“Report of June Conference,” Ensign, Aug. 1975, 90–92
All General Auxiliary Conferences to End in 1975
All general auxiliary conferences will end as of 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball announced at the opening of June Conference on June 27. This means that the Relief Society conference planned in conjunction with this coming October general conference will be the last general auxiliary conference.
President Kimball called it “another long stride,” and others subsequently referred to the discontinuance of general auxiliary conferences as “the end of an era,” “the beginning of a venture,” and “a bit of nostalgia,” as June Conference continued June 28 and 29 in Salt Lake City.
In place of these conferences will come a “more comprehensive program” designed to reach the global, decentralized Church through all the leaders of the stakes and missions all over the world. President Kimball said the new program would be announced in the near future and would be implemented at the beginning of 1976.
President Kimball, speaking in the opening general session, noted that there are now 133 missions in the Church, 20,160 missionaries, and 700 stakes. He predicted a “new awakening in the proselyting program,” and said this brought the need for change in the way the general organizations communicate with the local leaders.
In addition to this change, the message of President Kimball and the message of the conference involved a reaffirmation of the basic principles of the Church and the priesthood programs and organization, along with a sense of the urgent need to improve by “lengthening our stride.” Detailing his vision of a lengthened stride in the closing conference address, President Kimball said it means more than increased missionary efforts. We need to “strengthen in homes, stakes, and missions,” he said, urging that members “stride with pride,” and “step in unity.” “I also apply it to myself,” he said.
Counselors in the First Presidency, President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney, warned again of the evils of the world and the necessity of combating them. President Tanner noted that he, as well as many of the other Brethren, often speaks on this subject but said this only indicates how important it is. “Be sure our children know who they are and act accordingly,” he said. President Romney said these are “the final years of Satan’s power” and urged that members “put on the whole armor of God.” He indicated that the armor of God includes prayer, knowledge of the scriptures, and faith.
Melchizedek Priesthood MIA
About one-third of the adult members of the Church are unmarried—and their numbers and needs are growing, Elder James E. Faust, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, told MPMIA leaders. He, along with other speakers at the various sessions, urged that priesthood leaders exert more effort in understanding, counseling, and providing activity for them. This includes the Young Adult, Young Special Interest, and Special Interest groups.
Many Young Adults belong to student associations on the various campuses, many are returned missionaries, and increasing numbers have joined the military. The various needs of each of these groups were reviewed; and Elder David B. Haight noted that Young Adults are often very mobile and that if they aren’t kept track of, they can be lost in a new environment.
For the Young Special Interest and Special Interest groups—those over age 25—counseling becomes an even more important factor, leaders were told. This includes coping with divorce, as well as the problems of those who have never married. Problems of the divorced were cited as emotional scars, separation from family, loneliness, financial pressure, and not being given opportunities to serve. The many ambivalent feelings of the unmarried over 25 were described, as were the challenges they sometimes have of social awkwardness, emotional problems, inability to make decisions, and other blocks which stand in the way of their being married.
Two concepts that can especially be applied in the Melchizedek Priesthood programs are Pursuit of Excellence and recreation. Pursuit of Excellence involves individual goal selection and achievement; its many possibilities were mentioned often during the various conference sessions. It can be adapted to needs of singles, those in the military, the handicapped, and others and is effective in giving direction and meaning to their lives. Slide and tape presentations showed the many blessings that are possible through the use of these programs. They can be means of breaking chains of aimlessness, mediocrity, self doubt, fear, and hesitancy, Elder Marion D. Hanks, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, asserted. Elder Hanks encouraged increased involvement in these and other activities and emphasized that “we are still trying to reach and serve the one.”
Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women
Bishop Victor L. Brown, Presiding Bishop, summarized the conference message for the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women with the motto “adopt, adapt, and improve.” He, along with others, admonished the leaders of young people to follow closely the outline and guidance given them, to adapt that information to the circumstances in theirs areas and the needs of their young people, and to always strive to improve their effectiveness. A filmstrip, which will be distributed throughout the Church, reemphasized the priesthood structure of the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women and the vital position of the bishop, along with peer leadership, in that structure.
Three announcements made during the sessions were that new general instruction handbooks for Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women will be available, that explorer and venturer programs will be optional, and that youth leaders of the priests quorum will be called “assistants to the president of the priests quorum.” Bishop Brown said the first assistant will help in the planning of activity nights and conduct meetings of the bishops youth committee, under the bishop’s direction. Bishop Brown admonished leaders of the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women to continue to focus on fundamentals and to prepare to meet challenges at the ward level and strengthen the leadership there.
Ruth H. Funk, Young Women’s president, reminded the leaders of young women of the need for teaching chastity and of the confusion in direction that can be caused by the current women’s movement. She noted that the priesthood is “increasingly assuming stewardship for young women.”
Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Presiding Bishopric echoed her concern young for women during a general session. He spoke of their special needs and said “every sister deserves a righteous priesthood holder” who is concerned for her.
Stake Bicentennial chairmen attending a special Saturday morning meeting of June Conference heard Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Paul H. Dunn of the First Council of the Seventy declare the Church’s unique message for the upcoming Bicentennial celebration in the United States and its territories—that America is important to the Church, and the Church is important to America.
“The Lord brought about the establishment of this great nation,” said Elder Perry, “and no one is going to bring out this most essential fact unless we do.”
Elder Dunn continued: “Historically and patriotically, we want to celebrate this great 200th birthday like any other Americans. But ours is also a divine message, to bring our country to the realization that Jesus is the Christ. The missionary cause shouldn’t be absent from a single one of our Bicentennial programs.”
The stake leaders were then introduced to the specific goals of the Church’s Bicentennial participation: (1) The “kingdom-building” objective of letting nonmembers know that God did raise up wise men to found this nation, that the Book of Mormon is a vital part of the history of this land, that ours is the true Church, and that it provides solutions to today’s problems. (2) The “member-building” objective of strengthening each member’s awareness of his heritage and of the fact that the obligations of citizenship are also part of the gospel.
Besides the general sessions held on the three conference days, many workshops and separate sessions instructed the leaders in detail on their stewardships and how they can best fulfill them. The evenings were scheduled with a variety of activity under the heading of Heritage Arts. They included five dramatic productions staged in various halls in the Salt Lake valley; five additional musical productions; a Bicentennial production, “Sons of Liberty”; other special events; and a Heritage Square display, an authentic reproduction of a town in the early 1900s.