Sunday Morning General Conference: One Session To Rule Them All

Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181th Annual General Conference, live from Panguitch, Utah! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.

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The first waffles are about to hit the iron, so let’s get this party started…

Good Morning! Sunday morning session currently being kicked off with Music and the Spoken Word, the 4255th performance of the 82-year-old broadcast. During this morning’s performance, Lloyd Newell’s comments included an excerpt from Harvard professor Clayton Christiansen’s talk to a graduating business school class, How Will You Measure Your Life?

The obligatory commentary on the Choir ladies’ outfits: This morning, it’s a teal blue (perhaps “turquoise” is preferable?) which rather clashes with the atmospheric electric blue behind the organ pipes.

First Presidency entering. 21,000 people standing.

Prelude Hymn: O Thou Rock of Our Salvation

Conducting: Elder Eyring. On April 1936, President Heber J Grant established the Church Security Plan. To learn more about the 75th anniversary of this organization, go here or here

Opening Hymn: Sabbath Day p. 148

Invocation: Gary E. Stevenson of the Seventy

Hymn: Hark All Ye Nations

President Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency: Waiting on the Road to Damascus

Is active discipleship becoming Pres. Uchtdorf’s pet theme, a la Elder Maxwell? He spoke about discipleship in April 2009  “The Way of the Disciple”.

Elder Uchtdorft is quoting Elder Holland who describes President Monson’s story in “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always on the Lord’s Errand

This theme of “waiting on the road to Damascus” seems well coupled with Elder Holland’s Remember Lot’s Wife, as we find a balance between looking forward without nostalgia, and yet looking back to remember our spiritual conversions.”[Knowing of Christ] will come in the form of a puzzle – one piece at a time… Eventually, after enough pieces have been collected, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us after all….”

President Uchtdorf’s steps:

Hearken and Heed

Serve

Share

“Some would rather pull a handcart across a thousand miles of prairie than bring up the subject of faith and religion to their friends and co-workers.”

Whoohoo! A shout out to social media makes me particularly happy [I'm one of the voices behind the Mormon.org Facebook posts.] Love the self-awareness of the aviation joke!

“The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example.” Is there an effort to assuage member guilt around being a “member missionary”? Be an example, use social media, serve… rather than hand out Books of Mormons?

***

Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy

Seventies are favoring themes of pain and adversity, see Elder Kent F Richards’s talk from yesterday morning, The Atonement Covers All Pain

[Child + disease = mention #3, on my watch at least]

Elder Johnson’s quotation from Orson F. Whitney is quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, (1972), 98

“In the midst of problems, it is nearly impossible to see that the coming blessings far outweigh the pain, humiliation or heartbreak we may be experiences at the time…. In comparison to the blessings and growth we ultimately receive, both in this life and in eternity, our afflictions truly are light.” An effective summary of single-minded Mormon optimism.

Elder Hales’ story is from “The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov, 2000, 6.

Second reference to Paul this morning: this from Romans 8: 35, 37

***

Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop

President McKay story from Clare Middlemiss, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, 189.

“The commitment of Church leaders to relieve human suffering was as certain as it was irrevocable….. One of the distinguishing characteristics of tehis inspired welfare plan is its emphasis on personal responsibility and self-reliance.”

The Relief Society president can “fly to the relief of the stranger; …pour in oil and wine to the wounded heart of the distressed; …[and] dry up the tears of the orphan and make the widow’s heart to rejoice.” From “Ladies’ Relief Society,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, April 1, 1842.

Bishop Burton calls those initiators “innovative giants”. The anniversary celebration of this program feels uncharacteristically but happily timely for a General Conference theme as we face the needs of Japan, Australia and other places currently in need of our global attention.

Congregational Hymn: Let Us All Press On

***

Sister Silvia H. Allred

Sister Allred quoted the same History of the Church excerpt as Bishop Burton: “They will pour in oil and wine to the wounded heart….”

…and followed this description of the Relief Society with an excerpt from the Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, March 1842, p. 7.

“Despite the rapidly changing world, welfare principles have not changed with the passion of time because they are divinely inspired, revealed truth.” Can we hope that talks like these are re-establishing the Relief Society as a visionary, global service organization rather than simply the keeper of mothers? Sister Julie Beck’s recent talks, like this one, seem to point to some revitalization of organizational rigor.

***

Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve

The Spirit of Revelation: Elder Bednar seems to be hitting basic principles of faith in his Conference addresses. See  Faith (April 2008), Prayer (October 2008) and Convenants (April 2009).

“Revelations are conveyed in a variety of ways, including, for example, dreams, visions, conversations with heavenly messengers, and inspiration. Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly.”

“The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30).”

Other GC talks by Elder Bednar on the nature and purpose of the Holy Ghost: That We May Always Have His Spirit To Be With Us (April 2006), Ye Must Be Born Again (April 2007)

“If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal.” Remarkably real and comforting counsel from an Apostle, and a departure from the more common but potentially damaging feelings that we are never aiming high enough. 

***

Oops!! Headline: MoTab Cuts off President Eyring in Uncharacteristic Organizational Slip

Hymn: Have I Done Any Good?

President Monson

The 84 widows! It wouldn’t be a Sunday morning session without them. Pres. Monson characteristically reaches back into his personal history to glean lessons for us all today.

Conference marks 3 years since he was sustained as President of the Church. Dedicating and rededicating temples have been some of his highlights.

There are currently 26 temples in construction or in pre-construction stages.

Stories from Brazil and Tahiti of sacrifice to attend temples that were far away. What stories will we be telling in 50 years when temples are so close that few have to sacrifice significance temporal comforts to attend? See here for a complete list of the 134 operating temples.

“Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and temple attendance.”

“Today most of us do not have to suffer great hardships in order to attend the temple. Eighty-five per cent of the membership of the Church now live within two hundred miles of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter.”

What are our sacrifices today? President Monson answers: “Your sacrifice could be setting aside the time in your busy lives to visit the temple regularly.” “Your sacrifice may be bringing your life into compliance with what is required to receive a recommend, perhaps by forsaking long-held habits which disqualify you.”

President Joseph F. Smith’s “mighty declaration” President Monson just quoted is from Conference Report of 1916.

Shout out to Rome! “The Rome temple uniquely is being built in one of the most historic locations in the world.”

Extemp: “I wanted them to feel the shovel. I wanted them to feel the soil as they turned it over! We had gotten what we wanted.”

Closing Hymn: The Spirit of God, starts with a solo man, then a duet.

Comments

  1. Waffles have hit the iron here in Champaign are about to be eaten. Bacon will be cooked later.

  2. I guess I’m making waffles then…

  3. Anyone here know if there is a way to listen or watch via iPod touch (or iPad or iPhone)?

  4. Matt W. says:

    Jay, download the Mormon Channel, and listen with that.

  5. Thanks. I have the Mormon Channel app. Last year it wasn’t live though – each session came up later in the day.

    I didn’t try using it yesterday. Is it supposed to have a live feed now?

  6. cinnamon rolls in the oven here!

  7. Yet Another John says:

    If you’re in Panguitch I’ll eat my waffles dry.

  8. Jay–If you go to the conference page on lds.org via Safari on your iDevice, it should be live. It was yesterday anyhow.

    The cinnamon rolls did not get made, despite the best of intentions. Maybe in October. Looks like it’s bagels at our house.

  9. Brandon says:
  10. Haven’t heard of Panguitch in a long time!! My high school best friend’s dad, who was at one time my bishop, was from Panguitch, if I remember correctly.

  11. Excellent! Thanks all!

  12. StillConfused says:

    Crazy snow storm last night.

  13. StillConfused says:

    Thumbs down on the choir women’s color choice

  14. Kristine says:

    This (Sabbath Day) is one of my favorite hymns. Best chord in the whole hymnbook is in the penultimate measure.

  15. My sister dated the organist ;)

  16. Kristine — I thought Penultimate was an app for writing with a stylus on the iPad….no??

  17. And we already have buffering issues with BYUtv’s streaming. Blast and consternation.

  18. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this hymn. Is it arranged differently?

  19. StillConfused says:

    Do they get to keep the outfits?

  20. Chelsea says:

    This is a lovely hymn but man, it’s making me sleepy. Already.

  21. Get to?? Or HAVE to?? Actually, I don’t believe they do. My wife sang in the Mormon Youth Chorus many, many years ago, and saw the many racks of outfits that they had.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    They’re going to let Bishop Burton speak after shaming the church with that liberal immigration stuff? Where do I turn in my resignation letter?

  23. Ben – I had to look it up, but it is hymn #148. Strange that I didn’t recognise it, since I once had a ward chorister who simply worked through the hymnal in numerical order…

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Alex, re: BYU TV buffering issues, midway through the opening hymn somehow the live broadcast stopped and kicked me to a video of Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration. I had to scramble to get back on the conference feed. I’m blaming Lex Luthor…

  25. I sang in that too (MYC), and we didn’t own the outfits. FYI some of them seemed spectacularly strange to me.

  26. Kevin – glad to know – looks like everything is back on track now!

  27. #22 Kevin When did this happen?

  28. StillConfused says:

    Two opening songs… we should get to do that at church too

  29. The word of the session is PRAY/PRAYER. And the raid on the candy bowl has already begun.

  30. I think that Pres. Uchtdorf just told me to cancel my cable TV after tomorrow night’s NCAA National Championship game. Boy are the kids going to be disappointed.

  31. What would you call that tiie? Cream?

  32. This is my prayer for General Conference:

    I pray this day, raising my lowly voice to heaven to humbly implore of our God that the illustrious Jesus of our Salvation will boldly manifest His mighty and awful Spirit unto the fervor of the righteous saints, so that the prodigious fidelity of the believing heart may burn with His awesome cosmic supremacy. Yea, Lord, oh august deity whose every worship becomes our ultimate focus, grant us our unennobled request to know and understand the powerful and wieldy arm of Thy will, that we may keep it impregnable and rigorous. Amen.

  33. Pres. Uchtdorf’s tie is definitely a pastel yellow.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    #27, I think BYU TV originally had me on a video of an old session or something. They announced some junior seventy and then Bishop Burton would be speaking. But now I see the GA rock star (as my wife calls him) is actually speaking. So forget my joke in #22.

  35. President Uchdorf has missed a major opportunity to draw parallels between Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus and the experience of the allies advancing on the road to Damascus during the Syria-Lebanon campaign in World War II.

  36. No, his tie is not pastel yellow. On my TV it looks like a deep colored background (maybe dark maroon), and has some sort of yellow spots or patterns on it. At least that is what it looks like to me.

    That was some prayer, DKL.

  37. StillConfused says:

    Husband says tie is more cream than pastel yellow. Wonder what the little nugget designs are?? maybe mini candy bars

  38. observer (fka eric s) says:

    A story about President Monson told by Elder Holland told by Elder Uchtdorf.

  39. Glad to hear Elder Uchtdorf noting that answers to prayer for a witness of the scriptures may not come immediately. But we must study it out first.

    I’ve always said we’ve been misreading Moroni 10’s promise as “pray for a feeling”. But we ignore all the other stuff Moroni says in that chapter about studying the scriptures in depth – then comparing it to other scripture – pondering God’s dealings with humanity – and comparing it with what we know of human history. THEN you get to pray for confirmation. But only THEN to you get to pray for the witness of the Spirit.

    By focusing only on the scripture mastery scripture in that chapter, we distort Moroni’s message.

  40. I shared some religious experiences with an (I thought at the time) interested person over the phone at work… He proceeded to tell me, (very seriously), that all religions are right and were given to us by aliens who orbit the globe. The conversation went down hill from there.

  41. Did the BCC just get busted?????LOL

  42. Ooo! He got us!

    No aviation analogies yet.

  43. I love this guy

  44. Peter LLC says:

    Pastel yellow diamond plate?

  45. StillConfused says:

    “Use your hands to text message the gospel to the world” — thumbs or fingers?

  46. We were commanded to blog

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    “He’s been speaking for ten minutes and still no aviation analogy.” FTW!

  48. KEVIN–Burton is on the agenda this morning. I think he is speaker #3, if I remember the order given by Pres. Eyring.

  49. Proof Uchtdorf reads the blogs!!

  50. This is the 1st time for more than a year that I’m not banned from the GC thread on BCC. I actually posted my prayer for this conference for the amusement of whoever gets the mod-queue emails, not realizing that it would actually appear for the general public to read. Nevertheless, it is a mighty prayer for a mighty people watching a mighty conference of mighty spokesman for a mighty God.

  51. Elder Uchtdorf:

    “Use your hands to text message the gospel around the world – but in the right time and the right place

    AND NOT WHILE I’M TALKING TO YOU!!”

  52. Andrea R. says:

    Well played Pres. Uchtdorf!

  53. 41 – Not busted; encouraged!

  54. LaurieinKC says:

    No aviation analogy yet and people texting about it–he nailed us!!

  55. He’s been speaking for 10 minutes and not one aviation analogy.

  56. Chad too says:

    A shout out to the bloggernacle about his aviation references!

  57. kristine N says:

    Huh, sounds like Elder Uchtdorf read the BCC conference predictions.

  58. By the way, my wife, who owns and reads books about colours, says his tie is a “champagne yellow”

  59. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 48, oh, ok, good, then reinstate my joke in #22! Seriously, I’m curious whether he will touch on the immigration bills, directly or obliquely.

  60. There’s no way Uchdorf actually read BCC. Some minion who attends to him prepared a short briefing based on something a friend read on BCC and spoke to him about over lunch.

  61. Kristine–WOuldn’t that be PRESIDENT Uchtdorf?

  62. He said the word “blog.” But from him it sounded like “block.”

  63. StillConfused says:

    My husband’s favorite quote: “Preach the gospel at all times; and, if necessary, use words”

  64. Gotta love all the stories about heroic bald children and their tragic struggles against the diseases that kill them.

  65. StillConfused says:

    It must suck to be the speaker following Uchtdorf. No matter what, by comparison, you seem dull

  66. Kevin Barney says:

    He’s our Franciscan.

  67. “Cancer” should have been the word for conference.

  68. DKL: Oh ye of little faith.

  69. StillConfused says:

    #64 — seriously so many stories about kids with cancer even though that is a relatively rare phenomenon. Shout out to the drug companies??

  70. Ya know, I have to admit that I secretly admire the people that have the courage to openly post gospel messages, and messages of their own faiths on their FB page. Perhaps Pres. Uchtdorf was encouraging us all to participate in that type of activity from time to time and not be afraid of it.

  71. #65, I was thinking the same thing. It seem that the speaker after Uchtdorf I tend to tune out.

  72. StillConfused says:

    On a serious note, I like his statement that there is no growth without challenges. That there are people who want to grow but without challenges… good stuff.

    Now enough about the sickly dying people!

  73. “All things through Christ, who strengthens us” – that’s definitely not a KJV translation. Wonder how many people will notice, or care.

  74. I find this talk to be incredibly relevant.

  75. That pink tie just doesn’t go with his tan.

  76. First pink tie in conference?

  77. Oh I love stuff about temporal salvation first.

  78. President Uchtdorf – one of the best missionary talks I’ve heard. (hint: low level of use of guilt = good missionary message)

  79. First pink in conference period, I think.

  80. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 73, that’s an allusion to Philippians 4:13. It may have just been a paraphrase.

  81. Even if it means shutting down the temples, ending missionary work, etc. the prophet would not let the church go hungry.

    That’s not a perspective I’ve heard before.

  82. “Heber J Grant” just paid off a large candy bar for being on the list of 12 words a little less likely to be used. That list also includes Abraham, Apocalypse, Zedekiah, Stick of Judah, Galilee, Babylon, Compass, Fig, Macedonia, Olive, Pentecost, Elijah and Leprosy.

  83. thesmith7 says:

    Nice pink tie

  84. Huh, I thought for sure this thread would go silent after Pres. Uchtdorf’s admonition to text at the right time and place. My DVR has the session on pause while I type this. I’m being chastised by my 6 yr old however.

  85. 80 – I know the reference – the wording he used is found in many modern translations. I’ve had some interesting discussions with folks about the difference between the meaning of “all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me” (KJV) and “…who strengthens me” (NIV, others).

  86. Self reliance? Wait a minute. What about “Shelf Reliance?” Don’t we all need that wonderful contraption as well? ;-)

  87. Huh, I thought for sure this thread would go silent after Pres. Uchtdorf’s admonition to text at the right time and place.

    He was talking about FMH and FPR. Not BCC.

  88. StillConfused says:

    Sick and dying kids is one thing. But sick and dying horse … this guy has gone too far

  89. I was hoping he’d say that they used the horse’s meat for food, as well – wear it out, eat it up, right?

  90. Alex — they probably did, he just didn’t mention it.

  91. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think this talk is consciously influenced by the recent bro-haha over the recent immigration legislation passed in Utah: the importance of compassion and welfare for our neighbors both locally and worldwide. I’m not saying it’s meant as a response, but I’m thinking there’s certainly a lot in here that is meant to respond to people who were concerned with Bishop burton’s lobbying efforts.

  92. Josh B. says:

    ok, you guys are beating a dead horse…

  93. Favorite talk so far.

  94. Anyone know if Sylvia is related to Gloria?

  95. StillConfused says:

    My husband is asking if all 12 apostles speak at each general conference (during the 5 sessions)

  96. Ron Madson says:

    David Burton has just moved to the top of my list. This is the heart of the gospel–administering to the least even if we have to put everything else on hold.
    Now for the systemic changes. Transparency on church finances followed by living the “full” law of tithing. We have down the paying part borrowed from the OT, but still ignore the direct admonitions as to how it is to be spent as specifically outlined in the OT–for this are we under condemnation as Bishop Burton suggested?

  97. That was an exceptional talk.

  98. Am I the only one who wishes the tenor harmony in the chorus would actually be audible?

  99. StillConfused says:

    I don’t think there is such a thing as an international primary voice.

  100. 95 — They always have in the past, with a few exceptions when some were in poor health. But so far we’ve only heard from 6, and time is running out.

  101. DKL, if your get banned here, you’re welcome over at my General Conference Closed Thread.

  102. COrrectoin — We have heard from 7 members of the Quorum of the 12 so far.

  103. If anyone could find a way to be offensive on a closed thread, DKL would be the one to do it.

  104. Loved Burton’s Talk, especially that the church was willing to give up temples, missionary work, and seminaries to get well fare going.

  105. Alex — I just wish there were more Solo performances of music — so low we can’t hear them. I don’t mind when they sing tenor too — ten or twenty miles away from where I can hear them!!

  106. LaurieinKC says:

    Bishop Burton delivered a stunning message, especially with the reminder that President Grant would have closed the Temples if necessary to find funds to help those in need. His call for compassion and assistance to those in need (not only church members) as fundamental to our own salvation is both striking and refreshing to hear. Bishop Burton just gave a clarion call to everyone for a fundamental attitude change in how we view those who are in need, who struggle, and who are marginalized.

  107. She just gave a shout-out to true consecration.

  108. StillConfused says:

    She does lots of pictures!

  109. Members of the Quorum of the 12 that have spoken so far:

    Perry
    Cook
    Packer
    Nelson
    Oaks
    Ballard
    Anderson

    Yet to be heard:

    Bednar
    Holland
    Christofferson
    Scott
    Hales

  110. Another sick kid.

    But the CHILDREN! Think about the CHILDREN!

  111. I have a sudden desire to watch “Modern Family”.

  112. Man he has a shiny forehead.

  113. My mom just said she thinks thats a hairpiece

  114. I share the passion of time.

  115. StillConfused says:

    I recently discovered Modern Family… love that show

  116. I know Modern Family is true.

  117. Beware this boy.

  118. Stin: Your mum is wrong. His kids have perfect hair, too.

  119. StillConfused says:

    He just has very fine hair strands and that is why it lays so flat

  120. Perhaps the kids have hairpieces too.

  121. Ron Madson says:

    #106 Laurien—ditto. I heard the voice of Jesus of Nazareth in Bishop Burton’s address. Tying the “condemnation” to our not caring for the poor rather then what some might call the narcissistic pursuit of just my personal reading the BOM–this is the application of the “do” part ETB referred to as the “condemnation” but was overlooked with the focus on just doing our own reading over and over again.
    Again, IMO systemic changes must be made to implement the spending part of the tithes recovered consistent with at least the OT admonition that the tithes remain local and directed primarily to direct needs of the poor and needy (with only a minor portion sent to the Levites for the ministry). Thus the fruit of what is done local is the ministry. Or are we just scared to death that someone might get something for nothing to point that we have to talk “self reliance” as if it were central precept of Jesus of Nazareth’s approach to giving loaves and fishes.

  122. Lots of references to the still, small voice vs. miraculous manifestations in this conference. I like it.

  123. I cant hear anyone say “line upon line” or “precept upon precept” without geeting that Saturdays’s Warrior song stuck in my head. Awful

  124. The interesting thing about the Oliver quote is that it refers to a visionary experience he had.

  125. With all due respect, Elder Bednar’s eyes are kind of beady. (As long as we’re looking at physical features like a shiny forehead).

  126. @ Ron #121 – Tithes don’t get used locally? Where does the money come from for the budgets for wards and stakes?

  127. Very nice that he acknowledged that we sometimes doubt our own personal revelations.

  128. StillConfused says:

    Those dresses look like tents!

  129. Do I see dredlocks in the women’s section of the choir?

  130. what’s everyone laughing at?

  131. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    @126,
    The ward and stake budgets are provided from funds collected to SLC.

  132. StillConfused says:

    Black guy in choir!!

  133. Stin (123) Me too!

  134. LOVED Elder Bednar’s talk. Conference theme: Love and care for one another.

  135. I think the organist should bust out one of his solo’s like he does in the spoken word.

  136. YEs, there is 1 black guy, and at least 3 black women in the choir. Perhaps there is a movement afoot to put a little bit of Motown in the MoTab Choir.

  137. Wait! This hymn can sound good????? Why doesn’t it ever sound good at church??????????

    (I’m not saying I’m in love with it, but its only a million times better than . . . .)

  138. StillConfused says:

    Why is that funny?

  139. Anyone know what the joke was?

  140. StillConfused says:

    “Perhaps there is a movement afoot to put a little bit of Motown in the MoTab Choir.” FTW

  141. #134, and so glad that there has been only one mention of pornography (last night at P’hood).

  142. LaurieinKC says:

    #121, Rob–I heard Jesus in Bishop Burton’s talk, as well. A humble message with the strength of Divine truth and expectation, speaking to who we really are. Which, as you point out, gets muddled as we adopt the attitude of ensuring that no one receive what he or she has not earned–an attitude which ignores the fact that each of us receive much that is undeserved and unearned.
    Systemic changes are needed, as you say; I am uncertain one way or the other about the local tithes, and perhaps I am not understanding your point, but there is such economic disparity around the world that affects titles collected and local needs.

  143. @NoCoolName_Tom #131 – Yes, the are collected and distributed according to need. If it were not so, the poorest wards and stakes would receive very little and have to operate only on what they coud collect from their members. This is similar to how the missionary funds are collected and then used according to need. I guess I just don’t see a problem with the way it’s done now and I think it’s probably the best way to do it.

    I welcome any reasons why I might be wrong, however.

  144. Ugh, how many times do we have to hear that he was a young bishop of a ward of 1000+ members and 80+ widows. He did it last night at P’hood, too.

  145. Do we all have to call it the “welfare progrum” now?

  146. Ebenezer Robinson says:

    Who misses the old words? “Only he who does something is worthy to live. The earth has no place for a drone.”

  147. I also don’t understand the laughing. Rewound it and watched it multiple times and we still don’t get it.

  148. ALEX — I believe the laughter was in reference to Elder Bednar beginning his talk by referencing the song the choir would be singing after his talk.

  149. 141, there was a p*rn mention yesterday afternoon too.

  150. #146, I miss them too. Harsh, but reflected the pioneer toughness.

  151. NICK — we didn’t get the number of widows last night, but he did have to pause for a moment to remember the exact number of members.

  152. #149, I missed that one. Thanks.

  153. Rob, true, he didn’t mention the widows last night. Is there any active member of the Church who *doesn’t* now know, better than almost anything else about any other GA, that TSM was a very young, overworked bishop?

  154. President Monson didn’t serve a mission, correct?

  155. I also found it interesting last night that the story from service to members of his ward was not a story of helping widows, but rather of helping a younger married couple get through their marital problems.

  156. NICK — he did serve a mission — as a mission president in canada.

  157. “2,500 miles” should have been the word for this talk.

  158. #155, that was a great story. I wonder how many bishops would get up in the middle of the night to do marital counseling.

  159. #156, Rob – did he serve a mission as a young man? (19 year old or approx.)

  160. Nick — No he did not. He joine the navy instead.

  161. 159 – no

  162. He was in WWII at the time of his being Missionary age. e was in the Navy, I believe.

  163. Temple Stories. Great Stuff.

  164. From Wikipedia:

    In 1945, at age 17, Monson joined the United States Naval Reserve and anticipated participating in World War II in the Pacific theater.[1] He was sent to San Diego, California but was not moved overseas before the end of the war. His tour of duty lasted six months beyond the end of the war, and after it was completed he returned to the University of Utah. Monson graduated cum laude in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in business management.[6] Monson did not serve a full-time mission as a youth. At age 21, on October 7, 1948, he married Frances Beverly Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple.[7] The couple eventually had three children: Thomas Lee, Ann Frances, and Clark Spencer.
    After college he rejoined the Naval Reserve with the aim of becoming an officer. Shortly after receiving his commission acceptance letter, his ward bishop asked him to serve as a counselor in the bishopric. Time conflicts with bishopric meetings would have made serving in the Navy impossible. After discussing things with church apostle Harold B. Lee, (his former stake president), Monson declined the commission and applied for a discharge. The Navy granted his discharge in the last group processed before the Korean War. Lee set him apart six months later as a bishop—mentioning in the blessing that he likely would not have been called if he had accepted the commission.

  165. There was no expectation for every young man to serve a mission until Pres. Kimball gave the directive in 1974. Before that, young men were invited to serve, rather than submitting paperwork expressing a desire to do so, IIRC.

  166. FWIW – this idea of working for your income is demonstrably not some apostate notion that supplanted President Grant’s original intent.

    [i]Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.[/i]

    –Heber J. Grant, [i]Conference Report[/i], Oct 1936, p. 3.

  167. I live in the continental US but do not live less than 200 miles from a temple. I wonder how common that is.

  168. I live in Alaska and must drive 140 miles to the temple.

  169. Kate, apparently you’re among the 15%.

  170. Awesome. Rome temple groundbreaking. I can imagine the thrill of the moment.

  171. StillConfused says:

    Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf, Boyd K. Packer, Russell M. Nelson did not serve missions.

  172. How many members of the church were hoping he’d say something about building a temple in Jerusalem, and were disappointed when he talked about Rome, instead?

  173. LaurieinKC says:

    #166, Jim, of course! Poverty and income has little correlation to work. Many of the non-child poor in the United States are working.

  174. Wow. A SOLO opening in conference? This is rare.

  175. Woohoo, soloist!

  176. StillConfused says:

    Dallin H. Oaks Explains Why He Did Not Serve a Mission

  177. Wow! Just wow! Love the song and arrangement.

  178. #171, thanks. I didn’t know about these others who didn’t serve missions. Does anyone remember if Pres. Hunter served a mission?

  179. StillConfused says:

    Now if only the guys were black and it was more Motowny

  180. StillConfused says:

    My husband keeps having me look up different dudes to see if they served a mission

  181. #172, totally, I was waiting for that or Missouri.

  182. Saw 2 black men on that wide shot.

  183. Is this Hymn on the new CD?

  184. #179, nice. I wish the first soloist would have turned off the vibrato for the trio. Would have helped the blend.

  185. I think this is one of the awesome Mac Wilberg arrangements. He’s a musical genius.

  186. kristine N says:

    Is there any way to find out who the soloists were?

  187. StillConfused says:

    http://www.ldsfacts.net/didyou18.htm for interesting tidbits

  188. Great tempo!

  189. That’s how that song should sound. Wow.

  190. Well, time to go take a shower, have a discussion with my daughter who is getting baptized this afternoon on the importance of bending her knees so she doesn’t have to get dunked twice, and then run over to the church to turn on the font before returning home for the final session with a sandwich!!!

  191. Saw Skooh says:

    @121 So… the meager tithing collected from members in Cambodia should be the exclusive source of funds for Cambodians, while the tithing collected on the Bountiful, UT bench should be used exclusively for Bountifulites, and never the twain shall meet. Really??

  192. I got to sing that arrangement many times in BYU choirs. It’s awesome.

  193. Kristine says:

    The laughter when Pres. Eyring said “We’re _especially_ grateful for the choir…” was because he had accidentally gotten up and said “We’re grateful…” just as they were starting the piece, and had to sit down again and wait till the end.

  194. now i understood why Pres. Eyring laugh…. so, hahahah!

  195. Stephanie says:

    Ron 121, would keeping tithes for local needs really be any closer to living the law of consecration than asking members to give all they can for fast offerings above and beyond their tithes to meet the needs of the poor?

  196. Ron Madson says:

    #191, No. I might prepare an entire post on the OT admonition as to how tithes and offerings were to be spent–if I am lucky to get it past the powers that be. The allocation in the OT is focused far, far more on direct humanitarian relief rather then the Vaticanization that we saw in the “Holy Roman Church” where great and spacious buildings for the praise of the world was the primary expenditure rather then direct relief to alleviate human suffering in the empire.

  197. Since we all know that the OT is the ultimate source of truth and righteousness.

    Ron, I get what you are saying, and I don’t disagree in theory with the importance of prioritizing the use of sacred funds (which was emphasized in the actual talk) – but did the OT talk of how to use fast offering and other non-tithing funds? Can nothing change over time and still be inspired? Do we really need to base all of our decisions on the OT standards?

  198. Ron Madson says:

    #195 Stephanie, I opened a can of worms perhaps on this issue without laying a foundation/qualifiers. Under the OT law ALL money was not kept local–up to a third sent to Levite ministry, but at least a full third for direct humanitarian relief. That could be spent locally or sent abroad, but 33% is tons more spent on the poor then 1.5% of all tithing on direct humanitarian relief. THere is nothing to prevent wealthy areas from offering more to sister cities abroad. see this post from Brad Walker below—when we still have malnourished children attending church and suffering and dying there is a problem that IMO is systemic. I only suggest we consider learning about the “spending” rules as well as the giving rules if we are going to teach/use an OT law such as tithing.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/01/27/approaching-zion-solving-the-problem-of-malnutrition/

  199. Ron Madson says:

    Ray, you are right. The OT is not the highest law. THe words/acts of Christ are higher. We do not live that. IMO the OT laws would be an improvement over what we do now. Remember Nibley’s chapter (can’t think what book right now) on Deuteronomy where it was revealing that our approach to justice, mercy (and my hobby horse war issues) is inferior to the OT laws found therein.
    It is just that IMO we are not even living the OT laws…I think it would address the concerns of the poor in our faith. Mormon 8 should at least give us pause that perhaps we really are the Holy Church of God and we need to consider if we spend more on PR (“I am a Mormon”) and edifices that give us “praise of the world” but does not provide direct relief. That is what was remarkable for me in Bishop Burton’s address where the “condemnation” was linked to not giving rather then just not reading the BOM over and over again and not getting the Jesus of Nazareth message to actually casting our bread on the water.

  200. Ron:

    Not sure if you’ve read this or not, but this is one of the best write-ups of what tithing was originally meant for that I’ve yet come across:

    http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/truth_about_tithing.htm

    And, yes, it was about providing for the poor and widowed, and it was meant to be egalitarian, and it was meant to be a relatively small figure. Really, I can’t recommend that article enough and would encourage everyone to read it.

  201. Ron:

    I don’t want to throw a burr in everyone’s saddle, but in regards to Burton’s address on condemnation – does anyone else find it strangely ironic how he played that talk while also being a main (the main?) driving force behind the multi-billion dollar City Creek Center?

    I totally agree with his message about giving, but Ron you said this, and suggested that was the heart of his message:

    “This is the heart of the gospel–administering to the least even if we have to put everything else on hold.”

    However, the past 7-8 years or so Burton has almost been singly focused on the City Creek Center and its billions of dollars in construction costs for a for-profit development. To me, unfortunately, there was a feeling of the ingenuous that I couldn’t escape. I’ll have to go over it again, but if the message is putting things on hold to care for the poor, then how exactly does that play out for this “Giant” who has accepted awards for the City Creek project and called it his “crowning” achievement?

  202. The obligatory commentary on the Choir ladies’ outfits: This morning, it’s a teal blue (perhaps “turquoise” is preferable?) which rather clashes with the atmospheric electric blue behind the organ pipes.

    This is what happens when you’re mean to gay people.

  203. Kristine says:

    MoHo ftw!!

  204. Ron Madson says:

    Nobody,
    I had seen that article. I have learned a great deal when I have strayed from our correlated lessons as to what tithing was historically and how the Lord told his ancient covenant people how to live it. thank you.
    As to the 2 to 4 billion gorilla in the living room, I can only say “recognition” is a starting point for all of us. But like blacks and the priesthood issue we seem to have some difficulty getting to the “confession” stage–at least publicly. But what do I know. Perhaps the mall and the condos associated with it are really going to become a processing and housing center for undocumented immigrants–the very least in our community–sending the tea partiers to the exits and forcing the rest of us pretty people to have to rub shoulders with them. Now that would be a latter day miracle.

  205. So, Ron, maybe this is a stupid question, but I’ll ask it anyway: Why the obsession with OT laws? We don’t have the law of tithing because it was in the OT. We have it because it was revealed in 1838 that we were to obey it. Modern revelation trumps ancient revelation, doesn’t it? Also, the application of principles varies widely from age to age anyway.

  206. Stephanie says:

    We are asked to give to the Humanitarian fund to meet Humanitarian needs. I would think that if “the church” is falling short in caring for the poor and the needy, then it is because we as members are not giving enough to Fast Offering and Humanitarian funds. Perhaps instead of calling church leadership to repentance, it would be more effective to call us as members to repentance?

  207. Also, city creek is not using tithing funds.

  208. 207 – its using proceeds from investments made with tithing funds.
    Tomato to-mah-to.
    And as a person who works in finance and accounting its particularly annoying when people try to make such distinctions. A dollar spent is a dollar spent. In the church all dollars spent, at one point in time, came from tithing funds.

  209. Nobody, have you really never been to the downtown areas of many U.S. cities? Perhaps God didn’t want Temple Square and our church headquarters to be surrounded by something worse than “for profit” City Creek Center.

  210. Heaven forbid that Temple Square be surrounded by starving children, for example.

  211. Ron Madson says:

    05, Alex, Heaven knows I spend a lot of time debunking the OT historical narratives and conclusions such as “let’s kill everyone and everything that is not part of our tribe” and call it God’s will. But while there is a revelation as to paying tithing in latter days where are the revelations telling us how to spend it? I am open to be instructed on this. It is just that the OT laws IMO provide a very generous and liberal template in addressing direct charitable/humanitarian needs from tithing funds. that’s all.

    Now whether we are fulfilling that responsibility or not I can not tell, but am asked to trust, but I cannot read a sealed 501 3 c annual income/expenditure statement.

    that is what I found so remarkable about Bishop Burton’s address suggesting that we may actually need to repent on our priorities as to expenditures less we be under condemnation. Never seen that before in conference. We can choose to give but only those with the funds can choose where to spend.

    #206, Stephanie, as for me personally I no longer give direct humanitarian funds to any entity that does not provide full disclosure of expenditures. THere are so many where I/we know dollar for dollar goes to direct relief.

  212. Re: #205 – if you look at the revelation on tithing in our canon (D&C), then even that is amiss with our current practice. [What, again, is the beginning of our tithing?] It’s been redefined, certainly, but our practice and canon are at odds. Interestingly, in the Book of Mormon (which we believe to contain the fulness of the gospel), the principle of tithing is mentioned only 3 times. 2 of those references come directly from Christ (3 Nephi 24:8, 10) have to do with the verse in Malachi that the link I provided in comment #200 (http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/truth_about_tithing.htm) expounds and clarifies. One could do worse than to read through that and see if what the author postulates is correct. I think the article is priceless, but you’ll never know if you don’t read it. If what the author states is correct, then we Mormons have more than a few things to repent of as it pertains to tithing.

    Re: #206 – I’d direct you over to this conversation at W&T where I went through the numbers [start at comment #31] on the Humanitarian Fund as donated to by members in the UK. From 2004-2009, the Church collected approximately $3.6 million in Humanitarian Funds and spent all of $322,000, or less than 9%. In 2008 & 2009, the numbers were actually worse: the Church collected $1.275 million and spent all of $36,000, or less than 3% of all donations.

    The track record is pretty poor, if you ask me.

    Re: 207 – see comment 208. The Church didn’t use tithing funds, but the funds they used were made off of tithing funds. The church invests the tithing funds over a 3 year period in interest bearing accounts. The interest they earn off that tithing investment is siphoned off as “interest/investment income” and used for projects like City Creek Center. Simply put, without tithing funds CCC (or other similar projects) would never get built. So while the spokespersons for that project can say they aren’t using tithing funds, they aren’t exactly providing full disclosure on how they are paying for it.

  213. #212 – The argument about cash contributions as a percent of Humanitarian funds is a silly, rigged argument, and I’m really tired of hearing it trotted out as a valid complaint.

    The Church spends NEARLY ALL of its funds on services and supplies of some kind or another, in many and varied ways, and those billions of dollars (and, yes, it is billions of dollars) never get mentioned in the one-sided analyses that are made. It’s always cash only that gets analyzed, and that’s either simply ignorant or purposefully misleading.

    Count what the Church actually provides in humanitarian aid of all kinds, and it’s FAR, FAR higher than nearly anyone realizes – especially since so much of it is funneled through other organizations that actually get to claim the donations that reach those in need.

  214. Seriously, to say that the Church gave $36,000 in humanitarian aid from 2008-2009 is so slanted as to be laughable – if that claim wasn’t believed and repeated by so many critics as full truth. Since that occurs so frequently, it is downright irresponsible.

  215. Stephanie says:

    Did you read all of it, Nobody? The document you linked to says:

    Humanitarian Aid Fund: These funds are donated by the members to help fund the programme of Humanitarian Aid approved by The Church of Latter Day Saints. The amount expended in 2009 was in respect of projects in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

    It looks to me like the financial documents you linked to are specific to the UK. For the UK to take in a large amount and expend a smaller amount while saving the rest for a Humanitarian crisis sounds reasonable. When Japan (or another country) needs millions, will the church organization in Japan have enough to meet the needs, or will the GAs direct the UK to send their surplus there?

    To say that the church only spends 3-9% of what it takes in is a gross mischaracterization.

  216. Ray and Stephanie:

    If you’d actually read the threads before piping off some ridiculous comment, you’d clearly see that I stated it was specifically for the UK. Come on people, shelve the emotion for a second and read the entire sentence before lighting the fires.

    Those figures are for the UK, given that it’s one of the few countries who require institutions like the Church to provide audited financials on what they do in their country. And, based off that money, the Church is not sending the surplus elsewhere, the Church is not doing anything other than what anyone can discover in those audited financial documents.

    Based on the Church’s own figures, it amassed over $3.6 million in Humanitarian Fund donations while outlaying a smidgen over $320k. So yes, from 2004-2009 the church spent less than 9% of it’s Humanitarian Fund donations on actual Humanitarian expenses. In 2008-2009, that figure dropped to less than 3%. Laugh all you want, but the figures tell a story many members don’t want to know.

    We’ll never know if those same percentages prevail elsewhere unless the finances of the Church become more transparent then they are today. But, I would caution anyone reading this to think and respond logically only after reviewing the information for yourself on the UK Charity Commission website, and reading through the audited financials yourself.

    And besides, anyone who wants to thrown out the “millions” of dollars the Church spends on Humanitarian Aid worldwide in the past 25 years should stop and consider that Church spending on the City Creek Center has dwarfed that amount in less than 5 years. For a good comparison, I’d read this (comment #72 from same thread):

    “For cash donations from 1985-2009, the Church actually spent $327.6 million, or $13.1 million annually. [See this Fact Sheet]

    They then list “value of material assistance” as $884.6 million, or an additional $35.4 million annually. This is NOT money they spent. This is the value of our time and things we contribute. For example, at the top of the same column on that sheet they list 763,737 days of labor donated by Church members. They track that and count that as a “donation” the Church gives. They list missionaries serving in Welfare Services and count that.

    So, at the end of the day, the Church spends $13.1 million annually on humanitarian projects (or $48.5 million if you include the value of our time).

    While this seems a lot, it pales in comparison to the BILLIONS they take in each year, or the BILLIONS they spent on the Mall, or the tens of millions they spent last year just buying up random lots of property in downtown SLC last year alone.

    And some may say that this is not an accurate figure, that the Church does a lot more that isn’t counted, like fast offerings, etc. Look at the left column of the referenced sheet. They list the types of things they are counting as “Welfare Services”. They include the bishop’s storehouse, fast offerings, thrift stores, etc. So the money we give for fast offerings which is redistributed by the Church is counted in these numbers. The money we give which is redistributed to the Red Cross in Japan is counted in these numbers.

    So from their own information sheet, at the end of the day, the $13.1 million the Church gives a year INCLUDES fast offerings. Again, this may be a lot, but it pales in comparison to the $3 billion mall or other things listed above.

    The Church feels bad about this, as it is really non-justifiable. Like they have done with everything else, they want to hide this information. Look at the fact sheet from 2010. They NO LONGER BREAK OUT the amount of cash they actually spend. Instead, they lump it into the other numbers in list it as $1.3 billion from 1985-2010. This probably looks a lot better in their eyes.”

  217. Re: 214 + 215

    Gross mis-characterization? Laughable?

    Perhaps you should read my original comment in 212 a little more carefully before piping off with some comment that is ignorant of the facts and what I stated earlier.

    Ray: The church in the UK spent $36,000, combined, during 2008-2009. During that time they accepted $1,275,000 in Humanitarian Fund donations. Therefore – for the mathematically challenged – they paid out a total of 2.8% of all Humanitarian Fund donations during those two years.

    From 2004-2009 (again, in the UK), the CHurch accepted donations of $3.6 million and paid out slightly more than $322,000 in Humanitarian aid, or roughly 8.9%. So yes, Stephanie, the church in the UK spent approximately 9% of all the Humanitarian Fund donations over a 6 year period. At no point during the 6 years (2004-2009) did the church spend more than 20% of all incoming donations during one calendar year. 2008 was the law year, paying out 2.6% of all incoming funds (they took in $725,000 in donations and spent all of $19,000).

    And, if you want to get into the Humanitarian Aid figures from 1985-2010, the church itself acknowledges its only given out $1.3 billion during that time frame (or approximately 1/3rd of the money spent on City Creek Center). And, that $1.3 billion figure includes cash and non-cash donations (i.e. volunteered time, etc).

    Here is a good description of that:

    Here are the best numbers I can find (from the Welfare Services Fact Sheet – 2009):

    For cash donations from 1985-2009, the Church actually spent $327.6 million, or $13.1 million annually.

    They then list “value of material assistance” as $884.6 million, or an additional $35.4 million annually. This is NOT money they spent. This is the value of our time and things we contribute. For example, at the top of the same column on that sheet they list 763,737 days of labor donated by Church members. They track that and count that as a “donation” the Church gives. They list missionaries serving in Welfare Services and count that.

    So, at the end of the day, the Church spends $13.1 million annually on humanitarian projects (or $48.5 million if you include the value of our time).

    While this seems a lot, it pales in comparison to the BILLIONS they take in each year, or the BILLIONS they spent on the Mall, or the tens of millions they spent last year just buying up random lots of property in downtown SLC last year alone.

    And some may say that this is not an accurate figure, that the Church does a lot more that isn’t counted, like fast offerings, etc. Look at the left column of the referenced sheet. They list the types of things they are counting as “Welfare Services”. They include the bishop’s storehouse, fast offerings, thrift stores, etc. So the money we give for fast offerings which is redistributed by the Church is counted in these numbers. The money we give which is redistributed to the Red Cross in Japan is counted in these numbers.

    So from their own information sheet, at the end of the day, the $13.1 million the Church gives a year INCLUDES fast offerings. Again, this may be a lot, but it pales in comparison to the $3 billion mall or other things listed above.

    The Church feels bad about this, as it is really non-justifiable. Like they have done with everything else, they want to hide this information. Look at the fact sheet from 2010. They NO LONGER BREAK OUT the amount of cash they actually spend. Instead, they lump it into the other numbers in list it as $1.3 billion from 1985-2010. This probably looks a lot better in their eyes.

  218. Stephanie says:

    Nobody, were there Humanitarian needs in the UK/Ireland that were not met? Considering that the fast offerings (on 2009 report) were also sent to countries in Europe and Africa, I would assume that there were not. I just don’t see how you can draw any kind of conclusion on “the church” based on the UK/Ireland funds not being completely used for the past 5+ years. It seems wise to me to hold onto those funds to be prepared for when they are needed.

    To the rest of your comment, I would reply the same way I replied in comment 206:

    I would think that if “the church” is falling short in caring for the poor and the needy, then it is because we as members are not giving enough to Fast Offering and Humanitarian funds. Perhaps instead of calling church leadership to repentance, it would be more effective to call us as members to repentance?

    To which you responded, “Well, in the UK . . . ” And round and round we go?

  219. Stephanie says:

    And if I were the church and publishing data on welfare services, and people on the internet were using that data to say, “See? This is why I won’t give money to the humanitarian funds, and you shouldn’t either”, then I would likely stop giving the data. I doubt the church “feels bad about this”. They just don’t want to hand out ammunition.

    I know people in my ward who need assistance, so I pay my fast offering. I know people in the world who are in need from natural disasters, so I give to the humanitarian fund. I find it rather conspiratorial to think the church is taking money for fast offering/humanitarian and using it somewhere else. Who are you helping in encouraging people to stop giving? Multiple talks this conference were on aiding the poor and needy through the welfare program – specifically encouraging people to give more. What nefarious intent do you think was behind that? I tend to think that there are people in the world with needs, and we need to do more (by supporting the church welfare program) to meet those needs. Pretty simple.

  220. Stephanie says:

    #206, Stephanie, as for me personally I no longer give direct humanitarian funds to any entity that does not provide full disclosure of expenditures. THere are so many where I/we know dollar for dollar goes to direct relief.

    Ron, I feel the exact opposite. I feel much more confident that every dollar I give to the church for fast offering/humanitarian aid goes to direct relief than I do with many other organizations.

  221. Stephanie says:

    Argh. Cruddy blockquoting.

  222. “I just don’t see how you can draw any kind of conclusion on “the church” based on the UK/Ireland funds not being completely used for the past 5+ years. It seems wise to me to hold onto those funds to be prepared for when they are needed.

    To the rest of your comment, I would reply the same way I replied in comment 206:

    I would think that if “the church” is falling short in caring for the poor and the needy, then it is because we as members are not giving enough to Fast Offering and Humanitarian funds. Perhaps instead of calling church leadership to repentance, it would be more effective to call us as members to repentance?

    To which you responded, “Well, in the UK . . . ” And round and round we go?”

    Couple of points:

    (a) The Church bills the Humanitarian Fund as being able to provide for the “urgent” and “regular” needs across the world.

    “When a disaster occurs, Latter-day Saint Charities sends food, clothing, medical supplies, and other emergency relief assistance to help victims with urgent needs. Advance planning, extensive storage of essential items, and an extensive worldwide network of volunteers, allow a swift response when disaster strikes. … Every year, millions of men, women, and children are impacted by wars, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters. In these desperate times, life-sustaining resources are often the difference between life and death.

    If every year there are “millions of men, women, and children” suffering from a wide array of calamities, then I see no reason for a reserve at all. In fact, I think the teachings of the gospel discourage the same (Luke 12). So what you see as a “wise” use of withholding the donations, I see something at odds with it’s own stated purpose – namely to provide for urgent needs on an annual, ongoing basis. Now, if you’re talking about a reserve account, then it’s a separate line of reasoning. In the line of work I underwrite, 5% reserves are standard (annually). Here, the evidence points to 90% reserves, which I’d guess is more than a little non-standard.

    Since you’re playing the whole “repentance” card, I’d ask why give more more money to any organization if (a) the money you give that is earmarked for a very specific use isn’t even being used and (b) has virtually no transparency (i.e. you give, but you neither have any idea where it goes nor have any right to know)?

    As for fast offerings, I would encourage more payment because the evidence points to it being more than utilized for its express purpose. And, by its nature, it’s a driver of local solutions. Tithing, as Ron has pointed out and as that original article I linked pointed out, was meant to be a local thing, driving local solutions. Within the past couple of decades that changed such that tithing was now pooled and shipped off to the COB for reasons of efficiency and control.

    But, imagine if you would, what good could be done on a local level if Bishops had access to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they currently ship off to SLC. Imagine, if you would, local Bishops having control over the funds, helping individual families instead of turning them to governmental assistance or to foreclosure.

    Some of the conversations I’ve had with Bishops on these issues have focused on how much good they could do – pooling money to buy someone a house who couldn’t afford rent, then pooling the next money to buy someone else a house, then on and on until everyone had a stable living arrangement. Then on and on until there were no more poor nor needy in their area. Then they’d be free to pass it on to needier wards, to help in substantial ways.

    Instead, each ward gets donates $500k or more to the COB, gets to keep $7k or so for their annual uses and relies on fast offerings as a way to just help out with food or other immediate needs. The rest gets invested and pays for projects that we’re told we have no business knowing any details about.

    So, you’re probably right. We just need to give more – especially more money – in hopes of ever changing anything.

  223. Stephanie says:

    Here, the evidence points to 90% reserves, which I’d guess is more than a little non-standard.

    Again, you are talking about ONE COUNTRY. ONE country that did not have any notable major disasters over those years. What do you know about the reserves of other countries? What if the UK is the only country that actually has reserves? Can you really extrapolate anything about the whole church and its reserves based on one country? It is not statistically significant.

    Since you’re playing the whole “repentance” card,

    What exactly do you call criticizing the church’s use of tithing funds? Not sure why you would say I am the one playing the repentance card.

    I’d ask why give more more money to any organization if (a) the money you give that is earmarked for a very specific use isn’t even being used.

    You have no evidence of that. You are using the data from one country.

    Beyond that, I just disagree with your characterization of the use of tithing funds. No, I don’t have an accounting of how they are used, but I trust the General Authorities of the church to use them wisely.

  224. Stephanie says:

    Darn blockquotes again. 5th of 7 paragraphs should be blockquoted.

  225. Having spent part of my life living and volunteering in parts of the world where the incomes of the members were miniscule and their tithing would not even cover the cost of church manuals, let alone a place in which to gather or, even less, the means to build a temple in which to make the covenants that are so dear to them, as well as having spent part of my life living where member contributions were larger, I am very grateful for the general collection and dispersal of tithing funds as well as fast offering funds.

    In my opinion, sure it would be nice if a bishop in a first world ward could use all the money contributed for just his congregation, but I also believe that any bishop who has any understanding of the brotherhood of man all over the world and the universal nature of the principles of caring for the needs of others would find wisdom in the requirement that he spread the donations of his congregation wider than just his own ward boundaries by sending it to the general church for further dispersal.

    Finally, as to the notion that bishops could compound their donations and use it progressively “Then on and on until there were no more poor nor needy in their area. Then they’d be free to pass it on to needier wards, to help in substantial ways,” I can only say from decades of experience that there is never going to be a point when there are no needs in a ward. There are always needs. They may not be as dire as the needs of a poverty stricken congregation in a third world country, but there are always needs being perceived and presented to a bishop by concerned members of his congregation, even in the wealthiest of congregations. If one waits to spread the contributions further than one’s own immediate area until there are no more needs, it will never happen and the inequities among us will only be exacerbated.

  226. Dave P. says:

    In 1989 President Benson told us that we are a condemned church for our treating lightly of the Book of Mormon and the follies and abominations the Lord spoke of in Section 124. That’s the exact reason why I got a very distinct “Not so!” feeling when President Uchtdorf testified that the church is “On course.”

    21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. – 2 Nephi 28:21

  227. it's a series of tubes says:

    In 1989 President Benson told us that we are a condemned church for our treating lightly of the Book of Mormon and the follies and abominations the Lord spoke of in Section 124. That’s the exact reason why I got a very distinct “Not so!” feeling when President Uchtdorf testified that the church is “On course.”

    Whew! Good thing we have Dave P. here to exercise his superior discernment… imagine how we might otherwise have been led astray! Chills the bones to contemplate it.

  228. Dave P. says:

    Well, given the fact that the original condemnation as recorded in the D&C has never been rescinded, that alone says something.

  229. Dave P. says:

    And apologies for the double post, but also recall that Howard W. Hunter urged the members to correct church leaders when necessary.

  230. Can you really extrapolate anything about the whole church and its reserves based on one country? It is not statistically significant.

    Well, no. You’re right that we can’t, but at the same time, you’re trying to extrapolate that the GAs use tithing/humanitarian funds well with no evidence at all. So I’d say that a 1.4% sample size is better than a 0% sample size.

  231. “Again, you are talking about ONE COUNTRY. ONE country that did not have any notable major disasters over those years.”

    One thing I haven’t brought up about this issue, but there are several people I’ve both spoken to and others you can find if you do a search online who have claimed that the church asked for more Humanitarian Fund donations to help with various natural disasters (i.e. the Banda Ache tsunami, specifically). If you look at the numbers, donations doubled from 2004 to 2005 when the Church was supposedly asking for more donations. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know what was/wasn’t asked, but certainly a 202% increase from 2004 would qualify as an increase in donations.

    It should also be noted that “restricted funds” aren’t restricted to specific countries unless otherwise stated. In their own financials, the church claims the sole purpose of the charity is to help members in the “United Kingdom and elsewhere,” while also stating that it maintains both a “close relationship” with, but also direction from the “shareholder” (i.e. TCoJCoLDS). The HF, specifically, is stated to be at the disposal of the “Church” and not necessarily limited to either the UK or Ireland.

    Even it was limited to the UK/Ireland, do you really think there weren’t anymore uses than the needed $53,000 annually the Church spent?

    “You have no evidence of that. You are using the data from one country.

    Beyond that, I just disagree with your characterization of the use of tithing funds. No, I don’t have an accounting of how they are used, but I trust the General Authorities of the church to use them wisely.”

    You’re right, I am using them from one country. Is one not better than none? What characterization do you disagree with, specifically? That the Church uses investment income it earns off of invested tithing dollars, which is siphoned off, to pay for projects which really have little (perhaps nothing) to do with the mission of the Church?

    As for the “trust” issue, should my “wife” trust me to spend the money of our family wisely if she never sees how much is coming in, nor how much is going out, nor permitted to ask questions on the status of our finances?

    “If one waits to spread the contributions further than one’s own immediate area until there are no more needs, it will never happen and the inequities among us will only be exacerbated.”

    Perhaps, but who is to say that each local congregation wouldn’t recognize that need and establish either mini-funds for worthy projects (i.e. building wells, schools, daycares, etc in 3rd world countries), or pooling together with others to do the same for less-well-off wards/branches? At this stage, we may never know, but I think there are many ways to work around the issues you raised and still keep the majority of the money local to help local people instead of sending it to the COB to be used on projects which we simply never know about.

    And, perhaps here is the question of the day: would Christ want us to give all our tithes to an organization that neither reports what it’s doing with those funds, nor how it’s using those funds, nor where those funds are being used, nor any other information?

    Honest question. Does that question line up with the teachings/words of Christ himself?

    I quite liked this from Ron (#204, above):

    “As to the 2 to 4 billion gorilla in the living room, I can only say “recognition” is a starting point for all of us. But like blacks and the priesthood issue we seem to have some difficulty getting to the “confession” stage–at least publicly. But what do I know. Perhaps the mall and the condos associated with it are really going to become a processing and housing center for undocumented immigrants–the very least in our community–sending the tea partiers to the exits and forcing the rest of us pretty people to have to rub shoulders with them. Now that would be a latter day miracle.”

    Hopefully the confession stage won’t take 120+ years to process like the Black/Priesthood issue.

    As to the processing housing, I’m sure those multi-million condos will be appreciated by the undocumented workers, especially with a view looking down on the temple.

  232. I read the links provided and wasn’t “piping off with some comment that is ignorant of the facts”. Using a cash only analysis at all is laughable, when the Church gives so little in cash only contributions – for a very good reason, imo.

    I know personally MUCH more of the overall situation than your links provide, but that’s just going to have to remain a “trust me” point in this forum. Sorry, but it has to be.

    I have NO problem with someone thinking the Church should do more in the way of humanitarian aid and less in other areas, and I don’t disagree with that general outlook, but the actual argument you made is over-simplistic and a gross mis-representation. I stand by that fully.

  233. Right, because counting the hours/days spent by volunteers (i.e. you and me) on some worthy project is a better way to make comparisons about how much The Church gives in aid?

    That way when the Church compiles its number that it flaunts to the membership and public it can look better in the eyes of the world?

    Oh, and thanks for the patronizing tone: “I know personally MUCH more…”

    Glad to know. Really, thanks for gracing this conversation with your presence.

    And, just so you know, there are lots of ways to put “non-cash” donations into an audited financial report. Lots of ways. I personally know MUCH more of that situation than your statement could provide, but that’s just going to have to remain a “trust me” in this forum.

    “The Church spends NEARLY ALL of its funds on services and supplies of some kind or another, in many and varied ways, and those billions of dollars (and, yes, it is billions of dollars) never get mentioned in the one-sided analyses that are made. It’s always cash only that gets analyzed, and that’s either simply ignorant or purposefully misleading.”

    Perhaps you should turn to the Church’s own documents to see some more information… that information, itself, does nothing to ameliorate the situation.

  234. Stephanie says:

    B.Russ, I see the evidence in the good that the church is doing. Each conference starts with a brief summary of aid given, the Ensign frequently has articles in the back about what Humanitarian aid has done, the 2010 Welfare Report gives a list of disasters the Humanitarian fund served. I see the fruits. I don’t see the UK report as being a relevant sample size at all. It is not statistically significant, and using that data to draw some conclusion about Humanitarian aid around the world is a mistake, IMO.

    And, perhaps here is the question of the day: would Christ want us to give all our tithes to an organization that neither reports what it’s doing with those funds, nor how it’s using those funds, nor where those funds are being used, nor any other information?

    Honest question. Does that question line up with the teachings/words of Christ himself?

    Yes, I believe that Christ asks (demands) of us to give our tithes to the church.

  235. 234 – As far as the issue, I’m very much on the fence, so don’t think that I’m taking the other side.

    However, I don’t see how you can make a claim that a small sample size makes the data irrelevant, when you have no data to back up your side.
    Stories about work being done is not data. Yes, I think the church does many great things in the world of humanitarian efforts. But when the discussion is about whether or not we could/should do more, the fact that we do a lot already is a useless fact without knowing our potential.

    Also, mathematically speaking, terms like “statistically significant” and “sample size” don’t really fit in a financial discussion. I understand what you’re saying, but in finance it either is or it isn’t. A financial statement is a 100% sample size – so to speak, in this case it is a 100% sample size of what is being done with church finances in the UK. We also have a 100% sample size of financial activities in the US, they just aren’t disclosed.
    I don’t say this to start an argument over semantics, but only to say that using those terms makes the discussion more confusing because they aren’t appropriate terms.

    Its simply – we can’t extrapolate what is done with US finances from what happens with UK finances because the two might be radically different for reasons we don’t understand.

  236. Stephanie says:

    Its simply – we can’t extrapolate what is done with US finances from what happens with UK finances because the two might be radically different for reasons we don’t understand.

    That’s pretty much the exact point I was trying to make. Thank you for making it more eloquently.

  237. Stephanie says:

    Also, I am not sure I agree with you on the semantics. Nobody is not just reciting financials – he is drawing conclusions based on those financials. I don’t see this discussion revolving around finance as much as statistics. But, anyways, moving on . . .

  238. Stephanie says:

    I mean, if you really want to get technical, “extrapolate” is a statistical term. ;)

  239. Nobody, my comment was not meant in any way to be patronizing. It’s simply that I can’t share here what I know about the Church’s humanitarian aid. I just can’t. I’ve shared what I’m comfortable sharing, and I know it’s not enough to satisfy you or most others. Saying I know much more than I can share publicly is not patronizing; it simply is a statement of fact and an effort to say that this discussion is much, much more complex than your argument makes it out to be. You might not believe me, but it is.

    Also, fwiw, I never said what you accuse me of saying in the first sentence of your response to me. Not once. I won’t make that argument, ever, because I don’t believe it.

  240. But, imagine if you would, what good could be done on a local level if Bishops had access to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they currently ship off to SLC. Imagine, if you would, local Bishops having control over the funds, helping individual families instead of turning them to governmental assistance or to foreclosure.

    I don’t have to imagine what would happen if funds for a particular system were restricted locally. I work as a public school teacher in the United States, specifically in Illinois. Public education is funded primarily through property taxes. There is a reason we have poor districts and we have wealthy districts. Local distribution of local funds creates a huge amount of inequality in services, facilities, supplies, and resources.

    Personally, I am much more comfortable with the fact that the church collects all funds and distributes them according to need.

  241. Somebody else says:

    Well, given the fact that the original condemnation as recorded in the D&C has never been rescinded, that alone says something.

    Yep, it says to me that you’re posting above your pay grade. By chance, are you feeling somewhat mighty and/or strong? Please advise.

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