“Serving the One: June Conference 1974,” Ensign, Sept. 1974, 89–91
With the closing of 1974 June Conference, more than 8,000 leaders of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, Aaronic Priesthood, and Young Women returned to their wards, branches, and stakes with new ideas and programs, and a commitment to “Serve the One.”
President Spencer W. Kimball conducted the opening session of conference and urged those in attendance to keep their eye on “the simple, basic, and strategic goals of the gospel, which we will all reach by taking safe, small steps in developing our skills and attitudes appropriately.”
In another conference session, the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA for young adults and special interest groups introduced new concepts in family recreation and in individual growth. Now being stressed is that recreational opportunities are encouraged for all members of a ward and not for just those who participate in traditional team sports.
Individual growth is emphasized through the “Pursuit of Excellence,” where the Saints, under priesthood supervision, set personal, spiritual, physical, and intellectual goals. This concept of lifelong learning and growing supersedes the Master M Man and Golden Gleaner awards.
The managing directors of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, Elder James E. Faust, Elder Marion D. Hanks, and Elder Robert L. Simpson, Assistants to the Council of the Twelve, noted that during the past year, most activities were organized on a stake or multistake basis. However, in order to more effectively “serve the one,” they urged priesthood leaders to now place the emphasis on ward, small group, or individual activity.
Following two days of departmental activity, President Kimball presided at the closing session of conference where he announced a change in the Aaronic Priesthood MIA. Instead of being known as the Aaronic Priesthood MIA, the youth program of the Church is now called Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women. What used to be MIA night now is activity night for Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women.
The general presidencies and general boards of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Men and Young Women were released. Now, the Presiding Bishopric, as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood, is directly responsible for the activities of priests, teachers, and deacons, and the young women of comparable age.
Assisting the Presiding Bishopric is a general Committee for Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women. Rulon G. Craven, formerly an administrative assistant for business affairs at Brigham Young University, is the director of the Aaronic Priesthood, while the Young Women are served by Sister Ruth Hardy Funk as president and Sister Hortense H. Child and Sister Ardeth G. Kapp as counselors.
The organizational changes at Church headquarters are emphasized in the wards and branches with a title change from the president of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA to director of the Aaronic Priesthood. Other titles remain the same.
Practical examples of the one-to-one approach were the service projects conducted during the second day of conference. The projects included escorting handicapped children to the zoo, teaching young children handicrafts, visiting nursing homes, learning traditional handicrafts from older Saints, and cleaning up park areas and playgrounds. Other major events of the conference included “We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout,” an unrehearsed songfest featuring Latter-day Saint hymns. Open to everyone who could play an instrument, from tubas to harmonicas, or who was prepared to sing, even off-key, the songfest proved that it is possible to gather people together for an evening of fun and spiritual uplift through music.
“Motorcycles, Fishing Poles, and Twelve Hundred Boxes of Apples” dramatized and spotlighted various service and activity projects that, in the past year, have had a significant impact on individual lives, while a “Showcase of Performing Arts,” held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, presented an evening of music, drama, dance, and poetry by members of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA. The Showcase was suggested as the type of activity leaders throughout the Church might wish to use as a model for their own presentations.
As one conference participant said: “Everything that we have seen and participated in during these three days has been applicable to the ward. For instance, many wards as well as stakes could have a cultural showcase of music, dramatic readings, or painting, and many wards as well as stakes could offer dramatizations of how people have been reached by the gospel in action, and any ward could present a songfest similar to the one held during conference.
“Of course, these are ward, or large group activities, but it is obvious that the Brethren are concerned specifically with individual activity, and with individual development, whether it be by means of the priesthood, Relief Society, or Sunday School, or a combination of organizations.”
As President Kimball said in his welcoming address: “Too often in the past, organizational lines in the Church have become walls that have kept us from reaching out to individuals as completely as we should. As we become less concerned with getting organizational or individual credit, we will become more concerned with serving the one whom we are charged to reach. We will find ourselves becoming less concerned with our organizational identity and more concerned with our true and ultimate identity as a son or a daughter of our Father in Heaven and helping others to achieve the same sense of belonging.”