The Bakersfield California Stake is reaping the benefits from a leadership effort that resulted in 30 less-active brethren attending a special stake conference meeting with Elder Glen L. Rudd of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
"It was one of the greatest things we've done in our stake," said Pres. C. Allen Andersen. "It was one fo the most spiritual experiences I've every had."Pres. Andersen said bishoprics and priesthood leaders were invited to bring the names of several prospective elders to a three-hour Saturday morning meeting of stake conference on Dec. 12.
During the first 45 minutes of the meeting, the stake presidency instructed the leaders to courageously go out with authority and in pairs to visit three to five prospective elders within their wards. They were told, Pres. Andersen related, to seek the Spirit of the Lord as they went about the Lord's work that day. The leaders then spent the next two hours visiting the less-actives.
"After one of the companions offered a prayer, they were to say they weren't there to chit chat, but had come on behalf of the stake presidency to challenge the less-active brother to come back to Church and that they were willing to do whatever they had to do to help him get his life in order," Pres. Andersen said.
If they felt impressed, the leaders were to take a hymn book. Many did and sang hymns with the less-active families.
The priesthood leaders also took consecrated oil in case a brother or a member of his family needed a blessing. Many blessings were given to heal spiritual as well as physical ills, the stake president said.
"I told the bretheren to bring into the conversation personal spiritual experiences and to ask the less-active brother to bring up spiritual experiences he might have had," Pres. Andersen recalled. "While one companion was talking, the other would be praying for him."
They were to end the visits with prayer and use the Melchizedek Priesthood to leave a blessing in the homes. The leaders then invited the less-active brother to the meeting with Elder Rudd the next morning before stake conference. About 30 prospective elders attended the meeting.
"The smell of tobacco was strong, but not as strong as the Spirit," said Elder Rudd, second counselor in the North America West Area.
Because of the leaders' efforts in the visits, every unit in the stake has had success with families coming back into activity.
"Many are now attending temple preparation seminars," Pres. Anderson reported.
In one community 25 miles from Bakersfield, little Church activity in the community had occurred before the visits. Afterward, the stake president asked one less-active brother who was visited if Sunday meetings could be held in his home, to which he agreed. Now 12 to 15 people attend each week. And, 23 copies of the Book of Mormon have been given out in the community and two families are investigating the Church.