Jesus Christ provides hope for healing, and all do belong in his church, leaders say on Saturday afternoon
“We cannot permit any racism, tribal prejudice or other divisions to exist in the latter-day Church of Christ,” apostle says
Jesus Christ’s Atonement, teachings and love offer real power to people today to find solutions to trials caused by abuse, disease, opposition and other hardships, speakers said Saturday afternoon during the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They also encouraged church members to recognize that they belong in the church and have a role helping others feel belonging.
While people today aren’t pushing handcarts or driving wagons in the 175th year since the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, “we are trying as they did to spiritually overcome the temptations and challenges of our day,” said President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Although the challenges today are different than those of the early pioneers, they are no less challenging for us,” he said.
A poignant story of one leader’s journey through familial abuse punctuated the theme of overcoming those challenges that wove through several of the seven talks at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City during the second session of the conference, which continues tonight at 6 p.m. MT and concludes tomorrow with sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. MT.
Another leader taught what he called the doctrine of belonging for a church becoming increasingly global and diverse while millions worldwide watched and listened by broadcast and livestream.
“We cannot permit any racism, tribal prejudice or other divisions to exist in the latter-day Church of Christ,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“We should be diligent in rooting prejudice and discrimination out of the church, out of our homes and most of all out of our hearts,” he added. “As our church population grows ever more diverse, our welcome must grow ever more spontaneous and warm. We need one another.”
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
- “I testify that as we follow Jesus Christ with footsteps of faith, there is hope. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is hope for all in this life. There is hope to overcome our mistakes, our sorrows and struggles and our trials and troubles. There is hope in repentance and being forgiven and in forgiving others. I testify that there is hope and peace in Christ. He can carry us today through difficult times. He did it for the early pioneers, and he will do it now for each one of us.”
- “It is as important to follow the prophet and keep our feet firmly planted on the covenant path of faithfulness as it was for the early pioneers.”
He also spoke to missionaries and prospective missionaries.
- “Our missionaries today are modern-day pioneers because they share this glorious message with people around the world, thus opening the way for our Heavenly Father’s children to know him and his son Jesus Christ.”
- “Dear young men and young women, your footsteps of faith will help you to follow the Lord’s invitation to serve missions — to be modern-day pioneers — by opening the way for God’s children to find and stay on the covenant path leading back to his glorious presence.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Christofferson outlined three parts of the doctrine of belonging — the role of belonging in gathering the Lord’s covenant people, the importance of service and sacrifice in belonging and the centrality of Jesus Christ in belonging.
He said the church’s beginnings among largely white North American and northern European Saints is giving way to global diversity.
- “As the long-prophesied latter-day gathering of the Lord’s covenant people gains momentum, the church will truly be comprised of members from every nation, kindred, tongue and people. This is not a calculated or forced diversity, but a naturally occurring phenomenon that we would expect, recognizing that the gospel net gathers from every nation and every people.”
- “It is a sad irony, then, when someone, feeling he or she doesn’t meet the ideal in all aspects of life, concludes that they don’t belong in the very organization designed by God to help us progress toward the ideal.”
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Soares said marriage is a true partnership between equals with divine responsibilities.
- “According to gospel doctrine, the difference between woman and man does not override the eternal promises that God has for his sons and daughters. One has no greater possibilities for celestial glory than the other in the eternities.”
- “It is important to observe that the government in the family follows the patriarchal pattern, differing in some respects from priesthood leadership in the church. The patriarchal pattern entails that wives and husbands are accountable directly to God for the fulfillment of their sacred responsibilities in the family. It calls for a full partnership, a willing compliance with every principle of righteousness and accountability and provides opportunities for development within an environment of love and mutual helpfulness. These special responsibilities do not imply hierarchy and absolutely exclude any kind of abuse or improper use of authority.”
- “Nurturing and presiding are interrelated and overlapping responsibilities, which means that mothers and fathers ‘are obligated to help one another as equal partners’ and share a balanced leadership of their home.”
- “My dear brothers and sisters, nurturing and presiding are opportunities, not exclusive limitations. One person may have a responsibility for something but may not be the only person doing it. When loving parents well understand these two major responsibilities, they will strive together to protect and care for the physical and emotional well-being of their children. They also help them face the spiritual dangers of our day by nurturing them with the good word of the Lord as revealed to his prophets.”
Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency
Sister Yee, with her father’s permission, shared her painful experience as a girl of being verbally and emotionally abused by him. She said building anger and resentment gave her a warring heart.
- “Over the years and in my efforts to find peace and healing on that path of forgiveness, I came to realize in a profound way that the same Son of God who atoned for my sins is the same Redeemer who will also save those who have deeply hurt me. I could not truly believe the first truth without believing the second.”
- “So did the Savior — in an incomprehensible way — take upon him our sins and the sins of those who have hurt or offended us. In Gethsemane and on the cross, he claimed these sins. He made a way for us to let go of a vengeful heart. That ‘way’ is through forgiving—which can be one of the most difficult things we ever do and one of the most divine things we ever experience. On the path of forgiveness, Jesus Christ’s atoning power can flow into our lives and begin to heal the deep crevasses of the heart and soul.”
Sister Yee clarified that forgiving someone doesn’t mean putting oneself in a position where the hurt can continue.
- “To all who are brokenhearted, captive, bruised and perhaps blinded by hurt or sin, he offers healing, recovery and deliverance. I testify that the healing and recovery he offers is real.”
- “As my love for the Savior has grown, so has my desire to replace hurt and anger with his healing balm. It has been a process of many years, requiring courage, vulnerability, perseverance and learning to trust in the Savior’s divine power to save and heal. I still have work to do, but my heart is no longer on a warpath. I have been given ‘a new heart’ —one that has felt of the deep and abiding love of a personal Savior, who stayed beside me, who gently and patiently led me to a better place, who wept with me, who knew my sorrow.”
Her father also had a change of heart. She said that change is “Another testimony to me of the complete and transformative power of Jesus Christ.”
Songs and Prayers
The prayers were provided by two members of the General Authority Seventy, Elder Takashi Wada, a native of Japan who is the church’s Asia North Area president, and Elder Hans T. Boom of the Netherlands, who is the Europe North Area president.
A combined choir of teaching and service missionaries provided the music for the session. They sang “Called to Serve,” “Faith in Every Footstep,” “Glory to God on High,” “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” and “Hope of Israel.”
Attendance in the Conference Center was 10,498, according to a church spokesman.