Nelson decries Ukraine war horrors, urges LDS faithful to end conflicts in their lives
SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday denounced the war in Ukraine as a “horrifying violation” and urged church members to fast and pray for all those hurt by the conflict.
Speaking during the morning session of the faith’s Annual General Conference, Nelson said the church is doing all it can to help those struggling to survive amid the war. While church members can’t control nations or the actions of others, he urged members to look inward.
He called on members to end “the conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others — whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue or a resentment for someone who has hurt you.”
Using a basketball analogy, Nelson counseled members to gain and keep “spiritual momentum … to counteract the speed with which evil and the darker signs of the times are intensifying.”
He said focusing on the spiritual will allow worshippers to stride onward during times of natural disasters, pandemics and wars. This will help the faithful “withstand the relentless, wicked attacks of the Adversary and thwart his efforts to erode our personal spiritual foundation.”
He urged followers to exercise humility, courage and strength to end conflicts in their lives and to both forgive and to seek forgiveness.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelves Apostles decried attacks on religious freedom, which he described as a “scourge sweeping the globe.”
“This growing sentiment seeks to remove religion and faith in God from the public square, schools, community standards and civic discourse,” Rasband said. He gave no examples but said that only communities of religion “will reverence peace and obedience to laws greater than the trends of the day.”
In recent years, the church has been criticized for its handling of LGBTQ issues, for its all-male priesthood and over the ban against Blacks holding the priesthood that was ended in 1978.
“Religious freedom brings balance to competing philosophies,” Rasband said. “The good of religion, its reach and the daily acts of love which religion inspires only multiply when we protect the freedom to express and act on core beliefs.”
He said members of flourishing religions perform “sometimes heroic acts of service,” such as current efforts to help refugees of the eastern European war.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, another of the Twelve, urged church members not to blame God for their problems. He gave several examples of faithful figures in scripture “who trusted God, confident that His promised blessings would be upon them in life or in death.”
Being faithful does not carry promises that things will go well in a person’s life, he said. “It truly is folly for us with our mortal myopia to presume to judge God, to think, for example, ‘I’m not happy, so God must be doing something wrong.'”
But repentance and obedience, sacrifices and good works do matter, he said, adding, “No matter what our mortal experience may entail, we can trust God and find joy in Him.”
Other speakers included Sister Amy Wright, second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, who said Christ’s teachings “can heal broken relationships with God, broken relationships with others and broken parts of ourselves.”
At the close of the conference Sunday afternoon, Nelson announced that the church will build temples in the following cities:
- Wellington, New Zealand
- Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
- Barcelona, Spain
- Birmingham, United Kingdom
- Cusco, Peru
- Maceió, Brazil
- Santos, Brazil
- San Luis Potosí, Mexico
- Mexico City Benemérito, Mexico
- Tampa, Florida
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Wichita, Kansas
- Austin, Texas
- Missoula, Montana
- Montpelier, Idaho
- Modesto, California