Personal contact holds greatest potential as tool to carry message

Now and in the coming years, what the Church stands for will be defined either by its members or their antagonists, said Elder Richard B. Wirthlin of the Seventy.

"As the kingdom grows internationally, our proverbial candle simply cannot be hidden, even under a bushel - and even if we wanted to hide it," said Elder Wirthlin, speaking to members of the International Society Aug. 18. "Instead the question is what kind of candle we will be."Elder Wirthlin said the Church has achieved great global public affairs accomplishments during the last four or five years, noting however that it will face challenges in the future as it tries to expand its positive influence.

"It is clear . . . that we have special and considerable challenges in presenting the Church and its mission to different cultures - especially when we confront strongly differing perceptions of family, government institutions, and the role of the individual in society."

Continuing, Elder Wirthlin said news coverage, such as the sesquicentennial coverage of the Mormon Pioneer Trail and President Hinckley's appearance on 60 Minutes, carry a credibility value.

"But we all know too well that news coverage can be a very fickle friend."

One of the most powerful opportunities to enhance the Church's public relations message, said Elder Wirthlin, is person-to-person contacts.

He said much is accomplished through service missionaries and the humanitarian service the Church provides - "but much is also accomplished through the daily participation of Church members in their neighborhoods, communities, cities and professions."

The blueprint for this type of activity comes from the Savior, said Elder Wirthlin. Jesus, he added, worked at a grassroots level, building leadership and community among a small group of disciples who would become a shining light to the world.

"As the Lord leads the Church, He finds tools among both the most prominent and the most humble to bring about His purposes. It is these person-to-person contacts which harbor perhaps the greatest potential advances in taking the Church's message throughout the earth."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed