Ricks graduates given 'anchors for life'

An unwavering testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a lifetime of willing service to build the kingdom of God are the anchors that will keep one from drifting off course, Elder M. Russell Ballard told graduates of Ricks College April 23.

"The vessel of your life has reached one port of call. But now you must start again for a distant shore," said Elder Ballard of the Council of the Twelve. He was keynote speaker during the college's 105th commencement exercises, during which 2,255 graduates received 2,299 degrees."You can certainly anticipate some exciting and wonderful opportunities in the years ahead. But it will be more and more difficult to remain a committed follower of Jesus Christ. I believe future followers of Christ will face adversity and persecution that is much more intense than anything we see today."

Speaking to the largest graduating class in the two-year college's history, Elder Ballard encouraged the students to develop testimonies like the Prophet Joseph Smith's and other early leaders who laid the foundation of the Church. "If your testimonies and service can equal that of the founders of the Church, tomorrow will be secure and strong."

Always remember what a blessing it is to be a member of the Church, he said. "You must never take lightly nor ever forget the price that our forefathers willingly paid for the establishment of the only true Church upon the earth."

Elder Ballard cited the examples of Church leaders and historical figures, such as Marion G. Romney and Lucy Mack Smith, and his own grandfather Melvin J. Ballard and great-grandfather Henry Ballard. He said he hopes their examples "will give you courage, so, whatever is in your future, you will always be trustworthy and steadfast in your stewardships as you serve God our Eternal Father.

"We are now led by another great prophet-leader, President Ezra Taft Benson. During the eight and one half years that he has presided over the Church, fulfillment of prophesy is apparent to every spiritually attuned observer," Elder Ballard said. "Live by this legacy of faith . . . Pass it on to your children so that the Church will always have leadership of faithful men and women who can continue to prepare for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Ricks College Pres. Steven D. Bennion also addressed the graduates. He urged the students to "look for the silver lining in all you do and face. Look for opportunities to serve others, to lift and to bless. Look up! Resist the tendency toward selfishness, contention, the drab and the ugly. Fill your life with those things that inspire."

Pres. Bennion counseled the students to make a difference by pursuing truth. "Intellectual, moral and spiritual truths bless us profoundly. The quest for truth leads to peace, joy and happiness . . . . God bless each of you with the desire to look up, to reach out to serve others, to pursue the truth in all of your endeavors, and to have the courage of your convictions."

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