Priesthood Brethren Asked to Be Christ’s Servants
“Young and old, you are part of the mighty army of the Lord. You are on His errand and are entitled to His help. Whom God calls, God qualifies,” said President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, during a May 2 fireside commemorating the 164th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood.
President Monson was the final speaker in the meeting, which was held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and broadcast via satellite to priesthood holders gathered in stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Other speakers at the fireside were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and Eddie Gene Gonzales, Jr., a sixteen-year-old priest in the Sonora (Arizona) Ward. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, presided over and conducted the meeting. Music was provided by a combined Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood choir from the Jordan and Oquirrh regions in Utah.
Speaking to Aaronic Priesthood holders, President Monson discussed four keys to success: grow in wisdom, walk by faith, teach through testimony, and serve with love. After noting Jesus’ maturity at age twelve, the same age that today’s deacons are ordained, President Monson said, “That which we seek in life requires effort, preparation, study, and perseverance—and the determination to choose the right.
“Make every decision pass the test: ‘What does it do to me?’ And let your code emphasize not ‘What will others think?’ but rather, ‘What will I think of myself?’” President Monson noted that the best way to grow in wisdom is through “much prayer, and fasting.” (Alma 17:1–3.)
President Monson said that a “patriarchal blessing is … a Liahona of light to guide you unerringly to your heavenly home.” He urged Aaronic Priesthood holders to “live the teachings of the Lord and keep His commandments so you can qualify to be worthy to serve a mission.” He encouraged bishops to help deacons gain “a spiritual awareness of the sacredness of [their] ordained calling.”
Concluding his remarks, President Monson said: “Let us learn of Him, let us follow in His footsteps, let us live by His precepts. By so doing, we will be prepared for any service He calls us to perform.”
Elder Maxwell likened the Restoration to an invitation for priesthood holders to become men of Christ. “Life, when properly lived, is really a journey ‘back home.’ In this narrow sense, we are somewhat like the prodigal. As we come to ourselves, we, too, will say with determination: ‘I will arise and go to my father.’ (Luke 15:18.) …
“Our life’s further focus” is found in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness.” [Matt. 6:33] (Emphasis added.) He also quoted William Law, who said, “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”
“Even when we come to understand our true identities,” noted Elder Maxwell, “God loves us too much to let us be content with what we have achieved spiritually up to now, because He is a perfect Father. He knows what we have the power to become, and He has ways of being lovingly insistent. … The more we become like Jesus, the more useful we are to Him.”
Key to this personal change, said Elder Maxwell, is “developing the cardinal qualities enumerated by King Benjamin”—submissiveness, meekness, humility. (See Mosiah 3:19.) Questions that can help us improve include these: “What will our sons and grandsons learn from us about gospel doctrines? … Can we partake of tiny, bitter cups without becoming bitter? How often do we render quiet Christian service? … How consistently do we show love and respect for … all women?”
Although we are happier when we keep the commandments, it is also true that “faithfulness will bring special challenges,” said Elder Maxwell. “It seems God is always stretching those who meekly serve Him.” But like Abraham, Peter, Amulek, and Jesus, each of us can overcome challenges to “become a distinguished alumnus of life’s school of affliction, graduating with honors.”
Eddie Gene Gonzales, Jr., spoke of the ways he honors his priesthood so that he will be worthy to enter the temple and to serve a mission when that time comes. This he does by participating in service projects, obeying the commandments and his parents, and attending seminary, among other things.
“A major challenge in these times is being morally clean and respectful to yourself and to others,” Eddie said. “Some people think that being sexually active outside of marriage is acceptable, but the Lord, our Church leaders, and our parents have taught us [otherwise].”
Eddie’s early missionary-mindedness led to his mother’s activation and, with help from others, his father’s conversion and the family’s eventual temple sealing, “one of the greatest events of our lives,” he said.
Looking forward to his mission, Eddie said, “I think my greatest asset … will be my ability to make and keep friends. When you befriend someone, it is much easier to teach the gospel.”
Youth Highlighted During San Diego California Temple Dedication
A focus on children and youth highlighted the twenty-three dedicatory sessions for the San Diego California Temple held April 25–30. The emphasis began with the April 25 cornerstone ceremony and continued throughout the activities, which were presided over by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. All twelve members of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at various dedication sessions, and numerous other General Authorities also attended dedication activities.
During the cornerstone ceremony, a group of children from Mexico were seated in front of the opening in the temple wall prepared for the cornerstone. They represented children from the five stakes and one district in Mexico that are part of the San Diego California Temple District. Children from those stakes had made a rug for the temple, and during the ceremony, General Authorities stood on that rug.
Primary children from each stake in the United States within the temple district helped raise white geraniums, displayed near the temple entrance and around the cornerstone.
The cornerstone, a sealed copper box containing significant items and historical documents concerning the temple, was put in place by President Hinckley and President Monson.
During the dedicatory services throughout the week, Church leaders frequently spoke to the youth in attendance. In one session, President Monson invited two young people to the podium to touch it. He said they could tell their children and grandchildren they had participated in the San Diego California Temple dedication.
President Monson also spoke of parents who, in an effort to foster a love of the temple, have brought their children to touch the walls of the temple.
In his remarks, President Hinckley referred to the Mormon Battalion, who “planted Mormonism in California.” He wondered if they “ever dreamed that the day would come when there would stand on this soil the house of the Lord. Today the Church is strong in this state.”
The temple in San Diego is the third in California. “There will be other temples in this state,” President Hinckley observed. “The growth of the Church and the faith of the people will mandate that.”
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve told the young people to think of the temple as their temple. He described how he grew up near the Logan Temple and explained how it became a central part of his life. He remembered his parents holding hands when they returned from the temple, and he recalled driving his aunt to the temple. He also related how meaningful his first temple recommend interview was because it was with his father, who was also his bishop. “Make it your temple,” he concluded, “your centerpiece of life.”
Members arrived in the early morning hours on each of the six days of dedicatory services, some arriving more than two hours before the 8:00 A.M. sessions.
Nearly 50,000 members attended the twenty-three sessions, arriving under balmy spring skies. Three sessions were held the first day and four on each of the following days. In addition to the stakes and district in Mexico already mentioned, the San Diego California Temple district includes twenty-one stakes in the United States located in San Diego County and parts of Orange, Riverside, and Imperial counties.
Two dedicatory sessions on the first day were for Spanish-speaking members. The twenty-third session, held on Friday, April 30, was also a service for Spanish-speaking members.
During the six-week open house for the temple, more than 720,000 people toured the edifice. The open house began February 20 and concluded April 3, with tours offered between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 8:30 P.M. Monday through Saturday.
Over the six-week period, thousands of members from the temple district volunteered as tour guides and security personnel. Twenty-eight sister missionaries from nine different countries and eight different states answered questions from visitors.
Sister Minaca Cedeno, a sister missionary from Mexico City, said one woman told her that while inside the temple, she had felt a wonderful feeling of peace that she had never felt before. When Sister Cedeno asked the woman if she’d like to know what the peaceful feeling was, the woman replied in the affirmative.
“It’s the Holy Ghost telling you this is truth. Would you like to know more about that peaceful feeling?” A referral was given.
Another woman, a Russian, was not aware that missionaries were preaching the gospel in her homeland. “She opened her eyes so big when I told her,” Sister Cedeno reported. “When she left she said, ‘I’ll be waiting.’”
Sister Karen Joseph, a missionary from Utah, spoke of an 81-year-old woman who normally couldn’t walk well. However, she needed no help while touring the temple. “I told her she had come to a very special place and asked if she would like a visit from the missionaries or more information. She said that she didn’t care which, but she hoped we would send something soon.”
An elderly architect, visiting with a member after touring the temple, said he had built churches and cathedrals all over the world. He observed that the temple was the most magnificent building and the finest piece of construction he had seen.
Another man admitted he had come to the temple with a “chip on my shoulder, determined that the children of the world were doomed. I had decided there was no hope for them and there was no organization that could help them.”
At the entrance of the temple he was greeted by a young man who helped him put on his shoe coverings. He offered the youth twenty dollars for his help. “Thank you, but I can’t accept it,” the youth said. “I’m doing my Heavenly Father’s work.” Astonished, the man began to notice the other young people working at the temple and realized that perhaps there was an organization with a program to teach and help young people.
“The preparations for the dedication of the San Diego California Temple have been a sanctifying experience for members of the Church in the temple district,” said Lance Wickman, vice-chairman of the temple committee. “Many thousands served at the temple open house or in preparing for the dedication itself. They gave unselfishly of their time and means. No sacrifice was too great; no task too menial.
“Their sole motivation and reward were the joy that came from giving to the Lord in preparation for the dedication of His house. When the echoes of the last ‘Hosanna!’ had faded, not only a temple but a people had been dedicated to the Lord.”
San Diego California Temple Dedicatory Prayer
The dedicatory prayer for the San Diego California Temple was a prayer of gratitude for the temple and for the blessings it will provide. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave the prayer in the first session.
The prayer read: “O God, our Eternal Father, Thou great Elohim, the Almighty who is above all, we come before Thee on this day of dedication, in the name of Thy beloved Son, the Redeemer of the world, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Hear our prayer and accept our offering, we humbly ask Thee.
“We are grateful for this day when Thy holy house is completed. We thank Thee for the consecrated tithes of Thy Saints across the earth which have made possible the erection of this beautiful edifice. We thank Thee for all who have labored to plan and create it. We thank Thee for the glorious work for which it has been constructed. We thank Thee for ‘the fulness of the priesthood’ which will be exercised herein. 1 It is Thine eternal priesthood, whose authority reaches beyond the veil of death.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the atonement wrought by Thy divine Son, whose love has encompassed all mankind. Surely He is ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ 2 We praise His holy name as our Savior and our King.
“We thank Thee for Thine eternal plan, including the ordinances to be performed in this holy house, for the salvation and exaltation of the living and the dead of all generations. We thank Thee for the majesty and wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the authority Thou hast restored to earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
“We thank Thee for the spread of Thy work across the world, that Thou art moving in Thy power to open the doors of the nations to Thine ordained messengers. Bless them, dear Father, lead them, protect them, inspire them as they seek to teach Thy holy word.
“We thank Thee that hundreds of thousands of men and women of various faiths and philosophies have had the opportunity of walking through this sacred house prior to this time of dedication. May an attitude of respect and reverence grow within them. May very many of them be stirred to seek and learn the truths of Thy restored work, that they too might become eligible to enjoy the blessings offered herein. May any voices of criticism be stilled and any words of disrespect be silenced.
“This temple will be used by many of the sons and daughters of father Lehi. We thank Thee for their faithfulness. We thank Thee for this day when Thou art remembering Thine ancient covenant in behalf of these Thy children, from whose eyes the shackles of darkness are now falling. Bless the posterity of Lehi, we pray Thee. Lift from their weary shoulders the burdens of the past. Grant unto those who walk in faith an enlarged understanding of things divine as well as blessings of temporal peace and prosperity.
“We are grateful that as we dedicate this temple, work is going forward to build others to be similarly dedicated to the accomplishment of Thine eternal purposes. Touch the hearts of all whose assistance is needed to bring to pass the completion of these undertakings. We are living in the greatest era in the history of the world in the construction of these sacred houses. Open the way before us, provide the necessary means, and hedge up the way of the adversary that he shall not have power to frustrate or delay this work.
“We thank Thee for this nation under whose inspired Constitution we enjoy freedom of worship and freedom to build these sacred houses. Bless this land, we pray Thee, and bless those who govern that the precious liberties enunciated in the Bill of Rights may never be abridged nor taken from the people. Strengthen the cause of freedom among the nations of the earth.
“And now, our beloved Father, acting in the authority of Thine everlasting priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ, as Thy servants duly commissioned, we dedicate unto Thee and unto Thy Son this the San Diego California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Wilt thou accept it as the offering of Thy people. We present it as the abode of Deity and pray that Thou and Thy glorious Son might visit it and sanctify it by Thy divine presence.
“We have built it according to Thy will, that Thou might have a place to manifest Thyself to Thy people. We consecrate it with love. Let Thy mighty blessings rest upon it and Thy Holy Spirit constantly abide herein.
“We dedicate the ground on which it stands, and this magnificent structure, from the footings to the figure of Moroni which crowns its highest steeple. We dedicate the baptistry, all of the facilities for administering the various ordinances, including the sealing rooms with their sacred altars, the endowment rooms, and the beautiful celestial room, together with all fixtures and appurtenances appertaining thereto. We dedicate the ancillary structures and the grounds with their flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns. May all aspects of this beautiful edifice come together to present a picture of the wonders of Thy creations and the majesty of Thy work and Thy glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Thy sons and daughters of all generations.
“May Thy watch-care be over this Thy holy house. Preserve it from storm and tempest, from the tremblings of the earth, and most importantly, from any defiling hand of man. To the millions who will see it as they move swiftly over the adjacent highway may it be a thing of singular beauty from which shall emanate a spiritual glow that speaks of peace and goodness.
“May all who enter these portals come with clean hands and hearts, and minds free from the stain of the world. May they find within these walls a refuge from the noise and stress of the world. In their seasons of trouble, wilt thou here whisper peace and direction. May they come with glad expectation and leave rejoicing in the spirit found in this dedicated sanctuary.
“Father, bless Thy people everywhere who walk in faith and virtue before Thee. Open the windows of heaven and shower down blessings upon them that they shall not lack food upon their tables nor shelter from the storm. Grant them peace in their lives and happiness in their homes.
“We remember before Thee Thy prophet, who is now old in years. Wilt Thou bless him with comfort and gladness. We pray for those who assist him in administering the affairs of Thy Church throughout the world. Bless all who serve in any capacity in Thy cause and kingdom, wherever they may be and whatever the level of their responsibility.
“In accepting Thy gospel, we have become a covenant people. We have taken upon ourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and have promised to keep His commandments. Strengthen us in our resolutions and guard us against failure in observing the obligations we have accepted. In Thy sacred temples, we make further covenants with Thee. Give us the will to live above sin and selfishness. Save us from pride and arrogance. Smile with favor upon us, we humbly pray Thee. Bless us with a spirit of benevolence toward all who are in distress, wherever they may be or whatever their circumstances.
“Thou art the omnipotent God of all the people. Thy Son is the Redeemer of all mankind. May recognition of Thy holy name and the name of Thy Son grow among the unbelieving until every voice shall rise in praise and every knee bow in worship.
“Thou Almighty God, we look to Thee in love and gratitude. On this day of dedication, may a new spirit of consecration come into our hearts, that we may serve Thee more acceptably through service to Thy sons and daughters—those who dwell upon the earth and those who have gone before. May we bask in the light of Thy divine favor. May we be found walking always in the paths which Thou hast marked out for Thy children, and lead us to pastures green and peaceful.
“We ask it all as Thy thankful sons and daughters in the name of Thine Only Begotten, our Savior, who gave His life that we might have eternal life, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”
Study Guides to Be Reused in 1994
The Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide 1, Lay Hold upon the Word of God, and the Relief Society Study Guide 1, Remember Me, are scheduled for reuse in 1994. These are the same manuals used in 1990.
The priesthood guide cover depicts Daniel refusing the king’s meat and drink. The cover on the Relief Society guide shows Adam and Eve kneeling by a stone altar.
Priesthood and auxiliary leaders should determine how many members have retained their study guides and then order only the additional copies that may be required.
Tabernacle Choir Sings in Salt Lake Cathedral
In a performance planned some two years ago, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrated the favorable community relations that exist between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church in Salt Lake City.
Two years ago, the Catholic Church announced plans to renovate the Cathedral of the Madeleine, a historic building first dedicated in 1907. Tabernacle Choir president Wendell Smoot was authorized by the First Presidency to offer the choir’s services for a fund-raising concert.
“We received a call thanking us for our offer and asking us instead if we would celebrate the restoration when it was completed,” said Brother Smoot. “We were thrilled to be able to participate in the event. It was a magnificent experience.”
The restoration project was completed this year; the cathedral was officially rededicated in February, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert was planned for May 2.
Hundreds of people attended the choir’s performance in the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the choir’s first performance in that building. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, attended the event, accompanied by his wife, Marjorie. Elders Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve were also in attendance.
“The visit of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to the cathedral was a landmark event and an occasion of notable cultural and religious significance,” said Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, rector of the Roman Catholic cathedral. “We were pleased that the leadership of the LDS Church made the event possible.”
The program for the evening reflected the culture of the Catholic Church, reported Jerold Ottley, choir director. Numbers included Bach and Gounod’s “Ave Maria” and Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers.” The choir also performed “Sanctus” from the Berlioz Requiem, a work they performed on their recent tour to the Holy Land. Tenor soloist for the number was Robert Breault, a member of the Catholic Church, who traveled with the choir on that tour to perform the Requiem. Soprano JoAnn Ottley also was a soloist during the evening’s concert. John Longhurst, Clay Christiansen, and Richard Elliot accompanied the choir.
After a standing ovation, the choir ended the concert with their trademark closing hymn, “God Be with You.”
The music for the evening was selected carefully in anticipation of the acoustics in the cathedral. “We considered the echo factor,” explained Brother Ottley. “We selected music that wouldn’t roll over itself, we drilled the choir to sing by sight rather than sound, and we used slower tempos than we might have otherwise. We also left spaces in the music where sound could echo and ring in the building.
“We were very much inspired by singing the music that we sang there.”
ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR—A car-train accident has claimed the life of a Latter-day Saint missionary and injured two others. Church Missionary Department officials report that Jared Marvin Prescott, twenty, of Centerville, Utah, was killed Sunday, April 25, when the car in which he was a passenger was struck from behind by a train. Elder Prescott was returning to his apartment with three other missionaries after a missionary appointment. He died en route to the local hospital.
Elder Prescott entered missionary service in July 1991 and was called to the France Paris Mission. He was then transferred to Madagascar as one of the first missionaries to work on that island located off the coast of eastern Africa.
SALT LAKE CITY—Several Church productions have received recognition. Center Street, a television magazine show created expressly for teenagers and produced by the Church, has won a Silver Angel Award from the nonprofit organization Excellence in Media. The show appears on the VISN cable network and showcases today’s teenagers doing good things for others.
In addition, four other productions have received the Telly Award, given to outstanding non-network and cable TV commercials and film and video productions. Receiving recognition were “On the Way Home,” the Church’s newest direct gospel message video, and three Homefront productions, “Service on the Run,” “Car Wreck,” and “Splash.”
The Church in the Philippines
Life can be hard for the people of the Philippines, with daunting hardships and challenges. But the Church continues to grow steadily there. To learn more about its progress, the Ensign talked with the Philippines/Micronesia Area presidency, Elders Vaughn J. Featherstone, Ben B. Banks, and Augusto A. Lim of the Seventy.
Question: Tell us of the hardships faced by members in the Philippines.
Answer: Natural disasters are a part of life for everyone in the country. A Manila newspaper published a count of natural disasters in countries of the world over a ten-year period. The Philippines had 761, while the next closest country, India, had approximately half that number. In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo displaced a million people and made headlines around the world. But in addition to volcanic activity, an average of twenty-three typhoons a year strike the Philippines. For example, not long ago a major typhoon struck in one area in the islands yet didn’t even make the headlines in Manila because of a simultaneous volcanic eruption.
Poverty is another serious problem in the Philippines. Some 40 percent of the country’s families are unable to provide for their basic nutritional needs. Children as young as eight or nine can be seen working to help support their families in some places. Homelessness is common. Some garbage collectors clean out their pushcarts at night and sleep in them.
Q.: How do Filipinos manage to surmount their difficulties?
A.: They are a very resilient people. They think of themselves as survivors. Elder Lim, a native of the Philippines, says they may be the happiest people on earth, despite poverty, because they are so grateful for what the Lord grants them.
Q.: Undoubtedly members of our church are not immune to poverty.
A.: No, but part of the strength of our members is that so many of them, whatever their socioeconomic status, understand that they owe everything to the Lord.
And poverty doesn’t stop people from serving. We have many members like the humble family who, while they were investigating the gospel, got up at 2:00 A.M. one Saturday to walk eleven miles to the chapel for a service project. Afterward, they walked home, then got up the next morning to walk back to Sunday meetings.
We feel that one reason for the growth of the Church is the great, great faith of members like these. So many of our members have a deep humility that helps them stay close to the Lord.
Q.: How many members are there in the Philippines now?
A.: Approximately 320,000. It changes rapidly. We have been baptizing about 2,000 people per month. We have 13 missions, 48 stakes, and 72 districts.
The faithfulness of the members is helping to push the work along. Our temple work, for example, has gone up dramatically. The annual number of endowments performed at the Manila Philippines Temple has increased by almost 50 percent over the past four years.
Q.: With the Church growing so rapidly, many leaders must be comparatively young.
A.: It is basically a first-generation Church in terms of general leadership. The average age of our bishops is thirty. We have one regional representative who is in his mid-thirties and has previously served as a bishop and as a stake president. It is a great blessing that among our priesthood leadership, most of them have had the experience that comes from serving missions.
We continually hope for more couples to be called on missions, because they are invaluable. We had one couple responsible for forty baptisms after being out only six months—and the husband had been serving simultaneously as the branch president!
Q.: What do you see for the future of the Church in the Philippines?
A.: We expect that Filipinos will continue to accept the blessings offered by the gospel. The Church is well accepted at every level. We have met twice with the president of the country; a near relative of his is a member who is currently serving a mission in New Zealand. One wealthy member took the opportunity at his fortieth wedding anniversary dinner to tell his friends—many of them members of other faiths—how important temple marriage and gospel blessings are in his life. He was in effect bearing his testimony to a group that included national government leaders and other influential Filipinos.
Throughout the country, thousands are humbly responding to the message of the gospel and changing their lives each year. As long as that spirit is found among them, we expect Church membership to continue to grow in the Philippines.