Prominent evangelical leaders such as Rick Warren, Jim Daly, and Steven Curtis Chapman are among the attendees of Evangelical Orphan Care and Adoption Summit opening today.
The May 9-11 summit, the third of its kind, will be hosted for the first time by Focus on the Family at its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event will attract presidents and CEOs from over 60 organizations and church leaders nationwide to learn how to educate, mobilize and equip leaders in the evangelical community to address orphan care locally as well as on a global-scale.
Other participants will represent government agencies, adoption services, churches and parachurch ministries.
"Historically, Christians have cared about orphans," said Mark Andre, director of the Orphan Care Initiative at Focus on the Family, in a statement. "And we still do. But we need to raise awareness of the practical means for translating care into action. Churches and families need facts, resources, encouragement and support to take on this challenge in a way that gets the job done.
"We want to see these children in permanent, loving homes, and the goal of the summit is to support that mission with greater purpose and urgency."
The summit stems from the biblical mandate to "look after orphans and widows in their distress," and seeks to mobilize evangelicals worldwide to respond to the calling.
There are some 143 million children around the world who are considered orphans through losing one or both parents, according to the United Nations. Moreover, every 14 seconds a child loses a parent due to AIDS – the leading cause for a child to lose both parents.
Yet between 1971 and 2001, U.S. citizens have only adopted over a quarter million children, according to the U.S. Department of State.
The summit plans to address the orphan crisis by urging evangelicals to sponsor orphanages, establish adoption support groups and financial aid initiatives, and – "perhaps most importantly," according to organizers – adopting children.
Keynote addresses and workshops include: "Building Alliances Between State Foster Care and Local Churches," "Ministering to HIV/AIDS Orphans," and "Orphans, Colorado and the Church."
The event will also hold a special one-day seminar for Colorado church leaders on Friday to present ways they and their congregation can care for orphans in their communities. Over 50 organizations will be on-site to share about their particular orphan care outreach.
Focus on the Family has made orphan care one of its newest and most ambitious projects in 2007 after joining FamilyLife and Shaohannah's Hope in an initiative called "Voice of the Orphans" to raise awareness about the orphan crisis and urge action among Christians.