Additional Resource

Transcript: Elder and Sister Renlund at 2016 BYU Women's Conference

“One in Charity”
BYU Women’s Conference
April 29, 2016

Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth L. Renlund

Elder Renlund: Brother and Sister Melecio and Sister Willy, thank you so much for the sermon you have so beautifully rendered, for the spirit that you brought, and for the setting you have provided.

We welcome everyone here, all of the sisters who are here today. I’m grateful to be here with my wife, Ruth. I’ve learned over the decades that people like me better if they’ve met her first. So naturally I cheated and brought her here.

I am also grateful to have my little sister here, Linda Maurer. For all but nine of my years she has been a light in my life, she has been a great example, she has been one who has always made me smile, always made me laugh, always one who I never wanted to disappoint, one whose approbation I always sought, and as a result of that she has made me a better person by following her example. She has brought two of her remarkable, adorable daughters with her here today.

We’re grateful for those who have gone to so much work for this BYU Women’s Conference to make it both memorable and educational. The organizers and speakers have all done so well.

Sister Renlund: And we thank you for attending this closing session. We hope you’ve enjoyed your time here. During the last two days, much has been said about various facets of the theme, “One in Charity,” and yet we have more to say. “One in charity”—three simple words that can be understood in many different ways.

Elder Renlund: One way to think about “one in charity” is illustrated by an experience I had just a few weeks ago on Easter Sunday. I went to the Utah State Prison to visit inmates there. I met with several men who were in maximum security. As I met with them, one-on-one, they remained shackled.

One young man, who I will call Bob, had committed serious crimes. Though he had never been a member of the Church, he wanted nonetheless to meet with me. Thirteen months earlier, he blamed a particular guard for some privileges that were taken away from him. When an opportunity arose, Bob attacked the guard. Two other inmates, former members of the Church, restrained him, insisting that he really didn’t want to do what he was doing.

Bob’s prison sentence was increased because of the altercation, but not as much as it would have been had those two men not restrained him. Bob said that being restrained by those two men was the first time in his life anyone had been kind to him. Because of this one act of kindness, Bob asked to have a religious volunteer meet with him after he got out of solitary confinement. He has been meeting regularly with one of our bishops for about a year now. Bob still has many years of incarceration ahead of him, but he has hope for a better future. This one act of kindness prompted him to significantly change his life, even though he is in prison.

So, what is the lesson of the story? Two inmates who had lost their membership in the Church and who were themselves confined to prison were kind, even charitable to another inmate. That changed the heart of another son of Heavenly Father. The lesson is that the Lord can use us wherever we are, if we allow Him, to bless the lives of others.

Sister Renlund: That is powerful! We all can make a difference, one-to-one, “one in charity.” Today, sisters, we would like to explore a few other ways “one in charity” can be understood, depending on the emphasis and the definitions used. Perhaps we should begin by defining what charity is. So, how do you define charity?

Elder Renlund: The Apostle Paul gave a definition of charity that is best known. His First Epistle to the Corinthians addressed, in part, the lack of unity among the Saints. Corinth was a meeting place for many nationalities. Trade between Asia and Western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul’s first visit lasted nearly two years, and his converts were both Jew and Gentile, Semitic and Greek. This diversity would naturally lead to disunity when self-interest and, by extension, racial or tribal interest came to the foreground.

Paul criticized the Saints for their partisanship and urged them to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment,”[1] that they be one. Paul went on to address various divisive matters. He then discussed how spiritual gifts can unify a congregation of Saints.

But he did not want them to think that the random pursuit of spiritual gifts was the best cure-all for their disunity. He stated: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”[2] What do you think he means by “a more excellent way”?

Sister Renlund: I think “a more excellent way” was charity. Paul says that rather than seeking specific spiritual gifts, even though that would be helpful, “a more excellent way” was to develop a very specific characteristic or quality that is referred to as charity. The word charity derives from the Greek word agape. Agape has been used as a verb in Greek from Homeric times. It does not mean brotherly love, erotic love, or the kind of love I have for chocolate. It does not mean giving alms, although a desire to do so stems from it. In the Greek, agape means open, or a gape, tolerance, fairness, and kindness. The King James Version of the Bible translates agape as charity. In other versions of the Bible it is translated as love.

Elder Renlund: In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 reads like a dictionary, trying to define agape. Paul indicates that in the absence of agape, all spiritual gifts seem meaningless, becoming as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”[3]

Sister Renlund: And without agape, one could give all one’s “goods to feed the poor”[4] and it would be of no profit. So, one could be charitable, but without the motivation that stems from agape, charitability would be hollow.

Elder Renlund: “A more excellent way” is to develop the characteristic or quality of agape, and many wonderful consequences result. These consequences define agape itself. Agape “suffereth long, … is kind,” “envieth not; … vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”

Sister Renlund: Agape “doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity.”

Elder Renlund: “Rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,” and “never faileth.”

Sister Renlund: That is quite a list! At the end of the chapter, Paul suggests that early on in our discipleship, we do not have a clear understanding of what being a disciple of the Savior entails. We might try to develop these attributes by making a to-do list. But later, we will understand that when we develop agape, these attributes more naturally flow.

We read in 1 Corinthians:

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Paul is saying that the foundation of developing any of these desirable attributes is to develop agape.

Elder Renlund: For centuries, Christians have worked to understand the meaning of agape. A Christian writer, the Reverend Benjamin A. Vima, used agape to describe what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity—a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.[5]

Tertullian, in his 2nd-century defense of Christians, remarks how Christian love attracted pagan notice: “Such work of love (for so it is) puts a mark upon us, in the eyes of some. ‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another’ (for themselves hate one another).”[6]

Sister Renlund: The Book of Mormon also talks about agape but does not use the Greek word. For example, in Moroni 7, the English word charity is used to signify a word that we do not know, a word Mormon used as he spoke in a synagogue, a word that Moroni recorded in Reformed Egyptian. But whatever the word was, it seems that he found it sufficiently complicated that, like Paul, he gave us a dictionary description of what it is and what it isn’t. Whatever that complicated, Reformed Egyptian word was, Mormon indicates that it is “the pure love of Christ.”

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.”[7]

Elder Renlund: The pure love of Christ is what Paul tried to capture with the word agape. So with this understanding, what does the phrase “one in charity” mean?

Sister Renlund: Oh, it could be so many things, where to start? “One in charity” can be used as an exhortation—encouraging individuals to be unified and to join with others, such as the newly introduced “I Was a Stranger” initiative. When we think about this phrase as an exhortation, we, as individuals, are strongly encouraged to voluntarily join together to help those in need. Our desire is to be charitable, but we want to do so in a unified effort. It builds on the concept of synergy, that many can do more than the sum of individuals. For example, 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 8. Now, I’m no mathematician, but 8 is clearly more than the sum of the individual parts.

Elder Renlund: Synergy occurs because the capacity of the five grows as they work together and because they qualify for heaven’s help. As we work together, our capacity grows, and we are able to accomplish even greater tasks in the future.

Sister Renlund: This echoes the beautiful hymn that was sung minutes ago, the closing line of which is, “Father, make us one with Thee, one in charity.” We are all familiar with the concept that hymn describes, that of voluntarily helping each other.

President Monson once said, “None of us lives alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness.”[8]

Voluntarily helping others is a virtue prized and valued in many cultures. We see it in the lives of women and men both ancient and modern. We see it inside and outside the Church. This concept is expressed in scripture and literature as well. One of those literary works that expresses this concept of charity is found in the writings of the 19th-century Finnish author and poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg.

Elder Renlund: My father was born in northern Finland, outside the town of Jakobstad, which is also known as Pietasaari. My dad loved Finnish literature, especially the works of Runeberg. Like my father, Runeberg was born in Jakobstad. Dad would quote Finnish literature to us as bedtime stories. These stories were really rather somber. It seemed to us as children that the moral of these stories was “fight valiantly against impossible odds and then die.” It was like listening to the book of Job without the happy ending.

One of Runeberg’s poems that we heard over and over was the story of Farmer Paavo. Paavo was a poor peasant farmer who lived with his wife and children in Saarijärvi, in the lake region of central Finland. Several years in a row, some combination of the runoff from the spring snowmelt, summer hailstorms, or an early autumn frost killed most of his crop. Each time the meager harvest came in, his wife said, “Paavo, Paavo, you unfortunate old man, God has forsaken us.” Paavo, in turn, said, “Woman, mix bark with the rye flour to make bread so we won’t go hungry. I will work harder to drain the marshy fields. God is testing us, but He will provide.”

Every time the crop was destroyed, Paavo directed his wife to double the amount of bark that she mixed into the bread to ward off starvation. Poor Paavo worked even harder. He dug ditches to drain the marsh, to decrease his fields’ susceptibility to the spring snowmelt and to the exposure of an early autumn frost.

Finally, Paavo harvested a rich crop. Overjoyed, his wife said, “Paavo, Paavo, these are happy times! It is time to throw away the bark and bake bread made only with the rye.” But Paavo took his wife’s hand and said, “Woman, mix half the flour with bark, for our neighbor’s fields have frosted over.” Left unstated in the poem was Paavo’s intent to help his devastated, destitute neighbor.[9]

Sister Renlund: What do you think your father was trying to teach you by repeatedly telling you this sad story?

Elder Renlund: It wasn’t to try to get us to sleep. I think that my father was teaching us that charitable giving is something we do because of our humanity. It is something we do because we care about our fellow human beings. The poem invites us to ask ourselves, “What would we do if we were in Paavo’s shoes? Would we help this unfortunate neighbor? Would we, in the future, help others in need?”

Sister Renlund: I believe this is the essence of what the late President Marion G. Romney taught so beautifully in 1982: “Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.”[10]

The impulse to help those in need is cross-cultural. When we lived in Africa we learned of a concept called ubuntu. Like the Greek word agape, ubuntu is not easily defined in English. It is the inclination to treat others with kindness, virtue, and goodness. Nelson Mandela, the late president of the Republic of South Africa, explained an aspect of ubuntu by saying that in the old days a traveler to a village would not need to ask for food; it would naturally be given him because of ubuntu. Those who have give. Those in need receive.

Elder Renlund: The desire to help others underlies the organization of Relief Society in 1842. The Prophet Joseph Smith organized a group of women who lived in Nauvoo. Earlier, a few of the women had come to him seeking for a way for the sisters of the Church to be organized to practice charity and help build the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith responded by organizing them into a society for the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow, and the orphan and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes.[11]

Sister Renlund: In the organizational meeting, Sister Sarah Cleveland proposed that the group be named the “Female Relief Society.” Elder John Taylor suggested that the word Benevolent be used instead of Relief. One objection to the word relief was that “the idea associated with it suggests some great calamity—that we intend appropriating on some extraordinary occasions instead of meeting common occurrences.” This prompted Emma Smith to exclaim, “We are going to do something extraordinary!”[12]

And, something extraordinary does indeed happen, in both common and uncommon occurrences, when individuals join together to help those in need, just as you have done during this conference.

Elder Renlund: This initial interpretation of “one in charity” is clearly powerful, and powerful examples can be found throughout the history of the Relief Society. In fact, one of the statements made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to the Relief Society sisters emphasized the power that comes by working together. He said, “By union of feeling we obtain power with God.”[13]

However, there are more meanings to the phrase “one in charity,” other than as an exhortation to unite with others in being charitable.

Sister Renlund: Another way to look at “one in charity” is that being “one” is actually a prerequisite to becoming charitable in the way the Lord wants us to be. To understand this meaning, we first need to understand what being “one” might entail. Being “one” clearly refers to being united or unified in some way. We know that unity is central to doing the Lord’s work.

Elder Renlund: In His great Intercessory Prayer, the Savior prays for unity among His disciples. He says:

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.[14]

Sister Renlund: The Savior’s prayer is so beautiful and teaches us the importance of being unified with Him. But He also reports to the Father that the glory He received from the Father was given to the disciples. What “glory” is He referring to?

Elder Renlund: There are two scriptural definitions that He might be referring to. The first relates to intelligence. “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.”[15] The Savior certainly received light and truth from Heavenly Father that He then shared with the Apostles.

But it is more likely that the glory spoken of relates to another scriptural definition of God’s glory. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”[16] This suggests that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were and are absolutely unified in Their goal to help all of Heavenly Father’s children to return home.

Sister Renlund: Unity wasn’t just required in the original Church. It is a scriptural mandate for the disciples to be unified in this dispensation. The Savior instructed the early leaders of the Church in this dispensation that “every decision made by either of these quorums [the Twelve and the Seventy] must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions.”[17]

The importance of being unified or “one” to accomplish the mission of the Church is an important interpretation of this year’s theme. In other words, we must be unified, or one, in order to be charitable in the Lord’s way.

Elder Renlund: As we see in this model, charity is the fruit of unity. This means that the consequence of being unified, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, is charitable behavior.

Sister Renlund: However, remember that the purpose of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians was to unify divergent communities of Saints. So, the attribute of charity naturally leads to unity among the followers of the Savior. Stated differently, unity results from having the pure love of Christ.

The relationship between unity and charity is symbiotic. Unity leads, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, to charitable actions. Having the attribute of charity leads to unity. Unity results from having the pure love of Christ. Charity leads to unity, and unity leads to charity.

Elder Renlund: Not only that, the symbiotic relationship between unity and charity is iterative, meaning that they grow sequentially and depend on each other. For instance, consider the starting point as charity, the pure love of Christ. This leads to the Christlike quality of unity. As one acts in faith and works in unity, charity increases. This increased charity leads to even greater unity, which in turn, when acted upon, leads to greater charity, and so on.

Sister Renlund: I think of this model as a slinky. This is the fine little toy I played with as a child.

Elder Renlund: We didn’t play with toys. We just got sad Finnish poems.

Sister Renlund: Here, you can hold the slinky. As you can see, a slinky is a coil of metal. Maybe you better not play with it. It is a coil of metal that is flexible and continuous. If held upright, you can see that it is a helix with a vertical axis. If we think of “one in charity” like a slinky, then we can see that as one acts on the natural impulses that flow from having the pure love of Christ, unity increases, then the pure love of Christ continues to increase. Ultimately this love reaches perfection and becomes the kind of love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for each other. So in the slinky model, it’s hard to say which comes first, charity or unity, because they increase together.

Elder Renlund: As we have already discussed, Christlike attributes are natural consequences of developing and possessing agape, the pure love of Christ. One of these Christlike attributes is unity. And as we unify with others in a community of Saints, we can achieve remarkable things. That is the hope and expectation of the “I Was a Stranger” initiative.

However, let’s go back to the center, to charity itself. If we can have and possess that one attribute, we do not need to try to achieve each of the other attributes enumerated here separately. Rather than focus on developing the fruits of this charity, our focus could be to develop charity itself.

Sister Renlund: It’s pretty clear that the pure love of Christ is a prerequisite for the Lord’s work. It is in fact the foundation on which unity is built. Just think about the evening of the Last Supper. That was the same evening Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles and gave a commandment that applies to all of His disciples, even for us today. He said:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”[18]

Elder Renlund: This new commandment, that they love one another as He had loved them, was critical to the future of His work. Loving one another is both a marker of true discipleship and a precursor to the unity that He required. It should not be lost on us that the absence of love one for another demonstrates to others that we have more work to do in becoming His disciples.

As we have talked about the relationship between charity and Christlike attributes, such as unity, I wonder whether the pure love of Christ itself results from something else even more foundational. After all, Mormon indicates that all those who are true followers of Jesus Christ will have this attribute, the pure love of Christ. The question really becomes, “Is there a precursor or prerequisite to possessing the pure love of Christ?”

Sister Renlund: I think there is. It is something we learned one night when our daughter, Ashley, was just four years old. I’m sure you remember, she had developed a highly evolved, go-to-bed avoidance behavior, as many parents know. She simply did not want to go to bed and miss out on any family discussion. So, after we had gone through a usual bedtime routine, including evening prayer, we tucked her in. Soon thereafter, she would be up and wanted something, like a glass of water. After getting a drink, we would tuck in those sheets a little more firmly. However, she got up again and wanted something else. This would go on over and over. Each time she got up, we tucked her in with greater firmness, thinking that would somehow help. Invariably, it did not. Eventually, she would fall asleep.

Elder Renlund: One evening, after about five times of getting up, she got up yet another time and said she wanted a snack. You said, “Ashley, you’re just playing with us!” and tucked her in with some firmness. I was actually surprised when, no more than 30 seconds later, she was up again. But this time it was different. She held in her hand a paperback Book of Mormon, her lower jaw was quivering, and with some indignation she said, “But Mom, Mosiah 4:14!”  … where it says, “And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry.” Ruth, did she get her snack?

Sister Renlund: Of course she did. Who can resist a child quoting scripture about parental responsibilities?

Elder Renlund: In fact, this verse, Mosiah 4:14, could be used to good effect by virtually every Primary-aged child at some point.

Sister Renlund: But that is actually beside the point.

Elder Renlund: After Ashley got her snack and went to bed, we looked at the context of this scripture that she had used so cunningly. We learned that it is not a commandment. It is actually a consequence or a fruit of something else mentioned earlier in the masterful address by King Benjamin.

In Mosiah, chapter 4, beginning with verse 12, we read:

“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins. …

“And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably. …

“And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry.”[19]

Sister Renlund: These fruits or consequences rest on the meaning of this. It is certainly desirable because if we do this, we will always rejoice, be filled with the love of God, always retain a remission of our sins, not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and will not suffer our children that they go hungry.

Elder Renlund: Right. We need to go to the beginning of Mosiah 4 to really understand this. You will recall that King Benjamin had been instructed by an angel about the coming of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement. He explained to his people what their state would be without Christ’s Atonement.

We read of the effect this instruction had on the people.

“Behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.

“And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. …

“… The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ.”[20]

These people were absolutely converted. They had tasted of the fruits of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Sister Renlund: And King Benjamin also said—he said that if they had really experienced conversion, if they had truly understood what God had done for them, given their hopeless state without the Atonement of Christ, he admonished:

“I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, … and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come. …

And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this.”[21]

Elder Renlund: So we discover that this is to be absolutely converted to Jesus Christ, to remember God’s greatness, to humble ourselves, to pray to God daily, and to stand steadfastly in the faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. If we do this, then all those fruits or consequences flow naturally. So if we are truly converted and always remember God’s greatness, then we will always rejoice, be filled with the love of God, always retain a remission of our sins and live peaceably one with another, and give our children snacks.

Sister Renlund: In many ways, it is striking that the attributes that naturally flow from agape, as described by Paul, are similar to the fruits that flow from being converted to Jesus Christ. This leads to the obvious question of how agape and conversion to Christ are related. Is it possible that charity is itself a consequence of conversion?

Elder Renlund: I believe we have already reviewed a scripture that suggests that this is so, that conversion to Jesus Christ leads to the development of charity, the pure love of Christ. Remember that Mormon taught: “But charity is the pure love of Christ. … Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God.”

Clearly, those who are converted to Jesus Christ and are His disciples may qualify for charity, the pure love of Christ.

Sister Renlund: At the center of desirable and Christlike attributes is the pure love of Christ. Conversion to Jesus Christ and His Atonement underlies our ability to develop agape, the pure love of Christ.

So of all the models we have discussed, this last one, with conversion to Jesus Christ as the foundation for the pure love of Christ, is the most complete.

Elder Renlund: Elder Marvin J. Ashton summed it up very well. He said:

“Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.

“Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again.”[22]

The pure love of Christ or charity is selfless and self-sacrificing, emanates from a pure heart and a good conscience. Charity is more than an act or action. Charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind that accompanies one’s actions. It is to be an integral part of one’s nature. In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity casts out all fears and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven.

Sister Renlund: But conversion to Jesus Christ is the real key to developing charity. Charity stems from true conversion to Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

The underlying invitation that comes from all we have discussed today is the same invitation our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have been issuing from the very beginning of time: simply, “Come unto Christ.”

And as we were reminded in that beautiful hymn today, “Come, follow me.” As we develop a testimony of Jesus Christ and are truly converted to Him and to understand the Atonement, then we will naturally, as a consequence of our testimony, choose to be charitable.

Elder Renlund: We have discussed various ways one can look at three simple words, “one in charity.” The underlying, fundamental principle that we have shared is that conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is the key to developing charity, the pure love of Christ. The development of charity then leads to the development of other Christlike attributes.

For more than a year, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed that the way to increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is to improve our Sabbath day observance at home and at church. Improved Sabbath day observance is vital to increasing our own conversion.

I promise you that as you make the Sabbath day a priority in your own life, your ability to feel agape, charity, this pure love of Christ, will increase. As you take time each week to prepare conscientiously for and worthily partake of the sacrament, you will see and feel the fruits of charity developing in yourself, in your very character, in your very being. You will become more unified with your husband, your children, your family—all of your loved ones, and with those you are called to serve. You will become “one in charity.”

Our dear sisters, my dear sisters, I witness of Christ’s living reality. I am a witness of His incomparable compassion and love. He knows you. Our Heavenly Father knows you. They know your circumstances. They know your needs.

I invoke a blessing on you that you will be protected and watched over, that you will know more than anything else that you have a kind, loving Heavenly Father who knows you, who loves you, who encourages you, who wants to hear from you. Heavenly Father loved you so much that He sent His Son to earth to live and die as Jesus did. He rose again the third day and ascended to heaven. I know that this is true.

I know that on a day in 1820 the risen Lord, along with God, our Heavenly Father, appeared to the Prophet Joseph, just as Joseph said They did. I know it. I know the priesthood keys exist on earth that enable saving and exalting ordinances and knowledge has been placed on earth to enable us to follow the Savior to develop a true conversion to Him and to our Heavenly Father.

That God will help you to understand this deep into your heart is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



[1] 1 Corinthians 1:10.

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

[3] 1 Corinthians 13:1.

[4] 1 Corinthians 13:3.

[5] Rev. Benjamin A. Vima, My Religion: Reel or Real? A Post-modern Catholic’s Assessment on his Faith Journey (2013), 188.

[6] Tertullian, Apology, De spectaculis with an English translation by T. R. Glover (1931), 177. Tertullian (full name, Quintus Septimius Tertullianus, c.155–c. 240 A.D.) was an author from Cathage, a Roman province in North Africa.

[7] Moroni 7:47–48.

[8] Thomas, S. Monson, “In Quest of the Abundant Life,” Ensign, Mar. 1988, 3.

[9] Johan Ludvig Runeberg. “Högt Bland Saarijärvis Moar.” Suomen kansalliskirjallisuus, 9:50–52, Helsinki, 1941;örfattare: Johan_Ludvig_Runeberg. The translation from the Swedish is mine.

[10] Marion G. Romney. “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance,” Welfare Session, October General Conference. 1982.

[11] History of the Church, 4:567.

[12] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 107; Sheri L. Dew, “Something Extraordinary,” Ensign, Mar. 1992; Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Mar. 17, 1842.

[13] “Minutes of the Proceedings of the Eleventh Meeting of the Society,” Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, June 9, 1842, 61, in Jill Mulvay Derr et al., eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (2016), 78.

[14] John 17:20–23.

[15] Doctrine and Covenants 93:36.

[16] Moses 1:39.

[17] Doctrine and Covenants 107:27.

[18] John 13:34–35.

[19] Mosiah 4:12–14; italics added.

[20] Mosiah 4:1–3.

[21] Mosiah 4:11–12.

[22] Marvin J. Ashton, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992.

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