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Elder Gong ministers to youth, young adults in North of England

Devotionals in Chorley, Huddersfield mark the first such age-specific visit in the area by an Apostle in 25 years

Elder Gerrit W. Gong became the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a quarter-century to address young adults and youth of the North of England.

Given the 25-year time frame, devotionals with the youth and young adults from the Preston, Manchester and Leeds areas would have been the first time for nearly all to listen to an Apostle in person — with some having the chance to be greeted personally by Elder Gong.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, Elder Gong gathered with young adults in the stake center shared by the Chorley England and Preston England stakes, located in Chorley adjacent to the Preston England Temple.

The timely message of hope he offered was a reminder to his listeners of their three truest and most important identities, first taught by President Russell M. Nelson at the May 2022 worldwide devotional broadcast for young adults.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong stands with youth to sing during a devotional meeting in England.
Youth and leaders from England's Manchester and Leeds regions fill the chapel to sing while attending a meeting with Elder Gerrit W. Gong, standing foreground center, in the Huddlesfield England Stake Center on Feb. 25, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Testified Elder Gong: “I hope you leave tonight knowing that you are a child of God, a child of the covenant and a disciple of Christ.”

The Apostle’s message and testimony emphasizing the importance of youth and young adults of the rising generation was shared in a meeting the night before with youth of the region.

Elder Gong was accompanied in Chorley by his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong, as well as Elder Alan T. Phillips, a General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Europe North Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Lindsey Phillips. Other leaders attending included Area Seventies and mission, temple and stake presidents and their spouses.

A report on Elder Gong’s visit was first published on the Church’s United Kingdom Newsroom site.

Two Church of Jesus Christ leaders stand at the podium.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stands with Elder Alan T. Phillips, a General Authority Seventy, during a young adult devotional in the Chorley England Stake Center on Feb. 25, 2024, | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Along with Elder Phillips, Elder Gong taught principles of finding balance and having faith in the Lord’s promises of abundance. He invited his listeners to “be the change we all need in a time of loneliness and isolation” and to promise that in young adult gatherings in the future, they would never let anyone leave not feeling welcomed.

Attendees spoke of being touched that Elder Gong would come to their area. “Now more than ever, we need it,” said one young adult of the Apostle’s visit and message.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong greets a young woman man before a youth devotional.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets a young woman before a youth devotional in the Huddersfield England Stake Center on Feb. 24, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Added another: “It was just so nice that he came, and he acted like a friend. I felt as if he ministered the same way the Savior would.”

On Saturday, Feb. 24, Elder Gong met with local youth who filled the Huddersfield England Stake Center, some 40 miles (60 kilometers) to the southeast of Preston. There, Elder and Sister Gong were accompanied by Elder Scott D. Whiting, a General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Europe North Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Jeri O. Whiting.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong shakes the hand of a young man.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with a young man before a youth devotional in the Huddersfield England Stake Center on Feb. 24, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

To the delight of attendees there, Elder Gong walked up and down the aisles of the large chapel and cultural hall, personally meeting and ministering to as many youth as possible.

Said a 17-year-old young man from North Yorkshire, England: “I loved how personal Elder Gong was with the youth — he interacted so well with all of us and connected so calmly with everyone. I loved how caring he was and the fact that even though he’d been through a full day of busy meetings, he cared for us just as the Savior would have.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong shakes hands prior to a young adult devotional.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with an attendee prior to a young adult devotional in the Chorley England Stake Center on Feb. 25, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Added a young woman from Northern England’s Tees Valley area: “Through the visit from one of the Lord’s Apostles, I really felt valued and needed for the work of the Lord.”

Both devotionals highlighted how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ empowers and provides purpose to the rising generation, with the young adults and youth being those who led the meetings, provided music direction and accompaniment, sang in the choirs, and offered the prayers and talks.

Said one adult attending the Chorley devotional: “It just shows the importance of young adults in the Church, the place we have and the role we play.”

A choir sings.
A young adult choir sings during a devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Chorley England Stake Center on Feb. 25, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Young adults point to their noses in an activity during a devotional.
Young adults point to their noses in an activity during a devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, held in the Chorley England Stake Center on Feb. 25, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Young men raise their hands during a youth devotional activity.
Youth from the area of Leeds and Manchester, England, raise uplifted hands as they participate with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a youth devotional in the Huddlesfield England Stake Center on Feb. 24, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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