“Report of the Regional Representatives Seminar,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 138–39
A fervent plea for the membership of the Church to continually pray that new “doors be opened for the preaching of the gospel among the nations of the earth” was a major theme stressed by President Spencer W. Kimball as he spoke to General Authorities and Regional Representatives of the Twelve in the semiannual seminar held prior to general conference.
President Kimball said, “We have suggested that we all pray to our Heavenly Father to open the doors to the nations. We’re asking that our people will include in their prayers a plea that the Lord will soften the hearts and change the attitudes of leaders and make possible our selfless efforts. We ask the people to continue to implore the Lord to make proselyting possible, and then we are determined to do our part.”
President Kimball urged for “great faith” in this effort, and continually reminded those assembled, “Do you think this can be done? It can be! The Lord can touch the hearts of leaders. He can change their attitudes. He can impress people to move into these communities where they can help the Lord’s work.”
The President also stressed the continued need for more missionaries: “We’re still urging that every young man have the privilege of a mission to give him a rounded life and also to preach the gospel to a dying world. We are anxious for still more missionaries, better and stronger missionaries, more capable and better-trained missionaries. We’ve made excellent advances, but we’re still far from the mark. We still have too few missionaries.” He noted that presently the Church has over 21,000 missionaries, of which 1,500 are local missionaries.
On the subject of stake missionary work he asked for renewed efforts: “Are you satisfied with the work? Is it going ahead as it should be? Are the members of the Church helping their neighbors receive the gospel?” The President underscored his conviction that “we should have at least one million members” who should be serving as missionaries in the spirit of “every member a missionary” as they introduce the gospel to their friends and neighbors: “The time is now for this work to be done. I’m very serious about this missionary work. The Lord wants us to do this work.”
The President also called for the membership of the Church to do a “better job” in “holding all our converts” through “better teaching, better fellowshipping.”
“Now we need to look after all phases of the program of the Church,” he said, and he reviewed many of the important efforts of the Church, including family home evening, reactivation of inactive brethren, Relief Society, genealogy, and other programs.
He commented on the state of the world: “We’re greatly concerned with our world and the direction that it is taking. We deplore the permissiveness of seemingly a growing percentage of people who indulge in their weaknesses or wink at them. It seems as if the very jaws of hell are open. Public opinion pushes us to the wide open jaws. We seem to be in the front ranks to hold back the flood of evil. We must hold our people and find ways to train them to hold the line where the Lord has drawn it. We must not yield or give.”
In reviewing how leaders can help Saints to live better, the President discussed repentance: “One of the greatest errors in the lives of people is that most of them seem to feel that the resolves to repent constitute repentance. But that is not true. To be repentant, one must change his life. There must be a new birth. There must be a transformation. It can’t be just a hope or a wish.”
Following President Kimball, President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency discussed the area supervision program of the Church, and announced that Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the First Council of the Seventy has been assigned to South America. His assignments are Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Elder James E. Faust, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, previously assigned to South America, oversees the work in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Elder Bruce R. McConkie will serve as the Council of the Twelve adviser for all the work in South America.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley then discussed the new regional meeting planned yearly for the month of June. These hundreds of June regional meetings, held only once in each region, will replace the two regional meetings that have been held throughout the year in the various regions and will replace the need for general auxiliary conferences.
Elder Hinckley stressed that the major purpose of the new regional meeting is to introduce leaders to the annual guidelines to the programs of the Church. These guidelines will begin to be implemented in September, several months following the June regional meeting. He said that the meeting is of “sufficient length to introduce and train leaders in their responsibilities and the program encouraged for that year.”
Specifically, he reviewed the following general plans for next year’s first June regional meeting to be held under the direction of the Regional Representatives of the Twelve.
—All stake priesthood and all stake auxiliary presidencies will attend together for the first time. Invited to the meeting from each stake are: stake presidency, high councilors, stake executive secretary, and stake clerk; quorum presidency, group leaders, and assistants; bishopric, ward executive secretary, and ward clerk; stake young adult and special interest council representatives (male and female); stake Relief Society presidency and secretary; stake Primary presidency and secretary; stake Sunday School presidency, Junior Sunday School coordinator, and secretary; stake young women director, advisers, and secretary. Priesthood leaders were asked to encourage stake and ward leaders who are invited to plan their vacation and work around this “once-a-year important meeting.”
—The meeting will be a full day of learning, ranging from seven to nine hours in length.
—All priesthood leaders will meet to discuss priesthood curriculum and gospel study, priesthood executive committee meeting, and baptizing and fellowshipping.
—There will be an emphasis on cultural activities at a noon cultural presentation, to include such things as art displays, heritage arts, homemaking skills and demonstrations, crafts, collections, posters of successful stake events, roving or spot performances by small musical or dramatic groups. An optional evening cultural presentation for the regional membership is also possible. It might feature a compilation of past events that have been outstanding, a music festival, a dance festival, a drama festival, musical comedy or roadshows, variety and talent show, speech festival, etc.
Elder Mark E. Petersen and Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve then bore powerful personal testimonies of the Lord’s great concern and anxiety over our limited efforts in redeeming our dead. They discussed the Church’s intent to greatly mobilize the efforts of the priesthood and Church membership to more energetically labor in the great missionary efforts of our time—work for both the living and the sometimes forgotten redemption of the dead. Priesthood leaders assembled clearly understood that President Kimball’s great call for missionary work to be immensely strengthened also applies to performing the necessary missionary work for all those who were not able to hear the gospel during their short mortal stay. Elders Theodore M. Burton and W. Grant Bangerter, Assistants to the Council of the Twelve, also spoke of the redemption of the dead.
Then, under the direction of Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown, a presentation reviewed the major assignment of the bishops to look after and train their Aaronic Priesthood age youth. He showed how the Church was redistributing much of the labors at the ward level to their proper place—on the shoulders of the elders, seventies, and high priests, so that the bishoprics of the Church can give much greater attention to building, molding, and training young men to be better missionaries and better priesthood holders. Bishop Brown introduced two new handbooks that review in detail the Church’s program: Aaronic Priesthood Handbook (PBAP0196) and the Young Women Handbook (PBYW0102).
The missionary department then presented a new translite display unit (VDIS0013), designed for stake and district open houses, fairs, exhibits, and other proselyting efforts. Purchase price is about $60 per unit. The translite uses Church posters 22″ x 28″.