“Report of the Regional Representatives Seminar,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 117–18
A resounding challenge to greater activity, increased missionary work, and the acceptance of priesthood responsibilities was set forth by President Spencer W. Kimball at the Regional Representatives seminar held Thursday, October 3, the day prior to general conference. In attendance were the General Authorities and 134 Regional Representatives, with other general Church officers.
Declaring that “now is the time to upgrade our standards,” President Kimball urged that holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood fulfill their responsibilities in proselyting, reactivating, and preparing all young men for missionary work.
President Kimball said that “so much depends upon our willingness to make up our minds, collectively and individually, that present levels of performance are not acceptable either to ourselves or to the Lord. In saying that, I am not calling for flashy, temporary differences in our performance levels, but a quiet resolve on the part of General Authorities, Regional Representatives of the Twelve, stake presidents, bishops, mission presidents, and branch presidents to do a better job—to lengthen our stride.”
Greater effort needs to be put forth to prepare all young men in the Church for a mission, said President Kimball. This motivation and encouragement should originate with the family and be supported by the priesthood organizations and other organizations of the Church.
Too often, he said, the Church is losing its young men because of inactivity of their fathers or of both parents. “We must break that recurring cycle,” he urged. “We must hold more of our Aaronic Priesthood young men.”
President Kimball said that a young man should be challenged early in life with the goal of fulfilling a mission. “He must be helped and guided to save money, to keep himself morally clean, to prepare himself spiritually, to learn to teach, to relate to others.”
He said too many young men expect their families to provide the funds for their missions. “We must let them sacrifice and save for themselves. When we get away from sacrifice, we have slipped back a cog.
“I personally feel that we have slipped in stake missionary work.” he said. “Let us multiply manifold our stake missionaries. There is much we can do there. Many stakes do not have missionaries. We will not be happy and satisfied until they get stake missionary work going.”
President Kimball pointed out that the challenges ahead may seem great, but the Lord has provided the Church and the priesthood to accomplish his work.
Our goal is “nothing less than penetration of the whole world” with the gospel message, President Kimball added.
George Bernard Shaw said. “Other people see things and say, ‘Why?’ but I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’” President Kimball then challenged. “We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’”
In connection with stake missionary work, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve introduced a realignment of the responsibilities of seventies. Effective immediately, all stakes will form seventies quorums regardless of the number of seventies within each stake. Heretofore, there had to be a minimum of 36 seventies for a stake to form a quorum. Now each stake will have a council of seven presidents of seventies, and this council, with the senior president of seventies providing the leadership, will form the stake mission presidency. Each quorum will be designated by the stake in which it is located, not by number.
The realignment provides greater emphasis on the responsibilities of seventies for stake missionary work and for providing trained priesthood leaders to assist members of the Church in their fellowshiping and proselyting activities.
In this regard President Kimball earlier commented that “every man, every woman, and every child” can proselyte.
With the emphasis on preparing young men to fulfill missions, a filmstrip was presented by the Executive Missionary Committee of the Church—President Ezra Taft Benson, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie. The filmstrip, to be made available through Regional Representatives, explains the steps that can be taken by families, bishops, and other priesthood leaders in preparing and guiding a young man toward a mission.
The filmstrip points out that the goal for the Church is that all normal young men of each stake serve a mission. The Brethren indicated that if this goal is met, it will mean a tremendous surge in the number of proselyting missionaries.
In a presentation by the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee of the Twelve—Elder Thomas S. Monson, Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder Marvin J. Ashton, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie—an uplifting and stimulating challenge was issued to the Melchizedek Priesthood of the Church and to prospective elders.
As spokesman for the committee, Elder McConkie made it quite clear that there is no such thing as being “only” an elder. An elder, he said, is responsible not only for his own growth and development but also for the exaltation of his family and the care and spiritual development of his fellow priesthood holders.
Bishop H. Burke Peterson, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said if the Melchizedek Priesthood holders fully accept their responsibilities, the bishop will have the time to pursue his primary responsibility—the youth of his ward. In a presentation by the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop Peterson pointed out that there “is a very real battle going on in the earth” for the lives of the youth of the Church.
Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood have the opportunity of developing the skills they need as leaders within the Church, he said. Quorum presidencies must be trained and encouraged by their advisers and leaders. A deacons quorum adviser set the pattern for this “shadow” leadership when he told the Regional Representatives that in working with the deacons quorum president he loved him, he understood and respected his priesthood responsibilities, and he understood and respected himself and his own priesthood responsibilities.
The Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, in a presentation directed by Elder James E. Faust, Elder Marion D. Hanks, and Elder Robert L. Simpson, Assistants to the Council of the Twelve, stressed the need for priesthood leaders to train elders quorum presidencies, ward Relief Society presidencies, and Melchizedek Priesthood MIA ward representatives in their responsibilities and to require frequent accountability.
Regional Representatives then met in discussion groups and shared examples and ideas for the activation of elders and prospective elders.