Saturday, April 6, 2013

Summary Of 183rd Annual LDS General Conference, Saturday Evening Priesthood Session: Will We Have To Become A "Peculiar People" Once Again?

The Saturday Evening Priesthood Session of the 183rd Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints raised the question in my mind as to whether or not we will find ourselves becoming a "peculiar people" once again after one Apostle pointed out that the world is moving further and further away from our standards with each passing day, and the young people of today are facing moral and ethical challenges never dreamed of by their fathers and grandfathers. There was also a reminder that although we are all united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God's commandments, we are diverse in our cultural, social and political preferences. We are not clones of one another and should avoid judging someone's worthiness adversely merely because they may look different than us.

Video and audio archives and written transcripts of the talks are now available HERE. Mormon Newsroom provides a gallery of photos.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

-- Saturday Morning General Session
-- Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session
-- Sunday Afternoon General Session

Summaries of the talks are available through both the LDS Church News Portal Page and the Deseret News. Clicking on the speaker's name will take you directly to the Deseret News story about the speech (after the jump):

-- Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Hales started out by saying that as Priesthood holders, we are role models to the world, protecting God-given freedoms and unalienable rights. So it is particularly incumbent upon us to stand tall against the fiery darts of the adversary. We need to put on the whole armor of God. Young men today face temptations never encountered by their fathers and grandfathers as the world is moving further away from the church in terms of ethics and moral standards. We will face discrimination from the world and our so-called "friends” who will try to get us to accept their values but we need to follow the teachings of Paul and “from such turn away”. A true friend strengthens us to stay on the straight and narrow path. Sometimes we must be a lightning rod and take the heat when choosing to maintain the standards of God. Sounds like Elder Hales is warning us that we may end up becoming a "peculiar people" once again even if we don't want to be.

Elder Hales admonished the priesthood congregation that observance of commandments, ordinances and covenants affords protection and prepares one to do God's work, saying "When we obey the Word of Wisdom, our agency is protected from addictions like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. As we pay our tithing, study the scriptures, receive baptism and confirmation, live for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, partake of the sacrament worthily, obey the law of chastity, prepare for and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and make sacred temple covenants, we are prepared to serve."

-- Elder Tad R. Callister, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Callister directed his outreach primarily towards the Aaronic Priesthood youth, saying that the priesthood of the boy is just as powerful as the priesthood of the man when exercised in righteousness. But Elder Callister warned that God is not some sort of cosmic bellhop, telling the youth that if they want revelation, they need to do their homework and not just wait for an answer to come to them. Elder Callister also counseled people to increase their outreach towards the lost, the less active and non-members. Adult advisors to Aaronic Priesthood quorums magnify their callings when they help their youth give great lessons and help them receive revelation. They do best not when they give a good lesson, but when they help the youth give a good lesson.

-- Brother David L. Beck, Young Men General President: Brother Beck talked about ministering by example, citing the story of a leader on a football team who befriended a woman who was being bullied. Other students took their cue from the player and ended their bullying. The point is that ministering can mean intervening in bullying and sharing love to those in need. Brother Beck reminded people that we are always priesthood men, not just on Sunday, and so we need to minister all of the time. Mocking and teasing have no place in a quorum meeting. Presidencies must take the lead to make sure the meetings have the right atmosphere. Priesthood holders never use vulgar or demeaning language.

-- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, First Presidency: President Uchtdorf noted that men sometimes identify themselves by their titles, and suggested four titles that could be applicable to every Priesthood holder: Son of Heavenly Father, disciple of Jesus Christ, healer of souls, and heir to the Heavenly Father. In his remarks, he effectively melded diversity and unity. President Uchtdorf explained that while the Atonement is meant to help all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin; we can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. He cautioned that this line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every single member from a single mold — that each one should look, feel, think and behave like every other, which would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. President Uchtdorf added that it would also contradict the intent and purpose of the Church, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency of each of God's children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God's commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social and political preferences. The Church thrives when members take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use talents to strengthen one another.

President Uchtdorf also said he doesn't believe in a God who creates rules simply to watch us fail. Would we scold a toddler for stumbling while learning to walk? We are all tumbling toddlers when compared to our Heavenly Father. But Satan would rather have us define ourselves by our sins than our divine potential.

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor, First Presidency: President Eyring's message, directly primarily at Aaronic Priesthood holders, is that when the Lord gives a commandment, He will prepare the way for it to be accomplished. He related several anecdotes to illustrate this principle. One boy who was returned to his home country from the United States felt impressed to talk to a woman who had come to his city to find housing for LDS missionaries. He had learned just enough English to communicate with her. A year later, he was baptized into the Church, the first convert in his city. After being ordained a priest, he baptized the second convert. President Eyring also related an experience of his own. While serving in the Air Force, he was called to be a district missionary and was given a blessing. As a result, he never had to knock on a single door -- the local members were bringing him investigators.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: President Monson discussed missionary work, saying that the holy scriptures contain no proclamation more relevant, no responsibility more binding, no instruction more direct than the injunction given by the Resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the 11 disciples. Said He: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world". President Monson also suggested suggested a formula that will ensure success in missionary work: First, search the scriptures with diligence; second, plan your life with purpose; third, teach the truth with testimony; and fourth, serve the Lord with love. He also pointed out that missionary opportunities are not restricted to the period of a formal call.

Reaction: Unofficial LDS opinion is reflected in the Bloggernacle, with reaction published in Millennial Star and Feminist Mormon Housewives

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