“Highlights of the Regional Representatives Seminar,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 100–101
President Spencer W. Kimball opened the seminar for Regional Representatives on Friday, October 5, by expressing appreciation for the many prayers offered in his behalf. “I am so thankful the Lord has heard those prayers,” he said. “I now want to do my part to be worthy of the fresh wave of blessings that came to me during my recent illness.”
He spoke for only a few minutes, but his message was clear. Reminding the assembled General Authorities, Regional Representatives, and other leaders of the current emphasis on Church councils and on simplification, he explained reasons behind those moves: “We see ourselves as positioning our people so that the Latter-day Saints can give greater attention to family life, can focus more on certain simple and basic things, can render more Christian service, and can have greater effectiveness in all these things.”
He then illustrated qualities of leadership by recommending his counselors in the First Presidency as good examples. He praised President N. Eldon Tanner for his economy of words, his insightful contributions to discussions, and his humility. President Marion G. Romney, he said, is expert at evaluating problems and situations in light of the scriptures, and at asking appropriate clarifying questions. Both are “men of good humor as well as good will.”
“Further,” said President Kimball, “we are not only the First Presidency, we are friends!”
President N. Eldon Tanner then cautioned the leaders against mistakenly viewing simplification measures as “a slackening of our basic goals and commitments when, in fact, these simplified efforts should speed us along the path toward achieving the desired basic outcomes.” He expressed the hope that members would use the resulting extra time to good advantage—“spending their time even more wisely than they spend their money.”
Referring to President Kimball’s vision of major Church growth, President Tanner spoke of the importance of welcoming and loving new members: “The Church is ‘for the perfecting of the saints,’” he said, “not merely to enroll the already perfected! Therefore, as the Church welcomes additional tens of thousands who are worthy and ready, our capacity to love, to accept, and to train others will be freshly tested. … We must do as well at enfolding all these new friends in our love and fellowship as we do in enlisting them through our missionary work. We must be as quick to welcome them as we are to witness to them about the Church.”
Elder J. Thomas Fyans, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, explained how priesthood councils can help strengthen members of the Church. He urged leaders to help individuals and families choose and commit to measurable, attainable goals in the areas of missionary work, genealogy, and temporal and spiritual welfare—goals toward personal development, family love and unity, and self-reliance.
Turning to ways the ward can help families, he said that high priests often “are not used to their full strength or best advantage” and emphasized that “bishops may call on these high priests and seventies to home teach inactive members of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums or prospective elders. This is not a new policy, but is one re-emphasized by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.”
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve spoke on ways to improve home teaching. He reminded leaders that home teachers really are called to be teachers—and, as such, should have a clear idea of who, how, and what they are to teach. They need training in these areas, he said: “A priesthood bearer is not a ready-made home teacher just as the result of a priesthood ordination.”
Elder Perry encouraged leaders to send messages and instructions to members through their home teachers, thereby strengthening the home teacher’s role in the eyes of his families.
He also encouraged leaders to keep the number of families assigned to each home teacher to three to five, and urged the equalization of workload among priesthood quorums: “It is not efficient to assign 70 or 80 percent of the families of the ward to the elders quorum, unless they have the strength and the ability to effectively accomplish that workload.” The bishop can assign prospective elders and single sisters to any of the three Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, he said—whichever “has the best capability of producing a result.”
Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy recommended several steps for “strengthening the less active,” including:
Identifying the most receptive men and working with them first, assigning them strong home teachers.
Using a direct approach with some: “Probably 10% of the inactive men would answer a call to repent right now and become an elder or get married in the temple. We must invite them.”
Using a more indirect approach with others, building a personal relationship through frequent informal visits. Then after good communication exists, “when the golden and prayed-for moment comes, you can talk soul-to-soul about the things of God.”
Holding reactivation and temple seminars; praying for them; giving them a Church assignment; and following through with a “united, sustained effort.”
Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve spoke of a need to teach Church members to pay “a full and honest tithing.” “The payment of tithing,” he said, “is always a powerful factor in building faith and testimony”; it is also the Lord’s way of financing the growth of his kingdom. He then explained ways leaders can teach tithing to the members.
Elder Petersen said that tithing is a law of God—that it is “a debt and an obligation which all are required to meet.” After discussing some of the blessings that come from obedience to that law, he summarized: the Lord “will prosper you and protect you. What more can we ask?”
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve reviewed some of the activities planned for the 1980 sesquicentennial of the Church. Calling it “a great jubilee for modern Israel,” he said: “We hope that all across the Church the people will awaken to a knowledge of their history and the challenges of the future—to have a season of fun and rejoicing and to give expression to their talents and capabilities.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, President Ezra Taft Benson, who conducted the seminar, announced that “a pilot effort has been approved relating to the consolidation of meeting schedules. … At the conclusion of a pilot test, the results will be carefully compiled and evaluated. In the meantime, there will be no action taken beyond the pilot effort.”
President Benson also announced that the following seven men have been called as full-time Regional Representatives, that their wives will be set apart as missionaries, and that they will live in their assigned countries:
Edward L. Howard, Jr., of Spokane, Washington, is assigned to Santiago, Chile; James A. Jesperson of El Cajon, California, to the Andes area; Charlie R. Lewis of Clovis, California, to Santiago, Chile; A. James Martin of Boise, Idaho, to the Europe West area; Eugene F. Olsen of La Mesa, California, to the Andes area; Dorrell C. Vickers of Longview, Texas, to the Europe West area; and Lester B. Whetten of Provo, Utah, to El Salvador.
The following seventeen men were also introduced as new Regional Representatives: Carlos Humberto Amado of Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lafayette R. Anderson of Monticello, Utah; Tufuga Samuelu Atoa of Apia, Western Samoa; Raymond E. Beckham, Sr., of Provo, Utah; Juan Casanova of Yutepec, Mexico; Frank W. Chamberlain of Salt Lake City, Utah; Eli K. Clayson of Provo, Utah; Eldon W. Cooley of Mesa, Arizona; Hugh A. Daysh of Auckland, New Zealand; Enrique Moreno of Cuernavaca, Mexico; Rudolfo W. Mortensen of Phoenix, Arizona; Russell M. Nelson of Salt Lake City, Utah; Sterling Nicolaysen of Fremont, California; John F. O’Donnal of Campestre de Churubusco, Mexico; Boanerges Rubalcava of Atizapan, Mexico; Lee K. Udall of Thatcher, Arizona; and Keith W. Wilcox of Ogden, Utah.
This brings the number of Regional Representatives currently serving to 194.