#LDSconf 186th Semiannual Conference, General Priesthood Session

October 2016 Priesthood Session

Choir from stakes in West Valley City and Magna Utah (including my former stake!)

President Eyring presiding

Hymn– Ye Elders of Israel (A really nice rendition!)

Prayer– Paul B. Piper of the 70

Hymn   Love at Home

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

A single sister (Molly) came home from work and found her basement covered in water.  She and a friend began moping. Then her home teachers showed up. But they said “we see that you are busy and we do not want to intrude…” and they left.

Home teaching is our first duty to watch over others. We are told about it and given guilt trips, but still can’t get our numbers to an acceptable level. Changing demographics make it difficult to successfully visit the homes of others. There are also limited numbers of priesthood holders, long distance, cost of transportation, long work weeks. And there are cultural taboos and safety issue. So this is a complex problem.

When possible, a month visit is still the ideal that the Church will strive for. But because it is not always possible, the First Presidency wrote in December 2001 and gave inspired counsel. In some locations home teaching every month may not be possible. Leaders should do their best to use the resources that they have available to watch over and strengthen each member.

Applying the 1st Presidency’s counsel: Visit the house of each member (however months it takes), set up a schedule, prioritize time and contacts to those who need it the most. (ill, lonely, less-active, converts, etc.). While doing so, make other forms of contact by other means–watch for them at Church and speak to them ; text or call; use social media; send scriptural quotes, talks, or videos. “Do the best we can in the circumstances we face with the resources available to us.”

We must lift up our vision of home teaching. We must see ourselves as emissaries of the Lord. Do not focus so much on rushing to give a scripted message at the end of the month. Establish an aura of genuine gospel oriented concern. Address spiritual and temporal needs in any way that helps.

Report all of it. What really matters is how you bless those in your stewardship which has little to do with the calendar.

A friend of his (Troy Russell) was pulling out of his driveway and accidentally rode over his 9 year old child who died. He was inconsolable. There came three redeeming forces: First, the love and reassuring spirit of God through the Holy Ghost which taught that God knows everything about losing a child. Second, his wife who supported him and was determined not to lose her husband. Third, his home teacher (John Manning). He reached down and helped pick up Troy from the tragedy. He would come by every day and pick him up to take him to play ball at the Church and would listen for hours on end.

When we speak of Home Teaching this is what we speak about. We must be God’s emissaries to his children.

Elder LeGrand Curtis Jr. of the 70

Government of Ghana banned the church and seized all property. It is referred to as the “freeze” by members in the country. They kept the light of the Gospel shinning. Faith of members was strengthened

One of the police officers that guarded the building found a copy of the Book of Mormon. He felt drawn to it even though he had been told it was evil. He read the Book of Mormon. In 2 Nephi 25 he read the verses about “talking and prophesying of Christ.” The spirit told him that the book was scripture and the most correct he had ever read. He, his wife, and children joined the Church. He is now the District president.

There was another member that joined in similar circumstances.

There was a Catholic studying to be a priest who became convinced that there had been an apostasy. He searched for the true church for a long time without avail. He then found the missionaries and was drawn to them. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and was converted.  He is now a Branch President.

Parley P. Pratt’s experience speaking about obsessively reading the book when he first read it.

Some people have such powerful experiences the first time they open it. But for others the witness comes more gradually. That was Elder Curtis’s circumstance. As a seminary student he read it. He felt a warm spirit gradually grow as he read the book. That feeling grows with every read—The spirit flows into his heart and soul.

Others gain a testimony even more slowly. He has a friend that read and took up Moroni’s challenge but did not immediately get the promised answer. One day as he was deep in though driving down the road, the spirit testified to him of the truth of it. He pulled down the car window and yelled “It’s True!.”

However long it takes to gain a testimony, the Book will bless us as we read it and abide by its teachings. President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the power that comes from reading the Book of Mormon.

Everyone listening should read the Book of Mormon including Aaronic Priesthood holders. President Monson has invited us to read it

We can know that Jesus is the Christ and the Church is true. Having a testimony will give us a solid foundation when we are challenged or come across questions we cannot answer immediately. Spirit will confirm to us over and over again that the Book is true. Make it an important part of your home and family.

President Marrion G. Romney promised that if we read form the Book of Mormon in our home the spirit of the Book will permeate our home and the spirit of contention will depart. Righteousness, faith, hope, and charity will increase. And we will have peace, joy, and happiness. We see the fulfillment of these blessings clearly in our family.

Greatest impact of the Book is that it draws us closer to Christ and teaches us of him. We see and experience him loving, blessing, and teaching the Nephites and come to understand that he will do the same for us. Same spirit comes in any language and format.

Congregational Hymn–  Now Let Us Rejoice

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Alma the Younger is one of the most unforgettable characters in scripture. He actively opposed his father and sought to destroy the Church. His eloquence led to great success. An angel appeared and changed is life.

When wracked by pain a faint memory brought back knowledge of Jesus Christ. He had long rejected it, but now his mind caught hold upon this thought and he humble, earnestly placed his thought in Christ’s atoning power. He emerged a changed man and devoted his life to undoing the damage he had caused. He is a powerful example of repentance forgiveness and enduring faithfulness.

He was chosen as chief judge even though people must have known his past. The social media and newspaper equivalents must have focused on him. He was the most well known celebrity of his day.

But when he saw the people were forgetting God, which sounds a lot like our day, he chose to resign from public office and dedicate himself to his priesthood duties.

He had great success at first until he came to Ammoniah. The people there had little respect for him since he was no longer a political leader. He was heartbroken and turned his back on the city, but an angel told him to return. He was told to return to people that hated him and were hostile to the Church. This was a dangerous and possibly life threatening assignment, but he did not hesitate.

Amulek was a descendant of a long line of believers but his faith had grown cold—“I was called many times….” He welcomed the Lord’s servant. He experienced a marvelous change. He not only believed but he became a champion of truth. Alma now had a second witness at his side.

The events that follows are one of the most bittersweet in scripture, but we can read about it for ourselves.

I would ask you to consider two questions

  • What can I learn from Alma?

All past, present, and future leaders of the Church may learn from him.

He was an exceptionally talented person, but he found Amulek and asked for help. And he received help. Sometimes we are reluctant to find and ask our Amulek’s for help. We think we can do better ourselves or do not want to inconvenience others. We hesitate to ask others to use their God given talents and engage in the work of salvation.

The savior did not establish his church alone. He invited others to come and follow him. He trusted his followers to do the things they had seen him do. He built up not only his Church but also his servants. Wherever we serve, we can do the same

We need to find our Amuleks—look for people that we can ask to serve. They may be inactive or not obviously ready, but ultimately they are waiting to be asked. We should think about those in our wards and stakes that need to hear a call to arms. God has been preparing them. Find them by seeing with your heart. Tell them that the blessing of the Lord will rest upon them and their house.

  • How am I like Amulek?

Perhaps we have become less committed in our discipleship and the fire of our testimony has dimmed. Perhaps we have become disillusioned or angry and left our “first love,” the truths of the Gospel of Christ. Perhaps we know that the Lord has called us many times though we would not hear. Regardless, God sees us as he saw Amulek—servants with the potential to do incredible things that no one else can do. We should listen with our heart and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

One brother asked himself “when the Lord calls will I hear?” David converted some 30 years ago. He served a mission and then went to law school. He came across negative material about the Church. He then had his records removed. Like Alma in his rebellious days he spent a lot of time online challenging the beliefs of other members.

One of those members that he debated with was Jacob. Jacob was kind but firm in his belief. They developed a friendship. Jacob prayed for David faithfully for more than a decade. He also placed David’s name on the temple prayer role. Overtime, slowly, David changed. He began to remember is spiritual experiences and the joy he had once felt. He had not completely forgotten the Gospel truth he had embraced (like Alma). And he felt the lord reaching out to him (like Amulek).

He was a prestigious law firm partner and had a reputation as a critic so was too prideful to ask for readmission.  And he still had unanswered questions But he kept seeking and praying. He spoke to friends and his doubt one by one turned to faith. He then could once again feel a testimony. He was able to overcome his pride and do whatever it took to be accepted into the Church. He was rebaptized and had his blessings restored. He is now a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward and takes every opportunity to speak out and heal the damage he caused.

Let us seek out, find, inspire, and rely upon the Amuleks in our wards and stakes. There are many in the Church today. Perhaps we know one. Perhaps we are one. Perhaps the Lord has been whispering to you, urging you to return to your “first love.” The Savior knows our heart and knows where we are. He will reach out to us and rescue us if we open up our heart. Learn from Alma and Amulek and learn the life changing words of the savior “Come Follow Me.”

President Henry B. Eyring

Devotion, faith, and selfless example of priesthood holders is a miracle.

God grants his power to all who serve and fulfill their priesthood duties.

Wilford Woodruf heard his first sermon on one day, was baptized the next, was confirmed a Teacher and sent on a mission right away. He was then sent on another mission when a Priest.  He baptized but could not confirm because he was a Priest. He testified that he was just as much sustained by the power of God as a teacher or a priest as when he was an Apostle.

Aaronic Priesthood is an appendage which means the two priesthoods are connected. Aaronic prepares for Melchizedeck. The higher priesthood has all of the blessings and power/authority. Only the Prophet has all of the keys. The powerof the keys are infinite. They concern the family and the nature of life itself. That same priesthood is shared by all holders of the priesthood.

Elders should remember their days as Deacons, Teachers ,and Priests when Elders reached out and sustained them. Rekindle the feeling and a determination to give all you can to give the same kind of help you once received.

Priesident Eyring had a bishop that truly looked to him as a prospective Elder. He called him to visit a family and allowed President Eyring to live up to his potential.  He is long gone, but I still remember him.

His father was asked to write a note about the scientific evidence of the age of the earth for the First Presidency/ Apostles. His father asked President Eyring to discern whether to send it to the First Presidency.

Once when he was already an Apostle, the Prophet called him to ask him to read a chapter about Church Doctrine. He asked him to tell him whether it was right to publish it.

The same pattern came at a speech festival sponsored by the church when President Eyring was 17.

He prepared a talk that was way beyond what he knew about the Gospel. He felt that he had failed. Elder Matthew Cowley of the Q12 spoke afterwards. He began in a powerful voice and said that President Eyring’s speech was a very good one.

Nothing will help youth more than giving them the faith and confidence that they can draw on the power of God in their service.

Those we serve have their agency and have to make their choices. We need to teach that the words of King Benjamin are true and urge others to avoid all the diverse ways that one can sin and watch their words, thoughts, and deeds.

Satan is sending his fiery darts against the youth. They can survive like the Stripling Warriors if theyhave faith like the Stripling Warriors did and follow King Benjamin’s counsel. We must reach down and strengthen our brethren.

This is how the Apostles built up the Church in ancient days. We can work miracles and help the Lord fill the ranks with faithful elders who serve with confidence. This does not require a call beyond the priesthood that we already have

  • Study the oath and covenant of the Priesthood.
  • Rise to our call to lift others and prepare them for their service.

President Monson has all the keys. Through a lifetime of service he has been an example for us all. He has lifted me and shown me how to lift others. This is God’s Church and Kingdom.

President Thomas S. Monson

In 1833 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the Word of Wisdom which gives us direction and counsel about things to avoid. Following the commandment brings us blessings including health.

A member of the Church served during WWII. A landing craft came and picked them up. He found himself dangling at the end of a 40 foot rope and could barely pull himself up. His arms burned and he came so weak he felt he could no longer hold on. John prayed to God asking for help. As he finished his prayer he felt a great surge of strength. He was able to climb up and reach the rope. The blessings of added health, strength, and stamina had been his.

May we care for our bodies and our minds by preserving the principles of the Word of Wisdom. We will receive glorious blessings as we do so.

Hymn– Make the pathway bright

Closing Prayer–  (I did not catch the name of the person doing the closing prayer).


4 thoughts on “#LDSconf 186th Semiannual Conference, General Priesthood Session

  1. I enjoyed Paul Pieper’s opening prayer, and how he spoke of the great privilege the men have to associate with God’s daughters.

    We are used to having the men in our lives going on to the Church, with Saturday evening being sort of a female refuge. But since the session was broadcast on BYUtv, my husband just stayed home and watched on the couch. So I watched with him.

    I also thought it was interesting that the Priesthood session clocked in at 90 minutes, which I think has long been the duration of the Women’s session. Perhaps it has always been that way, but my husband was surprised when the rest hymn came 45 minutes into the session.

    I particularly enjoyed President Uchtdorf’s talk reminding us of the rich heritage our sacred stories have of the power of those who have repented (Alma and Amulek). It was a wonderful groundbreaking for the many who have left and could some day return in power (as in the story of “David” and “Jacob”). In the Women’s session, he reminded us that faith cannot compel the free will of another. This is the twin to that address, setting out for us the path for faithful yearning to help when the free will of another leads them to return. Unspoken was the result of the faithful yearning of Alma on behalf of his errant son. God might not compel, but He can and has sent unmistakeable messages to those who are on a wrong road based on the faith of their loved ones.

    I greatly enjoyed President Monson’s comments, but it was hard to watch how hard it was for him. At a certain point I shut my eyes and simply listened. My husband reflected on the final years of President Kimball’s ministry, how at a certain point he was no longer well enough to address the Saints during Conference. My husband expressed his anguish when he realized he would never again hear President Kimball speak again. It was good to see President Monson wave to the conference attendees as he walked out after the close of the session and how the audience waved back at him.

  2. Meg,

    The priesthood session has been trending ~90 minutes for a year or two. Wasn’t always this way. Not sure the reason for the shorter session but I’m not complaining. Seems like they still do a good job in the shorter timeframe.

Comments are closed.