The Riverside, California Stake Presidency has completed their formal 2020 Ward Conferences for the nine Ward in the Riverside, California Stake. Many have asked for the presentation slides to be made available on the Stake website.
Accordingly, the following represents the PowerPoint slides and a summary narrative of the 2nd hour Ward Conference Adult Session presented by Stake President Craig D. Beyler and 1st Counselor President Mark E. McKell.
President McKell opened with a discussion regarding the answer to this question, “What does it mean to Come Unto Him?” A range of thoughts were shared, but not limited to the following:
- Learn to become like Him, or acquire His attributes
- Being submissive to His will
- Seeking to be obedient to His commandments
- Working daily to repent and conform their will to His
- Making and keeping covenants
This statement was discussed and the question was asked, “Is this true?” It was discussed that many good people in the world come unto the Savior Jesus Christ. Many seek to follow Him, but to fully come unto Him, to experience His fullness, true disciples make and keep sacred covenants in the House of the Lord, namely in holy temples.
We learn about covenants throughout the holy scriptures.
Throughout the Old Testament we see this pattern.
The question was posed, “What are some examples in the Book of Mormon where we see individuals or groups of people making covenants with their Heavenly Father?”
An extended discussion ensued regarding the following examples of persons engaging in covenant making and covenant keeping in the Book of Mormon.
Certainly, those that Come Unto Christ, make and keep sacred covenants.
Since those that come unto to the Savior Jesus Christ make and keep covenants, what then is promised to those who keep sacred covenants?
It depends on the covenant being made…
A discussion ensued regarding the different types of priesthood ordinances that are conducted in the latter days. Examples suggested might include: the naming and blessing of children, baptism, confirmation of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the sacrament, blessing of the sick, dedication of buildings, dedication of graves, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood and of course ordinances for the living and the dead in holy temples.
But the question was asked, “What are savings ordinances?”
Savings ordinances are found in three distinct areas. These ordinances are performed for the living and the dead. For the dead they are vicariously performed in temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Understanding the different between an ordinance and a covenant is an important distinction. A covenant is nested inside each saving ordinance and comprises a promise to conduct one’s life in a certain way. Likewise, a covenant maker is promised specific blessings based on obedience and faithfulness.
And so there is a covenant inside each saving ordinance. To help us understand this wonderful truth, this light hearted comparison was suggested to help us understand the doctrine.
About a year ago, the Riverside California Stake Presidency visited each Ward and led a discussion regarding the story of the “Pearl and the Box” in learning more about the change from Home and Visiting Teaching to Ministering. The point was that the pearl of home or visiting teaching was ministering, but often the focus of ministering was lost in an effort to just make a visit or deliver a monthly message.
Likewise, the same analogy could be used to help us understand covenants, ordinances and temples. Temples, although beautiful architectural edifices, could be thought of as the pearl, but in truth they are simply a beautiful, magnificent box. The ordinances and their related covenants are the pearl of great price inside the holy temples. The reason the early saints built temples was not to construct a beautiful meeting house, but to build a house of the Lord where they might receive an endowment of power.
To refresh your memory of the story of The Pearl and the Box please see below:
As told by Elder J. Thomas Fyans of the Seventy.
“There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweler who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl. “The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweler, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweler to negotiate a purchase. The jeweler soon realized that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 88; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 61).
Consider Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s comments on the individual nature of ordinances and covenants.
Consider President Russell M. Nelson comments regarding the importance of the covenant path.
A invitation was extended to understand more fully the covenants that we make related to these saving ordinances.
There was not time to discuss each ordinance in detail. This handout was provided and an invitation for further study.
We reflect on a commonly understood and shared scripture verse which speaks to our Heavenly Father’s promise to bless us. This is a powerful statement as it relates to us keeping eternal covenants.
The below scripture was discussed as well. We truly draw closer to Him as we are obedient to sacred covenants. The power of godliness can be manifest in our lives, but without these ordinances the power of godliness is not manifest unto the children of men.
We then discussed the 2020 Stake theme scripture in more detail. The following questions were asked and discussed:
- Who is the Savior speaking to?
- What is He asking us to do?
- What does He promise us?
We discussed the purpose of a yoke and its significance and meaning in this scripture. Of course, a yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. Time was spent talking about this implement and its purpose and meaning as a spiritual metaphor.
An actual yoke was unveiled at the meeting and demonstrated by President Beyler and McKell to help the saints more fully understand the concept of being figuratively yoked with the Savior.
For continued learning, the following edited video was viewed and discussed.
A link of the full video, produced by President David Price, a Stake President of the Smithfield Utah South Stake is as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUOOszzydGc&t=3s
Time permitting, these three concluding questions were discussed.
President McKell shared a personal story of his mother who recently shared with him the Evolution of a Disciple. Our reasons and motivations often differ for why we engage as we do. As disciples of Jesus Christ we often migrate from “Have to,” to “Choose to,” to “Want to,” to “Like to” and to “Love to.” The Lord accepts our offering unto Him, but to serve the Lord with all purpose of heart we do so because we simply love Him.
Closing remarks were shared by President Beyler wherein he shared his testimony of Coming Unto the Savior, illustrated by the story of Enoch in the Book of Moses, Chapter 6 in the Pearl of Great Price.
In this passage, the Savior invites Enoch, who questioned his own abilities and stature, to “Walk with Him.” Enoch later was recognized as doing great things because he “Walked with God.”
President Beyler then invited all to Come Unto the Savior and to be yoked with Him in this great work. He closed with a personal testimony.