“Being continuously engaged in improving the lives of our fellowmen is not just theory but rather an application of the gospel’s core doctrines,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, told a large gathering in the nation’s capital on April 16.
President Uchtdorf spoke on “The Church in a Global World” as he addressed more than 850 people at the BYU Management Society’s annual gala dinner and awards evening.
Organizers of the annual event at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel honored President Uchtdorf for his leadership and service, while underscoring the ability of the BYU Community to have a significant impact both at home and around the world.
God’s teachings must not be separated from personal conduct, but applied daily, said President Uchtdorf. “Our faith has to be reflected in our leadership, and our leadership must be grounded on personal righteousness,” he told the audience. “Then the powers of heaven will give us strength and lead us both in good and in challenging times.”
The annual awards dinner, held now for 27 years, brought together some of the area’s most notable business, government, diplomatic, and political leaders, as well as diplomats from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe who were guests of the Church and various members of the BYU community in the Washington, D.C., area. President Uchtdorf addressed all as “my brothers and sisters.”
Formerly chief pilot of Lufthansa airline, President Uchtdorf compared the first successful powered flight by “two visionary men” — the Wright Brothers — on North Carolina’s Outer Banks with the Restoration of the gospel to Joseph Smith in upstate New York; the “modest and simple” beginnings were almost unnoticed by others at the time, yet both have grown to encompass the globe.
Just as aviation connects people of all nations, languages, and cultures throughout the world, he said, “the principles and doctrines this Church teaches will benefit and uplift the people of every nation, clime, and culture.”
He said the principles named in the Thirteenth Article of Faith are the guiding ethical principles for Church members across the globe: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” In addition, he said, the Sermon on the Mount offers “unchanging, foundational principles — the bedrock of how we should treat each other.”
“We teach, support, and encourage all men, women and children to draw near to God and live charitable and honorable lives,” he said. “We teach that as our love for goodness grows, as our love for Heavenly Father increases, so too will our hearts reach out in compassion and service to our fellowmen.”
As a refugee twice himself as a child in Czechoslovakia and Germany, President Uchtdorf said, “I have witnessed how opposing political systems impacted the lives of people in very divergent ways. I learned by experience how important high moral and ethical values of leadership are.”
Moral agency refers not only to the capacity to “act for ourselves,” he noted, but also to be accountable for those actions.
President Uchtdorf told how the Church’s family focus, temples, volunteerism, lay ministry, welfare principles, emphasis on education, and humanitarian service bless many.
“The Church does not wait for a disaster to strike before it mobilizes,” he explained. “Pallets of clothing, food, medicine, bandages, cleaning kits, shovels, and tarps are always being prepared for the next earthquake, famine, or fire. Over the last 25 years, the Church has responded to almost 2,000 emergencies worldwide,” often partnering with Islamic Relief, International Relief & Development, and the International Medical Corps to provide humanitarian aid. The goal of help offered by the Church is to leave people in a better position to help themselves, he emphasized.
President Uchtdorf said eye/vision care, providing wheelchairs, training medical professionals to save lives of newborns, providing clean water, and immunization are core projects in the Church’s focus on long-term humanitarian efforts. He noted that 100 percent of the donations given to the Church’s humanitarian services fund are used for relief efforts; the Church absorbs its own overhead costs.
He quoted Joseph Smith: “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but reaches out to the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
President Uchtdorf concluded, “The most important impact the Church has today is in the daily lives of people. The Church will continue to focus on strengthening families, building righteous societies, and helping our brothers and sisters to improve their lives the world over, regardless of culture, language, or religious beliefs. We invite you all to be part of these efforts.”
In addition to honoring President Uchdorf for his humanitarian service, the BYU Management Society also announced the Community Hero Award. It was presented for the first time to Alisa Cozzens, Christi Romney and Christine Troger, leaders of an all-volunteer organization called Serve a Village. The award “recognizes three individuals who have worked together to show that it is possible to link efforts at home with extraordinary efforts in places around the world to provide help where help is needed most,” said BYUMS D.C. Chapter president Milan Detweiler as he announced the award.
“The award goes to those members of the BYU family who embody the very essence of moral and ethical leadership in our hometown communities and around the globe,” he said.
Serve a Village’s projects aim to not only improve conditions now but also provide skills that will help communities and individuals live healthier lives, find jobs or develop their own cottage industries, and improve education for future generations.
“Improving the health, welfare, education, and environment of communities throughout the world is a daunting challenge for any organization,” said Brother Detweiler. “But these women are doing it — one village at a time.”
Named as recipients of the Joy G. Korologos Scholarships for 2011 were Rebecca Fletcher, Marianne Gold, Derek Hoke, Daniel Howell, and Nathan Romney. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser dinner go to benefit area students attending BYU.