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LDS General Conference begins with leaders asking members to seek to serve, be peacemakers

By Genelle Pugmire - Daily Herald | Apr 2, 2022

Photo supplied, Intellectual Reserve

President Russell M. Nelson of the First Presidency was the first speaker during the Saturday morning session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

In welcoming members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Saturday morning session of the Annual General Conference of the church, President Russell M. Nelson called on young men to prepare to serve a full-time mission and young women, who desire to, as well.

For the first time since April 2020, approximately 10,000 were able to attend the conference in person at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

“My missionary service prepared me to be a better husband and father and to be successful in business. It also prepared me for a lifetime of service to the Lord in His Church,” said M. Russell Ballard, acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

He continued, “As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now call upon you young men, and those young women who desire to serve a mission, to begin right now to talk with your parents about serving a mission. I also invite you to talk with your friends about serving a mission and if one of your friends is not sure about serving, encourage them to talk with their bishop.”

In speaking of her conversion, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, taught that the church is the members — that she was welcomed because of the members who were reaching out.

Women have told Aburto they were concerned they were not active in Relief Society because they were serving in Primary or Young Women, she said they were still active in Relief Society.

“Relief Society is not limited to a room in a building, a Sunday lesson, an activity, or a presidency at the local or general level. Relief Society is the covenant women of the Church; it is us — each of us, and all of us — it is our ‘global community of compassion and service,'” Aburto said. “Anywhere and everywhere we go, we are always part of Relief Society as we strive to fulfill its divine purpose, which is for women to accomplish God’s work in individual as well as collective ways by providing relief, ‘relief of poverty, relief of illness, relief of doubt, relief of ignorance — relief of all that hinders … joy and progress.'”

She added, “Our purpose in His kingdom should be to bring each other to Christ.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointed out the hymn that has most influenced him, while acknowledging that he was not a good singer.

“One hymn that has blessed my life in remarkable ways is ‘Let Us All Press On.’ Recently I have been pondering and learning about a specific phrase in the refrain of that hymn. ‘We will heed not what the wicked may say, but the Lord alone we will obey,'” he said.

“The word ‘heed’ suggests taking notice of or paying attention to someone or something. Thus, the lyrics of the hymn ‘Let Us All Press On’ admonish us to make an affirmative decision to pay no attention to what the wicked may say,” Bednar added.

“Truly, ‘if we do what’s right we have no need to fear, for the Lord, our helper, will ever be near.'” As covenant-making and covenant-keeping disciples of Jesus Christ, we can be blessed to take “courage, for the Lord is on our side” and pay no attention to evil influences and secular scoffing, Bednar added.

Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged members and those listening to be peacemakers.

“Recently after a strongly worded opinion piece that was critical of the Church, Reverend Amos C. Brown, a national civil rights leader and pastor of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, responded: ‘I respect the experience and perspective of the individual who wrote those words. Granted, I don’t see what he sees. … I count it one of my life’s greatest joys to know these leaders [of the Church], including President Russell M. Nelson. They are, in my estimation, the embodiment of the best leadership our country has to offer.’ He then added, ‘We can gripe about the way things were. We can refuse to acknowledge all the good going on now. … But these approaches will not heal our national divisions. … As Jesus taught, we don’t eradicate evil with more evil. We love generously and live mercifully, even toward those we think to be our enemies.'”

Andersen added, “Reverend Brown is a peacemaker. He calmly and respectfully cooled the fiery darts. Peacemakers are not passive; they are persuasive in the Savior’s way.”

He also warned about social media sounding like many voices and often against the church, but members should not respond in kind but be peacemakers.

“In February, a headline in the Arizona Republic stated, ‘Bipartisan bill supported by Latter-day Saints would protect gay and transgender Arizonans,'” Andersen noted. “We, as Latter-day Saints, are ‘pleased to be part of a coalition of faith, business, LGBTQ people and community leaders who have worked together in a spirit of trust and mutual respect.'”

Anderson went on saying, “President Russell M. Nelson once thoughtfully asked, ‘Cannot boundary lines exist without becoming battle lines?'”

Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy invited those listening to have a change of heart, and to submit to the Lord.

“How do we obtain that mighty change of heart?” Gavarret asked. It is initiated and eventually occurs, he said, when:

  1. When we study the scriptures to obtain the knowledge that will strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ which will create a desire to change.
  2. When we cultivate that desire through prayer and fasting.
  3. When we act, according to the word studied or received, and we make a covenant to surrender our hearts to Him, just as with King Benjamin’s people.

Gavarret also asked, “How do we know that our heart is changing?” The answer, he said, is:

  1. When we want to please God in all things.
  2. When we treat others with love, respect, and consideration.
  3. When we see that the attributes of Christ are becoming part of our character.
  4. When we feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit more constantly.
  5. When we keep a commandment that has been difficult for us to obey and then continue to live it.

Developing faith in Christ is like a ladder, according to Elder Larry S. Kacher, General Authority Seventy.

“The simple faith we have in Jesus Christ as we first begin to learn about Him can remain in our hearts as we confront life’s challenges. Our faith in Him can and will guide us through the complexities of life,” Kacher said. “Indeed, we will find that there is simplicity on the other side of life’s complexities as we remain ‘(steadfast) in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.'”

Karcher invited those listening to consider the following questions posed by God’s holy prophets as you strive to climb your ladder of faith:

  • Am I stripped of pride?
  • Do I give place in my heart for the word of God?
  • Do I allow my afflictions to be consecrated for my gain?
  • Am I willing to let my will be swallowed in the will of the Father?
  • If I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can I feel so now?
  • Do I let God prevail in my life?

In the closing remarks of the Saturday morning session, President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, said his prayer is that he might help individuals stand steady in the storms they face, with a peaceful heart.

“Anyone with eyes to see the signs of the times and ears to hear the words of prophets knows that is true,” Eyring said. “The perils of greatest danger come to us from the forces of wickedness. Those forces are increasing. And so it will become more difficult, not easier, to honor the covenants we must make and keep to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Eyring used the lessons from King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon to teach that even if a person goes astray, there is hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“King Benjamin makes it clear how we can receive the hope to hear those words if we find the way in this life to have our natures changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is the only way we can build on the sure foundation and so stand firm during the storms of temptations and trials ahead,” Eyring said. “King Benjamin describes that change in our natures with a beautiful metaphor that touches my heart. It was used by prophets for millennia and by the Lord Himself. It is this: we must become as a child — a little child.”

“For some that will not be easy to accept. Most of us want to be strong. We may well see being like a child as being weak,” Eyring added. “Most parents look for the day when their children act less childish. But King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His Father’s will and atone for the sins of all of His Father’s children and then did it.”

Our natures must be changed to become as a child, to gain the strength we must have to stand steady and at peace in times of peril, Eyring noted.

“When the storms in life come, you can be steady because you are standing on the rock of your faith in Jesus Christ,” Eyring concluded.

Music for the Saturday morning session was provided in person by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

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