Sonora Dodd is credited with being the first person to suggest “Father’s Day.” Mrs. Dodd greatly admired her own father, William Jackson Smart. Smart’s wife died as their sixth child was born. A Civil War veteran, Smart went on to raise his children alone on a farm in eastern Washington state. Growing up in this setting, Sonora Dodd saw day by day her father’s self-sacrifice and the love he gave his children.
Dodd first proposed “Father’s Day” in 1909. Simultaneously, other towns were beginning to celebrate “Father’s Day” on different dates. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge expressed support for a nationally recognized observance. Forty-two years later, Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation declaring that Father’s Day would be celebrated on the third Sunday in June, 1966. Finally, in 1972, a proclamation from President Nixon made Father’s Day an annual event nationwide.
Since Father’s Day falls on a Sunday each year, many churches emphasize the role of family and parents in God’s design for his people. Many pastors use the occasion to preach about the specific roles that dads play in their children’s physical and spiritual lives. Elements in the worship service encourage fathers to take a leadership role in teaching, mentoring, disciplining, and building up their children’s faith (Ephesians 6:4).
Father’s Day gives all God’s people an opportunity to express respect and love to their fathers and to other men who have played an important role in our lives. Younger children can create cards or make gifts for their dads. Children of all ages can share their admiration and thanks to the men who have brought God’s special blessing into their lives.
So go ahead! Share a meal together. Celebrate. Play together. Reminisce. Above all, thank God for the gift of dads and other male models that reflect, though imperfectly, his own perfect Fatherhood.
Looking for Father’s Day gift, devotion, or sermon ideas? CTA has lots of choices! Check them out! And feel free to reprint this article in your June newsletter or the service folder for Father’s day, so long as you follow the copyright guidelines here.