Though they are increasing in diversity, Latter-day Saints have a sacred heritage that transcends their differences, Bishop Gérald Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, observed in his talk during the priesthood session of conference.
“As members of the Church we are admitted into the house of Israel,” he said. “We become brothers and sisters, equal heirs to the same spiritual lineage.”
He said that a promise has been made to everyone who becomes a member of the Church, citing Ephesians 2:19, which states that converts are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
Bishop Caussé observed that anciently, the people of Israel were instructed to treat strangers as kindly as they treated one another.
“During His earthly ministry, Jesus was an example of one who went far beyond the simple obligation of hospitality and tolerance,” he said. “Those who were excluded from society, those who were rejected and considered to be impure by the self-righteous, were given His compassion and respect. They received an equal part of His teachings and ministry.”
In the Church, Bishop Caussé said, there are no strangers and no outcasts, only brothers and sisters.
“In this Church, our wards and our quorums do not belong to us,” he said. “They belong to Jesus Christ. Whoever enters our meetinghouses should feel at home. The responsibility to welcome everyone has growing importance.”
Great changes in transportation, communication and globalization of economies serve the designs of God, Bishop Caussé said. “Many without knowing it are being led by the Lord to places where they can hear the gospel and come into His fold.”
He added, “It is very likely that the next person converted to the gospel in your ward will be someone who does not come from your usual circle of friends and acquaintances. You may note this by his or her appearance, language, manner of dress or color of skin. This person may have grown up in another religion, with a different background or a different lifestyle.”
Bishop Caussé said fellowshipping is an important priesthood responsibility and that all need to work together to build spiritual unity in wards and branches.
“So, my brothers, it is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings,” he admonished.