Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Participating in government
Explain that in August 1835, a general assembly of the Church at Kirtland, Ohio, unanimously approved a declaration of beliefs about government. This declaration is recorded in D&C 134.
What are the purposes of civil governments? (See D&C 134:1, 6–8, 11. Answers could include those listed below.)
“For the good and safety of society” (D&C 134:1).
“For the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty” (D&C 134:6).
“For the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief” (D&C 134:7).
“For redress of all wrongs and grievances” (D&C 134:11).
What can we do as citizens to help fulfill these purposes of government?
Read the following statement by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“As Church members, we live under the banner of many different flags. How important it is that we understand our place and our position in the lands in which we live! We should be familiar with the history, heritage, and laws of the lands that govern us. In those countries that allow us the right to participate in the affairs of government, we should use our free agency and be actively engaged in supporting and defending the principles of truth, right, and freedom” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 72).
How can we support and defend truth, right, and freedom through our participation in government?
Doctrine and Covenants 134 teaches that we should seek for and uphold leaders who “administer the law in equity and justice” (verse 3). What other qualities should we look for when choosing leaders? (See, for example, D&C 98:10.) How can we prepare ourselves to choose leaders wisely?
Explain that as we participate in government and political processes, we should do so with the understanding that “the Church is politically neutral. It does not endorse political parties, platforms, or candidates. Candidates should not imply that they are endorsed by the Church or its leaders. Church leaders and members should avoid any statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of political parties or candidates” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 325).
3. Strengthening the community
Read the following statement from the Church Handbook of Instructions:
“Members should do their civic duty by supporting measures that strengthen society morally, economically, and culturally. Members are urged to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities and make them wholesome places in which to live and rear families” (Book 2, page 325).
Write Strengthen the Community on the chalkboard.
Why is it important that Church members serve in their communities?
What are some community service projects that you or other Church members have participated in? (Invite class members to share these experiences.) How did you become aware of the need? What did the group do to make the project successful?
What are some individual, informal ways that you or other Church members have given community service?
What opportunities for service exist in our community today? (For some suggestions, see the second additional teaching idea.) How can we become more aware of opportunities for community service? (Answers could include reading newspapers, discussing community needs in Church leadership meetings, and meeting with public officials to discuss how we can help.)
In what ways does community service benefit the community? What are some of the ways we are blessed when we serve?
Serve in elected or appointed public service positions
Read the following statement from the First Presidency to Church members:
“We strongly urge men and women to be willing to serve on school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and other high offices of either election or appointment” (First Presidency letter, 15 Jan. 1998).
Support worthy causes or activities
Share the following account of a Latter-day Saint who made a significant contribution to her community and nation by supporting a worthy cause:
“While Dolina Smith was serving as Young Women president in the Toronto Ontario Stake in 1986, she asked an expert to speak at a fireside about the growing problem of pornography. Later she became involved with a nationwide group called Canadians for Decency, which mobilizes thousands of anti-pornography Canadians to contact their elected officials as specific concerns about pornography arise. …
“… In 1990 her involvement increased when she was named chairperson of Canadians for Decency. In this new role she has given numerous presentations before the provincial and federal governing bodies that make and change pornography laws. She has also spoken to many groups of citizens who work with local governments to clamp down on the spread of pornography in their communities” (Donald S. Conkey, “Together We Can Make a Difference,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 68).
What are some worthy causes we can support in the community? How can we appropriately fight evil influences in our community?
What are some challenges to serving in the community? How can we overcome these challenges? (One challenge may be scheduling the time we need to serve. One way to overcome this challenge is for family members or ward members to serve together, when possible. This allows a family to be together rather than apart while serving.)