The Washington D.C. Chapter of the BYU Management Society presented its Distinguished Public Service Award to Elder M. Russell Ballard on April 19.
Present in the Georgetown University Conference Center event honoring Elder Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, were diplomats from nine countries. Also attending were U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-Nevada); Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah); Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah); and Gordon H. Smith (R-Oregon). Brian Barker, chapter president, presented the award.
Sen. Reid recapped Elder Ballard's lifetime of dedicated Church service, which includes callings as a bishop, high councilor, president of the Canada Toronto Mission, and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy before being called as an apostle in 1985. He and his wife, Barbara, have seven children and 40 grandchildren.
In accepting the award, Elder Ballard noted that people of all faiths should "unite together in the great cause of Christ," and he asked Latter-day Saints to "let your voices be heard" about religious beliefs and standards. He urged members to work within their communities to help correct misunderstandings and inaccuracies about the Church that have proliferated during an election season of intense media scrutiny.
"There's more misinformation out there than we imagined," he said, adding that Church members are grateful for those of other faiths who have rallied to counter falsehoods about the Church in the media and on the Internet.
The issue now, according to Elder Ballard, is what Church members are prepared to do about the problem. "Are you an active participant or a silent observer?" he asked.
He counseled Church members to let others know they are Latter-day Saints and to engage in thoughtful public or Internet discussions to explain what they believe and why. The goal, he believes, is not just to correct misperceptions about the Church, but also to present solid, accurate information that demonstrates how a member's faith and life intersect. Discussions, he emphasized, should be "candid, honest, open observations."
Elder Ballard also suggested that there is "great need for good people of good will to unite," likening the result to leaven that helps the whole loaf to rise.