News Release

The Key to Saving Souls, Liahona Message of the Area Presidency, January 2010


The purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to help families and individuals qualify for exaltation.  Because of this, Church doctrines, principles and programs focus on divinely appointed responsibilities—helping members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathering Israel through missionary work, caring for the poor and the needy, and building temples where the living and the dead can be redeemed through sacred priesthood ordinances and covenants.

The Ward or Branch Council should play the key role in these efforts.  At the beginning of this New Year, we invite every leader and member to ponder the exalting purpose of the Church, and the potential of the ward council to influence, bless, and rescue Heavenly Father’s children while helping to accomplish his great purpose to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’  What does that mean for me as a leader and a member of a council, or for me as a member in my individual calling? How can I contribute?  To whom can I reach out to help and influence?

Last August, the Area Presidency had a remarkable spiritual manifestation.  As we pondered and prayed about what we were to do as the Europe Area Presidency, a strong desire developed in each of us to double the active membership of the Church in Europe in the next 10 years. We went to the temple in a spirit of prayer and fasting, and each received a powerful confirmation from the Spirit. That experience drives all our thoughts, goals, plans and actions. We have prayerfully developed an Area Plan. We have sat in council as a presidency, and with the Area Seventies. We now counsel in Coordination Meetings with Stake and Mission Presidents. We are trying to reach out to ‘the one’ wherever we can, and we constantly review and evaluate our efforts.

This example, on the Area level, has inspired many of our stake and mission presidents. Our invitation is that every Ward and Branch Council in the Europe Area will seek prayerfully to receive inspiration regarding the exalting purpose of the Church.  The Lord promised: “Delight thyself … in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). We promise you, that the Lord will bless you with sacred, divine desires. As you counsel, pray and seek confirmation, the Lord will powerfully confirm your desires, and you will be able to establish individual and ward goals. Preach My Gospel states: “Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and the vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans our hopes are transformed into action. Goal setting and planning are acts of faith.” (pg, 146)

You are not expected to take our goals and apply them directly to your situation.  It is important that you learn to prayerfully set your own goals, and prayerfully make your own plans.  As you are united as a Council, the power of the Lord will enter your hearts and your wards and branches. You will enjoy the same blessings experienced by Church members in the time of Alma:

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. And thus he commanded them to preach.  And thus they became the children of God.” (Mosiah 18:21, 22)

A bishop is not alone. There are others called to assist him. Everyone who is called in this Church has authority from God. We are invited to become unified in the salvation of souls and to look forward as a council with “one eye of faith, having our hearts knit together in unity and in love one toward another”. This is the way that we, too, will become children of God.

In the scriptures we find powerful principles which can be adapted by Ward and Branch Councils. As with all gospel principles, they help us increase our own faith in Jesus Christ, and bring salvation to our own soul. (see D&C 4:4)

·         We must meet often as a council with a desire and a plan to help non-members and members alike ‘come unto Christ,’ and remember and keep their covenants:

“Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.” (Alma 6:6)

·         We remind members of the Church to be faithful to their covenants, and we invite all others to learn about the gospel, repent and be baptized:

“I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.” (Alma 6:62)

·         We invite people by praying for them, and then by asking them to come, to see and feel:

“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.  Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed. And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world…” (3 Ne 18:24, 25)

·         We must never give up on anyone:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. (3 Ne 18:32)

·         We must invite people “one by one:” 

“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.” (3 Ne 11:15).


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