Last Sunday, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from among 51 congregations throughout central and eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee were addressed by two apostles of the Mormon Church in a broadcast service originating in Little Rock.
Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and Dieter F. Uchtdorf belong to the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church’s second highest governing body. Elder Holland explained that with the dramatic growth of the church to over 16 million members worldwide, it has become increasingly difficult for the twelve apostles to visit individual congregations. He pointed out that this area-wide meeting was a solution to the challenge, “We are trying to leverage our voice to visit more congregations.”
Last Saturday the two and other leaders provided training in North Little Rock to 185 full-time missionaries who serve in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. Training for the church’s lay leadership was held in the afternoon and a special meeting of young adults took place in the evening.
The Sunday service was conducted by Little Rock Stake President Jared Dixon. Opening comments were provided by Elder Michael V. Beheshti of Little Rock, an Area Seventy who serves in the North America Southeast Area. He reminded listeners that the apostles, with their unique call as special witnesses of Jesus Christ, have a divine ability to reflect our Savior’s love, and in so doing to teach and entreat us to act as Christ Himself would teach and entreat.
Elder Jorg Klebingat, a native of Germany, who serves as a General Authority Seventy, shared his personal conversion story and said, “your best effort is good enough for Heavenly Father.” The message included that the Lord knows us so well, and that He can and will orchestrate events for us. We just have to take advantage of those times. Sister Julia Klebingat, who grew up in Latvia, shared scriptures and her testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer.
Uchtdorf, twice a child-refugee in war-ravaged Germany, became a professional airline pilot and executive prior to his call as a General Authority. He told how he arose early Sunday morning, left his downtown Little Rock hotel room and walked across the Broadway Bridge. He said how he became somewhat disoriented in an unfamiliar city in the dark. He was grateful for the light of the rising sun, which allowed him to become oriented, as well as better appreciate God’s creation. He compared the light of the sun to the orienting and clarifying influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. He urged church members to live in harmony with each other, their families, their congregations, and their communities. The gospel offers everyone a way to change, to repair damages one has caused, and to help everyone find harmony. Even when things look dark with no positive conclusion, the sun will come up in the east and set in the west. That is a surety. He pointed out that the gospel is the same kind of surety. God will help find ways to help with reconciliations if people will repent, change their perspective, take advantage of the miracle of forgiveness, and trust God to help them find their way out of blackness into light, and as a result climb to new spiritual heights. He said, “Go forward and find joy in this work.”
Holland, a Utah native and former President of Brigham Young University, offered the keynote, concluding address. He counseled church members “It is not where you serve. It is how you serve.” He reminded the audience that each is a child of God with a divine nature and destiny. As he concluded his address, he offered comfort to all in the human family who suffer, reminding them that Jesus Christ, one more innocent than any, has already suffered in their behalf. He admonished to “do what we can”, and finally to heed the Lord’s new commandment, to love one another. Elder Holland expressed his sure witness of Jesus Christ, and the restoration of His gospel in the following words, “I know perfectly that this is the kingdom of God on earth. God lives, and He loves you.”
For more information about the church or its missionary program visit mormon.org or call 812-6322.