“Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting Highlights Auxiliaries’ Supporting Roles,” Ensign, Mar. 2004, 74
In a world where the traditional family is under attack, the auxiliary organizations of the Church are meant to support the family in bringing individual members to Christ, local leaders were told during the Church’s third Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, held on 10 January 2004.
The broadcast, presided over by President Gordon B. Hinckley, reached priesthood and auxiliary leaders in 76 countries and 56 different languages worldwide. “You can see only those assembled in your own chapel,” said President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as he welcomed everyone to the training. “There are similar congregations … in more than 5,000 other buildings in 76 countries. So it really is a congregation of the Saints worldwide.”
The training meeting focused on the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary auxiliaries. Instructions for the leaders of the Young Men and Sunday School auxiliaries will be given in future broadcasts. Printed copies and DVDs of the broadcast will be distributed to leaders worldwide.
Challenges That Face the Family
President Gordon B. Hinckley and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the importance of the family and warned of threats to its survival in our day.
“No one need tell you that we are living in a very difficult season in the history of the world,” said President Hinckley. “Standards are dropping everywhere. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore. … The traditional family is under heavy attack. … In the Church we are working very hard to stem the tide of this evil.”
President Faust cited statistics showing a worldwide increase in the postponement of marriage and in cohabitation, divorce, and births out of wedlock. Statistics also point to the “devaluation” of children. Worldwide, more than 25 percent of all pregnancies are aborted.
“The challenges facing families today are many and great. Our family relationships need every protection that can be instituted,” President Faust taught. The auxiliaries and the priesthood are meant to support the family in strengthening individuals against the evils of the world.
The Roles of Auxiliaries and the Priesthood
The purpose, function, and inner workings of Church auxiliaries, and how auxiliaries relate to the priesthood, took the spotlight for the remainder of the meeting.
“The fundamental role and purpose of an auxiliary organization of the Church is to help plant and make grow a testimony of Jesus Christ,” said Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Scott explained how auxiliaries work under the direction of the priesthood and warned against replacing the family as the primary support for building testimonies. He instructed auxiliary leaders to rely on the Spirit for direction.
Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society general president, Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president, and Coleen K. Menlove, Primary general president, reinforced Elder Scott’s instruction. “Our mission is to bring all to Christ,” Sister Parkin said. Their presentation used video vignettes and commentary to demonstrate how priesthood and auxiliary leaders should work together and how auxiliary presidency meetings should be conducted.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking from the Philippines, emphasized the role of priesthood leaders in overseeing the work of auxiliary organizations. “All who work in the auxiliary organizations must have hands placed upon their heads to give them the authority to lead and teach in the kingdom of God. … The priesthood authorities who preside over the auxiliary organizations must direct and supervise their work.” His instructions included examples of how priesthood and auxiliaries should work hand in hand.