How can Church members help visitors to their wards and branches feel welcome?
, Church building hosting director.
I recently visited a ward where my husband and I were not known. We were there for two hours before anyone acknowledged us. We felt like intruders in a closed circle. When we began participating in a class discussion during the third hour, some of the members realized we were strangers and asked, “Who are you? Where are you from?” We found them to be delightful, warm, wonderful people once we got acquainted.
We are all hosts and hostesses in our individual wards. It is up to us as Latter-day Saints to reach out, welcome newcomers, and treat others with kindness and as children of God. But sometimes we tend to draw a line of privacy around ourselves, and it can be a little hard to cross that line and be friendly to strangers.
It is also up to us to do our part when we visit other wards. When we visit wards or branches, my husband and I feel it is our responsibility to be friendly to the members. Our smiles and friendliness help to break down barriers. But what can we do to help visitors of other faiths?
As I supervise hosts and hostesses who serve in Salt Lake City at the Church Office Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and the Relief Society Building, I observe a variety of actions and reactions in people. Most people are open and friendly; however, some can be very curt, and we could take offense at their words and actions. We can welcome even hard-to-love people if we don’t allow our feelings to get in the way. The Savior has taught us how to respond (see Luke 6:27–29; see also JST, Luke 6:29–30).
We need to regard others as our brothers and sisters and treat them as we would like to be treated. As the Savior said, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
The Lord loves all his children, not just members of the Church. People within or outside our ward boundaries should feel welcome at our Church meetings. They are all God’s children, and they are all potential members of the Church.
We can have a positive influence on everyone with whom we come in contact. When new people come to our wards and branches, we should welcome them, tell them who we are, and try to be helpful and friendly. We need to radiate the happiness we have found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In hosting visitors to the Church buildings in downtown Salt Lake City, we find that visitors respond to a kind, friendly greeting. Visitors are often impressed with a host or hostess who treats them with acceptance, and many want to know why we treat them so kindly. The answer, of course, is found in the teachings of Jesus: “As I have loved you, … love one another” (John 13:34).
Visitors should not leave as strangers, and they should leave feeling better than when they came. For newcomers who seem withdrawn, it may help to try to talk to them about something we have in common.
The counsel of the late Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve applies not only to longstanding friends but also to new acquaintances: “We should lose ourselves in being involved and in being able to take friends from where they are and leave them better” (The Measure of Our Hearts, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991, p. 114). People respond to friendliness.
We could bless many lives if we resolved to look for opportunities to lift and serve others at church, especially the “strangers within our gates.” We can be assured that the Lord will direct us in our welcoming and loving his children, that they be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints” (Eph. 2:19).
Can you help me understand the scripture “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” in D&C 93:36?
, assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.
The Bible Dictionary describes glory as a “manifestation of the Divine presence” (p. 681). Further, the Bible Dictionary says the glory of the Lord is “the fulness of the majesty of God, revealed in the world and made known to men” (ibid.).
His glory, as the scriptures teach, is part of God’s very nature, which he can bestow upon others. Moses, for example, “saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence” (Moses 1:2).
This scripture shows that God’s glory is an enabling agent that made it possible for Moses to bear God’s presence. God’s glory endowed Moses with sufficient influence to understand, to a degree, the nature of God’s work. God showed Moses the workmanship of his hands, “but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease” (Moses 1:4). He then explained that “no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth” (Moses 1:5).
God’s glory, as D&C 93:36 states, is “intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” To understand how light and truth constitute intelligence, we need to see how light and truth are used in the scriptures.
In a scriptural context, light is more than physical luminosity; it has its spiritual or more refined counterpart. We get a glimpse of the breadth of meaning associated with the word light when the Lord states, “The light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” (D&C 88:11). The Savior described himself as “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2). This light, which “is in all things, which giveth life to all things,” is “the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne” (D&C 88:13).
The light of Christ—the power by which the earth, sun, moon, and stars shine and were made—not only makes vision possible, but activates and stimulates the intellect (D&C 88:7–11). The Bible Dictionary says, “The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment … and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ” (p. 725).
Thus, light is the ever-present life- and law-giving power that “proceedeth forth from the presence of God” (D&C 88:12) that manifests itself, among other ways, as living energy and intellect.
The scriptures link light with truth. Often, the two words appear together in the same verse (see D&C 93:29, 40, 42; Ether 4:12). The scriptures state, “Truth shineth. This is the light of Christ” (D&C 88:7). We also read that “whatsoever is truth is light” (D&C 84:45). Truth, in turn, is also characterized as knowledge (see D&C 93:24).
Truth is linked with light because truth, or knowledge, is acquired through the power or the enabling ability of the light of Christ. Without that influence, a fulness of truth and comprehension could not be gained.
As attributes of God’s nature, truth and its light are part of God’s glory or divine presence. Because of these attributes, God “comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him” (D&C 88:41).
The scriptures attest that we can become partakers of that glory, but only upon obedience to the commandments.
“He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:28; emphasis added). If our eyes are single to God’s glory, our “whole bodies shall be filled with light, and … that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).
By hearkening to the voice of the Spirit, which “giveth light to every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 84:46), we receive more light (see D&C 50:24) until we come “unto God, even the Father” (D&C 84:47).
Thus, the glory of God is his intelligence, meaning, in other words, his truth and light, which are his knowledge and comprehension, his power and divinity. These are elements of God’s very being that his children are to seek if they are to be like him.