The Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took place the weekend of October 5-6, 2013. The two-day event featured speakers from the General First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and other Auxiliary Leaders. Among the speakers, Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the general First Presidency spoke Saturday Morning. He directed his talk to those who have lost their faith, or left church worship. To me, his talk was the hallmark feature of the conference. It was inspiring to both members of the Church, and would impress even those who profess any faith. I have listened to almost every General Conference talk in the last ten years, and I felt that it was the most honest, and refreshing presentation that I have ever heard over the Conference Center pulpit.
In his talk, Uchtdorf gives reasons why some people choose to leave the Church, or abandon their faith. One of the reasons that he mentions is that people are often offended by a church member or a church leader. As a part of his response, he recounts the timeless advice that people are not perfect, including apostles. Although to many people, especially outside of the Church looking in, this observation is quite evident. For those who believe in the infallibility of apostles and prophets, the truth of this statement could have aroused attention or caused for some concern. He promotes that even though people are not perfect, the restored gospel that is found within the Church is not tarnished, and that there is room for everyone in the Church.
Dieter Uchtdorf said something that is not commonly heard in Church settings. He claimed that there is in fact, room for everyone. This declaration for tolerance is something that struck me. Many believe and have said to Uchtdord, and myself as when I served as an LDS missionary, “I just don’t fit in with you people in the Church.” His reply had a profound influence on me. He said, “If you could see into our hearts, you will probably find that you fit in better than you suppose.” I believe that Uchtdorf meant that all people are unique, and that people have their own reasons for not feeling like they fit in; however, inside we come from the same divine source. We are all connected, and that in fact we are not as different as we may seem. Petty differences can be strengths, depending on how we perceive them, and that within the Church we ought to more actively preach tolerance and love.
This is a talk that I will read over again.
Brian King, Mesa, AZ.