“Reach out to others” was President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s message to thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in meetinghouses across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland as part of a multi-congregation conference broadcast live via satellite on June 6 and 7.
President Uchtdorf and Elder Neil L. Andersen, along with other Church leaders, visited the United Kingdom to conclude a trip that took them to congregations throughout Ukraine, Russia and England.
For many British saints, this was a unique opportunity to hear a member of the First Presidency and an Apostle in person.
President Uchtdorf was accompanied by his wife, Harriet Uchtdorf; Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Kathy Andersen; Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president; and Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
Speaking to a packed Hyde Park Chapel in the heart of London, President Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged British and Irish Mormons to “reach out to everyone in kindness and in love,” adding, “that is the power of the gospel, by practicing what we preach.”
President Uchtdorf used the example of the Gulf Stream, the ocean current that brings warmth to the British Isles: “The gospel of Jesus Christ has a greater power than the Gulf Stream. It warms the hearts, it warms the nations, it blesses and warms families, individual lives. It has great power to grow, not only palm trees, but lives and families and futures, if we only embrace it.”
He acknowledged the pioneering foundation laid by Church members from Britain and Ireland and paid tribute to the members’ continued dedication. “You are a tremendous and a marvelous people. You are loved throughout the world, because in the history of the Church your people have blessed the Church in a marvelous way and you are still on this path.
“You’re a strong, marvelous congregation of saints in the United Kingdom and Ireland. What a wonderful thing to be with you.”
During President Uchtdorf’s satellite address, he identified problems faced in society and urged Church members to be spiritually resilient. “We do not have to fear; let us not be guided by our fears. At a time [when] economic or moral challenges in the world like to take their toll in individual lives, we have to remember that God is with us and we do not have to fear. We do not have the spirit of fear but of hope and of power.”
In another meeting with members of the Church, President Uchtdorf said, “We are united regardless of culture or background, race, color or whatever it may be.” He urged priesthood holders of the Church in the British Isles to be a “banner for Europe.”
In the same meeting, Elder Neil L. Andersen told how he had been impressed by the statue in London’s Kensington Gardens of the man on the horse — Physical Energy, by George Frederick Watts. “I thought as I looked at that beautiful statue, where could we find one that says ‘spiritual energy’ ”?
Elder Andersen cautioned, “It’s not about us” — we must lose our lives in the service of others. “Reach out, reach out to others; be as Christ is.”
He concluded: “I bear witness that our faith in Christ will be a badge of honor to us. … As we seek the Lord, He comes to us.”
During a luncheon meeting with local Church leaders and their wives, President Uchtdorf expressed his feelings about the visit to Britain’s capital. “We hope that being on the ground here in London will connect us greater with all the members in the UK and Ireland,” he said. “It really helps us to feel closer to the saints,” adding, “it’s our heart’s desire to be closer to the membership.”
The visits of the apostles had been eagerly awaited by Church members. Marquitta Leavitt, from London’s Hyde Park stake, said, “What I get out of it is motivation — there’s just something very inspiring about being in the presence of general authorities and especially a member of the First Presidency.”
Another woman, originally from South Africa, remarked that the conference “just cements your testimony; it just adds to the foundation you already have.”
The meeting was broadcast throughout the British Isles, and simultaneous translation was provided for conference-goers.
There are currently 182,000 Church members in the UK and Republic of Ireland.