CAFO 2017 • Article from Brentwood Baptist

CAFO 2017

There are more than 8,250 children in Tennessee’s foster care system, and tens of thousands more in surrounding states. These children face immense challenges, including the fact that an estimated 70% of child victims of human trafficking come from the foster system. But churches across the southeast and beyond are working to change that. The CAFO2017 Summit will bring America’s largest faith-based conference on foster care and adoption to Nashville, TN, May 4-5.

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Faith-based advocates emphasize that if just one child were adopted and one child fostered by each church in the region, there would be more families waiting for children than children waiting for families. (There are more than 11,175 churches in Tennessee). Some churches are already doing far more than this, with some congregations in Tennessee having welcomed hundreds of children in recent years. Meanwhile, faith-based organizations like the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home, which just celebrated 125 years of ministry, help facilitate this involvement.

This is reflective of national trends, with churches across the US actively engaging adoption and foster care. The Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual Summit has become the hub for what Christianity Today called “the burgeoning orphan care movement.”

Indicators of this growing movement include:

According to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), while giving by Americans to all causes last year grew by 4.1%, giving to Christian adoption and related care for vulnerable children grew by more than triple that rate — 12.4%.

According to Barna Research, practicing Christians adopt at rates more than double the general population, and foster at rates 50% higher.  

Engagement by Christians with local foster care is growing across America, provoking headlines such as, “A Church Movement to Give Every Child a Home” (TIME Magazine), "Make Foster Care Work, Let Churches Lead” (Bloomberg) and "Fostering Hope: How the church is changing the face of foster care and adoption in the U.S.” (Relevant Magazine).  

This trend is not just in the US. Christians across the globe are stepping up for local orphans, from Atlanta to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. The number of countries where churches celebrate Orphan Sunday has grown from two in 2009 to 72 last year.  

Top Christian leaders increasingly champion the Bible’s call to give special care for the orphan, from David Platt, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jim Daly, and John Piper (all adoptive parents) to Rick and Kay Warren and Francis Chan. In mid-2016, a book by the SBC’s Russell Moore and CAFO President Jedd Medefind (both adoptive fathers) highlights the church’s role in foster care, adoption, and orphan care.

The CAFO Summit is both a driver and a measure of this trend, growing from 38 attendees in 2004 to more than 2,000 expected this year. Adoptive and foster parents, pastors, orphan advocates, and other Christian leaders from across America and around the globe gather to collaborate in both growing and guiding Christian action for vulnerable children.

To nurture and sustain this growing movement, the CAFO Summit features some of the foremost orphan movement leaders from around the world. This year’s theme – “Justice & the Inner Life” will explore together both why and especially how we can cultivate our inner life, especially in the thick of ministry, parenting, healing and serving amidst our world’s hurt.

More than 110 workshops at Summit offers instruction from top national experts on topics ranging from parenting and attachment in adoption and foster care, to church-based family support ministries, to church-state partnerships, to global church-to-church collaborations.  

Summit also features concerts, movie screenings, special resources for adoptive and foster families, more than 100 booths and exhibits, a marketplace of global arts and crafts and a bookstore, and a host of other opportunities, including CEU credit via NASW. There are also a series of workshops and experiences devoted to justice and the inner life with opportunities and rooms set apart to engage individual and corporate practices that feed and refresh deep down. Ultimately, Summit is designed to inspire, connect and equip those champions who are in pursuit of long-term journeys for effective action for vulnerable children.

“Throughout history, Christians at their best have been known for the ‘pure and faultless religion’ that cares for the orphan in distress,” said Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. “It’s thrilling to see Christians rising to this call once again in foster care, adoption and more. We join together at Summit to learn how to live out this call wisely and well.”

CAFO has extended a special discount to Brentwood Baptist. Please use code BRENTWOOD at registration to receive the special pricing. 

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