Saturday, October 1, 2011

LDS 181st Semiannual Conference, Saturday Evening Priesthood Session; Missionary Service, Priesthood Service, And Temporal Welfare

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

During the Saturday evening priesthood session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, various speakers held forth on missionary service, priesthood power, and temporal welfare. While the LDS Church has taken pains to reduce the perceived contrast between it and the rest of the Christian community in recent years, President Thomas S. Monson reminded congregants that there are still times when we may have to act like a "peculiar people", particularly in defense of our core social values.

Sources of the summaries published include the LDS Church News and the Salt Lake Tribune. 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 Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve: Discussed Satan's tactics and put out a renewed appeal for more senior couples to serve missions. The experience of Joseph Smith in being seized upon by a dark power while he was praying in the Sacred Grove is proof of the tangibility of Satan. Elder Holland noted that Satan is real, the very personification of evil. His motives are in every case malicious, and he convulses at the appearance of redeeming light, at the very thought of truth. He knows he will ultimately lose, but wants to take as many with him as possible. Elder Holland also pleaded for thousands of more couples to serve missions of the Church, primarily because they bring a maturity to the work that no number of 19-year-olds, however good they are, can provide.

-- Elder Keith B. McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric: Discussed the power of the Aaronic Priesthood. To receive the spirit of revelation and magnify one's calling, Aaronic Priesthood holders must live so as to enjoy the cleansing, sanctifying and illuminating power of the Holy Ghost. Elder McMullin called upon young priesthood bearers to shun profane and foolish chatter, flee all evil, avoid contention and repent where needed, and promised that the rest of us would better strive to be examples to emulate.

-- Elder W. Christopher Waddell, First Quorum of the Seventy: Discussed missionary work. Admonished young men to prepare for missionary service in three ways: First, arrive on the mission with a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon obtained through study and prayer; second, arrive on the mission worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost; and third, arrive on the mission ready to work. But Elder Waddell also noted that the blessings of missionary service are not designed to end when one is released by a stake president; the experiences, lessons and testimony obtained through faithful service are meant to provide a gospel-centered foundation that will last throughout mortality and into the eternities.

-- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, First Presidency: Discussed temporal welfare; noted that the two great commandments — to love God and our neighbor — are a joining of the temporal and spiritual. He explained that the Lord's way of caring for the needy is different from the world's way. The Lord is not interested only in our immediate needs, but is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord's way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor. President Uchtdorf stressed that the Priesthood and the Relief Society were intended to work together in partnership to meet the temporal needs of those around us.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: President Monson reminded Priesthood holders in attendance that there will still be times when we must be a "peculiar people". President Monson reminded congregants that the Priesthood brings with it not only special blessings but also solemn responsibilities, urging members to live so that they are ever worthy of the priesthood they bear. He also observed that it is almost inevitable in day-to-day living that Church members will find their faith challenged, noting that we may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Will we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone? As holders of the priesthood of God it is essential that we are able to face — with courage — whatever challenges come our way.

To ensure we can, President Monson suggested that it is imperative to have a testimony strong enough to withstand all the forces pulling us in the wrong direction or all the voices encouraging us to take the wrong path. And we strengthen that testimony by sharing it with others. It is also imperative for us to keep ourselves in compliance with gospel principles and commandments.

Several unofficial LDS bloggers are discussing this session, including By Common Consent and an open thread on Millennial Star. In a separate post on BCC, one individual renewed the persistent call by a few more progressive Mormons to allow a woman to give an opening or closing prayer in a general session of General Conference, even though men don't give opening or closing prayers at either the General Relief Society Meeting or the General Young Women Meeting. This post illustrates exactly what President Monson was talking about; that we still get so bogged down in temporal minutiae that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Does our Heavenly Father truly care about the gender of those praying to Him? I doubt it.

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