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Inviting all to return to church

Along with our friends from other churches, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actively invite members to return following COVID-related closures.

At the Church’s recent General Conference, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency spoke of the importance of church attendance for all people, regardless of individual faith tradition.

Including synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations in his definition of “church,” President Oaks stated, “Attendance and activity in a church help us become better people and better influences on the lives of others. In church we are taught how to apply religious principles. We learn from one another. A persuasive example is more powerful than a sermon. We are strengthened by associating with others of like minds. In church attendance and participation, our hearts are, as the Bible says, knit together in love.”

President Oaks suggested that we can improve our worship experience if we go to church thinking of how we can actively help and lift others.

Likewise, at a recent gathering of local leaders, we discussed ways that various congregations and organizations within the church have invited their members to return.

One sister, who oversees her congregation’s Relief Society (the church’s organization for women), emphasized the need to provide a place where individuals feel heard and seen, loved and supported. To this end, she encourages others to respond with a ready, nonjudgmental “I support that” whenever members share personal feelings and experiences, while encouraging them to be their best selves.

Another sister spoke of the importance of the church as a refuge from the storms of life. She quoted Isaiah, who wrote that our religious gatherings would be “a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (4:6). Through the gospel of Jesus Christ we can find peace in perilous, stormy times.

My contribution to the conversation was emphasizing the importance of opportunities to serve.

Service in any capacity, from greeting to organizing activities or service projects to leading a congregation, provides opportunities to learn and grow.

In February 2021, a massive ice storm took out power for many people in our area. Members from throughout the Richmond area came to Burkeville, Victoria, Kenbridge and elsewhere with chainsaws at the ready. After helping local church members, these good samaritans proceeded to help other local families in need.

As the ancient prophet taught, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

Jesus Christ taught that we can follow His example of selflessly serving others: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Local service opportunities can be found at: http://JustServe.org.

Visitors are always welcome at worship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please join us at 10:00 a.m. each Sunday at our chapel at 400 6th St. in Burkeville.

DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@hotmail.com.