Saturday afternoon session 183rd annual General Conference

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Church Statistical Report for 2012

Total Church Membership 14,441,346
Missions 340
Missionaries 55,410
Missionary Training Centers 15
Temples 141
Congregations 28,784
Universities & Colleges 4
Seminary Students Enrollment 375,388
Institute Student Enrollment 352,441
Family History Centers 4,676
Countries with Family History Centers 128
Countries Receiving Humanitarian Aid (Since 1985) 179
Welfare Services Missionaries (Incl. Humanitarian Service Missionaries) 9,251
Church Materials Languages 176

Elder Richard G. Scott 

Elder Richard G. Scott speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Elder Richard G. Scott speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve emphasized the importance of making our home a place of refuge from the unrest in the world. He said the ideal place to find peace in one’s life is within the walls of their own home.

“Regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord, Jesus Christ, for He is the source of true peace in this life,” Elder Scott said.

He recognized not all homes have ideal situations, yet despite our home life, Christ must be the center. He noted this responsibility is not only on the shoulders of the parents; children likewise must make an effort to contribute to a Christ-centered home.

He said small things lead to big things. He expanded saying little indiscretions or neglect can eventually lead to larger problems. More importantly, he said, simple good habits lead to an abundant life.

Elder Scott said technology is a rapidly growing piece of people’s lives. He warned listeners be wise in how they use it. He said if young people were to review the scriptures on their phone as much as they text, they could have powerful memorized verses on hand when needed. He said technology when is used properly, and understood, is not a threat, but rather a tool to enhance spiritual communication.

He told a story of an experience his wife, Jeanene, had with a young man whose parents had given him up as a child, leaving him to bounce from foster home to another. This man was baptized as a teenager and chose to serve a mission. In his time in the field he was confined to the mission home for a few days due to an illness. Jeanene later learned that he asked to spend a few days at the end of his mission in the mission home solely to observe how a Christ-centered family functions.

Elder Scott said the more church members focus on a Christ-centerd life, the gospel will naturally become a refuge from the hectic world. Elder Scott also encouraged members to invite friends into their Christ-centered homes as a tool to help share the gospel. He encouraged listeners to be a worthy example to their friends.

Elder Scott said if one has family members who are not not making good decisions, trust the Lord and in His timing; remember there are some things that must be left to the Lord. As challenging as this situation is, Elder Scott said all must be done to serve and bless them through exercising of faith. This person is not abandoned, but in the watch of the Lord.

 

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Elder Quinten L. Cook speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference.
Elder Quinten L. Cook speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve began by recalling events that have resulted in him reflecting on the doctrine of peace and the role of Jesus Christ helping us obtain personal peace. These events included speaking at the funeral of Emilie Parker, who died in the Newtown shooting, and visiting members in the war-torn Ivory Coast. He said he was inspired by the peace and strength these people showed, despite such tragedies.

He continued by telling the story of his son whose wife was expecting their first child while they were living three blocks from the World Trade Center on at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. He said his family, along with many other members in the area, sought safety in their local stake center after the terrorist attacked.

Elder Cook said he was not surprised where they went for safety because modern revelation teaches stakes of Zion are a place of refuge. These events allowed him to ponder the doctrinal difference between universal or world peace and personal peace.

“Agency is essential to the plan of happiness. It allows for the love, sacrifice, personal growth and experience necessary for our eternal progression,” Elder Cook said. The Savior acknowledged that His mission would not achieve universal peace in this mortal existence. Elder Cook notes that universal peace did not exist during Christ’s mortal ministry, and likewise, does not today. He attributes this to the fact that Satan has not yet been bound.

Elder Cook said the Savior’s peace allows easement from suffering. He said Emilie Parker’s father expressed forgiveness to the perpetrator immediately.

“Remember, God is not the author of confusion, but the author of peace,” Elder Cook said. “We were all participants in the councils of heaven, and knew that we would experience pain and tragedy in our mortal life because of abuse of agency.”

Elder Cook said peace will not be found in worldly ways such as great wealth, power or prominence. He says peace is not found in seeking pleasure, entertainment or leisure. Rather the form of peace that many seek is found through the Savior.

Elder Cook said one can stay close to the Savior through humbling themselves, repenting of sins, being baptized with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ.

He said there is nothing to compare to the peace that comes from a “sin-wracked soul” confessing of their sins and receiving the blessings of the atonement.

Elder Cook advised against the common idea that one can be spiritual but not religious. He said this is a good first step. The Church and the sacred ordinances that it provides bring true peace.

He told a story of a Hindu woman of Indian descent, and a Member of the Fiji Parliament, who attended the open house and dedication of the Fiji Temple. Upon entering the celestial room, she was dissolved in tears. Elder Cook attributes this to the feelings of peace that overwhelmed her. She was able to feel the comforting of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the sacred nature of the temple, despite the negative state of her country.

“Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior’s atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace,” Elder Cook said. The Lord promised His Apostles they would be blessed with the… Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.”

Elder Stanley G. Ellis

Elder Stanley G. Ellis speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Elder Stanley G. Ellis speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder Stanley G. Ellis of the Seventy began by explaining the lessons he learned as a “real Idaho Farm Boy.” These lessons included how to work, to work smart, the importance of timing, to do what is needed regardless of what is enjoyable, to be direct and to stick to the basics.

He explained that nothing is more “basic” to us than the first Article of Faith. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

Elder Ellis said our Heavenly Father loves us, knows us and wants us to return to him.

“Think of it brothers and sisters — We are not spiritual orphans!” Elder Ellis said. He related having the example of the Savior to the example we have in our parents.

Elder Ellis said God has a way to live, love, help, pray, interact with others, marry, raise children and learn. He said one of the evils in these last days is “every man walketh in his own way.” He quoted from Proverbs 3: 5-7 where it warns we “lean not to thine own understanding.”

Elder Ellis said the Lord has a particular way in which to help others as well. He said the Lord promotes self-reliance, and that help should not be given to people who they can provide for themselves.

The Lord has a way to do missionary work as well. The Lord also has a way to love. Elder Ellis said the world says what is important is that two people are in love. Father in Heaven says this component of love is important, but there is an authorized way and time to express love to others.

When Joseph Smith was asked how he led the Church, he said he “taught correct principles and the members governed themselves.” Elder Ellis said it is important to bloom where we are planted and it is more important how children are raised than where.

Elder Ellis said with everything occurring in the Church today, and as the work is hastening, it is even more important to do everything in His way.

Elder John B. Dickson

Elder John B. Dickson speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Elder John B. Dickson speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder John B. Dickson of the Seventy began his remarks with a scripture from Matthew: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Elder Dickson said in the early days of the Church, the gospel was taken to the House of Israel only. A revelation came to Peter, the senior apostle, that the gospel should be taken beyond Israel to the Gentiles. Elder Dickson said the revelation given to Peter resulted in the gospel going rapidly to the nations of the gentiles.

Paul had a vision of the road to Damascus, where he repented and then became a driving force for spreading the gospel.

Moving ahead 1,800 years, the mandate to take the gospel to the world is the same as the one given to apostles of old. In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation that all worthy males should receive the priesthood. This meant that all of Heavenly Father’s children could enjoy the blessing of the gospel.

Elder Dickson recalls the moment Elder Richard G. Scott told him of the revelation President Kimball received. He remembers it bringing tears to his eyes. Elder Dickson would later spend many years of his ministry as a Seventy in the Africa West Area of the Church.

He expressed his love for the people that reside there, and his confidence in them. He said African people are coming into the Church by the hundreds and are fulfilling their callings in leadership.

“They (African members) have little interest in enormous homes and the finest cars, but great interest in knowing their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and in having eternal families,” Dickson said.

Dickson said he is not surprised the African people have been such an important part of the expansion of the Church. He testified that Heavenly Father loves all His children and it is available to all.

Elder David A. Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Elder David A. Bednar speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve began his talk by saying his message is to address a fundamental question of great spiritual consequence: “Why is the law of chastity so important?”

“The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children,” Elder Bednar said. He said God’s plan enables us to receive a physical body, gain mortal existence and to progress toward exaltation.

“Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal existence,” Elder Bednar said. He said our bodies allow us to have relationships with other people, recognize and act in accordance with truth, and to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel. He said there are lessons God intended for us to learn with our bodies.

When the Lord created Adam, God knew that it was not good for him to be alone, and Eve was created as Adam’s wife and help. Elder Bednar said the unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental and emotional capacities of both male and female are needed to fulfill the plan of happiness.

“The man and woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless and complete each other,” Elder Bednar said. He said the commandment to multiply the earth still stands. He said complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage protects the sanctity of the union.

“Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of their creative power,” Elder Bednar said. He said specific guidelines are in place for the proper use of the ability to create life which determine our measure of happiness.

Elder Bednar said the Church has a single standard of sexual morality. This is only between a man and a woman in the bounds of marriage. He said relationships are not meant to be a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied or entertainment. Rather, it is an expression of our divine nature and a way to strengthen a relationship between man and wife.

“Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence,” Elder Bednar said. He said Lucifer wants us to ultimately be alone and without hope. He seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly because he himself does not have a body to progress with. We are promised if we pursue virtue the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion.

Elder Bednar encouraged those who have sexually transgressed to repent. He referred to the Savior as the Great Physician who can help us through the pain of sin.

“The Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity or public opinion polls,” Elder Bednar said. He promised obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness and make possible our eternal progress. Chastity is and has always been “most dear and precious above all things.”

Elder Russel M. Nelson

Elder Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Elder Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd General Conference. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve began by praising those who have responded to the prophet’s call to serve missions. He said there is an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm at this time for missionary work.

He encouraged those going on missions to apply to the institution of their choice before going on their mission. Many institutions now allow a period of 18 to 30 months of deferral for a mission. This way they need not worry while on their mission where they will attend upon returning.

He encouraged people of all groups to “catch the wave.” This includes parents, teachers, adults, senior couples, stake presidents, bishops, ward council members, friends and neighbors.

He spoke specifically to ward mission leaders as well. He encouraged them to be the connecting link between members and missionaries and to help them fill their planners.

“This wave of truth and righteousness is wondrous! It is not man-made! It comes from the Lord, who said, ‘I will hasten my  work in its time,” Nelson said. He said the Restoration fulfills many biblical prophecies. He gave examples such as Isaiah prophesying the Lord’s house being established in the top of the mountains. He said this is fulfilled in the pioneers traveling across the mountains.

He also gave the example of Isaiah’s prophecy of “a marvelous work and wonder” being fulfilled by the growing army of missionaries.

The prophecy has also been fulfilled about the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) and the stick of Judah (the Bible) being one in God’s hand.

Another example Elder Nelson gave was the Restoration clarifying baptism from New Testament scriptures. This is fulfilled through ordinances for deceased ancestors.

The last example Elder Nelson gave was John the Revelator’s vision of another angel flying in the midst the heaven with the Angel Moroni and the Book of Mormon.

He emphasizes the point that the Book of Mormon is the centerpiece of the Restoration. He said together members and missionaries need to invite all to learn of God and his Son. He encourages all to “catch the wave” and fulfill the Lord’s commandment to take the gospel to all nations.

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