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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: 'Be with and strengthen them'

As the work of the Church matures institutionally, it follows that members should mature personally — “individually rising above any mechanical, function-without-feeling routine to the heartfelt discipleship articulated by the Savior at the conclusion of His earthly ministry,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

Of the major changes to the structure of priesthood quorums and the retirement of home and visiting teaching, Elder Holland shared his witness that the adjustments are examples "of the revelation that has guided this Church" from its beginning.

"They are yet more evidence that the Lord is hastening the work in its time,” said Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Speaking during the Sunday afternoon session of an historic conference, Elder Holland said, "To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the most memorable moments of life are those in which we feel the rush of revelation. President Nelson, I don’t know how many more rushes we can handle this weekend."

Addressing the topic “Be with and strengthen them,” Elder Holland said the newly announced priesthood and Relief Society ministering concept will include the following elements:

  • The Church will no longer use home teaching and visiting teaching language. "That is partly because much of our ministering effort will be in settings other than the home and partly because our contact won’t be defined by teaching a prepared lesson, though a lesson certainly may be shared if there is need for such,” he said. “The primary purpose in this ministering idea will be, as was said of the people in Alma’s day, to ‘watch over [the] people, and ... nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness’ " (Mosiah 23:18).
  • Church members will continue to visit homes as possible, but local circumstances such as large numbers, long distances, personal safety, and other challenging conditions may preclude a visit to every home every month."In addition to whatever schedule you establish for actual visits, that calendar can be supplemented with telephone calls, written notes, texts, emails, video chats, conversations at Church meetings, shared service projects, social activities, a host of possibilities in the world of social media. … With these adjustments we want more care and concern, not less.”
  • The only report that will be made is the number of interviews leaders had with the ministering companionships in the ward that quarter. "Because this report is different form anything you’ve submitted in the past, let me stress that we at the church headquarters don’t need to know how or where or when you make contact with your people," he said. "We just need to know, and care very much, that you do make it and that you bless them in every way you can."

Church members "have a heaven sent opportunity to demonstrate pure religion undefiled before God; to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light and to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad. In short, all of us, every one of us because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith,” said Elder Holland.

However, he added, “I warn you, a new name, new flexibility, and fewer reports will not make one ounce of difference in our service unless we see this as an invitation to care for one another in a bold new holier way, as President Nelson has said.”

As Latter-day Saints lift their spiritual eyes toward living the law of love more universally, they pay tribute to the generations who have served that way for years, said Elder Holland.

The home teacher of Brett and Kristin Hamblin, parents to five young children, is an example of one who followed the Lord’s commandment to be with and strengthen, said Elder Holland.

Last Jan. 14, Kristin Hamblin fell unresponsive. Brett made two phone calls — to his mother to help with the couple's children, and to Edwin Potter, his home teacher.

Edwin ran to Brett’s side and drove him to the hospital where he learned his wife had died. “As Brett sobbed, Edwin simply held him in his arms and cried with him — for a long, long time.” Edwin and his wife then cared for Brett’s children and helped them get ready for bed.

Brett could have called others but thought of Edwin first. Edwin was happy to help Brett, who had also served Edwin’s family as a home teacher.

“Brothers and sisters, I join with you in saluting every block teacher and ward teacher and home teacher and visiting teacher who has loved and served so faithfully throughout our history,” said Elder Holland. “Our prayer today is that every man and woman —and our older young men and young women — will leave this general conference more deeply committed to heartfelt care for one another, motivated only by the pure love of Christ to do so.

He asked Church members, "in spite of what we all feel are our limitations and inadequacies," to "labor side by side with the Lord of the vineyard, giving Him a helping hand with His staggering task of answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears and strengthening feeble knees. If we do that, we will be more like the true disciples we are meant to be."

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