Sunday, October 2, 2011

LDS 181st Semiannual Conference, Sunday Afternoon General Session; Covenants, Missionary Service, And Prayer

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

During the Sunday afternoon session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the hot topics were covenants, Jesus Christ, missionary service, prayer, and dealing with tragedy. Elder Russell M. Nelsen's talk served as a tutorial on the Church's doctrine regarding covenants.

181st semi-annual LDS General Conference closes Sunday |

Source of the summaries published below is the LDS Church News. 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.

-- Elder Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke about covenants. This address is a tutorial on LDS doctrine about covenants. Covenants are sacred promises with God in which He sets the terms, and individuals have the choice of whether they are going to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obey God's law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant. Because of the renewal of the Abrahamic covenant, all can receive the fullness of the gospel, enjoy the blessings of the priesthood and qualify for God's greatest blessing, eternal life through exaltation. All who make these covenants become part of the Abrahamic family, even if they are not of the physical seed of Abraham. Children of the covenant have the right to receive the Lord's doctrine and to know the plan of salvation. They claim it by making covenants of sacred significance and keep the covenant by obedience to His commandments.

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke at length about Jesus Christ to drive home the point that members of the LDS church are first and foremost followers of Christ. During his address, entitled "Teachings of Jesus", Elder Oaks shared scriptural quotations from the Bible, because it is most familiar to most Christians. "My interpretations will of course draw on what modern scriptures, notably the Book of Mormon, teach us about the meaning of Bible scriptures so ambiguous that different Christians disagree on their meaning. I address believers, but others as well. ... To address them, I have used the words of Jesus himself. We should all consider what He Himself taught about who He was and what He was sent to earth to do."

-- Brother Matthew O. Richardson, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency (note that although Richardson undoubtedly is an Elder holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, he is referred to as "Brother" in his Sunday School capacity): Spoke of the ability to teach in a way that does not restrict learning. Noted that the responsibility to teach effectively is not limited to those who have formal callings as teachers, but includes every family member, Church leader, and Church member (including youth and children). Brother Richardson explained that the Holy Ghost is the teacher and witness of all truth and all parents, leaders and teachers have the responsibility to teach "by the Spirit". They should not teach "in front of the Spirit" or "behind the Spirit", but "by the Spirit" so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained. The real objective is to invite and help those around oneself to learn for themselves.

-- Elder Kauhiko Yamashita, First Quorum of the Seventy: Spoke of the value of missionary service through the perspective of one who was converted at the age of 17. Noted that at the time, although he didn't really have a good understanding of the message that the missionaries had been teaching him, he had a special feeling about the missionaries because he felt their deep and abiding love. Elder Yamashita shared three things every missionary should bring into service: First, a desire to preach the gospel; second, develop a testimony; and finally, love others.

-- Elder J. Devn Cornish, First Quorum of the Seventy: Spoke about the power and principles of prayer. He quoted from the 11th chapter of Luke, in which the Savior gave an example serves as a guide to key principles of prayer. The pattern of prayer is to speak to Heavenly Father, addressing Him in an attitude of worship, acknowledging dependence on Him and expressing the desire to do His will and honestly ask for the things desired. Repentance, specific, profound and lasting, is an essential part of personal prayer.
Forgiving others should be part of prayer. Also in the pattern of prayer is a petition for guidance and deliverance from evil. And yet another part of the pattern set by the Savior is to praise Heavenly Father again and express reverence for and submission to Him. And don't forget that prayers are answered in the Lord's own time and in His own way.

-- Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Cook spoke about dealing with tragedy. He noted that while we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us. Elder Cook listed three important principles: there is a Father in Heaven who loves and knows everyone individually, the Savior's atonement compensates for the unfairness in life, and the plan of happiness includes a reunion with those who have been lost.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: Closed out the conference by thanking those in attendance as well as those who had just been released from their callings. Asked members to remember the General Authorities in their prayers, since all of us are in this together. In conclusion, President Monson said "I bear my testimony to you that this work is true, that our Savior lives, and that He guides and directs His Church here upon the earth. I leave with you my witness and my testimony that God our Eternal Father lives and loves us. He is indeed our Father, and He is personal and real. May we realize and understand how close to us He is willing to come, how far He is willing to go to help us, how much He loves us and how much He does and is willing to do for us".

Several unofficial LDS bloggers are discussing this session, including By Common Consent, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and an open thread on Millennial Star. Also read Michael Crook's faith-promoting assessment of the Sunday sessions; he focuses on the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter because he doesn't know how long he'll have his hearing.

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