“New Mission Presidents Receive Instruction,” Ensign, Sept. 1992, 74–75
A testimony of Jesus Christ is the most important and effective missionary tool, President Gordon B. Hinckley told eighty-three new mission presidents during a mission presidents’ seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
President Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, was the keynote speaker at the June 23 opening session of the seminar.
“When all the mechanics of missionary work have been discussed, mastered, and utilized, there is no message so important, none so new as the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, our master and our King, whose holy name is the name of the Church we go out to represent,” President Hinckley told the participants.
President Hinckley also assured the new leaders that although they may have concerns about their ability to do the work, “the Lord will not let you down if you walk with faith and humility.”
“You will be trained in greater depth than any generation of mission presidents before you were ever trained. Your fears, your concerns, [your] sacrifices are not new,” President Hinckley commented. “They have been felt by those who have similarly gone forth since the earliest days of the Church.”
“I hope,” President Hinckley concluded, “that each of you presidents and leaders will carry in your hearts a flame of faith and knowledge from which the candles of those who serve under you will catch a light and become of the very essence of their testimonies of the work.”
President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke during the June 24 session.
“No mission in the Church, in my view, will reach its exalted pinnacle of perfection without the help of members,” he said. “Members are essential to our success—enlist their help.”
President Monson also reminded the new mission presidents and their wives of the great blessings that will come to those they teach and baptize. “What a beautiful declaration—those two words of missionary work, teach and baptize, that all whom we influence may be candidates for the kingdom of God and have their lives blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
President Howard W. Hunter, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaking at the June 26 session, also stressed the importance of member-missionary work. “A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary.”
President Hunter reminded the mission presidents of the role of the Atonement in missionary work. He said the Atonement represents Christ’s love for us and that accepting the call to share the gospel with others “represents our great love for our Heavenly Father’s children as well as for the Savior and what he did for us.”
Other speakers at the seminar echoed the importance of member-missionary work.
Speaking at the opening session, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy emphasized the importance of cooperation between full-time missionaries and stake missionaries, especially at a time “when the Lord is hastening his work,” and the “doors of many nations are opening.”
Elder Perry called for “perfect harmony” between stake and full-time missionaries in proclaiming the gospel around the world.
“The united efforts of members and missionaries, under the careful supervision of caring leaders,” supports a convert before and after baptism, Elder Perry said.
“We have long taught that every member is a missionary,” said Elder Backman. “Now we add that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch in which he serves, to perfect the Saints as well as to proclaim the gospel, for these are one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated.”
In his remarks during the opening session, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled the mission presidents to act in a spirit of unity with Church leaders by following a pattern of responsive orthodoxy and inspired initiative.
He explained that responsive orthodoxy includes actively seeking the counsel of the Brethren. “It means that once you have learned the will of the Lord you exercise voluntary obedience. It means you act in a spirit of unity, not in a spirit of grudging compliance.
“Inspired initiative means you seek the Lord’s guidance to carry out the approved program,” Elder Wirthlin continued. “I would emphasize that inspiration comes most freely when you seek it in behalf of [serving] others.”
The new mission presidents—some who came from as far away as West Africa—were joined at the seminar by their spouses and most of the fifteen newly called General Authorities.
Additional General Authorities, including eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve and six of the seven Presidents of the Seventy, also attended the seminar. Those attending an area presidencies seminar, which was held at the same time, also attended the opening session of the mission presidents seminar.
Other speakers at the five-day seminar included Elders David B. Haight, James E. Faust, Russell M. Nelson, and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Seventy.