After ministering around the world as a counselor in the Young Men general presidency, Elder Ahmad S. Corbitt brings to his calling as a new General Authority Seventy “a greater ability to listen to prophetic and apostolic direction and instruction with increasing care and faith.”
“I don’t think my sense of urgency to strengthen the rising generation will ever diminish,” he said.
Elder Corbitt, who was sustained to serve in the Young Men general presidency in April 2020, has spent the last three years working with other youth leaders to strengthen the rising generation and to invite them to be actively involved in the work of salvation and exaltation.
“The Children and Youth program teaches us, shows us how to engage the rising generation such that they will be retained and faithful, and they’ll be better leaders than we are because they will have grown up with the opportunities to do the work of salvation and exaltation in higher and holier ways,” he said.
Serving the youth
When Elder Corbitt was called to serve in the Young Men general presidency, general conference had no in-person congregation and was broadcast from a small auditorium in the Church Office Building on Temple Square due to the COVID-19 pandemic precautions.
Implementation of the new Children and Youth program was anticipated in 2019, including personal development (including individual goal-setting), service, activities and gospel learning. For the Strength of Youth conferences were set to begin in the United States and Canada in the summer of 2020.
With the onset of the pandemic, in-person Church meetings and activities were canceled, and members were meeting at home.
“There was not only the pandemic that we faced, but we wanted to make sure we were very conscious of the scripture in Mosiah 26 where the rising generation who were too young to understand the words of King Benjamin rejected … the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Corbitt said.
Members of the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies were “determined that would not happen on our watch,” Elder Corbitt said.
As they studied the scriptures and counseled together, there was an insight that Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon pointed out as she looked at other youth in the Book of Mormon, such as the stripling warriors who went to war to help protect their families as their parents had buried their weapons of war.
“One group was called upon to do hard things that saved their people. We might say they were called upon to do the work of salvation and exaltation,” Elder Corbitt said. “And one of them, there is no record that they were.”
The parents of both groups of rising generations — those who heard King Benjamin and the stripling warriors’ parents — were faithful.
“One generation was lost and one was retained, and the difference seems to be that the one that was retained was engaged in service necessary to the salvation of their families and themselves,” he said.
And that has been the general leaders’ focus as they’ve trained, ministered and taught.
“To the degree we can get our youth engaged in the work, and especially as quorum and class presidencies and other opportunities to serve, we will help them save each other and save themselves through the gospel Jesus Christ,” Elder Corbitt said.
“And they can have great fun doing it, and they should have fun doing the work of salvation,” he added.
For the past three years, as the Young Men and Young Women presidencies met and counseled, he said they were unified in supporting the prophetic vision of youth doing the work of salvation and exaltation.
“There was always wonderful, spirited discussion, but we always came together in unanimity. I have never seen two presidencies unified as we have been in all my life,” Elder Corbitt said. And he’s seen blessings as they’ve worked together.
It’s also during this time that the new “For the Strength of Youth” guidebook was introduced by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the October 2022 general conference, noting that “Jesus Christ is the strength of youth.”
The new guidebook “endeavors to help families and youth understand that and draw on His strength to guide their lives,” Elder Corbitt said.
He’s seen where “people are interpreting the absence of rules as there shouldn’t be rules rather than a healthy respect by prophets and apostles of our agency and our ability at the local level to develop and apply our own rules.”
And by using the principles in the “For the Strength of Youth” guide to develop rules, “then Jesus Christ will be our strength, and will be the strength of youth.”
With the For the Strength of Youth conferences, he’s seen how there are young men and young women who share how they didn’t want to attend or didn’t know anyone, but were glad they attended and were able to feel the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
“It has been wonderful and powerful,” he said. Young single adults are counselors at the FSY conferences, giving the youth someone a few years older than them who is an example of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Also, there is a “critical mass of youth” at the conferences. The youth can see many others who are like them.
“They’re coming to FSY and they’re giving it a chance, and the Lord is blessing them with great spiritual experiences,” Elder Corbitt said.
As pandemic restrictions have been lifted, leaders are now ministering in person around the world.
“The hearts and faith of the members are just amazing,” Elder Corbitt said. “You go on these international trips to try to lift and inspire others, and you end up being more inspired and lifted.”
Sister Jayne Corbitt observed: “The leaders are so humble and so willing to learn. And when we come, they’re just like sponges. They just want to know how to do it and are so humble about it.”
Finding the Church
Ahmad Saleem Corbitt, 60, was born Aug. 16, 1962, to James Earl Corbitt and Amelia Corbitt, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He grew up in housing projects and row homes of Philadelphia and credits mainly his mother’s spiritual impressions and steady and strong influence in guiding their family.
Young Ahmad and his family worshipped with the Nation of Islam, and he was later baptized Protestant. After his family moved to New Jersey, his mother invited the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to their home.
Elder Corbitt remembers two things about walking into the Latter-day Saint chapel: an older white sister with a loving, sincere smile greeted them at the front door, and as he sat in the chapel he was filled with a “feeling of coming home.”
On his 18th birthday, Ahmad joined the Church, following his mother and some siblings into the waters of baptism. His stepfather was baptized the next year.
After attending Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, and serving in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission from 1982 to 1984, he met Jayne Joslin during a young single adult temple trip.
She was raised in New Jersey in a family of three girls. She was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, where she was studying special education.
Her older sister had joined the Church 10 years earlier and had moved to California after being baptized. “She was a great example,” she said.
Jayne and a friend began meeting with the missionaries and joined the Church four months later. Later, she went to live with her sister in California.
“And then I decided to go on a mission from there, and I went back east to the Washington DC Mission,” she said. Her mother, who later joined the Church, still lived in New Jersey. After being released from her mission, Jayne went to live with her mother, which is how she came to be on the same young single adult temple trip as Ahmad Corbitt.
It was on that temple trip to the Washington D.C. Temple that they met and became friends— spending several hours in a car together.
The couple married on Aug. 24, 1985, in that same temple and are the parents of six children whom they raised in New Jersey.
“I have seen 40 years of preparation,” she said of her husband and his new calling.
Sister Corbitt’s other sister never joined the Church. However, she and her sister are preparing to do the proxy work for their third sister and to be sealed as a family. The sealing will be the first Elder Corbitt will perform.
Elder Corbitt has degrees from the Richard Stockton University of New Jersey and Rutgers University School of Law. He has served as a high councilor, counselor in two stake presidencies, stake president, and president of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission.
Following the Prophet
Elder Corbitt worked as a trial lawyer, in public and government relations, as director of the Church’s New York Office of Public and International Affairs, and as an area mission specialist helping mission leaders.
During his employment with the Church, he was also assigned to help organize what became “Be One” — the First Presidency-sponsored celebration in June 2018 marking the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation allowing men of all races to be ordained to the priesthood.
“It became this amazing celebration of unity and harmony led by prophetic vision and spirit, and the Lord just blessed it, and it helped unify the Church in major ways,” Elder Corbitt said.
Elder Corbitt also assisted with Church leaders meeting NAACP leaders in May 2018. The leaders then called “on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect.”
Elder Corbitt said, “What has begun is a wonderful reflection of the kind of brotherhood and sisterhood and unity that the First Presidency envisions for all of God’s children.”
Elder Corbitt has seen how following the Prophet has led to greater blessings. He also saw, a couple of years later as racial tensions led to violence, the results of ignoring the Prophet’s words and warnings.
“If we, as a covenant people, follow [President Nelson’s counsel to be peacemakers in the Sunday morning session of general conference], we can lead the nation and the world in how to be brothers and sisters and fulfill that prophetic vision that the Lord just pronounced to the world, through his mouthpiece, President Russell M. Nelson,” Elder Corbitt said.
About Elder Ahmad S. Corbitt
Family: Born Aug. 16, 1962, to James Earl Corbitt and Amelia Corbitt, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; his mother later married Henry Branford Campbell. Married Jayne Joslin on Aug. 24, 1985, in the Washington D.C. Temple. They are the parents of six children.
Education: Received an undergraduate degree in sociology from Richard Stockton University of New Jersey and a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law.
Employment: Worked as a trial lawyer, in public and government relations, as director of the Church’s New York Office of Public and International Affairs, and as an area mission specialist.
Church service: Former stake president and counselor, high councilor, president of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission (2014 to 2017), and full-time missionary in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission (1982 to 1984). He was serving as the first counselor in the Young Men general presidency at the time of his call.