The Lord is bound by oath to bless faithful priesthood holders, and He stands willing to bless the efforts of wards that seek out their less-active Melchizedek Priesthood holders and prospective elders to bring them to full activity. That was an emphasis shared by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a recent meeting for priesthood leaders held in Chicago, Illinois.
“We have an obligation—an opportunity—to carry forward and teach them what this gospel means to them and what it means to be a bearer—to be an elect of God, a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” Elder Perry said during the priesthood leadership conference, which took place June 4, 2011.
“There’s no way we can please the President of our Church more than [by] making an active effort to reclaim these brethren who . . . are less active at the present time and those prospective elders who have not been blessed with having the Melchizedek Priesthood,” he said.
Elder Perry stressed the seriousness of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. He reminded the brethren that it is important to teach the sacred nature of that oath and covenant to those upon whom they confer the Melchizedek Priesthood. He challenged members of the stake to increase those efforts by the end of the year.
“When the keys are bestowed by one holding the power and authority, it’s just the same as if they were acting as the Lord,” Elder Perry said.
Elder Perry outlined three principles that will help priesthood holders understand how to magnify the responsibilities they have:
- 1. Obtain a knowledge of the gospel. This is fundamental, and leaders need to make sure that every man who comes into the priesthood understands the history, the responsibilities, and the blessings.
- 2. Live by the standards of the gospel. It should be readily apparent that priesthood holders are followers of Christ.
- 3. Give dedicated service. “The Lord will not break his oath and covenant so long as the brethren are faithful in keeping the covenant,” Elder Perry said. “He is bound to give the blessings of heaven if men are worthy.”
Returning to Activity
To the Naperville Illinois Stake, Elder Perry outlined the course that each ward should take to reactivate priesthood holders and encourage prospective elders.
“If we would just have our elders quorum consider five of the less-active bearers of the Melchizedek Priesthood [and] bring them back into activity, and the high priests group leader just look at five of their prospective elders and bring them back and work with them, do you realize what would happen in this Church?” Elder Perry asked. “In one year, if we brought ten from each ward back into activity, we would have 280,000 more active priesthood [holders] in the Church.”
Elder Perry reviewed with the leaders some appropriate actions for priesthood groups and quorums, ward councils, and ward mission leaders in identifying and fellowshipping those most likely to return to full activity, so that they can learn about the Restoration, the plan of salvation, and the first principles of the gospel.
Into Their Hearts and Souls
“Once we get that [knowledge] in their hearts and souls,” Elder Perry said, “we found that we can move easily from there to getting them involved in a temple preparation seminar, or else into a gospel essentials class, so they’re continually being taught the gospel.”
Leaders are to report back to the ward council, establishing a system “so they get that continuous cycle of having those discussions taught in . . . homes,” Elder Perry said. “I can promise you that it works. I’ve proven it and it absolutely works.”
He challenged leaders to “go forward to see what you can do” and promised that if they will, they will see “remarkable results” and “greatly magnify the number of priesthood—active priesthood—that you have in your wards and stakes. And you will be truly blessed by the Spirit of the Lord, which will inspire and direct you in the work.”