“Seminar Held for Regional Representatives,” Ensign, May 1988, 92–93
Missionary work, home teaching, fellowshipping of new converts, and the importance of strengthening the programs for the young women of the Church were emphasized Friday, April 1, during the Church’s annual Regional Representatives’ Seminar.
President Ezra Taft Benson attended the opening session of the seminar and made brief extemporaneous remarks, expressing his love for the Lord, for the Church, and for his associates. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor, also delivered addresses.
“Woman is God’s supreme creation,” said President Hinckley. “Of all the creations of the Almighty there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue, with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.”
President Hinckley spoke about the changing role of women in the world today. “Strong and able women today fill responsible posts in industry, government, education, and the professions,” he said. “The whole world looks with respect to the Prime Minister of Britain, a woman of demonstrated ability and great capacity in carrying forward a program designed to strengthen her nation and its people. We were all impressed when Golda Meier served as Prime Minister of Israel.
“It is wonderful to witness this great renaissance,” he said, “I think it will continue to grow for the blessing of people everywhere.”
Speaking of women in the Church, he said, “There are tremendous responsibilities for women in the Church as well as in the community consistent with and in total harmony with marriage, motherhood, and the rearing of good and able children.
“It is important, therefore,” he said, “that girls in the Church have opportunity for and motivation to move forward in programs designed to improve their skills, enhance their estimation of their own self-worth, and to broaden their knowledge of the gospel with consequent increase of faith.”
He also called for young women to be encouraged to further their education. “Every young woman ought to be encouraged to refine her skills and increase her abilities, to broaden her knowledge and strengthen her capacity,” he said.
President Hinckley decried the effects of pornography and drugs on not only men but women. “The pornography merchants cast their filthy lures in the direction of the girls as well as the boys. The exploitation of sex has become a marketable commodity employing every vile trick of the advertiser, every slick and seductive element that can be conjured up,” he said.
As for the drug problem, he said he recently read that the use of drugs in America is increasing more rapidly among young women than among young men. “It is so important that we increase our efforts to teach our young women the ways of eternal truth, to make virtue attractive and all-important,” he said.
Commenting on the progress of the Church, President Hinckley said that world membership has grown from 2.5 million members when the first regional representatives were called in 1967 to some 6.5 million today. He also pointed out that in South America alone the Church has grown from six thousand to more than a million during that period.
“We now have more [missionaries] serving in the field than we have ever had, but we do not have enough,” he said. “The world, with its four billion plus people, is a very large world. And while we do not have access to many millions of these, the numbers we are free to work with are still very large. Truly, the field is white and the laborers are few.”
He spoke of the need for older missionary couples but said they should be in good health, should be able to finance their missions and still be able to care for their financial needs when they return home, and should not serve full-time missions while they have unmarried children at home who need the companionship and counsel of their parents.
President Hinckley also addressed the need for members of the Church to fellowship new converts. Losing new converts to inactivity and even apostasy “need not happen,” he said. “It should not happen. It must not happen.”
He urged greater emphasis be given to the process of fellowshipping. “Our people must reach out with greater diligence, with greater love to those who come into the Church as converts.”
President Monson told of the importance of the home teaching program in the Church. “The Lord has not rescinded his directive to the priesthood to visit the house of each member, exhorting the members to pray vocally and in secret and to attend to all family duties,” he said.
Quoting a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, he said, “The [home] teacher’s duty is to watch over the Church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.”
Other speakers at the day-long seminar included President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Elder James E. Faust, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and Elder M. Russell Ballard, all of the Council of the Twelve Apostles; and Elder Marion D. Hanks and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
A leadership meeting was held Friday evening in the Tabernacle for both regional representatives and stake presidents. Speakers at this gathering included President Hinckley, President Monson, Elder Packer, Elder Ashton, and Elder Perry. At the opening of the meeting, a plaque was presented by the American Red Cross to the First Presidency and members of the Church for the Church’s participation in alleviating suffering throughout the world.