What do you get when you combine the inspiration and creativity of home school leaders, the knowledge of talented and challenging speakers, and the warmth of the Phoenix, Arizona, sun? Well, we're not sure what you'd call it, but it would probably look a lot like the 1994 National Christian Home Leadership Conference, held October 20-23. Home school leaders from 40 states and Canada gathered to share ideas, discuss issues, and encourage each other in their leadership positions.
Many sessions focused on relations with people in families and organizations, and the group also heard several challenging addresses on current issues and protecting their liberties. Believe it or not, there was a little time left over for some good, old-fashioned fun! All the leaders came to Phoenix for different reasons, but each left with something new under his belt.
David Hodge led Walk Thru the Bible's day-long seminar, "Sharpening Your People Skills." Participants enjoyed Hodge's delightful sense of humor as well as his knowledgeable approach to public relations. Small group interaction also made the workshop a practical and highly-productive one, as attendees evaluated personal strengths and weaknesses and discussed methods to improve communication.
Arizona Governor Fife Symington welcomed an enthusiastic audience to his state at the Friday luncheon, where he received a standing ovation for his pro-home schooling stand. A one-time home-schooled student, Governor Symington expressed his admiration for home school leaders and declared, "Every American has the right to home school. Period. End of subject." Turning to Mike Farris, the governor said, "If you ever become president, I hope you abolish the Department of Education!" The crowd roared its approval.
At the opening banquet, homeschoolers gave a resounding welcome to the recent champion of their liberties, Representative Dick Armey of Texas. Representative Armey inspired the audience with a clear call to love and defend our liberty. He pointed out the contrast between those politicians who are motivated by a love for liberty and those who are motivated by a lust for power. Armey delighted the audience by recounting his side of the H.R. 6 story, and concluded by challenging homeschoolers to remain active and stand against the quest for power.
Miles Seabourn, Jr., minister and missionary hailing from the state of Texas, led several sessions focused on strengthening marriages and family relationships. "Brother Miles" also led the times of singing and delivered the Sunday morning challenge.
Stephen Duvall, author of the recent study The Effects of Home Education on Children with Learning Disabilities, spoke at one of Friday morning's general sessions. Dr. Duvall presented his latest research showing the benefits that home schooling provides for learning disabled children. The home school leaders found the session useful and informative, if not too surprising!
Friday afternoon saw some tough competition in the Youth Volleyball Tournament. Five teams, divided along geographical lines, participated. The Midwest narrowly edged out the Southeast for the title in the championship game. As the game broke up, several people were heard declaring that "the South will rise again!" We're definitely looking forward to next year's rematch.
The Mexican Fiesta on Friday evening featured food, costumes, music, and entertainment with a Southwestern flair. Home school leaders competed for best Mexican or Southwestern costume, a live Mariachi band delighted the crowd, and the evening ended with all the children taking a whack at the piņata. And, of course, who could forget the visit from our illustrious Commander-in-Chief?
Bobb Biehl spoke to the group in an informative general session entitled "Mentoring: God's Design for Passing the Leadership Torch." His speech focused on what mentoring is and the need for mentoring relationships. He also led a workshop which helped home school leaders plan boardroom strategies and finance their organizations.
Saturday morning's general session featured Kay Coles James, Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mrs. James gave an inspiring speech focusing on child abuse reform and the concept that the family is the foundation of a healthy society. The audience uttered more than a few "Amens!" and rose to its feet in applause at the end of her remarks.
"Focus on Youth" sessions, offered for the first time this year, dealt with issues relevant to the next generation of home school leaders. The panels were made up of home-schooled young people and their parents, who discussed "Things You Should Learn to Survive on Your Own," "Passing the Torch to the Next Generation," and "Courtship? What's That?"
The closing banquet had it all—an inspiring message, sensational music, and lots of riotous laughter. Michael Farris gave his perspective on world-wide liberty in light of his recent international travel, and he shared his vision for the future of the home schoolingmovement. Eric and Joyce Burges of Louisiana wowed everyone with their incredible praise duets. Mike Farris, Tommy Teepell (LA), and Joe Tyler (SC) finished up the evening with an often wild, always entertaining take on "Home School Heartbeat."