This week on social media, Church leaders reacted to the announcement of a continued partnership between the Church and the NAACP, shared follow-up thoughts and questions after a Face to Face event for single adult members of the Church ages 31 and up, and invited readers to share what they’ve learned while inviting the Holy Ghost to help them study the scriptures.
Ongoing collaboration with NAACP
On Monday, June 14, the First Presidency and leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced education and humanitarian initiatives which are part of an ongoing collaboration between the two organizations.
President Russell M. Nelson shared a Facebook post that day about the event. “We welcome these opportunities to build friendship and discuss shared initiatives that will continue to foster understanding and mutual respect,” he wrote. “Such friendships enrich our lives and reflect important teachings of the Savior.”
President Nelson reiterated his call to Church members all over the world to abandon prejudice and to promote respect for all of God’s children. “This is a hallmark of all true followers of Jesus Christ,” the post stated.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also published a Facebook post about the event that same day.
“Over the past few years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the NAACP have labored together in a spirit of friendship and common purpose to find ways to increase understanding and to bless the lives of our Black brothers and sisters through areas like education and humanitarian efforts,” Elder Rasband wrote.
The joint initiatives “represent the Church’s ongoing desire to teach and live the two great commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ: to love God and love our neighbor. We are pleased to collaborate with the NAACP and United Negro College Fund on these efforts.”
Face to Face for single adults
Nine single adults of various ages and backgrounds shared personal experiences of faith during a Face to Face event hosted by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham and her first counselor, Sister Sharon Eubank, on Sunday, June 13.
That evening, Elder Andersen posted a video on Instagram of him thanking the individuals who participated in the event, as well as bearing his testimony of the Savior.
“I’d especially like to thank these seven individuals who I interviewed for giving us a glimpse into their own personal experiences and what they have felt the past few weeks as they’ve taken President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to increase their faith in Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “Their words and actions have shown us the significance and eternal reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves each of us.”
That same day, President Bingham posted her gratitude for those who had joined the Face to Face, on Instagram. “I would love to know what your thoughts were on our discussions about faith and temple service,” she wrote. “What did you learn?”
“I have been so uplifted learning from Juliet, Mandol, and all the other friends who were part of this Face to Face,” Sister Eubank wrote in a Facebook post.
“I learned that our collective faith in Jesus Christ is a mighty force on the earth that really can move mountains, and I felt it tonight. Thank you.”
Looking to the Godhead
Why is love of God the first great commandment?
In a June 13 Instagram post, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, explained that “It is first because it is fundamental to understanding and following God’s plan and His commandments for His children. Our love of God and His love for us is the central gospel principle — vital to what influences us and vital to what we must remember.”
Love gives one power to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation and God’s commandments.
“Mortal life is inherently unfair,” a video posted to Elder Dale G. Renlund’s Instagram account on June 14 states. “But Jesus Christ overcame the world and absorbed all unfairness.”
Accompanying the video was a quote from the April 2021 general conference address given by Elder Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “If we let Him, Jesus Christ will consecrate the unfairness for our gain,” the post states. “He will not just console us and restore what was lost; He will use the unfairness for our benefit.”
In an Instagram video posted on June 16, Sunday School General President Mark L. Pace spoke about an approach to studying the scriptures with “Come, Follow Me” that has allowed him to receive revelation from the Holy Ghost each week.
“At the start of every week, I open my ‘Come, Follow Me’ manual and I write at the top of the chapter, ‘What is the Holy Ghost teaching me this week as I study the scriptures?’” President Pace said. “And then as I read and review the ‘Come, Follow Me’ materials, I ponder that question repeatedly.” Every week without fail, he feels the Spirit teaching him.
For him, what that means is a feeling that the Holy Ghost is drawing his attention to something in particular, one piece of scripture jumping off the page to his attention, or the Holy Ghost expanding his understanding of a particular scripture in a new way. “It’s marvelous!” President Pace said. “It’s revelation custom-designed just for me.”
He then records these impressions in his “Come, Follow Me” manual. “I rejoice in the promptings of the Holy Spirit; they strengthen my testimony of the Savior. And I love the peaceful, warm feelings that come as the Holy Ghost teaches me of the Savior and strengthens my conversion to His gospel.”
President Pace invited others to follow the same exercise and make this spiritual journey with him. “I will share with you from time to time what the Holy Ghost is teaching me during my scripture study. And I would be honored and delighted to hear from you what the Holy Ghost is teaching you as you study the scriptures with ‘Come, Follow Me.’”
It was 61 years ago when Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles first flew an airplane solo — a Piper Cub as he started his military service in Germany. A year later, he took his first solo flight in a jet plane in Texas. “Six decades sounds like a long time, but for me it feels like it was yesterday,” he wrote in a June 18 Facebook post.
The post accompanied two photos: one of a younger Elder Uchtdorf standing next to a military plane, and the other many decades later of he and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, at an airplane museum in Utah standing next to the airplane he first flew in training in Germany.
“For you young people, thinking ahead 60 years may seem like a lifetime from now,” Elder Uchtdorf wrote. “But I promise you, as you are moving through life on this beautiful earth, you will realize how short our life really is compared to our eternal existence.”
As one progresses on their journey on earth, it’s important to learn from experience, both right and wrong, and adjust course if necessary, he wrote. “Whether we reflect on who we have tried to become over the past 6 or 60 years, or about what we have learned during the last 60 minutes, it is through the grace of God — and through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ — that we can always change for the better and come closer to God and our heavenly destination.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited everyone to love God and their neighbors, care for those in need and maintain an eternal perspective of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, in a June 13 Facebook post.
Over the course of his life, Elder Bednar has observed some recurring cycles of events, such as failure and success, sadness and happiness, and conflict and harmony.
“But if today, with God’s help, we learn from failure, then we can achieve greater success as we press forward,” he wrote.
The key is to always remember the greatness and goodness of God, as well as depending on Him for direction and strength.
This year, two returned missionaries who had served in the Brazil Porto Alegre South Mission died due to health problems. Their former mission president Brother Milton Camargo, who is now first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, expressed his sorrow for their passing, in a June 15 Facebook post.
“They were faithful and valiant missionaries in the field and after returning home,” Brother Camargo wrote. “They might even be serving now as companions in another mission, on the other side of the veil.”
He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 138:57: “I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.”
“We continue praying for these faithful returned missionaries and their families. We love them, and we find solace in the promise of the Resurrection and in our knowledge of eternal families.”
When Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, was 16 years old, her father was serving as a mission president. One of the missionaries who served under him was Jaime Hooper, who Sister Craig said took her under her wing. “I put on a brave face, but deep down I was struggling,” she wrote in a June 18 Facebook post.
In her journal, Sister Craig wrote of Hooper, “How can she love me so much? I’m just me, and I just try so much to be more like her, and I just can’t believe she could really love me that much. But it sure feels good to know that someone like her could actually love me.”
Years later, Hooper still reaches out and makes Sister Craig feel loved.
Everyone has the opportunity to lift and bless others, no matter their life circumstances. Sister Craig invited readers to pray to know who Heavenly Father would have them lift and bless.
Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, wrote about Benjamin Lehnig, a young man with a degenerative eye disease that gives him restrictive tunnel vision, in a June 18 Facebook post.
Despite only seeing 27 degrees of the typical 180, Lehnig is a goalie on his high school water polo team — one of the best in the state of Utah. “He says he hears a distinct noise when a player releases the ball as he shoots, and Benjamin blocks in that direction,” Brother Wilcox wrote. In a swimming pool full of other noises and yelling spectators, Lehnig must tune out all other sounds that get in the way.
“What’s even more remarkable is that this young Latter-day Saint lives the same way outside the pool,” Brother Wilcox continued. “He doesn’t let the noise of the world distract him from what is most important — his faith in Jesus Christ and family.”
That’s the sort of tunnel vision Brother Wilcox hopes everyone can attain.