying out critical extended family functions, such as providing a sense of belonging and concern, transmitting a sense of identity and direction and strengthening values.”
One of the special features of a family reunion can be “A Family Covenant”: a statement to affirm their commitment as family members and to express some of the principles that families should endeavor to live by.
The following was written as part of a family reunion: A Family Covenant with three parts: A statement “Celebrating Our Ancestors,” a “Covenant with Our Hands,” and “10 Principles of Family Living.”
Celebrating Our Ancestors
Families are designed by God for the blessing of humanity. God takes the solitary, those who are isolated and alone, and places them in families. We thank God for the families that have come from this generational bloodline. We are grateful for our forefathers and foremothers through whom we were given the precious gift of life. Despite great adversities and seemingly impossible situations, they persevered that we might be here today. Many fought and wept and prayed, some giving their last full measure of devotion, their very lives, that we might be successful and exceed their greatest expectations. We are the answers to many of their prayers and the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams. On this occasion we recognize and celebrate the contributions that our ancestors have made to the world.
Covenant with our Hands
As members of this family, we recognize that our times are in God’s hands, and as we receive these words in our hearts, we join with Him, and with our mouths, we make this covenant, while we join hands with each other:
- We affirm that these loving hands will be used to serve our families and others in need, to comfort those who are sick and embrace and console those who are grieving.
- We affirm that these hands will not be used as instruments of violence but will be used to heal, protect, shelter and guide and to minister to all those whom we touch.
- We affirm that these hands will support and encourage family members to pursue our dreams, to become all that God intended for us to be.
- We affirm that we will use our hands to work together to improve our local communities, our individual states, our nation and the world, as we build a future filled with hope for ourselves and generations to come.
- With these hands we release fruitfulness and favor, health and wholeness, peace and prosperity, goodness and mercy, and blessings without measure upon our present and future family generations—from this time forth and forever.
10 Principles for Family Living
As members of this family, we will endeavor to apply these principles to our lives:
- We will build and maintain healthy relationships grounded on mutual respect between husbands and wives, family members, friends and associates and others.
- We will honor the commitments we make and conduct our lives with integrity.
- We will accept personal responsibility for our actions and the decisions we make.
- We will nurture, support and cherish our children, to protect and to provide for them; as we invest in their lives, so we invest in our future.
- We will value education and encourage one another to advance our educational goals and to become “lifelong learners” who are always learning and growing.
- We will encourage each other to always strive for excellence in all that we do: in our careers or professions or whatever line of work that we pursue.
- We will look for opportunities to serve within our families and beyond—to give of our time and resources that we might be a blessing and be blessed in return.
- We will forgive all those who may have wronged us, knowingly or unknowingly, and we release them and ourselves from the prisons of hate and mistrust.
- We will pray for one another and never forget nor neglect the awesome power of prayer.
- We will live by faith, rest in hope and actively walk in the love of God which is the bond that unifies our family line.
The Family Covenant is published with the desire that others may want to use it as written or adapt it to their particular family. Anyone is welcome to use it. Comment as to what you think about the document that is especially suited for family reunions, occasions that we celebrate especially during July, Black Family Month and National Family Reunion Month.