An urgent plea for the people of the Church to become member missionaries highlighted an address by President Spencer W. Kimball to the General Authorities of the Church and the Regional Representatives of the Twelve in the semiannual seminar held prior to general conference.
In reviewing the rapid growth of the Church over the past few years, President Kimball said, “We used to think of the Church as a possible worldwide church, but today it really is.”
“We’re very proud of the great increase in missionaries—up to 25,000 plus,” he said. “But we cannot depend on them alone, for their numbers are fairly small as compared to the large number of members of the Church. The rich harvest we can reap must come from the missionary efforts which will largely come through the people. With 3 1/2 million people, we have a great army of missionaries.”
President Kimball continued: “Brethren and sisters, there are numerous people in the world who are hungering for the Lord and for His word. They are thirsting for associations with the Lord, and yet they neither know exactly what they are hungering for nor what will quench their thirst. It is your responsibility and mine to take this message of the gospel to them.
“One of the highest forms of Christian service is to share the gospel, because with its acceptance come so many other blessings,” he said.
Recalling the great challenge given by President David O. McKay, “every member a missionary,” President Kimball said: “That challenge still holds good, and we hope it is in the mind of every member.
“Our work covers this great world from end to end. Our great need, desire, and obsession is to bring to the people of this world the candle of understanding, to light the way out of obscurity and darkness.
“This calls for two elements. One is proselyting, and the other is fellowshipping. We are kind to minorities. We are kind to all those who are less fortunate. We are kind to all our brothers all over the world.
“It should be clear to us,” President Kimball continued, “that usually we must warm our neighbors before we can warn them properly. Our neighbors must experience our genuine friendship and fellowship. We want members to entreat neighbors, not to scold them or to scare them. What we need are not more quotas, but fewer qualms about sharing the gospel. We hope our members will not simply go through the motions, but will truly keep this requirement of sharing the gospel.”
From the subject of member missionaries, President Kimball turned to another area of great concern to him: temple marriages. He characterized as “terrifying” the fact that just under half of those in the Church who marry do so in the temple, and that more than half of those who marry outside the temple marry nonmembers. “Studies indicate,” he pointed out, “that only about one out of seven nonmembers who marries an LDS spouse ever joins the Church. This would mean that many families might not be blessed with the gospel, and that many of the children would not be reared as Latter-day Saints.
“We should give early and immediate attention to whatever needs to be done to encourage the youth, to encourage their leaders, and to encourage their parents, that they might have temple marriages.
“Where there is a will there is a way, and many young people have found that they could go around the world to get their temple marriage if they really want to.”
President Kimball then dwelt upon another very important aspect of the Church program, that of temple and genealogy work, which “concerns me greatly,” he said. “At the present, only about a fourth of the names processed in the temples are provided by the Saints through their personal research. This is a condition which must be changed.
“Saints in every temple district must be taught to provide their own names. Japanese people should provide the names for their own Tokyo Temple. South American people should provide the names for their own São Paulo Temple. Likewise in Mexico and Seattle and in every other established area.”
Moving to the subject of Church welfare, President Kimball spoke of the blessings of obedience. “Disciples need not be filled with overanxiety,” he said. “Remember, ‘If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.’ (D&C 38:30.) Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.”
He then spoke of the importance of proper Sabbath observance and attendance at meetings, saying, “While we probably have a record almost unparalleled in the world for any large group, we are far from perfect and should continue on to help our people perceive their responsibility to take all of the members of the family to Church all of the time. Attendance at theaters and ball games on the Sabbath are reprehensible. We hope we can establish among the people a deep and solemn respect for the Sabbath. And of course attending our meetings is Sabbath observance.”
President Kimball emphasized tithing and fast offerings, home evenings and family prayers, and the Word of Wisdom; and then he gave the Regional Representatives a charge to be greatly concerned about “every form of wickedness and sinfulness and unrest” in their areas, and to give special attention to urging members to resist immorality, pornography and vulgarity, and abortion.
He then closed with another reference to the missionary work: “We continue to desire the growth of the Church and we are pleased, but not overwhelmed, with the progress being made. We look to the day when Zion can be built; but the Lord reminds us, ‘First let my army become very great.’ (D&C 105:31.) And that, of course, refers to the missionaries, which army is growing, but also to the people of the Church.
“The Lord has been very specific in making these demands of us, and we should be very serious in accepting those counsels.”
Fifteen new Regional Representatives of the Twelve were introduced at the seminar: Robert N. Brady of Brentwood, Tennessee; Doyle J. Davis of Covina, California; Eugene Mark Robert Englebert of the Netherlands; Harvey S. Greer of Fair Oaks, California; John R. Lasater of Stuttgart, Germany; Julian C. Lowe of McLean, Virginia; John Maxwell of Houghton-le-Springs, England; D. Keith Myres of Bonita, California; Mark G. Ricks of Rexburg, Idaho; Enrique Rittscher of Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lenard D. Robison of Reno, Nevada; Jorge Rojas O. of Mexico City, Mexico; Ian David Swanney of Ellvington, York, England; Roberto Vidal of San Antonio, Peru; Donald G. Woolley of Ames, Iowa.
Four Regional Representatives were released: Grant M. Bowler of Logandale, Nevada; Arch L. Madsen of Salt Lake City; Dean L. Larsen of Kaysville, Utah; and Robert E. Wells of Salt Lake City. Brother Larsen and Brother Wells were subsequently called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Following President Kimball’s address the seminar continued with presentations by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson, Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder David B. Haight, and Elder Franklin D. Richards. These were for the purpose of illustrating for the Regional Representatives the relationships between them and their area advisors, area supervisors, stake presidents, and mission presidents in the ever-expanding regionalization program of the Church.