Ambassadors for the Family
In the Great Hall of Parliament House Canberra on 16 August, 2011, John and Lesley Bailey, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were appointed Ambassadors for the Family for one year.
The appointment came from the Australian Family Association (AFA) and was done in conjunction with the Fourth National Marriage Day, “Don't Meddle with Marriage.” The event drew 1500 attendees from all over Australia. Speakers included members of parliament who are strong advocates of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
What do Ambassadors for the Family do? John says, “We discuss the obligation parents have of rearing their children in love and righteousness and the advantage of children being raised in a home with both a mother and a father.” The Baileys are invited to speak at conferences, rallies and events nationwide and are also advisors to the planning committee for the World Congress on the Family to be held in Sydney in 2014.
National Marriage Day celebrates the signing into law by the former federal government of legislation enshrining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Recently there has been interest expressed by some community leaders in the recognition of same-gender marriage. Church members have been urged to make their feelings on this subject known to their local members of Parliament.
Church leaders have not stipulated what members should say in their discussions with politicians but have encouraged Latter-day Saints nationally to become involved in the “conversation” on the subject.
The Baileys suggest that Church members use discretion in addressing the topic. “Caution should be used in talking with friends of other faiths and in contacting members of parliament, as requested by the AreaJohn and Lesley Bailey Presidency,” says John. “The Church is always careful in the language it uses. We should speak of what makes marriage between a man and a woman beneficial to society but not be disparaging of other life-styles.”
Lesley adds, “Church leaders have often said we should not condone strident language or vilification of other people. We are all children of God, and we should show respect and love to others no matter what their background.”
In presenting their case, the Baileys encourage Latter-day Saints to find language which appeals to the hearer rather than that which simply conveys doctrinal principles.
“Latter-day Saint beliefs and practices are eternal truths that bring the greatest joy and security to individuals and society at large,” says John. “However, when addressing this subject with others, it is important to use language and illustrations to which they can easily relate.”
John and Lesley grew up in the same neighbourhood in Sydney. They were married in 1968, two years after his return from a full-time mission in New York City. When four of their six children were still at home, John was called as mission president over the same mission in which he had served. The family moved to the US for the three-year call.
The couple then served as president and matron of the Sydney Australia Temple for three years.
They view their family as their greatest asset and delight in the time they spend with their children and grandchildren.