News Release

Elder and Sister Gong Teach Women to Love as Christ Loved

Messages at BYU Women’s Conference teach that service is essential to unifying congregations and communities

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, taught a gathering of more than 10,000 women of all ages Friday that both everyday and dramatic acts of selfless service are essential to increasing fellowship and unity in congregations and communities.


The new apostle and his wife were the final speakers at the 2018 BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah.

Elder and Sister Gong spoke to the conference theme of “strengthen one another in the Lord,” which Elder Gong said is embodied in the Savior’s first and second great commandments to love God and one another.

Elder Gong illustrated his point with a story about a family he helped many years ago as a bishop, or leader of one of the Church’s 30,000-plus congregations.

The Ritter family’s water heater leaked, causing water to seep through the floor. Then termites ate through the wood and caused the floor to sag. Because the family couldn’t afford repairs, they turned off their water heater. Elder Gong visited their home, noticed the need and discussed the family’s plight with other leaders of his congregation. Soon, fellow Church members skilled in floors, walls, carpets, appliances and paint were helping repair the Ritter home.

One of those who ministered most to the Ritters was Larry O’Conner. Not long after the group fixed the Ritter home, Larry's house caught fire, and the Ritter family were among the first to help the O’Conners repair their home. This cycle of service is one of the strengths of a faith community, Elder Gong said.

“To me, there can be a wondrous, virtuous and harmonious circle as we strengthen each other in His love,” Elder Gong said. “The O’Connors help the Ritters, the Ritters help the O’Connors, and all the while a community of Latter-day Saints is being established. Each day, in myriad ways, we each need and can offer ministering love and support in small, simple, powerful, life-changing ways.”

Sister Gong spoke of three different meanings of the idea of loving each other as Jesus loves. She said Jesus understands our hearts, couples His understanding with compassion and responds to our specific needs.

“We are loved with the ‘matchless bounty of the [Savior’s] love’ and the infinite love of our Heavenly Father. Through Their love we can come to understand one another, have compassion for one another, and bless one another in every way that's important and special,” Sister Gong said.

Relief Society Counselors Share Message of Unity Thursday


Part of the conference’s Thursday events included the two counselors of the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Sharon Eubank and Sister Reyna I. Aburto, discussing the Church’s new ministering program.   

Their presentation focused on a statement by Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She said, “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.”

“I know the theme of this session is inspired because it is the very definition of ministering,” explained Sister Eubank, the first counselor. “Watching over one another was one of the very reasons the Relief Society was established. It all starts with getting to know the person and what they really need. Service is never going to be one size fits all.”

“I want to recommend that the higher, holier way of ministering is to make us feel comfortable sitting down with each other, even if we think we are very different,” added Sister Aburto, the second counselor. “We can sometimes be hard on each other as women; we might start judging, comparing, and competing, rather than having compassion and charity. But we can change that culture in the Church, and we must.”

Both women auxiliary leaders encouraged the audience not to feel overwhelmed. “Doing better doesn’t always mean doing more. And if you do just one inspired thing each day, you are nevertheless the Lord’s agent,” said Sister Eubank. “I’ve calculated if I do one thing that comes through inspiration, 365 times per year for 50 years, that will be a total of 18,250 things that the Lord wanted done.”

Sister Aburto added, “I want to reassure you that the Lord accepts all your efforts. The announcements in general conference weren’t necessarily asking us to do more — our lists are already full! But maybe we can do the right things. The simple things. The things the Lord Himself wants done.”

Watch the talks on-demand below:

Elder and Sister Gong

Sister Eubank and Sister Aburto

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