Sunday, April 6, 2008
New LDS Church President Asks Inactive Mormons To Return, Robert Paisola Reports
SALT LAKE CITY - Mormons who have strayed from their faith were invited to return to the fold Sunday by the church's new president.
President Thomas S. Monson said members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are ready to welcome "the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor'' into fellowship.
"Come back,'' Monson said in his first address to the full church membership since becoming president in February.
Monson opened his remarks by noting the passing of his predecessor, Gordon B. Hinckley, calling the late president ``an outstanding ambassador of truth to the entire world and beloved by all.'' Hinckley died Jan. 27 at age 97 after nearly 13 years leading the church.
Mormons follow a pattern of apostolic succession to select a new president, with the job passing to next most-senior church leader upon the death of the previous leader. Monson has been a senior church leader since 1963 and was one of Hinckley's closest advisers.
Monson said Sunday that he was addressing the faith "from the depths of humility,'' possessing a deep understanding of the responsibilities of his office and an appreciation for the work of the 15 men who previously in the job.
"My earnest prayer is that I might continue to be a worthy instrument in (God's) hands to carry on this great work,'' he said.
Borrowing a familiar Hinckley theme, Monson asked church members to show kindness and respect to those who hold different religious beliefs and to strengthen their families by making the home a loving sanctuary.
He also said that as the moral fabric of society unravels around them, church members should strive to be steadfast in their values.
"We are waging a war with sin,'' Monson said. ``But we need not despair. It is a war we can and will win.''
On Saturday faithful members raised their hands in symbolic support of the 80-year-old Monson's appointment as the church's 16th president.
Founded in 1830, the American-born faith is among the world's fastest growing denominations and claims more than 13 million members.
Church members gather in April and October for two-days of meetings to hear church leaders share personal stories of faith, quote scriptures and offer guidelines for living. The event draws more than 100,000 to the church's downtown Salt Lake City headquarters with members packing a 21,000-seat conference center during each of five sessions.
Millions more view the proceedings live over television, satellite, and Internet broadcasts which are translated into more than 80 languages.