Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

LOS ANGELES — A theme of building and improvement — building bridges of brotherhood, building righteous societies and improving individual lives — underscored remarks by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the LDS Church's First Presidency to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

"It takes courage … and humility to put away old hatred, divisions and traditions that constrict and confine people into a blind succession of destructive behavior toward others," said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church's First Presidency. "It is within our reach to breach barriers of hate and build bridges of brotherhood and understanding between opposing cultures, beliefs, religion and world views."

In his Thursday evening speech titled "The Internationalization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" given before some 800 community, business and religious leaders, President Uchtdorf said hope remains for virtue, moderation and divine moral principles in a time of uncertainty and fear.

"Strengthening families, building righteous societies and helping our brothers and sisters improve their lives the world over, regardless of culture, language or religious beliefs — I believe these are righteous goals," he said. "We invite all to be part of these efforts."

The World Affairs Councils of America is the largest national nonpartisan network of local councils dedicated to furthering global understanding, with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council one of nearly 100 such autonomous groups in 40 states.

Talking of the Mormon religion's growth from six members in 1830 to more than 14 million worldwide, President Uchtdorf labeled the LDS Church a global church teaching principles and doctrines with the power to and uplift the people of every nation, race and culture.

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"It is important to recognize that the growth of the Church is not merely about numbers of members, languages and buildings; our mission is to bring souls unto Christ — that is the important part — and thereby improve the lives of our fellow men," he said. "We teach, support and encourage all men, women and children to draw near to God and live charitable and honorable lives."

He also detailed the church's efforts in education, welfare and humanitarian aid.

"Being continuously engaged in improving the lives of our fellow men is not just theological theory, which it easily may become, but rather an application of the gospel's core doctrines," he said. "The more our hearts are inclined to God, the more we desire to relieve suffering and help others become self-reliant."