Yes, that’s me.
My directions were to “hit the ground running” as we prepared to open the doors of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. The target date for the grand opening: September 4, 1989. 25 years ago this month.
And so, about a month before opening day, we set out to put a newsletter together to introduce this fledgling new organization aimed squarely at making Pennsylvania more family-friendly.
My wife Susan and I were in the midst of packing to move to Harrisburg, but one afternoon, we took some lampshades off in our Pittsburgh living room – no, not for a party – but to make enough light for an amateur photo shoot to get a picture of me for the newsletter. She snapped off several photos, including the one you see here. And in a flash, here we are 25 years later.
In that inaugural edition of the Pennsylvania Citizen newsletter, we wrapped up the lead article with a salute to the wonderful people who gave generously to a vision – of having a well-run, professional organization that stands up and fights for truth in love in the public square:
Thank you to the many people who gave of their time and money to help establish the Pennsylvania Family Institute. In reality, our work has just begun. Protecting our children from the filth of pornography is a job for all of us. A united effort is needed to once again make abortion illegal in Pennsylvania. Restoring righteousness in our culture is not the duty of one but of all.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s mission is to promote these and other worthy goals through service. For the individual family, we aim to serve by providing information and leadership on issues you need to know about and can act upon.
We will serve other pro-family organizations across Pennsylvania by applying our resources to our common goals. We will host public policy conferences and training seminars, and will supply up-to-date briefings on moral issues in Pennsylvania for action at the grass-roots level.
And finally, we plan to serve the media and our politicians by being a source of well-researched information related to issues affecting the family. The facts are on our side – let’s use them.
In the intervening years since that was written, we have seen the vision of our founders and original investors bear much fruit, with significant victories in advancing the sanctity of life, expansion of parental choice in education and the defense of religious freedom. One capstone – occurring in our 25th anniversary year, is the landmark victory in the US Supreme Court in the Conestoga Wood Specialties case, initiated by our Independence Law Center. Lives have been saved, hardships averted, families strengthened, and, thanks to the contributions of our generous supporters and the work of our great team here at PFI, there is a consistent and professional voice for truth in the halls of the Capitol and across the state.
The past quarter century, however, has also brought many new challenges, many unforeseen at the time of our founding. For example the internet, largely unheard of in 1989, has become both a blessing and a curse, bringing useful information to our fingertips but also invading lives with degrading obscenity of unspeakable proportions.
And today, marriage is under attack in ways unimagined 25 years ago, with the media, academia, Hollywood, politicians and the courts all seeming to act in league to tear down this most basic and vital institutions. We cannot withdraw or surrender from the fight to protect and strengthen marriage. The very lives and well being of children, and ultimately, our future, depend on it.
And so we enter a new and very challenging chapter, thankful to God for his leading and provision throughout our history, and depending on Him for continued grace and sustenance as we press ahead.
If you have been a partner with Pennsylvania Family Institute at any time over these 25 years – supporting us with your prayers, generous contributions and involvement – thank you. I trust you have found your investment of time and treasure worthwhile, and I hope you will continue and even expand your partnership with us in 2014 and beyond.
For those just now being introduced to the Pennsylvania Family Institute and our allied organizations (The Independence Law Center, the PA Family Council and the Family Choice Scholarship Program), I hope you’ll like what you see, but even more, respond to God’s call to love your neighbor, whether by offering a helping hand to a person in need, or by helping make your community and all of Pennsylvania better and safer for children and families. That’s what we’re about, and we’d love to partner with you.
I invite you to join us in a celebration of our 25th Anniversary at our Friends of the Family Banquet, featuring keynote speaker Dr. James Dobson, best-selling author, founder of Focus on the Family, and host of the radio program, “Family Talk.” Please save the date – Friday, November 14th in Lancaster, and think about whom you might bring along with you. As part of the event, we’ll be saluting the Hahn Family – founders and owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, for their bold stand and Supreme Court victory that won freedom for many. Sponsorship and ticket information will be posted here soon.
In the closing paragraph of our September, 1989 Pennsylvania Citizen newsletter, we wrote:
We truly believe that the Pennsylvania Family Institute exists for such a time as this— a time when the family needs defending more than ever before. With your prayers and support, and God’s grace, we hope the Pennsylvania Family Institute will prove to be the Family’s Friend in Pennsylvania.
Now, here in Pennsylvania and a quarter century later, the family continues to need a friend. I’m older, grayer (as my more recent pictures prove) and I’m also now a grandfather, which provides even more motivation for me to help make tomorrow better.
Let’s get to it.
Michael Geer is the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.