Reach out, rescue the fallen

Priesthood is "the perfect plan of service," President Thomas S. Monson said in his priesthood session address, citing a quotation by President Stephen L Richards, an earlier counselor in the First Presidency.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized Doctrine and Covenants 107: 99, "Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence."

Affirming that the Church today is stronger than ever, with activity levels of youth indicating faith and devotion to truth, he added: "Yet there are some who drop by the wayside, who find other interests that persuade them to neglect their Church duties. We must not lose such precious souls."

Presidencies of Aaronic Priesthood quorums, under bishopric direction, "can be empowered to reach out and rescue," he said.

He recounted the passage in Judges 7 about Gideon, who followed the Lord's direction and selected valiant men for a military battle. "The scripture records the outcome of this decisive battle," he said. " 'And they stood every man in his place,' and the victory was won."

President Monson said home teaching is part of today's plan to rescue, adding that in areas where adequate Melchizedek Priesthood strength is missing, stake presidents and bishops, coordinating with the mission president, may use full-time missionaries to visit less-active and part-member families. "Not only does this rekindle the missionary spirit in the home, but it also provides an ideal opportunity for many referrals to be obtained," he said.

President Monson recounted examples of leaders who, "out of necessity or in response to duty, stopped wringing their hands, rolled up their sleeves and, with the Lord's help, went to work and brought precious men to qualify for the Melchizedek Priesthood and, with their wives and children, to enter the Holy Temple for their endowments and sealings."

He told of a visit many years earlier to the Millcreek Stake in Salt Lake City, where more than 100 prospective elders had been ordained elders during the preceding year. "Although he was too modest to take the credit, one of his counselors revealed that President [James] Clegg, recognizing the challenge, had undertaken to personally call and arrange a private appointment between him and each prospective elder. During the appointment, President Clegg would mention the temple of the Lord, the saving ordinances and covenants emphasized there, and would conclude with this question: 'Wouldn't you desire to take your sweet wife and your precious children to the House of the Lord that you might be a forever family throughout the eternities?' An acknowledgment followed, the reactivation process was pursued, and the goal was achieved."

President Monson also told of similar success attained many years ago in the Rose Park Stake. In each of the accounts, President Monson said, four elements were found that led to success:

  • The reactivation opportunity was pursued at the ward level.
  • The bishop of the ward was involved.
  • Qualified and inspired teachers were provided.
  • Attention was given to each individual.

"The work of reactivation is no task for the idler or dreamer," President Monson admonished. "Children grow, parents age, and time waits for no man. Don't postpone a prompting; rather, act on it and the Lord will open the way."

He concluded: "Tonight I pray that all of us who hold the priesthood may sense our responsibilities, that we might stand every man in his appointed place and, as one, follow our Leader, even the Lord Jesus Christ — and His prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. May we reach out and rescue those who have fallen by the wayside that not one precious soul will be lost."