My dear brethren, I greet you as you are assembled here in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and in hundreds of other meeting places around the world. We are so pleased with the able leadership provided by the priesthood bearers of the Church—at all levels! As we magnify our priesthood callings, I hope we will always remember that the Church is a support to the family. The Church does not and must not seek to displace the family, but is organized to help create and nurture righteous families as well as righteous individuals.
In this connection, brethren, we hope you will be mindful of your own needs and preserve some of that precious time for your own wives and families. Be mindful, too, of your associates in the work of the Church, so that time is not taken unnecessarily from them and their families.
Avoid the tendency to crowd too many meetings in on the Sabbath day. When holding your regular meetings, make them as spiritual and effective as possible. Meetings need not be hurried nor rushed, for they can be planned in a manner that permits their sacred purposes to be accomplished without difficulty.
The consolidated meeting schedule was implemented largely in order to provide several more Sabbath hours for families. Therefore, take time to be together as families to converse with one another, to study the scriptures, to visit friends, relatives, and the sick and lonely. This is also an excellent time to work on your journals and genealogy.
Do not neglect those among us who do not now have the blessings of living in traditional families. These are special souls who often have special needs. Do not let them become isolated from you or the activities of your ward or your branch.
My dear brethren, especially those of you who preside over stakes, wards, or branches, I should like to reiterate a plea I made to you in the October 1980 priesthood meeting.
Please take a particular interest in strengthening and improving the quality of teaching in the Church. The Savior charged us with feeding his sheep. (See John 21:15–17.) I fear at times that all too often many of our members come to church, sit through a class or meeting, and then return home having been largely uninformed. It is especially unfortunate if this happens at a time when they may be entering a period of stress, temptation, or personal or family crisis. We all need to be touched and nurtured by the Spirit, and effective teaching is one of the most important ways this can happen. We regularly do vigorous enlistment and reactivation work to get members to come to church, but often do not watch over what they receive when they do attend.
Brethren, as you may remember, while speaking this morning I referred to our recent visit to the Caribbean Islands and the wonderful missionary work that has been accomplished in the two short years since we opened up those islands for the preaching of the gospel.
One incident occurred in Santo Domingo that I did not have time to tell you about. I think I should like to relate it to you now.
We held an evening general meeting in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Nearly 1600 souls were present.
About an hour after the close of the general meeting, a busload of one hundred members from the Puerto Plata Branch arrived at the meeting place. They had been delayed because their bus broke down. Under ordinary circumstances, they could have made the trip in about four hours, but they finally arrived after 10:00 P.M. to find the hall dark and empty. Many wept because they were so disappointed. All were converts, some for a few months and others only weeks or days.
Sister Kimball and I had gone to bed after a long and tiring day. Upon learning of the plight of these faithful souls, my secretary knocked on the door of our hotel room and woke us up. He apologized for disturbing us but thought that I would want to know about the late arrivals and perhaps dictate a personal message to them. However, I felt that wouldn’t be good enough and not fair to those who had come so far under such trying circumstances—one hundred people jammed into one bus. I got out of bed and dressed and went downstairs to see the members who had made such an effort only to be disappointed because of engine trouble. The Saints were still weeping as we entered the hall, so I spent more than an hour visiting with them.
They then seemed relieved and satisfied and got back on the bus for the long ride home. They had to get back by morning to go to work and to school. Those good people seemed so appreciative of a brief visit together that I felt we just couldn’t let them down. As I returned to my bed, I did so with a sense of peace and contentment in my soul.
Brethren, we all have opportunities to render service to others. That is our calling and our privilege. In serving the needs of others, we are mindful of the words of the Savior: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)
Brethren, may we counsel you on another matter close to all of us? As we seek contributions from our Saints for tithes and fast offerings, let us speak, more often than we sometimes do, in terms of blessings which will flow to us as we keep the commandments and do our duty. From time to time, we hear reports of unwarranted pressures which accompany the financial requests made of our Church members.
This is a matter of grave importance. In these days of inflation and emotional and political unrest, our people everywhere are being met with difficult and trying experiences on almost every hand. Prudence and wisdom not only suggest but dictate that we take some steps to retrench and husband our resources. We must not overburden our people. With this in mind, the First Presidency has prepared a letter which was released yesterday in which we set out the concerns of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve relating to the increasing financial burdens on members of the Church, in addition to their payment of tithing and fast offerings. With our letter, we prepared some guidelines to assist ward, stake, and mission leaders in complying with the counsel and direction given. We have instructed the Regional Representatives of the Twelve to give this matter immediate attention and implementation.
Let us as individuals, as families, and as wards and stakes learn to live within our means. There is strength and salvation in this principle. Someone has said that we are rich in proportion to that with which we can do without. As families and as a Church, we can and should provide that which is truly essential for our people, but we must be careful not to extend beyond that which is essential or for purposes which are not directly related to our families’ welfare and the basic mission of the Church.
I love you, my brethren, young and old, and I am grateful for your faith and your devotion to the cause of the Master. I express my affection for you and leave my blessing with you. And I pray our Heavenly Father to bless you and your families, your homes, and your work. God bless you, peace be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.