News Story

In Celebration of Family

The notion of “family” continues to hold a pivotal place in Canadian hearts as it has for time immemorial. People the world over strive to create strong, good families because they recognize the value family plays in society. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages the formation of solid families as the building block of society. Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), former president of the Church, read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” as part of his message at the general Relief Society meeting held September 23, 1995, to emphasize the importance of family.

Family Day is a statutory holiday observed in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Families are encouraged to spend time together on February 18, 2019, to strengthen their own family. The proclamation states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

One long-established Canadian family has been practicing these principles for 56 years. Jim and Melissa Wilson of Toronto married in 1962 and decided from the outset that they were going to exercise their faith by being a church-going family. Jim said, “That decision has kept us very involved in the Church, and we have always felt that’s the way it should be.”

Jim and Melissa started serving in their community and set examples for their family at young ages. When his first two sons, Steve and Warren, were young, Jim was often busy at church or in the community. That example continues today as Jim serves on the Toronto Area Interfaith Council. This value — the importance of service — has been passed down successfully as children and grandchildren have served their own communities or accepted calls to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Wilsons’ third son, Michael, was diagnosed with profuse injury of midbrain and cortex. Melissa’s reaction to an unexpected outcome with the new baby was to do the best they could, including working intensely every day to teach Michael all he could learn. This work paid off in more ways than one. Michael learned to walk and, although nonverbal, also learned to express himself. The young boys learned what work was as they helped with their younger brother, and unbreakable bonds of love were formed. Jim comments, “He doesn’t speak, but he is amiable and able to be expressive. It promotes love and compassion with all of the family. The level of severe disability might be a problem bigger than us, but we didn’t let it take over. All that time invested has tied us together.”

The family then grew by two more, Rebecca and Matthew. The younger siblings were valued, took their place in the family and added rich dimension to the makeup of the Wilsons.

For all these years, family meals together with their children, spouses and grandchildren have been a staple of the Wilson diet. They talk about everything, laugh, cry and even found themselves working together to help Matthew as well as Rebecca and her husband, Nathan, start their own, now successful businesses. They all have cell phones, but no one uses them when they are together because everyone is engaged in what is going on.

The family knows how to work and play hard — they have been making homemade chocolates together on “Chocolate Making Day” each November for their entire marriage.

“We feel so blessed with our children and didn’t want our family to ever break up, so we worked hard to grow the family with love,” explained Jim. By including friends, family and missionaries at dinner, Skyping with long-distance family, talking, listening to good music and working together, all while actively practicing their faith, the Wilsons set a high bar and a great example.

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