The prescription for much of what ails the world is simple. Treat one another with kindness, seek charity, repent of sins and read the Book of Mormon daily.
Every six months, Latter-day Saints gather to hear the words of the prophet, apostles and other divinely called leaders. Members of the Church boldly proclaim to the world that God once again speaks to mankind through His anointed leaders. And when people ask what message God has for the world today, this is the answer.
It may sound like a simple prescription, but it is a powerful one; and it is exactly what the world needs today.
“Brethren, we do not honor the priesthood of God if we are not kind to others,” President Thomas S. Monson said at the priesthood session of the 187th Annual General Conference on Saturday evening April 1.
He quoted the prophet Mormon’s description of charity and the Doctrine and Covenants’ teaching that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41).
“Brethren,” President Monson said, “let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. As we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.”
In the Sunday morning session, he implored Latter-day Saints “to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”
What great prophetic promises of comfort and power during a time President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, correctly described as “a most difficult dispensation.” What a great message of hope at a time of worldwide economic, political and societal uncertainties.
The 187th Annual General Conference was filled with inspired teachings, uplifting music and an abundance of the Lord’s Spirit. Church members were thrilled as President Monson announced the coming construction of five new temples, in Saratoga Springs, Utah; Pocatello, Idaho; Brasilia, Brazil; the greater Manila, Philippines, area; and Nairobi, Kenya.
The ever-expanding number of temples worldwide means more Latter-day Saints will have opportunities close at hand to perform important ordinances for themselves and their ancestors, helping to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Elijah that the generations would have their hearts turned toward each other (Malachi 4:5-6).
It helps to hasten what President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, called “the gathering of the family of God.”
“Our Heavenly Father is anxious to gather and bless all of His family,” President Eyring said. “While He knows that not all of them will choose to be gathered, His plan gives each of His children the opportunity to accept or reject His invitation. And families are at the heart of this plan.”
He told Church members the work of family history is important for bringing the blessings of saving ordinances to relatives who lived long ago. “Many of your ancestors did not receive those ordinances. But in the providence of God, you did. And God knew that you would feel drawn to your ancestors in love and that you would have the technology necessary to identify them.”
The new temples also mean an even greater outpouring of the Spirit in communities and nations where faithful Church members already serve diligently and desire their neighbors to hear the gospel.
The conference also marked the calling of a new Relief Society general presidency. Sister Jean B. Bingham was called as the new president, with Sister Sharon Eubank as first counselor and Sister Reyna I. Aburto as second counselor. In addition, Church members sustained six new General Authority Seventies — Elder Taylor G. Godoy, Elder Joni L. Koch, Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, Elder John C. Pingree Jr., Elder Brian K. Taylor and Elder Taniela B. Wakolo — and a new second counselor in the Primary general presidency, Sister Cristina B. Franco.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, echoed the theme set by President Monson as he cautioned Church members not to manipulate people through fear.
“People who are fearful may say and do things that are right, but they do not feel the right things,” he said. “They often feel helpless and resentful, even angry. Over time these feelings lead to mistrust, defiance, and rebellion.”
By contrast, he said, God sent His Son to show people how to change their hearts. “As His covenant people, we need not be paralyzed by fear because bad things might happen,” he said. “Instead, we can move forward with faith, courage, determination, and trust in God as we approach the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
The world is, of course, filled with plenty of fear, unkindness, sin and despair. Through His chosen servants, the Lord has shown how to overcome these and bring hope and joy to those who are suffering. The 187th Annual General Conference offered the world great reasons, indeed, for hope, along with a cure for what ails it.