Sunday, October 2, 2011

LDS 181st Semiannual Conference, Sunday Morning General Session; Faithfulness, Patience, And Virtue

Note: All posts on the October 2011 181st Semiannual General Conference available HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.

The Sunday morning session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints focused on faithfulness, patience, and virtue. Church members were counseled to be better witnesses to God, to wait more patiently on the Lord to manifest His purposes in our lives, and fathers were directed to be guardians of virtue in their own homes to better teach their children by example. Members were also reminded that the Book of Mormon is an "either-or" proposition; there is no middle ground.

Sources of the summaries published below include the LDS Church News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KTVX Channel 4. Video and audio archives will be posted on the Conference Page as soon as they are available; official written transcripts of each address will be posted on the LDS website in about a week from now.

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: Spoke of the need for all Latter-day Saints to be witnesses to God. Noted that Church members have made three promises to God; becoming charitable, becoming a witness of God and a promise to endure. He concluded that the Book of Mormon can draw an individual closer to God than any other book, and can change a life for the better.

President Eyring also related a personal experience worth highlighting. He had accepted an invitation to give an address at a major university. However, the organizer, knowing of Eyring's Church position, told him he could not witness for Christ during that address because the university "respected people of all religious beliefs, including those who denied the existence of a God". But instead of canceling, President Eyring noted that the university had been honored for doing what the Church had learned to do in its humanitarian efforts across the world. He said that, in his talk, he described what the university and the Church BOTH had done to lift people in need and said that he knew that Jesus Christ was the source of the blessings that come into the lives of those who were served and who had served. He received a standing ovation. So he kept his agreement to speak AND satisfied the demands of his conscience to witness for God.

-- Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke of the need to "wait upon the Lord". Elder Hales defined "waiting upon the Lord" as meaning to hope, anticipate and to trust. It also means to pray as did the Savior — to the Father — saying, "Thy will be done". To wait upon the Lord means to plant the seed of faith and nourish it. It also means pondering in our hearts and receiving the Holy Ghost; standing fast, pressing forward, and relying upon the merits of Christ. He cited Job as the ideal example of waiting upon the Lord.

-- Elder Tad R. Callister, Quorum of the Seventy: Spoke about the defining nature of the Book of Mormon. Elder Callister reminded people that there is no middle ground about the Book of Mormon; it is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud. Furthermore, the Book of Mormon is not just a collection of insightful writings, but the authoritative word of God — every sentence, every verse, every page. But Elder Callister also reminded people that one does not need to choose between the Bible and the Book of Mormon, explaining "Together with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is an indispensable witness of the doctrines of Christ and His divinity. Together with the Bible it 'teaches all men that they should do good' (2 Nephi 33:10). And together with the Bible it brings us to 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' That is the why the Book of Mormon is so crucial in our lives."

NOTE: Elder Callister was just elevated to the Presidency of the Seventy during this conference, replacing Elder Claudio R.M. Costa, who was released as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Costa remains a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

-- Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women General President: Called upon fathers to exemplify their counsel towards their daughters by their behavior towards their wives. Daughters learn lessons about men and how to evaluate men as potential marriage partners by the way their fathers treat their mothers. By their example, fathers teach their daughters to value womanhood and show them that they are also daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves them.

Sister Dalton also effectively complemented the "Guardians of Virtue" address she delivered to young women during the April 2011 General Young Women Meeting by calling upon fathers to be guardians of virtue themselves, protecting their homes, their wives, and their children. She explained "Your personal virtue will model for your daughters, and also your sons, what true strength and moral courage are. By being a guardian of virtue in your own life, in your home and in the lives of your children, you are showing your wife and daughters what true love really is. Your personal purity will give you power."

-- Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve: Discussed the meaning and importance of the official name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term "Jesus Christ" is self-explanatory; it means Jesus Christ is the literal head of the Church. "Latter-day" is implied to mean it is merely a latter-day version of the same church organized by Christ Himself. And "Saints" means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live in His and our Heavenly Father's presence. In the final analysis, Elder Ballard says "Let us develop the habit within our families and our Church activities and our daily interactions of making it clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the name by which the Lord Himself has directed that we be known."

-- President Thomas S. Monson: Spoke on how communication with Heavenly Father is necessary in order for Latter-day Saints to successfully weather the storms and trials of life. President Monson reminded people that our Heavenly Father was the same yesterday as He is today and will be tomorrow, and that His fundamental laws do not change. The Ten Commandments are not suggestions; they are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel. Furthermore, the LDS Church's code of conduct is definitive; it is not negotiable, since the words of Christ are also found in modern revelation. President Monson also told Church members they must remain vigilant in a world that has moved so far from that which is spiritual, explaining that it is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards, refusing in the process to surrender that which we desire most; namely, eternal life in the Kingdom of God. We define that to mean exaltation.

Several unofficial LDS bloggers are discussing this session, including By Common Consent, Feminist Mormon Housewives, Mormon Momma, Millennial Star, and Wheat & Tares. The value of these resources is that they provide perspectives not reflected in the LDS Church News media reports.

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