BCC is pleased to have AnnE, longtime reader and friend of the blog, contribute guest posts. AnnE is an American Sign Language interpreter of over twenty years. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri seven years before the Extermination Order was repealed, and baptized by missionaries at twelve. She has since lived in Chicago, Northern Virginia, and now Salt Lake City to chance the leap from avid genealogist to lay historian, researching deafness and disability within the LDS Church.
I first fell for this man on Sunday May 29, 2005. I had wrangled a spot near the front of the chapel at the Joseph Smith Memorial during the MHA conference commemorating the Prophet’s 200th birthday, and found myself directly across from the new Church Historian. Seated alone on the stand, dutifully in position before the meeting was to begin, he appeared scared to death. Bless his heartóit was all I could do to not dash up and whisper something encouraging.
Before I could convince myself to breach the fourth wall, the service was underway. He recharged us with his unimpeachable testimony of Joseph Smith, and warmed us with his softhearted manner. Here is my hastily-compiled tribute of belated gratitude and godspeed to Marlin K. Jensen, offered by Marlin K. Jensen.
I look forward to hearing your memories of this great man; advance thanks for your kindness in overlooking the slapdash presentation.
Opening Prayer: Marlin K. Jensen
Heavenly Father, we are grateful this morning to be gathered here…for thy Plan of Life and for what we know about our relationship to thee and to each other. And we’re grateful for our marriage and family relationships and for the blessings of being involved in thy Church and Kingdom. We thank thee that early in the history of the Church thou established a pattern for regular meetings and conferences. In this session this morning, Father, we pray that thy Spirit will bless those who will speak and sing, and those of us who will listen—help us to learn of thee and of thy Son. Help us to have a greater desire to change our lives, to be of greater use, and of greater service to thee and to our fellow man. Help us as a result of our being here today, to be sensitive to the needs around us, and to be thy instruments in ministering to those who are lonely, who are ill, who have needs known only to thee. We pray for these things Father, and that there might be peace on Earth. That through or works others will see the truthfulness of the Gospel and glorify thee and thy Son. We invoke this blessing…in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, Amen. (GC Oct 2012)
Main Speaker: Marlin K. Jensen
No one can stand at this pulpit for the first time where so many truly great men and women have stood over the years without experiencing a strong sense of his personal inadequacy and an overwhelming desire to express appreciation. I feel both today. (GC Oct 1989) My wise father once told me that if I listened carefully to what people talk about from the pulpit in church, I would know which principles of the gospel were of concern to them and those with which they might be struggling at any given time. (GC Apr 1999) When I suggested to my wife several weeks ago that because of President Hinckley’s talk I was considering humility as a possible topic for my remarks today, she paused and, with a twinkle in her eye, teasingly replied, “That leaves you only a few days to gain some!” (GC Apr 2001)
I went off to college after my mission. I took some philosophy classes. I took some anthropology classes. I’ve tried to read widely. I’m not an intellectual, I don’t think, in any stretch of that word, nor am I a brilliant person. But I do think; I do discuss. I have a substantial library, and I’ve tried to test my belief against other philosophies and other theories of life. I think [when] questioning, if you’re honest and if you’re really a true seeker, if you’re not just a skeptic sitting back and taking potshots at everything and everybody and their philosophy of life, I think it tends to bring one to a deeper seeking, and I hope that’s what my doubts have done. They’ve caused me, I think, to study and to ponder and to compare and in the long run to become even more convinced that the way I’ve chosen. (The Mormons, PBS)
If there is a perception that you can’t be learned in this church and still be a mainstream member, I think that would be a most unfortunate perspective. And yet I’m sure it exists; I know it does, but there is something that holds sway over just the intellect, and that is the counsel of God. When that comes through men, who may be very fallible, that’s probably very difficult for people to accept. They may trust more in their intellectual conclusions and powers than they do in that mantle. That’s [how] really intellectual people in the church get into trouble when they do. But if they can retain just a modicum of humility, usually they come out just fine, because we have tremendous intellectual achievement in the church. (The Mormons, PBS)
The temptation to seek personal recognition and reward from our service to others is ever-present. Those who seek honor and gain for themselves in doing the Lord’s work are guilty of what the scriptures call priestcraft. Latter-day Saints whose eyes are single to God’s glory see life from a vastly different perspective than those whose attention is directed elsewhere. Such members, for instance, care little about receiving credit or recognition for their good deeds. They are more interested in feeding the Lord’s sheep than in counting them. In fact, they frequently find their greatest happiness in serving anonymously, thereby leaving the beneficiaries of their kindness with no one to thank or praise except the Lord. In this regard, we can perhaps learn a lesson from our Christian brothers and sisters in the Amish communities of Pennsylvania. It is reported that their writers frequently compose and publish poetry and religious literature anonymously, so as to deflect attention from themselves and ensure that only God receives the glory. (GC Oct 1989)
We keep records to help us remember…[but] I wish to speak of a more profound role of memory and remembering in the gospel of Jesus Christ than the passive recall and enjoyment of information…[W]hat else ought we to remember?…I suggest that the history of the Church of Jesus Christ and its people deserves our remembrance…This extraordinary historical record reminds us that God has again opened the heavens and revealed truths that call our generation to action. (GC Apr 2007)
I think sometimes of what life would be like if we all possessed greater humility. Imagine a world in which we would replace I as the dominant pronoun. Think of the impact on the pursuit of knowledge if being learned without being arrogant were the norm…I resonate to the English author John Ruskin’s memorable statement that the first test of a truly great man is his humility. He continued: I do not mean, by humility, doubt of his own power. [But really] great men have a curious feeling that greatness is not in them, but through them. And they see something Divine in every other man, and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful. (GC Apr 2001, quoting The Works of John Ruskin, ed. Cook and Wedderburn, 5:331)
Brothers and sisters, my message today is very simple: if we truly want to be tools in the hands of our Heavenly Father in bringing to pass His eternal purposes, we need only to be a friend. Consider the power of each one of us of our own free will and choice reaching out to those not yet of our faith in unconditional friendship. We would no longer be accused of offering warm bread and a cold shoulder. Imagine the consequences for good if each active family in the Church offered consistent concern and genuine friendship to a less-active family or a new-member family. The power is in each one of us to be a friend. Old and young, rich and poor, educated and humble, in every language and country, we all have the capacity to be a friend. (GC Apr 1999)
The list of valiant people whose lives touch our own includes family members, missionary companions, friends, Church leaders, teachers, and associates from various walks of life. Some we know intimately and others only by reputation. Less obvious to most of us is the influence we may be having in the lives of others. This interaction, to me, is one of the reasons why a community of believing Latter-day Saints is a foundational element of the gospel. It also explains why we build meetinghouses rather than hermitages. (GC Apr 1994)
It is through the lives of good people that we at least in part become better acquainted with the greatest of all lives. When we see Christ’s image in the countenances of others, it helps us live to receive it in our own. (ibid.)
I thank God for the blessing of good people in all of our lives and pray that we may all in some small way serve that same purpose in the lives of others, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (ibid.)