Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

As President Russell M.
Nelson has just beautifully and eloquently set
forth, Church leaders have been working
for a long time on “a home-centered and
Church-supported plan to learn doctrine,
strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.” President Nelson then
announced an adjustment to achieve “a new balance
between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.” To accomplish these
purposes–described by and under the direction
of President Russell M. Nelson and pursuant to the
decision of the Council of the First Presidency
and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles–the Sunday meeting
schedule will be adjusted in the following ways,
beginning in January 2019. The Sunday Church
meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament
meeting each Sunday focused on the Savior, the
ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages. After time for
transition to classes, Church members will attend
a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday. Sunday School will be held on
the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums,
Relief Society, and Young Women
meetings will be held on the second and
fourth Sundays. Meetings on the
fifth Sunday will be under the direction
of the bishop. Primary will be held each week
during this same 50-minute period and will include
singing time and classes. With respect to the
Sunday meeting schedule, the senior leaders of the Church
have been aware for many years that for some of our precious
members, a three-hour Sunday schedule at church
can be difficult. This is particularly
true for parents with small children, Primary
children, elderly members, new converts, and others. But there is so much
more to this adjustment than just shortening the
Sunday meetinghouse schedule. President Nelson
has acknowledged with gratitude how much
is being accomplished as a result of your faithfulness
to previous invitations. He and the entire
leadership of the Church desire to bring greater gospel
joy to parents, children, youth, singles, the elderly,
new converts, and those people the missionaries
are teaching through a home-centered,
Church-supported balanced effort. The purposes and
blessings associated with this adjustment
and other recent changes include the following: Deepening conversion to Heavenly
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening
faith in Them. Strengthening
individuals and families through home-centered,
Church-supported curriculum that contributes to
joyful gospel living. Honoring the Sabbath day,
with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament. Helping all of Heavenly
Father’s children on both sides of the veil
through missionary work and receiving ordinances
and covenants and blessings of the temple. This Sunday schedule
allows more time for a home evening and to study
the gospel at home on Sunday or at other times as individuals
and families may choose. A family activity
night could be held on Monday or at other times. To this end, leaders
should continue to keep Monday evenings
free from Church meetings and activities. However, time spent in
home evening, gospel study, and activities for
individuals and families may be scheduled according to
their individual circumstances. Family and individual
gospel study at home will be significantly enhanced
by a harmonized curriculum and a new Come, Follow Me
resource for individuals and families that is coordinated
with what is being taught in Sunday School and Primary. In January, the Church’s
youth and adult Sunday School and Primary classes will be
studying the New Testament. The new home-study Come, Follow
Me resource for individuals and families–also covering
the New Testament–is designed to help members learn
the gospel in the home. It explains: “This resource is
for every individual and family in the Church. It is designed to help [us
better] learn the gospel– whether on [our] own
or with [our] family. … The outlines in this [new]
resource are organized according to a
weekly … schedule.” The new Primary Come, Follow
Me lessons taught in church will follow the same
weekly schedule. The adult and youth
Sunday School classes on the first and
third Sundays will be coordinated so that they
will support the new Come, Follow Me home resource. On the second and
fourth Sundays, adults in priesthood
and Relief Society will continue to study the
teachings of Church leaders, with emphasis on the current
messages of modern prophets. Young women and Aaronic
Priesthood young men will study gospel
topics on those Sundays. The new home-study
resource provides “Ideas for Family Scripture
Study and Family Home Evening.” The outlines for each week
contain helpful study ideas and activities for
individuals and families. The Come, Follow Me resource
for individuals and families also has many
illustrations that will help enhance individual and
family learning, especially for children. This new resource will be
provided to each household by December of this year. President Nelson, from
his initial address to the members of the
Church in January, has exhorted us to
prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by
walking the covenant path. World conditions
increasingly require deepening individual
conversion to and strengthening faith in Heavenly Father and
Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The Lord has prepared
us, line upon line, for the perilous times
that we now face. In recent years,
the Lord has guided us to address related
core concerns, including: Honoring the Sabbath day
and the sacred ordinance of the sacrament,
which have again been emphasized for
the last three years. Under the bishop’s direction,
strengthened elders quorums and Relief Societies are focused
on the purpose of the Church and helping members make
and keep sacred covenants. Ministering in a
higher and holier way is being joyfully adopted. Beginning with the end
in mind, temple covenants and family history service
are becoming a purposeful part of the covenant path. The adjustment announced
this morning is yet another example of guidance
for the challenges of our day. The Church’s
traditional curriculum has emphasized the
Sunday church experience. We know that when we have better
teaching and more spiritually prepared class members, we
have a better Sunday church experience. We are blessed that
often the Spirit increases and strengthens
conversion in the church setting. The new home-centered and
Church-supported curriculum needs to influence
more powerfully family religious
observance and behavior and personal religious
observance and behavior. We know the spiritual impact and
the deep and lasting conversion that can be achieved
in the home setting. Years ago, a study established
that for young men and women, the influence of the
Holy Ghost most often accompanies individual scripture
study and prayer in the home. Our purpose is to balance the
Church and the home experience in a way that will greatly
increase faith, spirituality, and deepen conversion to
Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In the home-centered,
Church-supported portion of this adjustment, there is
flexibility for each individual and family to determine
prayerfully how and when it will be implemented. For example, while this will
greatly bless all families, based on local needs,
it would be completely appropriate for young singles,
single adults, single parents, part-member families,
new members, and others to gather in groups outside the
normal Sunday worship services to enjoy gospel sociality
and be strengthened by studying together the
home-centered, Church-supported resource. This would be
accomplished informally by those who so desire. In many parts of
the world, people choose to stay at
the meetinghouse after the normal Sunday schedule
to enjoy social relationships. There is nothing in this
announced adjustment that would interfere with this
wonderful and rewarding practice in any way. To help members prepare
for the Sabbath, some wards already send an
informative email, text, or social media message midweek. In view of this
adjustment, we strongly recommend this type
of communication. These invitations will remind
the members of the Sunday meeting schedule for that week,
including the upcoming class lesson topic, and support
continuing gospel conversation at home. In addition, the adult
meetings on Sunday will also provide information
to connect church and home study each week. The sacrament meeting
and the class period will require prayerful
consideration to make sure that spiritual
priorities are emphasized over administrative functions. For example, announcements
can for the most part be accomplished in
the midweek invitation or on a printed program. While the sacrament
meeting should have an opening
and closing prayer, the second meeting need
only have a closing prayer. As was mentioned earlier,
the new Sunday schedule will not commence
until January 2019. There are several
reasons for this. The two most
important are, first, to have time to
distribute the Come, Follow Me resource for
individuals and families and, second, to allow time for
stake presidents and bishops to arrange meeting schedules
with the goal of having more wards meet earlier in the day. As leaders have
sought revelation, the guidance received over the
past few years is to strengthen the sacrament meeting,
honor the Sabbath day, and encourage and assist
parents and individuals to make their homes a source
of spiritual strength and increased faith–a
place of joy and happiness. What do these adjustments
mean for members of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints? We are confident
that members will be blessed in extraordinary ways. Sunday can be a day of
gospel learning and teaching at church and in the home. As individuals and
families engage in family councils, family
history, ministering, service, personal worship, and
joyful family time, the Sabbath day will
truly be a delight. One family from
Brazil are members of a stake where the
new home Come, Follow Me resource was tested. The father, Fernando, a returned
missionary who with his wife, Nancy, are the parents of
four young children, reported: “When the Come, Follow
Me program was introduced in our stake, I was so
excited, and I thought, ‘The way that we study the
scriptures at home is going to change.’ It really happened in my
home, and as a Church leader I saw that it happened
in other homes. … It helped us to really discuss
the scriptures in our home. My wife and I had a deeper
understanding about the topic studied. … It helped us … amplify
our gospel knowledge, and enhance our
faith and testimony. … I bear my testimony …
that I know it was inspired by the Lord so that the
consistent and effective study of the principles and doctrines
contained in the scriptures brings more faith, testimony,
and light to the families … in an increasingly
fallen world.” In pilot test stakes
across the world there was a highly favorable
response to the new Come, Follow Me home resource. Many reported that
they progressed from reading scriptures
to actually studying the scriptures. It was also commonly
felt the experience was faith-promoting and had a
wonderful impact on the ward. The goal of these
adjustments is to obtain a deep and lasting conversion
of adults and the rising generation. The first page of the
individual and family resource points out: “The aim of all
gospel learning and teaching is to deepen our conversion
and help us become more like Jesus Christ. … This means relying on Christ
to change our hearts.” This is assisted by
reaching “beyond a classroom into an individual’s
heart and home. It requires consistent, daily
efforts to understand and live the gospel. True conversion requires the
influence of the Holy Ghost.” The most important goal
and ultimate blessing of deep and lasting
conversion is worthily receiving the covenants
and ordinances of the covenant pathway. We trust you to counsel
together and to seek revelation for implementing these
adjustments–while not looking beyond the mark or trying
to regiment individuals or families. Additional information
will be shared in upcoming communications,
including a First Presidency letter and enclosure. I testify to you that
in the deliberations of the Council of
the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles in the temple, and after our beloved
prophet petitioned the Lord for revelation to move
forward with these adjustments, a powerful confirmation
was received by all. Russell M. Nelson is our
living President and prophet. The announcements
made today will result in profound blessings
for those who enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek
the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We will become closer to our
Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of
whom I am a sure witness. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen.

2 Replies to “Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”

  1. They do. I have never seen one that don't. They do not shake the hands either before the sacrament. Chichester Ward also use sterilisation fliud before.
    I can only talk for my very own witness too this.

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