News Release

Church Members Throughout Southeast Africa Gather For Broadcast

Latter-day Saints from throughout the Africa Southeast Area joined in meetinghouses Sunday, November 23rd to hear counsel from their Church leaders in a recorded broadcast from Salt Lake City.

Speakers at the broadcast included President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder David A. Bednar, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, & Sister Jean A. Stevens, from the Primary General Presidency. The meeting was conducted by Elder Robert C. Gay, of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Sister Stevens shared her fondness towards the people of Africa, after growing up hearing stories from her father’s missionary service there. She mentioned a magazine cover that showed a picture of a group of Primary children in Africa, and commented “Africa’s future is with the children.” She followed with the question, “Are we preparing them properly?” Sister Stevens emphasized the power of prayer & of establishing a pattern of regular scripture study within families. She quoted President Thomas S. Monsen (President of the LDS Church): “The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.”

Elder David A. Bednar also shared the love he gained for the people of Africa during his recent visit to many of the countries on the continent. He recognised the concerns with Ebola that are so prevalent in some areas of West Africa. Elder Bednar reassured those listening, saying, “The Area Presidency, as well as the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are following this issue closely. The threat is serious and immediate and is a real and significant concern.” He continued, “Your leaders continue to pray for you. We mourn with you.” He said that as an Apostle, he "promised blessings through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

In reference to “Hastening the Work”, Elder Bednar posed the question: “Will we as individuals & a Church keep pace?” “Will we insist to do things the way they have always been done, or will we look for ways to move forward more effectively?” He reminded those listening to the conference that the “hastening” begins in each of them. He stressed the importance of paying tithing & following the Law of Consecration.

Elder Bednar went on to discuss some of the African traditions that occur within various cultures. He noted that many of these traditions are consistent with gospel values, such as the strong bond & importance given to the family unit. However, some cultural traditions are negative, such as family relationships where the husband rules the home, with no consideration for his wife. He counselled that this inhibits growth that must take place here on earth, in order to develop the pattern for eternity. He brought up the sensitive issue of lobola (bride-price or dowry). The Apostle was very direct, as he stated, “The practice of lobola conflicts with the gospel plan & with sexual purity within marriage.” He counselled members of the Church to “discontinue the practice & follow the Lord’s counsel.” He went on to say that members should also not make plans regarding weddings & funerals that will cause families to go into debt.

He closed his remarks with a thought-provoking statement: “Living the gospel & honouring the gospel are NOT hard. NOT living the gospel & honouring the gospel ARE hard.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was the concluding speaker at the Area broadcast. He began by observing that, “The most remarkable thing about Africa is the people who live there - people of great faith.” He continued, “The Church is stronger as a whole, because of the wonderful members in Africa.” He shared the story of sister Jane Elizabeth Manning-James, an African-American woman who was baptised in 1842. She served with the Prophet Joseph smith and was one of the strong pioneers in the early days of the Church.

Pres. Uchtdorf encouraged all faithful members to have a current temple recommend, even if they do not have the means or opportunity to attend regularly. He pointed out that when patrons enter the temple, they are all the same – brothers & sisters in the gospel, regardless of what their career, race, Church position, etc. is. He reminded that everyone is of the same worth to their Heavenly Father.

Pres. Uchtdorf also brought up the practice of lobola, quoting Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ address in 2012 (click here for address). He counselled, “This practice leads to behaviour unbecoming a member of the Church”, and further directed LDS Church members to “discontinue this practice.” He closed, saying, “The Lord’s way is the best way to bring families together forever.”

In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, over 750 members attended the special broadcast. Members from outlining areas arrived in three coach buses. Stake President Neku was encouraged by the words of Church leaders. Commenting about the counsel regarding the practice of lobola, he said, "It is not only affecting African people, but also other cultures. This was inspiration to tell young men and young women to get married and embrace the Lord's gospel." Another Port Elizabeth member remarked, "We needed to know exactly where the Church stands on this issue. We have heard many versions of why we need to stop the practice, but this was very clear...that lobola must be discontinued."

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