This weekend our stake is splitting, so Elder Perry M. Webb of the Seventy and Elder Neil L. Anderson of the presidency of the seventy are here for a special stake conference for this purpose.
Yesterday, as is typical, we had a priesthood session followed by an adult session of conference.
As the typical nature of priesthood session, this is where the GAs are at their most candid. It was especially interesting yesterday as rather than having any prepared remarks, Elder Anderson opened the time up to be a question and answer session (with the caveat that we kept the questions spiritual and not intellectual, and with the preemptive example that he did not know where the sword of Laban was currently.) I never ask questions in these sorts of forums (Maybe because my first instinct is always to ask about the second anointing, which shuts me up pretty quickly) but there were some very interesting comments made, and I thought some would be interesting to share.
1. When asked about the Health of President Hinckley, Anderson said his mind is clear, but he is weakening. Meetings are shorter than they were a year ago, though Hinckley is still in the office everyday. He delegates more to his councilors. In a recent meeting, when a 70 mentioned he had been at his Mother’s 106th birthday during the weekend, Hinckley stood up and quipped, “when I heard about that 106th birthday, I thought that would be nice, but then I stood up and felt all my bones!”
2. When asked about missionary work, Anderson noted that the church is very aware that “missionary work doesn’t work as well as it used to when you go door to door.” especially here in the US. He said this was one reason for the great emphasis on member missionary work, and why, Like Elder Ballard had recently encouraged, members are being asked to “step into the public square” in ways like blogging etc. One example Anderson specifically gave was simply acknowledging you are LDS freely.
3. When asked that while it is known the church takes no political stance, what is the churches feeling about Romney’s run, Anderson said, joking, “Wanna see my McCain Button?” but went on to talk about how it was important to the church not to jump in and comment on when the church receives negative press at this time as they didn’t want to look like they were endorsing a candidate, and that one reason candidates were not endorsed is that the church was looking forward to a day when there were more than one LDS candidate in a political race (and thus did not want to get into issues of which one was more righteous). He said the church is politically diverse, and that there was a democrat in his quorum (presidency of the seventy) who constantly defended the democrats to him, and they had great fun with it, but mainly tried to keep politics out of it. (by the way, this plays fine in the very red state of Texas)
4. When asked by one person why the Church doesn’t make home teaching a requirement for a temple recommend, Elder Webb responded “We will not improve home teaching by whipping home teachers.” and “I don’t know why I have home teachers” when he knows for a fact that there are widows in his ward who don’t have home teachers. He said for home teaching, the idea should be that the “greatest need needs the greatest resources” and that he does really know why he has home teachers, it’s because they want him to think they are doing their home teaching. But he’s on to them.