Service, repentance, the new program for children and youth, ministering, the correct use of the name of the Church and several other pertinent subjects highlighted Thursday’s general conference leadership meeting attended by general authorities and general officers of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Newsroom reported.
Noting the importance of the second great commandment to love one’s neighbor, President M. Russell Ballard, acting President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said: “Imagine what good our members can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us — our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.”
“Service to Heavenly Father’s children is another opportunity to follow the example of His Beloved Son. Some service opportunities are formal. Many other opportunities to serve are informal — without assignment — and come as we reach out to our neighbors in life’s journey.”
After sharing examples of how service blesses members of the Church, missionaries and all of God’s children, he concluded by teaching “service is pure religion, and … can be done right where we live; it doesn’t have to be a long way from home. There are many service opportunities all around us. Testimonies will be strengthened, hearts will be changed and lives will be blessed through loving our neighbor as ourselves.”
President Ballard spoke of serving others through missionary work, seeking to help those who do not regularly attend Latter-day Saint worship services and helping new members feel welcome, participate in worship services and learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Ballard taught of how service helps develop positive relationships with faith and community leaders and helps others to understand the true nature of the Church and its members. He specifically focused on JustServe.org, a community service initiative to help Church members and our fellow citizens follow the Savior’s admonition to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle spoke of the role of repentance in one’s life.
“Repenting is the first and natural consequence of placing our trust and confidence in the Savior,” he said. “Described most simply, repentance is turning away from evil and turning to God. As we exercise faith in and on the Lord, we turn toward, come unto and depend upon Him. Thus, repentance is trusting in and relying upon the Redeemer to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.”
Elder Bednar shared three fundamental truths regarding repentance:
- Repentance requires the Redeemer. “Recognizing and forsaking sin, feeling remorse and making restitution for sin and confessing sins to God and, when needed, to our priesthood leaders, are all necessary and important elements in the repentance process. However, these essential steps do not constitute a mere behavioral checklist we can mechanically, quickly, and casually complete. If we do these things and fail to recognize and depend upon the Redeemer and His atoning sacrifice, then even our best efforts are in vain.”
- Repentance requires an honest heart and real intent. “As we repent and turn to the Lord, it is important that we are honest with ourselves. We must work to overcome the excuse making, blaming and rationalizing that can divert us from truly turning to the Lord.”
- Repentance is discipleship. “Sincere repentance is not merely an element of discipleship; rather, repentance is discipleship. Discipleship is established upon the principles of faith in Christ and repentance. Discipleship is nurtured and strengthened in the holy temple.”
Children and Youth Program
In a presentation by Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president; Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president ; and Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president leaders were taught of the purposes and focus of the new program for children and youth, Newsroom reported.
Elder Cook said that understanding the great capacity of youth, the “Children and Youth Introductory Guide” to parents and leaders includes this invitation from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve:
“The principles taught in this effort for children and youth represent a higher, holier way to encourage the rising generation to follow Jesus Christ and apply His gospel in all areas of their lives. This major effort will include gospel learning, the privilege of service, personal development and exciting activities. This effort starts at home. Parents have a sacred responsibility to teach their children in light and truth. Church leaders offer valuable support and guidance to children, youth, and their families.”
Sister Jones spoke of the new efforts to support children and youth.
“This initiative begins to build an important gospel pattern and foundation for children as they enter the covenant path through baptism,” she said. “Primary children grow up to be young women and young men. We love the opportunity that is being given to children beginning in the year they turn 8 years old to start to intentionally follow the Savior. The central objective of this effort is to help children and youth bring the Savior into all aspects of their lives on the Sabbath and throughout the week.”
Elder Soares said: “Brothers and sisters, wonderful things are happening to bless and strengthen the children and youth. The Lord is truly raising up a generation to accomplish His work today.”
Elder Cook concluded the presentation by sharing that the vision of these efforts “is to strengthen the rising generation’s faith in Jesus Christ, and to help children, youth and their families progress along the covenant path as they meet life’s challenges.” As they do so, children and youth will:
- Know their eternal identity and purpose.
- Deepen their conversion to Jesus Christ, getting His gospel into their hearts and inspiring them to choose to follow Him.
- Fulfill Aaronic Priesthood duties.
- Participate together in the work of salvation.
- Develop personally with parental support and leaders assisting as needed.
- Be worthy to attend the temple and have enduring joy on the covenant path.
The topic of ministering was a significant theme in the meetings, with instruction provided by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Robert C. Gay and Elder Michael T. Ringwood of the Seventy; Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president; and Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the Primary general presidency.
The instruction focused on how ministering to those in the Church — through elders quorums and Relief Societies — and those who are not Latter-day Saints — through the members and missionaries — can bless the lives of all.
“While good things are happening, we can and must do better,” Elder Rasband said. “We need to take seriously the inspired counsel of our prophet and refocus our efforts to improve ministering interviews.”
“We need to find, teach, baptize and make disciples. It does not need to be complicated.”
Sister Bingham further explained: “We’ve had reconfirmed over the last year and a half that the ministering done by ministering brothers and sisters is only one-half of the equation. The other half is the ministering done by presidency members as they hold interviews. That ministering looks like encouraging, listening and sharing spiritual impressions, instructing when needed and expressing the love of the Savior.”
Elder Uchtdorf spoke of ministering as missionaries and members. “Brothers and sisters, we need to find, teach, baptize and make disciples. It does not need to be complicated, but we need to be courageous enough to invite people to come and see and come and help, and eventually they will come and stay,” he said.
Sister Franco spoke of inviting “all to become part of this great work — those active in the faith, those on the sidelines and those who know not yet the blessings of the restored gospel. Taking the excitement of the gospel to our friends and neighbors, both inside and outside of the Church, is the practical application of the Savior’s admonition to let our light shine before men, and not to cover it with a bushel.”
The correct name of the Church
Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, spoke of the great progress that has been made in recent months to follow the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson to use the correct and full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For example, Elder Christofferson shared that:
- 95% of outward-facing references to the Church have been corrected.
- Over 800 new domain names – in many languages and countries – have been acquired to replace incorrect references to the Church.
- 90% of all public Church entities and products that previously included the term “Mormon” or the acronym “LDS” have been updated.
- Mormon.org and associated social media channels have been changed to ComeUntoChrist.org.
- 93% of work on technology systems has been completed to use the new domain name: ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Sister Harkness shared examples from the lives of members who are seeking to use the correct name of the Church in their interactions with others, including a young boy from Denver, Colorado, who invited friends and neighbors to his baptism. “Three of his neighbors attended, including a minister of another faith. When asked after the baptism, the minister and his wife said they never would have come to a ‘Mormon’ church baptism. But because it was a baptism into a church focused on Christ, the minister attended.”
A look at the impact of President Nelson’s charge 1 year ago to call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by its full name
Elder Gong reminded all to “remember this is not a name change or a rebranding. It is a course correction. Of course, we want members and friends to refer to the Lord’s Church by its proper name. But, even more fundamentally, we desire to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives — and invite all to come unto Him. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the revealed name of His restored Church — is itself a testimony of our Savior.”
Home-centered, Church-supported model for learning
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Brother Mark L. Pace, Sunday School general president; and Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, reflected on the many changes in the Church that are intended to create greater strength in the home.
“Whatever the issue or initiative a lot of work lies between an announcement and an accomplishment. We have had a wonderful series of announcements by the President of the Church himself on a home-centered, Church-supported model for learning doctrine, strengthening faith and fostering greater personal experience in Sabbath worship and living the gospel daily,” said Elder Holland.
Sister Craig said “families are blessed when they act in faith. Families all over the world are being blessed as a prophet has promised us as they study the gospel together at home.”
Brother Pace added, “Families are — in a more significant way — studying the scriptures. It’s bringing the blessing of conversion.”
In a discussion led by Elder Holland, several leaders from around the world shared their experiences and observations about how these changes to a home-centered, Church supported model are blessing families at home, at Church and in their communities.
Elder Holland concluded, “This is the other half of the much-discussed and very popular reduction in the Sunday schedule. I invite each of us to consider how we can better follow this model in our own lives.”
Other presentations included instruction from Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, about temple and family history work. The Presiding Bishopric and Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, gave instruction on welfare and self-reliance.
“The need has never been greater than now to personally partake of the joy of the temple to protect our families and prepare them for eternal life,” said Elder Stevenson.
Joined by Elder Renlund and Sister Aburto, they taught of the power of temples to unite families and gather Israel on both sides of the veil.
Elder Renlund shared the story of a woman from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who when she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was sent away by her father to live with relatives. Many years later, while working in the temple, she learned that her father had also joined the Church and was in the temple that day. He said, “Tears flowed freely as daddy and daughter reconciled and their relationship was healed in that sacred House of God. Don’t all families need miracles?”
Elder Renlund then taught of the power of involving new converts and children over the age of 11 in temple and family history work.
Sister Aburto taught of the roles that leaders and members in a congregation can play in strengthening and furthering temple and family history work and demonstrated some of the technology that is available to members and friends in the FamilyTree app or on familysearch.org. “Imagine ministering brothers and sisters doing these activities in the homes of Church members showing them how they can share these meaningful activities with their family and friends.”
The Presiding Bishopric and Sister Bingham gave instruction on welfare and self-reliance.
“The ultimate purpose of welfare and self-reliance efforts is to follow the two great commandments,” said Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé. “We do so as we reach out to provide compassionate relief, but always with an eye toward helping those we serve to lift themselves to greater temporal and spiritual self-reliance. When ministering is carried out in this balanced way— the Lord’s way — both givers and receivers are uplifted and blessed.”
Illustrating with the parable of the Good Samaritan, Bishop Dean M. Davies said “imagine the good and successful outcomes that can occur as Church leaders and members, particularly ministering sisters and brothers, learn to have eyes to see — which includes both eyes to discern the temporal needs of those whom they serve as well as the spiritual and understanding eyes to envision their potential to walk on their own two feet.”
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell spoke of the ancient law of the fast and its capacity to bless both the giver and receiver. “The Lord promises to pour out His blessings upon all who obey the law of the fast. Hence, fasting and the donation of fast offerings — like tithing — actually becomes a means through which faithful members can be lifted out of a position of want and eventually into a position of self-reliance.”
Sister Bingham taught, “For those of us who have responsibility to administer the welfare and self-reliance efforts of the Church, our role is to support leaders and members by providing resources that will enhance their ability to minister to temporal needs and strengthen self-reliance.”