Taking President Hinckley Seriously

In the April 1997 General Conference Pres. Hinckley said everyone deserves “three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’”1. If local leaders take this seriously, then:

  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t think they are worthy?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who hasn’t resolved a serious sin?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t wear garments?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t pay their child support?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who smokes or drinks?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t pay their tithing?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t keep the sabbath day holy?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who supports teachings contrary to those of the Church?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who doesn’t follow the teachings of the Church with their family and others?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who don’t obey the law of chastity?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who are living in a same-sex relationship?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who don’t sustain the General Authorities?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who don’t have a testimony of the restoration?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who don’t have a testimony of Christ?
  • What responsibilities/callings can be given to someone who is an atheist?
Please repeat the above questions in the following ways:
  • Who in our congregation can be a friend to someone who …
  • What “good word of God” should be presented to someone who …

I’m sure many will suggest that some of the people above aren’t worthy, or don’t come to church anyway. Do you really think that is what President Hinckley meant? And while his talk was oriented toward converts, are you really going to argue that less active members or those who are struggling with the Church should be given different attention from converts?

If we are serious about welcoming people, don’t we need to make them part of our community?

If local leaders are serious about involving everyone in their units, won’t they have answers for most of these questions ready? If they don’t, how likely will it be that everyone will be integrated?

Now let me take this a step further. If we don’t have someone coming to our meetings on Sunday who smells like cigarette smoke or liquor, or who is violating some commandment, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves “are we being welcoming enough?”

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