The gospel of Jesus Christ calls on Latter-day Saints “to love people of all faiths, cultures, races and nations for the common good — all are alike unto God,” said Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the G20 Religion Forum on Nov. 3 in Bali, Indonesia.
The forum, known as the R20, mobilized diverse religious, political and economic leaders to find common ground and promote peace and understanding.
“We gather from around the world as ecclesiastical leaders, spiritual guides and scholars of various religious beliefs to share perspectives in this noble work of building peace,” said Elder Stevenson. “We face many challenges, but one of the tests of a successful society is to learn from the past and accept new light and knowledge that comes into the world. Religion is no different. We can all learn from one another — from our past and from our present.”
Joining Elder Stevenson on the panel of speakers were moderator C. Holland Taylor of the Center for Shared Civilizational Values and panelists Rabbi Silvina Chemen of Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Argentina; Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto in Nigeria; Imam Addaruqutni of Pimpinan Pusat Muhammadiyah in Indonesia; Ulil Abshar Abdallah, chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Institute for Study and Human Resource Development in Indonesia; and Prof. Ahmet Kuru of San Diego State University. Rabbi Professor Alan Brill of Seton Hall University offered the keynote address.
Elder Stevenson began his remarks — titled “All Are Alike Unto God: Opening Our Hearts to Those Who Are Different” — by quoting Joseph Smith. The Church’s founding Prophet encouraged Latter-day Saints to receive all truth, he said.
“As an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I represent a faith that has a singular purpose — the salvation of all God’s children,” said Elder Stevenson.
Accomplishing this vision to bring to “pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” takes time, he said. “It is like a tree sprouting from a seed and growing into its potential, religion progresses toward its full stature.”
At the request of event organizers, Elder Stevenson spoke about the 1978 revelation that extended priesthood and temple privileges to every worthy member.
Elder Stevenson noted that “Latter-day Saints rely on a foundational doctrine of continuing revelation.” He explained to the attendees how revelation unfolds in the ongoing restoration.
He called the revelation “a great blessing” to all Church members, who have “been lifted and strengthened by the full participation of all God’s children.”
Quoting President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency, Elder Stevenson said one of the most important effects of the revelation on the priesthood “is its divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children.”
“We have strengthened our priorities towards serving others and celebrating unity in diversity,” he said. “Our shared values with people of faith have compelled us to build bridges of interfaith understanding, foster relationships of racial harmony, and promote fairness for all throughout society — as well as to collaborate with global humanitarian organizations.”
Elder Stevenson said giving to those in need is an important principle. Quoting a recent general conference address by President Oaks, he said: “A few months ago The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported for the first time the extent of our humanitarian work worldwide. Our 2021 expenditures for those in need in 188 countries worldwide totaled 906 million — almost $1 billion (U.S.). In addition our members volunteered over 6 million hours of labor in the same cause.”
Elder Stevenson said the effort to engage in meaningful dialogue with those who are different fuels trust. “Listening to the human experience of others and sharing one’s own journey leads to deeper understanding and respect,” he noted.
Overcoming ignorance starts by understanding, he added.
To that end, Church leaders recently collaborated with Muslim friends to publish a pamphlet that introduces Muslims (followers of Islam) and Latter-day Saints to each other, said Elder Stevenson. “This shows how the common beliefs, values and practices in both faiths extend beyond political, ethnic or cultural boundaries.”
The hard work of harmony is worth the effort it requires, he emphasized.
Closing in the name of Jesus Christ, Elder Stevenson said, “as one called to be a witness of Jesus Christ and promote the peace and love He taught, I testify of His divinity, and invoke divine blessings on all who seek to serve God.”
More than 400 invitees participated in the two-day conference in Indonesia. These religious leaders come from many countries and have millions of followers, said a report on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Church has several humanitarian projects in the works in Indonesia, said the same report. These include efforts to bring clean water to eight villages, equip 10 health care facilities with neonatal resuscitation equipment and training, and improve a school and medical clinic for the underprivileged in Yayasan Cahaya Hati. The Church also recently helped fit more than 500 people with prosthetic limbs in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.