Leaders Address Members of the Jerusalem District
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
- Apostles shared a “sacred and powerful experience” with Jerusalem District members.
- Members and students in Jerusalem have honored a nonproselytizing agreement.
- The Jerusalem District includes branches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, and Galilee.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a “sacred and powerful experience” with members of the Jerusalem District on October 22 during a trip to the Holy Land.
“We don’t have a lot of members in the Middle East generally, and we don’t have a lot of members in Israel specifically. Those we do have represent many nations of the world,” said Elder Holland. “They are succeeding just the way a lot of little branches are doing throughout the world. It just happens to be a very special location.”
Elder Holland and Elder Cook—accompanied by Elder James J. Hamula, General Authority Seventy, and their wives, Sister Patricia T. Holland, Sister Mary G. Cook, and Sister Joyce A. Hamula—were part of a delegation of Latter-day Saint and Jewish dignitaries from the United States who gathered at a historic site in Jerusalem to mark the 175th anniversary of Elder Orson Hyde dedicating the land as a gathering place for the Jewish people.
During his remarks Elder Holland spoke to the local Latter-day Saints about the delegation and why they had traveled to the Holy Land. He recounted the history of Orson Hyde and answered questions from the members.
Latter-day Saints in the Jerusalem District are valiant, said Elder Holland. “The members have been very devoted, very faithful to the counsel to live the gospel, but they are not free to talk openly about it lest it be interpreted as proselyting.”
For more than four decades, Church members and BYU students in Jerusalem have honored a nonproselytizing agreement.
“God knows everything about the State of Israel, everything about the future of the State of Israel,” Elder Holland told the members. “He can do His own work in His own time. Meanwhile we need to be ready, alert, attentive, and be good people.”
Jerusalem District President Douglas Coombs said Elder Holland’s comments were “very helpful to give us perspective and reassurance.”
During his remarks, Elder Cook bore a powerful testimony of the Savior. “I know His voice. I know His face. I know He lives and He is divine,” Elder Cook testified.
Elder Hamula spoke of the Savior’s feeding of the 5,000 and how the Lord tenderly “finds a way to spiritually and temporally feed us no matter where we are in our lives,” said President Coombs. “He noted that the people were ‘filled’ one by one.”
The Church’s Jerusalem District covers a large area, including the State of Israel and the West Bank, and includes four branches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, and Galilee, said President Coombs.
“Because of the distances, lack of vehicles, no running public transportation on the Sabbath, and employment conflicts, many of these members are unable to attend church at one of the branches. It is a real challenge to be a member of the Church in Israel.”
Many members, however, were able to arrange to attend the devotional.
“A group of members from the Haifa area, a group from Beer-Sheva, and even a member from Eilat down by the Red Sea came to the devotional at great sacrifice,” he said. “This was the most unifying and faith-promoting experience we have experienced since we came to Israel. It was the thrill of a lifetime for many.”
President Coombs said after the meeting, one member shared, “I felt that I was in general conference.” Another stated that attending the meeting might create problems with her employer but that it was worth it to see and hear two Apostles of the Lord.
“It really was a very sacred and powerful experience, and we are so grateful that these brethren took the time and made the effort to meet with district members,” said President Coombs. “This devotional will bless the lives of so many.”