“Our success, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home,” said President Spencer W. Kimball as he opened the seminar for Regional Representatives on Friday, March 31.
“Our commitment to home-centered gospel living should become the clear message of every priesthood and auxiliary program, reducing, where necessary, some of the optional activities that may detract from proper focus on the family and the home.”
One hundred and eighty-three Regional Representatives, thirty-four of them newly called, heard President Kimball express his concern that “Church programs serve Church members, not the reverse.” His remarks highlighted the seminar which for eleven years has ushered in the conference weekend.
During his remarks, President Kimball announced the implementation of the “name extraction” program through which members will be able to “render second-mile service in genealogy, … accelerate the full use of our temples, and … hasten the work for the dead.” He outlined plans for area conferences in the United States and for two, rather than four, stake conferences per year. He also encouraged members to participate as private citizens in political and government affairs and to continue to pray that missionary work might be furthered in all the world. (See page 100 for selected portions of his talk.)
Following the theme “Strengthening the Individual and the Family through Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums,” several General Authorities instructed the Regional Representatives on the role of the quorums in activation efforts.
“A young man spoke at a recent Saturday evening stake conference meeting I was attending,” said Elder Gordon B. Hinckley. The young man, having been recently reactivated, said, “When you drift away, you’re not rejecting the Church; you simply stop attending. And then you discover that it’s an awesome thing to try to come back alone.”
Elder Hinckley emphasized that it is difficult to “come back alone.”
“The quorum is the Lord’s organization to provide effective brotherhood so that men in the Church can find sociality and an atmosphere in which to build and strengthen one another,” Elder Hinckley said. “The quorum is the most effective facility we have to increase the faith and activity of those who are now active and to bring back into activity that distressingly large number of brethren who no longer fellowship with us.
“And who can fellowship better than brethren who are also peers in age and interest?” Elder Hinckley asked. “I am satisfied that many of those who have drifted into inactivity long, in their hearts, to come back but do not know how to take the first step.”
Also discussing this theme was Elder Robert D. Hales of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who said that the quorums exist to help members truly live the gospel in their homes. Home teaching is a method of helping fathers teach gospel principles and of fostering gospel living in families, he said.
However, said Elder Hales, only about half of the members of the Church belong to “regular” families consisting of Mormon parents and Mormon children; about one out of four individuals in the Church is alone, and about one out of four belongs to a part-member family. Therefore, “the quorum is responsible for the reactivation, teaching, and spiritual development of individuals, as well as of families.”
Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve also reminded the Regional Representatives of the importance of remembering the individual. “All that we do, all of our instructions, all of our programs are for the individual members of the Church. They are the ones we are trying to save. They are the ones that must be touched and converted. … Look at each person virtually as a God in embryo. Then think of our responsibility to him—to help save him, to help perfect him, to help him to become like God.”
Regional Representatives were encouraged to see that the Scouting program is functioning in their regions. President Ezra Taft Benson said: “This is not an optional program. … Scouting is no longer on trial. It is an economically, socially, and spiritually sound program. It builds men of character and spirituality and trains them for citizen and leadership responsibility. Scouting teaches a boy to take care of himself and stand on his own two feet. It is an inspired program for a demanding time. This is that time! I would to God that every boy of Scouting age could have the benefits and blessings of this great program.”
Concluding the seminar, President Benson said: “I think the greatest honor that can come to any man is to hold membership in the true Church of Christ, to have a testimony that God lives and a testimony of this great work, to bear the holy priesthood of God, and to be blessed with an eternal family.”
During the proceedings of the seminar, President Benson announced the names of thirty-four new Regional Representatives: Herbert Springer Anderson of Olympia, Washington; John Nelson Baird of Honolulu, Hawaii; Thurn James Baker of Moses Lake, Washington; Martell A. Belnap of LaMarque, Texas; William Theodore Brannen of Columbia, South Carolina; Richard Ambrose Call of Provo, Utah; Robert Forbes Clyde of Joseph, Oregon; David Orin Dance of Seattle, Washington; Keith M. Elison of Blackfoot, Idaho; Kenneth David Foulger of San Jose, California; Himan Aldridge Gillespie of Norman, Oklahoma; Henry Harvey Griffith of Louisville, Kentucky; Boyd Frank Henderson of Pocatello, Idaho; Ivan Leslie Hobson, Jr., of Dallas, Texas; Louis Brent Hoggan of Logan, Utah; Richard C. Howe of Salt Lake City, Utah; Malcolm Seth Jeppsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; John Darold Johnson of Evanston, Illinois; Allan Franklin Larsen of Blackfoot, Idaho; Garth Loraine Lee of Hyrum, Utah; Lewis Ray Livingston of Craig, Colorado; Merlyn Wayne Vincent Lofgren of Missoula, Montana; Faaesea P. Mailo of American Samoa; William James Mortimer of Salt Lake City, Utah; Lyle Kay Porter of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Melvin Brent Richards of Bakersfield, California; Hans Ringger of Birsfelden, Switzerland; Allen Claire Rozsa of Santa Ana, California; J. Lorenzo Smith of Chatham, New Jersey; Glade Milton Sowards of Vernal, Utah; Thomas Valdez of Coahuila, Mexico; Louis Blaine Vorwaller of Jacksonville, Florida; Robert Mitchell Winston of Lighthouse Point, Florida; and Tyler Anderson Woolley of Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Ten Regional Representatives were released: Antonio C. Camargo, Marvin R. Curtis, Clark M. Wood, Ralph B. Lake, Joseph A. Kjar, Antone K. Romney, Mark B. Weed, LeGrand R. Curtis, George R. Hill, and George I. Cannon.