Tag Archives: general authorities

One more tidbit I learned about General Authorities

One more bit of information I learned this past weekend…

General Authorities and Area Seventies are required to keep a journal. They sign an agreement that says they will keep one and that it belongs to the Church. When they pass away, their families will get a copy of the journal, but it will be redacted so any private/confidential information is removed.

Interesting stuff!

A little more about Elder Larry Echo Hawk

Over the two days of Stake Conference, I had the opportunity to speak to Elder Larry Echo Hawk several times. I was immediately impressed by his humility. If you read about what he has accomplished in his life, he is remarkably humble. He went to law school, was the Attorney General for Idaho, taught at the BYU law school, oversaw BYU’s NCAA participation, and worked in the Obama administration. However even with all that experience, he rarely brought it up.

He is a very quiet/unassuming man. During lunch on Sunday I asked him about his work in the Obama administration and he said that when he was offered the position, he originally wanted to say now. He loved his job and responsibilities at BYU and didn’t want to leave. Whomever it was that offered him the position told him that his country was calling him to service. Elder Echo Hawk’s wife said that you can’t say no to that, but Elder Echo Hawk took about 10 days to finally decide to accept it.

President Eyring is the person who called him to be a General Authority. He found out many months in advance so he had lots of time to work things out. President Eyring told him that they didn’t want the US government mad at them 🙂

Elder Echo Hawk shared some great stores/experiences of learning more about his Pawnee heritage and doing family history research. He is obviously saddened by the way his people were treated long ago, but didn’t seem to harbour any bitter feelings.

I asked if he or his family was part of the Indian Placement Program (or whatever it was called) that the Church was involved with, and he said they were not. I commented about President Kimball’s love of Native Americans, and Elder Echo Hawk said that President Kimball (at that point an Apostle) is the one who performed the sealing for him and his wife.

I have met my fair share of General Authorities in my life, but Elder Echo Hawk certainly had an impact on me. I’m sure part of it was because of the calling I received, but there was just something about him that really impressed me. There is definitely lots there that I can try to emulate.

As a final point, Elder Echo Hawk’s first General Conference address was called “Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”. He spoke about the Book of Mormon, and shared a great story of when he was a Marine.

The greatest force for good in the world

As mentioned in my General Conference summaries, our Stake President, David P Homer, was called to be an Area Seventy. Our Stake Conference was already scheduled for the end of this month, so we will be getting a new Stake President. Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the First Quorum of the Seventy will be presiding at the Stake Conference and he will be accompanied by Elder Jeffery E Olson. I figured that since I am no longer in a bishopric that I was “off the radar”, but I received an email earlier this week requesting that I meet with them for a few minutes on the Saturday of Stake Conference. I’m not sure how I can make it work out, as I am scheduled to work that day and the person who I work with is on vacation. Oh well, somehow things will work out.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my short meeting with Elder Nelson when the Stake Presidency was reorganized the last time. I met with him for 5 minutes in the morning of the Saturday of Stake Conference. There was a form I had been given ahead of time that I was to fill out that had questions like the following:

  • Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
  • Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
  • Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  • Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  • Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
  • Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws and commandments of the gospel?
  • Do you live the law of chastity?
  • Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  • Are you a full-tithe payer?
  • Do you have prayer regularly in your home?
  • Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
  • Do you hold weekly family home evening?
  • Have you ever been divorced?
    If the answer is yes, has it been cleared by appropriate priesthood authorities where required?
    If you have ever been divorced or separated, are you presently fulfilling your obligations for the support and maintenance of your family?
  • Have you ever been subject to Church discipline?
  • If you have received your temple endowment:
    Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple?
    Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
  • Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?

There were some places to record biographical information (age, wife and children, education, occupation, etc).There was also a chance to leave some comments. I wrote the following:

I love this church, its organization, and its teachings. It has brought such joy into my life and family. I cherish the eternal relationship that I have with my family and am grateful for the priesthood keys that have allowed that to happen.

At the end of my brief interview, Elder Nelson said it was a very nice thought and that “the Church is a great force for good in the world.” He then paused, and corrected himself, “No. It is the greatest force for good in the world.” It was interesting to watch him during this brief exchange. He made an initial comment that was perfectly valid, but then almost looked troubled and corrected what he said. That second line was said with surety, and I believed him. I’m sure there are those who would disagree with the statement, but I too believe that the Church is the greatest force for good in the world!

LDS youth excited, ‘anxiously engaged’ in new church curriculum


First off, let me say that I really don’t mean for this post to be negative. I think the new youth curriculum is a step in the right direction. However, we are still teaching youth, so there are always going to be challenges…

As I’m sure everyone knows by now,  in January of this year the youth (Sunday School classes, Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings, and YW classes) started using a new curriculum called Come, Follow Me. The old manuals were dated and had stories and analogies that the youth just couldn’t relate to. If you stuck to the material (like some teachers feel you have to do), then the youth weren’t interested. If you chose to go off on your own, that would work, but it was a lot more work. The new material is based on recent talks by General Authorities and a lot of the Mormon Messages for Youth videos. The material is current, and the youth are to be more involved in the lessons.

Recently KSL TV in Salt Lake City had an article and video about how youth are excited about the new curriculum. As I watched the video, I thought to myself, “Yeah, right!” (said with a sarcastic tone). The experience we’ve had around here is not quite like the video is describing. Don’t get me wrong. I love the YM that I work with and my wife loves the YW she works with (she is the YW President), but the youth are far from excited about much Church-related things these days. That to me is the big challenge. Our youth have at most 10 members attending their high school of 1,000 people. They are surrounded by people who swear, look at pornography, drink, are sexually active, and more, and it is hard. I think they ultimately want to do what is right, but they sometimes seem beaten down by the realities of life.

This isn’t to say that I’m giving up. Far from it. But I just wanted to post something in case there are other leaders out there frustrated. Sometimes we hear these glowing stories about how a new program is working miracles, but when we look at our own experiences we haven’t seen the success. I’m confident that as I continue to prepare lessons, treat the YM with respect, and love them, that they will be able to feel the love of God through me. That can only be a good thing!

Talk repeats by General Authorities

If you are lucky enough to go to enough meetings, chances are you’ve heard the same story told numerous times by a General Authority. This came to mind the other day when in the Institute class I teach we were talking about Elder Jeffrey R. Holland powerful talk (The First Great Commandment) from the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference. One of the students said that he had heard the talk about a year or more before. He was a missionary in one of the missions in Russia, and apparently Elder Holland had given that talk to mission presidents in Europe with a slightly different twist (it was more about missionary work than about love/commitment).

I had the same sort of experience when I was a YSA. I had attended a few different regional conferences over a period of a year. Vaughn J Featherstone spoke at each one of them and gave the same talk at each one of them.

Whenever I hear or experience that, my first reaction is, “That stinks. Why didn’t they write a new talk?” But then I think about the number of times a year that these leaders speak, and this goes on for anywhere from 5-50 years (depending on what position they hold). There is no way they could come up with hundreds or thousands of new talks and topics over their “career”. Even President Hinckley’s invitation to read the Book of Mormon a few years ago was a repeat of the same invitation he had given years before that.

Ultimately I’m ok with this. I guess in a way it is just like a lot of other things in the Church. We are always taught the same general principles because the Gospel doesn’t change and because we haven’t kept the commandments as we should. Maybe when we are more on the ball we’ll hear some new things.

182nd Annual General Conference – Pre-conference notes

It is amazing that another 6 months has gone by, and another General Conference is upon us. In a way, not much has changed since last conference… the economy still isn’t great; the Church has been in the news lots; there have been no “scandals” that have rocked the church. I guess it is “steady as she goes”. That is mostly a good thing. Instead of having to put out fires, the Church can focus on the doctrine.

The only thing I’m kind of wondering about is the health of some of the apostles. Last conference President Packer and Elder Hales both had oxygen tubes in place. I wonder if their conditions have improved, or worsened.

We’ll be watching General Conference from home again. I’m not working this weekend, so we’ll watch all 4 regular sessions, and then I’ll go with my father to the Priesthood session at Church. We’ll go out to eat afterwards.

Enjoy the conference!

Read the recaps and other notes from the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

181st Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

During the time between the two sessions, my family went for a walk in the ravine behind our house. Spring is slowly making its appearance 🙂  I also cleaned up (showered and shaved). Lastly, I watched the April 2011 edition of the World Report. I love getting some of that “behind-the-scenes” information that show report shares.

Now we’re all gathered together again in the living room ready for the second session.

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted.

A combined choir from BYU-Idaho sang How Firm a Foundation

Elder Kevin W Pearson offered the invocation

Sustainings presented by President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • During the sustainings of the apostles, Elder Robert D Hales had a huge knee brace on. He also had small clear tubes on his lap. They looked like they were oxygen tubes. Did anyone see him with them on, or were they for something else?
  • A bunch of  Area Seventies were released and sustained
  • (at one point during the sustainings, the Internet feed paused and my 3-year-old daughter said it was scratched)
  • There were a total of 10 new General Authorities sustained
  • There were no changes to any of the auxiliary presidencies

Robert W Cantwell Managing Directory of the Church Auditing presented the Church Auditing Department Report

  • Council of the Disposition of the Tithes consists of the First Presidency, Quorum of 12, Presiding Bishopric
  • Things are being administer

Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency presented the Statistical Report of the Church for the year 2010

The choir sang How Great the Wisdom and the Love

President Boyd K Packer (he was sitting down)

  • 400 years since the publishing of the bible
  • We should use the full name of the Church whenever possible
  • Ordinances are done through the authority of Jesus Christ
  • We have the same organization as Jesus Christ had
  • If someone is looking for a church that requires very little, this is not the one
  • Regardless of what happens in the world, no power can stop this work
  • Do a lot of forgiving, and a little repenting, and you will be blessed

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • thank you for your uplifting service
  • our faith now becomes part of our posterity’s faith later
  • the forces of evil will ever be in opposition to the forces of good
  • to prepare to meet God, one keeps all of God’s commandments
  • when we are faithful, He and His angels will bear us up
  • God will hear your sincere prayers

The choir and congregation sang Press Forward, Saints

Elder Richard J Maynes

  • the principle of eternal families is an essential element in God’s plan
  • the family is ordained of God
  • establish celestial traditions
  • kids don’t remember the FHE topic, but they remember having FHE
  • kids don’t remember what was read in the scriptures that morning, but they remember that they read them
  • Shared a poem by C C Miller

Elder Cecil O Samuelson Jr

  • he has worked with the young people in the Church for many years
  • who is entitled to have a testimony? anyone who is willing to pay the price
  • everyone has worth because we are all children of God

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • what do we really desire?
  • desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, choices determine our actions
  • desire, labour, and faith brought Enos the blessings he wanted
  • told story of Aron Ralson, the guy who cut off his own arm to save his life
  • we need to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other things that prevent our eternal progress
  • the desire to receive and keep a marriage for eternity should be paramount (priority efforts)
  • we cannot follow the politically correct but eternally false concept that we don’t need to be married and have children

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • told a nice story about a person who wanted gold; he was looking for nuggets, and missing the flecks of gold that would fill his pouch
  • by small and simple things are great things come to pass
  • we should keep our lives simple
  • charity begins at home
  • practice the golden rule
  • we need to serve
  • the most important attribute that we should seek to possess is charity, the pure love of Christ

The choir sang Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise

Elder ??? offered the benediction (President Uchtdorf didn’t announce who it was going to be)

Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

180th Annual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon Session

Well, another General Conference has come to a close. I know I comment on this every time, but it’s hard for me to get through 10 hours worth of meetings over two days. I don’t know how the General Authorities manage to do get through it in the Conference Center without falling asleep.

We watched this last session at home in the comfort of our living room.

Overall, it was much like other General Conferences. There certainly weren’t any talks that I thought were terrible, but that isn’t to say that I loved every one. There are obviously ones that I liked more than others. Out of all of the talks, the one I’ll probably remember the most was Elder Holland’s about pornography. He was definitely bold. I also thought Sister Beck’s talk was excellent. I’ll have to watch/read them again and see if I still feel the same way.

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Come, O Thou King of Kings

The invocation was offered by Christoffel Golden, Jr

The choir sang Jesus, Once of Humble Birth

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • When we sense the love we have for our family, we can imagine the love Heavenly Father has for us
  • The Church protects the truth that family is central to God’s plan
  • This church brings hope and help to this sacred institution of the family
  • No matter your situation, you can make family history a part of your life
  • New FamilySearch is creating one pedigree we all work on

Elder Robert D Hales

  • There is no substitute for seeing the gospel lived in our daily life
  • The stripling warriors didn’t have to wonder what their parents believed
  • Do our children know what we know?
  • When we sit down at the dinner table, is the whole family there?
  • Mother, Father, Grandma, Grandpa, are you there?
  • Being there means understanding their hearts and connecting with them
  • Teach them to walk in the light, but it can’t be borrowed light

Elder Bradley D Foster

  • There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood
  • By diving design, nurturing is part of mothers
  • A distraction doesn’t need to be evil to be effective
  • In a world where everyone is granted agency, some of our loved ones may stray for a season, but we must never give up
  • We never know when a heart will be turned

The choir and congregation sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Elder James B Martino

  • We’ll all face trials
  • How we react determines are success
  • We need to humble ourselves before God and learn from him
  • Learn from Christ
    1. Remain committed
    2. Learn to not complain
    3. Seek greater help from God
    4. Learn to serve and think of others
    5. Forgive others, and do not blame others
  • As we pass through the trials of life, keep an eternal perspective

Elder Gregory A Schwitzer

  • Do not judge others, but use excellent judgment
  • Good judgment guidelines
    1. Align yourself to the gospel
    2. Listen to the messages of the living prophet
    3. Have a listening relationship with the Holy Spirit
    4. Keep the commandments

Elder Francisco J Vinas

  • Spoke of natural disasters
  • Dying to spiritual things is worth than death
  • The Leadership Training Emphasis wants each family member to read, pray, and live the gospel
  • These things are works of righteousness
  • He who doeth the works of righteousness will receive his reward

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • The harmony in the talks is a miracle
  • We have heard and felt the mind and will of the Lord
  • The rising generation is the very best ever
  • “Tell me the stories of Jesus”
  • Are the life and teachings of Jesus Christ embedded in the hearts of our children?
  • Do they know that Jesus taught “Ask, and ye shall receive”?
  • If the child is not listening with a believing heart, your testimony will stay.
  • If a child is not listening, do not despair. Time and truth are on your side
  • Two men can do anything, as long as one of them is the Lord

President Thomas S Monson

  • Trust in the Lord and lean not unto thine own understanding
  • That is the story of his life
  • We’ve been richly blessed
  • The world seems to have slipped from the moorings of safety
  • The problems in the world cause people to be tossed about in a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reef of missed opportunities and shattered dreams
  • There is no one so lost that can’t be saved by the lighthouse of the Lord
  • Thank you for your prayers
  • May His promised peace be with you

The choir sang Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide

The benediction was offered by Bishop Richard C Edgley

Read the recaps and other notes from the 180th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Addiction Recovery Program

Obviously the Church produces some fantastic material that is used as part of the regular Church curriculum. However, they also have a lot of “other” material that is equally impressive, that many members might not know about. Obviously the Church does a great job on their web sites. I’ve also enjoyed the Institute manuals. But one of the resources I am most impressed with is the Addiction Recovery Program that is offered by LDS Family Services.


First of all, let me say that I am not a therapist of any kind. I haven’t run the course myself. What I have done, is to use it myself. Not because I have any substance abuse problems, but because I wanted to know how it could be used with some of the members of my ward.

It is phenomenal. There are 12 steps that are adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps (credit is given at the front of the booklet), but they are entirely Church principle focused. There are quotes from general authorities, scriptures, and lots of questions to ask yourself. I’ve been using this as my daily scripture study recently, and I’m quite enjoying it.
The book/program are introduced in this way:

Whether you yourself struggle with addiction or associate with someone who does, this guide can be a blessing in your life. The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been adapted into a framework of the doctrines, principles, and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are presented in this guide as key principles at the beginning of each section. This guide will help you learn how to apply these key principles; they can change your life…

Church leaders and counseling professionals have also been involved in writing and developing this guide. The combined wisdom and experience of these many authors stands as yet another witness of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the possibility of recovery from addiction.

It mentions that there are recovery support groups and the booklet is meant to be used by those attending the groups, but it can be used by those who are not near a support group, or who want to work on things on their own or with their bishop.

The 12 steps/principles that are taught are:

  1. Honesty
  2. Hope
  3. Trust in God
  4. Truth
  5. Confession
  6. Change of Heart
  7. Humility
  8. Seeking Forgiveness
  9. Restitution and Reconciliation
  10. Daily Accountability
  11. Personal Revelation
  12. Service

You can download a PDF of the book on the Provident Living web site, or you can order it from the Distribution Centre.