Sydney Walker: Why the Face to Face for single adults didn’t focus on questions from single adults

As I prepared to cover the Face to Face event on Sunday, June 13, for single adults — the first of its kind for that diverse demographic in the Church — I expected it would likely follow the format of previous Face to Face events.

I imagined Church leaders would answer questions submitted from single adults worldwide — including questions one might have as a result of being unmarried, divorced, widowed or a single parent. 

I was surprised to learn that rather than focusing on questions from those 31 and older and single, the Face to Face would center on the power of faith in the Savior Jesus Christ — a principle of the gospel relevant not only to single adults but to Latter-day Saints of every age.  

Why?

In an interview prior to filming the broadcast on the grounds of the Logan Utah Temple, Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, gave some insight: “Elder [Neil L.] Andersen did a really interesting thing. He said, ‘We’re not going to talk that much about being a single adult. What we are going to talk about is how can we increase our faith, this challenge from President [Russell M.] Nelson.’ …

“So we tried to do something different with this Face to Face,” she continued. “We have nine adults that are just going to be talking about their life, their strengths, their challenges, and what they do. And I love the idea of that because it sort of gives us nine examples of ‘Hey, this is how it works for me.’”

Read more: What 9 single adults learned as they accepted President Nelson’s invitation to increase their faith

Robert McArthur, a 64-year-old architectural designer who lives in Bountiful, Utah, was one of those nine participants. “I think part of the challenge of being in a single adult square, if you will, is that actual word ‘challenge,’” he said in a media interview prior to filming the broadcast. 

“The sooner that we realize it’s not a challenge, and it really is part of life, and we need to be who we are, and step forward and contribute, the happier we are and we can be. … All of our contributions are huge, whether we’re single, married, whatever the situation may be.”

Robert McArthur laughs during the filming of a Face to Face event for single adults age 31 and older, on the Logan Utah Temple grounds on Monday, June 7, 2021.
Robert McArthur laughs during the filming of a Face to Face event for single adults age 31 and older, on the Logan Utah Temple grounds on Monday, June 7, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham echoed McArthur’s words as she expressed what she hoped viewers would take away from the Face to Face: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re single or you’re married or widowed, or divorced, or whatever your personal life circumstances — we all need your personal faith.”

President Nelson described faith in Jesus Christ as “the greatest power available to us in this life.” 

He declared during the April 2021 general conference: “My dear brothers and sisters, my call to you … is to start today to increase your faith. Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life, even though your personal challenges may loom as large as Mount Everest. …

“Your mountains will vary, and yet the answer to each of your challenges is to increase your faith.”

Before the broadcast filming began, I spent a few minutes talking with Ayanda Godi, a graduate of BYU-Idaho from Harare, Zimbabwe, who is preparing to take an exam to become a licensed certified public accountant. She was one of the nine single adults featured in the Face to Face. 

After learning a little bit about her experiences, I asked her the question President Nelson posed in his talk: “What would you do if you had more faith?” Her answer: Less fear and more confidence. 

“Whatever dreams you have, whatever hopes for the future you have, you can just work toward those,” Godi told me. “And if things don’t happen, you have faith enough to know that, OK, this is the Lord and I can trust that and I can find comfort in that.”

I felt the truth of President Nelson’s words as I listened to Godi answer this question. Even though her personal challenges were different from mine, my answer to that question would be very similar. I, too, would have less fear and more confidence to move the mountains in my life if I had more faith in the Savior. 

During his opening remarks of the Face to Face, Elder Andersen quoted President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said during April general conference, “For many years, we have talked about ‘young single adults,’ ‘single adults’ and ‘adults.’ Those designations can be administratively helpful at times but can inadvertently change how we perceive others.”

He then asked, “Is there a way to avoid this human tendency that can separate us from one another?”

“The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to unite us,” President Ballard said. “We are ultimately more alike than we are different. As members of God’s family, we are truly brothers and sisters.”

He emphasized that the hope of all who are single is the same as for all Latter-day Saints: “access to the grace of Christ through ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel’.”

I pondered President Ballard’s question as I watched Elder Andersen, President Bingham and Sister Eubank individually interview the nine single adults during the Face to Face event about what they learned while seeking to increase their faith. 

One way to avoid the human tendency of separating one another, I observed during the broadcast, is to focus on the Savior and strive to see others as He does. 

For me, that came in realizing though our mountains are different, the answer to conquering them is the same: more faith in Him.