Build the kingdom of God by bringing in new converts and help them remain active, new mission presidents were charged at their annual seminar June 19-22.
Speaking at the largest-ever seminar (for 124 mission presidents and their wives) were President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, first and second counselor, respectively, in the First Presidency. Others delivering addresses were President Howard W. Hunter and five other members of the Council of the Twelve, including Elder L. Tom Perry, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. Also speaking were Elder Dean L. Larsen and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Backman is executive director of the Missionary Department. (See additional stories on this page and page 4.)The new presidents and their wives, representing 23 countries and a myriad of professions, formed a sizeable congregation during the seminar. After the week of instructions, the new leaders embarked to take the helms of their missions.
Much of the seminar was made up of group training where major emphasis was placed on guidance, inspiration and conversion by the Spirit. "Undergirding and overriding everything else we do at the seminar is the importance of the Spirit in missionary work," said Elder Backman.
Elder Perry instructed mission presidents on June 19 that with the doors of nations opening, it has become the Church's responsibility to enter.
"The challenge is now ours to move forward in this wide open window of opportunity at an ever-accelerated rate," said Elder Perry.
"I am certain that is what the Lord expects of us. He has opened the door; we are now expected to carry the gospel message into all the lands that are now available to us."
Elder Perry continued, "I am sure He expects us to build solidly with a foundation of true conversions that will allow the fruit to remain and ripen."
He said that for this to happen, missionaries must teach with the converting power of the Spirit.
"Every detail of our administration and our teaching must be directed toward establishing a climate where those feelings can develop. Missionaries must develop attributes in order to qualify for the Spirit. These attributes include gospel knowledge, testimony, personal righteousness, faith, hard work and charity."
"We all know the blessing of the Spirit on investigators. It brings them peace, enlightenment to their minds; it brings increased understanding and enlarges their souls.
"We are honored to be associated with you in this, the Lord's great missionary program."
He noted that missionaries are now approved to teach the lessons to new members, teach the gospel essentials class and work with the converts in their progress toward temple sealings. Missionaries are also encouraged to work in community service projects once a week.
Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department promised the mission presidents that they would be successful.
"The Lord will go before you because you are going to carry to all who will listen to you the greatest of all messages - that God lives, that His Son Jesus Christ directs the Church today. Because of His infinite love for all mankind, He established a way by which we can regain His very presence.
"How more beautifully or profitably can anyone spend the next two or three years as you are going to do?"
He said the presidents can render service, "and in the end, it is no sacrifice at all because the Lord repays us so much for the efforts we expend in building His holy kingdom."
On the other side of the pulpit, mission presidents described the seminar as a consistent spiritual experience. The training was well-organized and relevant, they said.