Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elder L. Tom Perry Gives A Detailed Analysis Of the 13 Articles Of Faith At The Saturday Evening Priesthood Session Of 183rd Semiannual LDS General Conference

The expected drama materialized but dissipated just as quickly. A number of Ordain Women activists showed up and stood in line to obtain admission tickets to the Saturday Evening Priesthood Session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference, and, as the LDS Church promised, they were refused admission. Some who tried to enter the overflow venue at the Tabernacle were reportedly denied admission as well. The women departed peacefully.

As far as the meeting itself was concerned, it was the usual potpourri of counsel for Priesthood holders. Standing out in my mind was Elder L. Tom Perry's detailed analysis of the Thirteen Articles of Faith, showing how each one acts as the piece of the doctrinal puzzle that, when fully assembled, provides the big picture of what we believe. President Thomas S. Monson also provided some useful counsel on home teaching, urging the audience not to view it as a mere "square-filling" exercise. Good luck. LOL!

Mainstream media sources include the Deseret News General Conference Page. I provide short excerpts punctuated by my own impressions below.

-- Summary of Saturday Morning General Session
-- Summary of Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Summary of Sunday Morning General Session
-- Summary of Sunday Afternoon General Session

-- Video and audio archives as well as written transcripts of all Conference talks, including the General Relief Society Meeting, are now available at the October 2013 Conference Page on

-- Elder L. Tom Perry, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Perry spoke about the Thirteen Articles of Faith, illustrating how each Article of Faith adds unique understanding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He characterized them as the most important and concise descriptors of our faith. The Fifth and Sixth Articles of Faith specifically teach about the organization of the Priesthood. When we received the Priesthood, we received the authority to act in God's name. The Priesthood had to be restored before the LDS Church could be formally organized. Elder Perry specifically admonished the young Aaronic Priesthood holders to study and learn the Articles of Faith and the doctrines they teach, promising that if they will use them as a guide to direct their studies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will find themselves better prepared to declare their witness of the restored truth to the world. They will be able to declare in simple, straightforward and profound ways the core of their beliefs. While I have always valued many of the articles of faith, this is the first time I've seen a coherent, holistic of analysis of all of them fit together.

-- Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric: Bishop Caussé pointed out that unity in Christ is supposed to transcend diversity. He said that as members of the Church, we are admitted into the house of Israel, thus becoming brothers and sisters and equal heirs to the same spiritual lineage. Citing Ephesians 2:19, he noted that a promise has been made to everyone who becomes a member of the Church that converts are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and part of the greater household of God. Consequently, there are no strangers and no outcasts in our Church, only brothers and sisters, so it is our duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of our Church buildings.

-- Elder Randy D. Funk, First Quorum of the Seventy: As a former president of the India Bangalore Mission, Elder Funk was in an ideal position to discuss missionary work under challenging conditions. He related the story of one of his missionaries, Elder Ashish Pokhrel of Nepal. Although Elder Pokhrel was not well prepared for his call, having never seen a missionary, not having the appropriate clothing, having a poor command of English, finding the work challenging and often hungry, tired and homesick, he persevered and became a powerful teacher of the gospel -- in English -- and was an excellent leader. Elder Pokhrel is now a branch president in New Delhi. The trick was the healing power of the Atonement which brings peace and the ability to feel the Holy Spirit to those who continue to be humble, obedient and cultivate the ability to hear and follow the Spirit.

-- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency: President Uchtdorf's message was that they are times when one must just decide that he is going to "do it now". He said our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off and move forward. President Uchtdorf remarked that prophets have repeatedly emphasized over the centuries that mankind can repent, change course and get back on the path of true discipleship. This doesn't mean that we should be comfortable with our weaknesses, mistakes or sins, but that we should avoid the trap of guilt-tripping through self-loathing. There is an important difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.

President Uchtdorf identified two ways the adversary tries to obstruct us. First, the adversary tries to confuse us about who we really are and what we really desire, and second, the adversary wants to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. The antidote is to see these things and choices as who we are and who we want to become. In other words, we desire to return to God after we die not because we fear Him, but because we love Him.

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: This talk was apparently in response to those Church members who feel overloaded by callings and responsibilities. President Eyring suggested that to hold the priesthood of God is to be held responsible by God for the eternal lives of His children, which basically means if you're given light, you don't hide it under a bushel. To cope with overloading, President Eyring says priesthood bearers can have at least three assurances. First, the Lord will inspire you with feelings of compassion that can soften your heart and motivate you. Second, the Lord will motivate and provide others to assist you. And third, the Lord, like the good Samaritan, will more than recompense all who join in giving help to those who need. President Eyring also counseled Priesthood holders to have vibrant faith themselves in order to help people repair spiritual damage, adding that this means far more than reading the scriptures and praying over them. The prayer in the moment and quick glances in the scriptures are not preparation enough. Another preparation to be made is to overcome the human characteristic to become hardened to the pain of others.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: President Monson spoke of the need for Priesthood holders to become true shepherds. He pointed out that Priesthood holders have a shepherding responsibility, and that the wisdom of the Lord has provided guidelines whereby we might be shepherds to the families of the Church, where we can serve, we can teach and we can testify to them. Such is called home teaching.

And President Monson had much more to say about home teaching, particularly the need to avoid having it become a square-filling exercise. He counseled home teachers not to just drop in, but to make appointments. He also explained how the home teaching program can prepare Aaronic Priesthood holders for the increased responsibilities of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Where possible, a young man who is a priest or teacher accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. As they go into the homes of those for whom they are responsible, the Aaronic Priesthood holder should take part in the teaching which takes place. Such an assignment will help to prepare these young men for missions as well as for a lifetime of priesthood service. Home teachers are wise if they learn and understand the challenges of the members of each family in order to teach and provide targeted assistance.

From the LDS Peanut Gallery:

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: Some outrage over Ordain Women being denied admission to the meeting. On the other hand, Elder Causee's talk was lauded because of its inclusivity. One person suggested that YW Laurels be permitted to accompany adult females when doing visiting teaching for the Relief Society; this is an excellent idea.

-- The Millennial Star: Good summaries of each talk.

-- By Common Consent: A series of one-liners and extended discussion. There was some criticism of the decision to turn the woman away from the live meeting.

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