“Report of the Regional Representatives Seminar,” Ensign, May 1975, 120–22
Another resounding challenge to increase the scope of the missionary work of the Church was issued by President Spencer W. Kimball at a seminar for 125 Regional Representatives of the Twelve held Thursday, April 3, 1975. Also in attendance were the General Authorities and other general Church officers. President Kimball presided and President Ezra Taft Benson conducted.
Reporting an 8 percent increase in the number of full-time missionaries in the past year, President Kimball repeated for priesthood leaders what he termed “the universal calling of missionaries” in these words: “We need your sons. Every boy should be considered. All worthy, normal boys should fill missions.”
In connection with this challenge, President Kimball reemphasized the need for priesthood leaders to teach young men to prepare for their missions financially, with the help of their families. Mentioning the fact that over the years the seventies of the Church have contributed a large percentage of the funds that have supported the missionary effort, he went on to introduce the need, “greater now than ever before,” for elders and high priests to make additional contributions to the great missionary movement. “Through these kinds of sacrifices, we may find ourselves acceptable to the Lord,” he said. “There is no reason why any boy in this church needs to forfeit his mission because of lack of funds.”
Speaking of the “lengthening stride” of the missionary work thus far among the earth’s 4 billion inhabitants, President Kimball said, “Our progress has really been a miracle, but we have merely scratched the surface.” He emphasized the fact that our most important goal is to make it possible for all people to achieve eternal life by taking the gospel to them.
As one means of achieving this goal, President Kimball suggested increasing missionary productivity and “the perfection of their performance.” As another means, however, he once again recalled President David O. McKay’s great challenge: “Every member a missionary.”
Stating that it is unrealistic to expect that 19,000—or even 100,000—missionaries could cover the whole globe, President Kimball called upon priesthood leaders to teach every family in the Church to assume their responsibility for family-to-family friendshiping in cooperation with full-time missionaries. “Members should be finders,” he said.
“If only two million of the Latter-day Saints energetically and fully accepted the challenge of President McKay … certainly we could extend our efforts … and build the kingdom and eventually knock at every door.”
President Kimball then dwelt at length upon another very important aspect of the Church’s missionary effort, that of carrying the gospel message to the Lamanites.
Recalling his recent experiences among the Lamanite Saints in South America, he said, “I seemed to see a vision of tens of thousands of priesthood bearers, leaders in thousands of wards and stakes in hundreds of mountain valleys … and I could seem to hear Father Lehi and Mormon and Moroni and Samuel and a host of fond parents and prophets praising God for this long-promised miracle.” President Kimball then called for “special attention” to the missionary work among the Lamanites.
President Kimball next turned to another area of concern to him: the Jews. Noting that the gathering of the Jews to Jerusalem and the establishment of the gospel of Jesus Christ among them in this generation were set forth with great plainness in the scriptures, President Kimball said, “Is it not timely that we began to preach to Judah as well as the other tribes?” Pointing out the fact that there are more Jews in the United States than in all the rest of the world, he continued: “Should we not now increase our effort to reach them? This does not mean a mission to Jerusalem in these troubled times, but we could begin to reach out for our Jewish brothers just as we do for all others.”
He closed with a final admonition to priesthood leaders to teach the membership of the Church to “move forward with Jesus Christ our Advocate to establish the Church among the inhabitants of the earth.”
Four new Regional Representatives of the Twelve were introduced at the seminar: Hal R. Johnson of Idaho Falls, Idaho, who will represent the Brazil Sao Paulo and Brazil Sao Paulo South regions and the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission; Morris A. Kjar of Salt Lake City, who will represent the Bear Lake and Logan regions; J. W. Child of Salt Lake City, who will represent the Fresno and Modesto regions and the California Oakland Mission; and Richard L. Warner of Salt Lake City, whose assignments are as yet unannounced.
In an introduction to a presentation by the Missionary Executive Committee, Elder Howard W. Hunter, of the Council of the Twelve, cited a net increase of 1,356 missionaries in the field and the establishment of 18 new missions as evidence of the extent to which the missionary work has been enlarged in the past year. He also said that the Church plans to phase out the language training missions at Ricks College and the Brigham Young University/ Hawaii Campus in preparation for a vast expansion of the language training mission at Brigham Young University in Provo—this in keeping with a goal of establishing training in five new languages and entering five new countries each year.
Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, of the First Council of the Seventy, outlined a plan for expanded missionary activity among seventies quorums. He also emphasized the fact that the basic responsibility for missionary work in the Church lies with the members, not the missionaries, and that priesthood leaders should teach families to use the home to teach the gospel to other families. “You can change the world if you will act,” he said.
In a multimedia presentation prepared by the Church Board of Education that indicated the extent to which the seminary and institute program has grown worldwide, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and Church Commissioner of Education, set forth reasons for participation in seminary and institute classes by young people: (1) Seminary or institute attendance is a strong factor encouraging young people to serve missions. (2) Almost all of those who serve missions subsequently marry in the temple. Priesthood leaders were encouraged to teach parents the value of seminary and institute experience.
In the Aaronic Priesthood Executive Committee presentation, Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown stressed the fact that the number one responsibility of a bishop and his counselors is with the youth of the ward. They pointed out that Aaronic Priesthood quorums are successful when their presidencies were functioning in the same active way Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies function.
L. Dale Hanks, president of the Calgary Alberta Stake, also addressed the seminar on the subject of quorum activity and the responsibility of bishoprics. VarSelle Weaver, deacons quorum adviser in the Meridian 1st Ward, Meridian Idaho Stake, delivered a slide presentation showing the success of his quorum presidency in caring for and watching over the quorum members.