My dear brothers and sisters, we are sure all of you have been thrilled with the announcement of the construction of several new temples. There now begins the most intensive period of temple building in the history of the Church. We look to the day when the sacred ordinances of the Church, performed in the temples, will be available to all members of the Church in convenient locations around the globe.
The building of these temples must be accompanied by a strong emphasis on genealogical research on the part of members of the Church.
We feel an urgency for this great work to be accomplished and wish to encourage the Saints to accept their responsibility of performing temple ordinances, writing their personal and family history, participating in the name extraction program when called to do so, completing their four-generation research, and then continuing their family research to ensure the redemption of their kindred dead.
This individual effort will move us forward in the great responsibility resting upon us for the redemption of those who have died without a knowledge of the truth.
Equally thrilling to me is the fact that we have just passed the thirty thousand mark for full-time missionaries. We have been advised by the Missionary Committee that as of March 25, we had 30,004 full-time missionaries. You may remember that, when we spoke to you at the April 1974 seminar for Regional Representatives, we had a total of 18,600 missionaries. This is a remarkable increase, and we are grateful for it. Seventy-nine percent of the new totals are young men; 13 percent are young women; and 8 percent represents older couples. But with all of this, we have not yet reached our potential! With our responsibility to share the gospel with the entire world, we continue to need more missionaries—many, many more.
As we have done before, we wish to caution you as Regional Representatives, and through you our local leaders and members, about involvement in political and governmental matters—especially in the United States in this election year. Many times we have urged Church members to be “anxiously engaged” in good causes and to perform their duties as citizens responsibly. We reiterate, however, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be committed, as an institution, except on those issues which are determined by the First Presidency and Twelve to be of such a nature that the Church should take an official position concerning them. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment is such an issue. We believe that to proceed otherwise would divert the Church from its basic mission of teaching the restored gospel to the world.
Those who have been careful and thoughtful students of what has happened in the last several years will have noticed a number of developments which form a clear pattern. A year ago, for instance, we placed a stronger emphasis upon councils, ranging from the family council on through to region and area councils, and the Church coordinating council, as a means of emphasizing the ecclesiastical or priesthood line by which direction and communications are to flow. We hope that these councils are carefully planned and conducted so that they respond to the needs of our people, within Church policy.
You have seen an emphasis on simplification of Church programs so that these programs can move wherever the gospel goes in the world without too much difficulty and without too much complexity.
We have seen further emphasis on enriching family life. Recently we established the new consolidated schedule which is aimed at enriching family life even further, together with greater opportunity for individual and family gospel scholarship and for more Christian service. We are trying to provide more time and emphasis on Christian service, so that our example can be more powerful in the world and so that those who are so worthy of attention might get more attention than they sometimes have in the past.
We now have a wonderful new edition of the King James Version of the Holy Bible with a topical index and a whole new reference system. Soon we hope to have our other holy scriptures in this same format, all of which should encourage further involvement with the scriptures, as individuals and as families.
We hope all of you see the pattern that is unfolding and the underlying purposes which will combine to help us grow spiritually. We hope you will help the Church to achieve major growth, both through more effective missionary work and through reaching out in a program of reactivation. If we can reach out to our nonmember friends and reach out in programs of reactivation while enriching family life and being better neighbors, there is so much that can move us forward as a people—all in fulfillment of those prophecies about the growth and development of the Church in our time.
Please keep the spirit and purpose of these program adjustments before you. It would be a mistake simply to rush in to fill up the time with more meetings. It would be a mistake for families simply to pursue worldly activities on the Sabbath. It would be a mistake for us as a people to try to do so many different things at once that nothing gets done really well.
Further, if you will follow the pattern which is unfolding, you will be blessed even more richly by our Heavenly Father and his guiding Spirit. Whether members of the Church live in the Philippines or in Philadelphia, in Australia or Argentina, they will be blessed to make correct decisions and to put their lives more fully in order. Much has been accomplished that is wonderful and good. But the Lord expects us to do even better than we have done. These improvements in the programs and this making of some adjustments should combine to strengthen us to meet the challenges which surely lie ahead.
Live in your own houses in a manner that will permit you to go to the Lord’s house feeling fully worthy and entitled to be there. Be examples in your own families of marital fidelity and accord so that there is love in your homes. Build up and enrich your home life so that so far as your home is concerned, “When the rains descend and the floods come and the winds blow and beat upon the house,” your home, it will stand (Matt. 7:24–27).
Live in such a way that if the enemies of the Church choose to speak critically of you, they must do so falsely. Never be a cause of any embarrassment to the Church.
God bless you always, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.