Mission Leaders Challenged

“Mission Leaders Challenged,” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 90–91

Mission Leaders Challenged

“Those called into missionary service must be worthy and able”—worthy in not having committed any serious sins that would jeopardize their receiving the Holy Spirit, and able in being capable of receiving and carrying out assignments.

These were the instructions given by President Harold B. Lee in his keynote address to new mission presidents and their wives at a seminar in the new General Church Office Building recently.

“Judging a person’s worthiness requires intuition, which is nothing more than the spirit of prophecy,” he noted, adding, “we urge mission presidents to exercise that gift.”

The two-day seminar featured talks by members of the First Presidency and by President Spencer W. Kimball and Elders Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve. A new proselyting program was introduced in a series of workshops; a reception was held where mission presidents and their wives could meet with parents of missionaries; and the seminar was concluded with a banquet on the 26th floor of the new building.

President Lee’s remarks centered on the spiritual guidance needed by every individual associated with missionary work: the bishops and stake presidents and branch and mission presidents who select and recommend missionaries; by the president of the Church, who reviews the names and gives final approval to those who are called; by mission presidents and missionaries who labor in the field; and by prospective candidates for baptism.

“When I ponder the lists of names submitted to me,” President Lee declared, “I realize that these are not just names; they are real people, individuals, and I want to know something about them. I want to fulfill my responsibility with that same spirit of prophecy. No callings in the Church are given more careful consideration than are those for the mission field.

“A prospective mission president once asked me, ‘Do you have a department to help me get my affairs in order?’ I replied, ‘Yes, we do. It is the Lord. If you will go to him prayerfully and humbly, he will help you get your affairs in order.’ That mission president returned to tell me that I was right.”

Emphasizing the need for an investigator to seek spiritual conversion before baptism, President Lee stated that if a person is truly seeking the truth, then when someone comes to teach him the truth, he will receive a witness of this truth.

“There are drastic changes the new convert must make,” he added, “but if he is converted, then he will be willing to change and forgo all past bad habits. But without the witness of the Spirit, he will not make the necessary sacrifices and changes.”

President Lee admonished the mission presidents, “Your work will not be judged by how many baptisms you put on the records of the Church, but by how many converts you have—how many are still active after a few years. No one is thoroughly converted until he sees the power of God resting upon this church, until he knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the present leadership of the Church is directed by the Lord. The new member must do his spiritual housekeeping and be prepared to receive the witness of the Spirit. After that he must work to keep his testimony alive, because it is as fragile as an orchid: it will die if he departs from gospel principles and activity in the Church.”

Referring to the new missionary lessons now being introduced, he said, “You are being sent out to teach your missionaries to convert the world. Teach them the simple principles of the gospel. And what is the gospel? The answer is found in the scriptures:

“‘And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.’ (D&C 39:6.)”

The new missionary plan, prepared under the direction of the Council of the Twelve and the First Council of the Seventy, is entitled “The Uniform System for Teaching Families” and suggests more individual initiative and approaches in proselyting. It strongly emphasizes the family home evening program to help strengthen family ties and suggests that missionaries might introduce the gospel by making appointments with nonmember parents to hold family home evenings.

The family will be invited to learn more about the Church, and those who accept the invitation will participate in seven missionary discussions. Subjects and concepts of these discussions are:

1. The restoration. The Lord has shown his love and concern for all his children in our time by appearing to a prophet, revealing the Book of Mormon, and restoring His church with his authority and power. One can discover the truth of these things by reading and pondering the teachings in the Book of Mormon and praying sincerely.

2. Eternal progression. As we are obedient to the commandments of the Lord, we earn the right to live with him forever in the celestial kingdom.

3. Continuing revelation and individual responsibility. God spoke to many prophets in ancient times and he speaks to prophets today. We will be blessed as we follow the counsels of the living prophet and other priesthood leaders.

4. Truth versus error. Knowledge of truth helps us to become free. Our Heavenly Father wants each of his children to learn and live the truth. He has given us several ways to discern truth from error. As we apply the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel, we will begin our preparation to enter the kingdom of God.

5. Obedience to the Lord’s commandments brings his blessings. Commandments are guidelines to happy living, given because of God’s love for us. By obeying them, we can have peace in this life and eternal life with our families; we can become like God.

6. Our relationship to Christ. Jesus Christ is our Creator, Savior, and Redeemer—the Light and Life of the world. By him we shall be judged. His atoning sacrifice assures each of us a resurrection from death and opens the way to redemption from sin.

7. Membership in the kingdom. After baptism, which is the gate to the straight and narrow path leading to eternal life, we must press forward with determination to serve the Lord and obey his commandments.

A set of visual aids accompanies each handbook. The seven discussions may be presented in any order that seems appropriate for the individual investigator.

The family home evening introduction to the lessons is designed to be a family experience, including prayer, spiritual message, games, talent show, refreshments, and any other activities that may seem appropriate.

Thirty-six new mission presidents and their wives have been called to preside over the missions listed below. Six are new missions (indicated by an asterisk *), bringing the total of Church missions to 107.

Name, Place of Residence

Most Recent Church Position


Raymond E. Beckham
Provo, Utah

Sealer, Provo Temple


Earl C. Tingey
Easton, Connecticut

Eastern States Mission presidency counselor

Australia East

J. Martell Bird
Australia East Mission

Australia East Mission president

Australia Northeast*

Lynn A. Sorensen
Salt Lake City

Melchizedek Priesthood MIA general board

Brazil South

Clarence R. Bishop
Bountiful, Utah

Sunday School and MIA positions


Glenn E. Nielson
Cody, Wyoming

Church Finance Committee member


John E. Heward
Holbrook, Arizona

Missionary among Mexican people


Royden G. Derrick
Salt Lake City

Sunday School general presidency

England North

R. Donald Livingstone
Lethbridge, Canada

Alberta Temple officiator

England South

Arnold R. Knapp
Salt Lake City

Sunday School general board

England Southwest

Sidney F. Sager
Angleur, Belgium

Mission Representative


Seth D. Redford
Boise, Idaho

High councilor

Georgia–South Carolina

Gary L. Schwendiman
Salt Lake City

Church’s European general counsel

Germany North

Hans-Wilhelm Kelling
Provo, Utah

Stake presidency member

Germany South

Robert B. Arnold
Utah (formerly of Guatemala)

Mission Representative

Guatemala–El Salvador

Clyde J. Summerhays
Salt Lake City

Ireland Mission president

Ireland (one-year extension)

Ralph A. Barnes
Salt Lake City

Missionary, Italy South Mission

Italy South

Kotaro Koizumi
Oahu, Hawaii

Stake presidency member

Japan East

Arthur K. Nishimoto
American Fork, Utah (formerly of Hawaii)

Bishop, district president

Japan West

Satora Sato
Hilo, Hawaii

Stake presidency member


Graham W. Doxey
Salt Lake City

Stake president


Thurn J. Baker
Moses Lake, Washington

Stake president


Lester B. Whetten
Provo, Utah

Patriarch, Provo Temple sealer


C. Russell Hansen
Syracuse, Utah

Stake president


George T. Frost
Ogden, Utah

Stake presidency member


M. Baden Powell Pere
Laie, Hawaii

Temple worker

New Zealand North

Charles M. Alexander
Phoenix, Arizona


North Carolina*

Paul Buehner
Salt Lake City

Stake president

Ohio–West Virginia

Hugh W. Pinnock
Salt Lake City

Regional Representative, Priesthood Leadership Committee


Carl D. Jones
Springville, Utah

Stake president


Robert P. Thorn
Salt Lake City

High councilor

South Africa

Robert V. Stevens
Salt Lake City

Ward MIA president


George R. Lovell
Ririe, Idaho

Stake president

Texas North

Ronald Lee Loveland
Boise, Idaho

Stake presidency member

Texas South

Paul D. Morris

District president


Robert L. Marchant
Salt Lake City

Sunday School teacher