Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Morning Session, 179th LDS Semiannual General Conference; Reflecting Christ, Missionary Work, Virtue, Service To Others

During the Sunday morning session of the 179th LDS Semiannual General Conference, Church members were encouraged to reach out and help others each day. Other issues raised included reflecting Christ in our everyday lives, the value of member-missionary work as a support for full-time missionaries, and the value of virtue.

-- Summary of Saturday morning general session available HERE.
-- Summary of Saturday afternoon general session available HERE.
-- Summary of Saturday evening priesthood session available HERE.
-- Summary of Sunday afternoon general session available HERE.
-- Video and audio archives and written transcripts now available via the LDS 2009 Conference Page.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor to the First Presidency, led off by speaking about the need to reflect Christ in our everyday lives. He summed up the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as a challenge to become better people for as long as we live. He counseled married couples to pray for each other, to better make their companion's interests their own. He counseled parents to pray for their children, particularly those who are wayward. And he counseled young people in particular to remember the commandment "Honor thy father and thy mother", for no other reason than we owe our mortal lives to the parents who created our mortal tabernacles. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder L. Tom Perry, Quorum of the Twelve, cited the past actions of Mormon pioneers as a blueprint for how the LDS membership can better participate in member-missionary work. Member-missionaries can effectively buttress the efforts of full-time missionaries by providing their own testimonies of the Gospel. While the full-time missionary is the "professional salesperson", the individual member should be the model the "salesperson" can use to exemplify the message. Deseret News story HERE.

H. David Burton, the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, spoke about virtues, not only providing an operational definition, but also decrying the societal loss of virtue and the effects of this loss (Note: For readers not familiar, the Presiding Bishopric of the Church does not preside over ward bishops. Ward bishops report to their stake presidents. A July 2005 Ensign article explains the functions of the Presiding Bishopric.) In defining virtue, Bishop Burton stated, "First they are the foundational elements of a Christian life as well as the outward manifestation of the inner man. Second, the spelling in the English language of so many individual virtues concludes with the letters ITY: integrity, humility, charity, spirituality, accountability, civility, fidelity, etc. Relying on literary license I refer to virtues ending in ITY as the 'ity' virtues. 'Ity' is a suffix that means quality, state or degree of being."

But he also spoke about the societal loss of virtue and its effects, including blows to individual faith and fidelity, family solidarity and spirituality and a loss on the religious influence in society. Bishop Burton called on members to perpetuate Christlike virtues, which begin in the home. These traits must not be set aside or forgotten. Deseret News story HERE.

Sister Ann M. Dibb, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, spoke about spiritual "safety equipment". She reminded people that our Heavenly Father has not left Church members alone during their mortal probation. "He has already given us all the safety equipment we will need to successfully return to Him. He has given us personal prayer, the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost to guide us. At times, using this equipment may seem cumbersome, awkward, and horribly unfashionable. Its proper use requires our diligence, obedience and persistence. But I, for one, choose to use it. We must all choose to use it." She also referred to the "rod of iron" in Lehi's vision of the tree of life found in the Book of Mormon, explaining that all must hold on tight to the iron rod and never let go. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the necessity to qualify for and seek personal revelation, which is offered to all. Elder Nelson said that firm faith, deep desire, and diligent study are necessary to access information from heaven. He further explained that revelation from God is ALWAYS compatible with His eternal law, never contradicting His existing doctrine. Furthermore, revelation need not all come at once, but may be incremental; patience and perseverance are part of our eternal progression. Deseret News story HERE.

President Thomas S. Monson capped the session by asking the rhetorical question, "And what did you do for someone today?" He cited the example of a Methodist minister who asked each one of his children that question in turn at the dinner table. The children were determined to do a good turn so they could report each day to their father that they had helped someone. As they grew and matured, that motivation became an inner desire to help others. And one of those children, Dr. Jack McConnell, established Volunteers in Medicine, which retired health care providers serve the working uninsured after retiring from his medical career. Dr. McConnell said that by providing the service, he has benefited more than his patients have.

Quoting Jesus' words that "whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it," President Monson remarked, "I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and, figuratively, lose their life, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish — and in effect save their life." Deseret News story HERE.

Bloggernacle live-blogging and discussion of this session provided by a particularly detailed post on Messenger and Advocate (replete with photos), along with Times And Seasons, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and By Common Consent. Photos posted at another post on By Common Consent.

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