'We are all in this together' Pres. Monson reminds Mormon faithful as conference concludes

Published: Sunday, Oct. 2 2011 7:00 p.m. MDT

President Thomas S. Monson speaks at the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

To read excerpts of talks from the sessions of general conference, click here.

SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson brought "a most inspiring conference" to a close on a warm-but-breezy Sunday afternoon with a prayer that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "realize and understand how close to us (our Heavenly Father) is willing to come, how far he is willing to go to help us, how much he loves us and how much he does and is willing to do for us."

Speaking to the Sunday afternoon session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the church in the downtown Conference Center, President Monson offered his assurance to members of the church that "our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face in the world today. He loves each of us and will bless us as we strive to keep his commandments and seek him through prayer."

He expressed his appreciation to church members for their service to each other, and to the world.

"We are God's hands here on this earth, with a mandate to love and serve his children," President Monson said. "I thank you for all that you do in your wards and your branches. I express my gratitude for your willingness to serve in the positions to which you are called, whatever they may be. Each is important in furthering the work of the Lord."

He closed by telling church members: "I love you. I pray for you." And he asked for their continued prayers for himself and for all of the general authorities of the church.

"We are one with you in moving forward this marvelous work," he said. "I testify to you that we are all in this together and that every man, woman and child has a part to play. May God give us the strength and the ability and the determination to play our part well."

Earlier in the day President Monson spoke during the morning conference session, recalling how much the world has changed during the 84 years he has lived. He expressed his concern at how rapidly the moral compass of society has been evolving.

"Behaviors which once were considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated but also viewed by ever so many as acceptable," he said.

But although the world has changed, President Monson said, "the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The 10 commandments are just that: commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel."

He used several stories from his life to illustrate how "communication with our Father in Heaven — including our prayers to him and his inspiration to us — is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life."

"As the winds of change swirl around us and the moral fiber of society continues to disintegrate before our very eyes, may we remember the Lord's precious promises to those who trust in him: 'Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.'"

Earlier in his Sunday morning talk President Monson made special mention of Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was in attendance at the Conference Center and who also spoke during the conference session. The 79-year-old general authority did not speak during last April's general conference sessions because he was recovering from surgery. President Monson even broke slightly with protocol to make his expression of appreciation intimate and personal: "We love you, Bob."

Elder Hales' talk, delivered from his chair rather than from the podium, focused on how "mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son." His words were especially poignant to those who were aware of the health challenges with which he has wrestled.

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