LDS holds Stake Conference

Libby McSheehy, Special to The Log
Elder Joseph Wafula Sitati, shown with President Mike Roberts, spoke on faith and love at the Stake Conference. SPECIAL TO THE LOG

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held their Stake Conference on Jan. 21 and 22. Attending was Joseph Wafula Sitati of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the first black general authority of the church. Sitati spoke on faith and the importance of showing love to those whom you teach and the new program “Teaching in the Savior’s Way.” In his conversion story he emphasized that he was searching for the truth.

On Saturday when he spoke, he also took questions from the congregation, which proved to be quite varied. Topics ranged from “How is President Monson really doing?” to “ How is the church doing in Africa?" Members were assured that Thomas S. Monson, although in his 90’s is still mentally alert and active in the administering of the church. Sitati also shared that although he is from Africa, he does not supervise that area of the world and has not been home for a long while.

He stressed how important it is to let those you home teach and visit teach know that you love them no matter how you make your contacts. Also, he advised the leadership to work closely with new teachers on a one to one basis until they are comfortable with their calling.

On Sunday, President Anderson of the stake presidency conducted the calling of new positions in the stake and gave us the opportunity to sustain the First Presidency of the Church, his counselors, the general authorities and the women leaders. On Saturday, Pres. Anderson spoke about our relatives and friends who might be leaning away from the Church and to pray for them since we cannot make choices for them.

Also present were President Mayfield and his wife of the Birmingham Temple, who spoke on the blessings of the temple. Mrs. Mayfield told a story of her child who thought he would be able to read after entering his school and felt deep disappointment when that did not work out. She cautioned those who visit the temple for the first time not to expect to come out with perfect knowledge and to remember it is through repetition that we learn over a period of time. President Mayfield paraphrased the story about Ezekiel and the angel taking him to the altar of the temple and the symbolism of the water that ran from the temple all the way to the Dead Sea.

The Smiths, who preside over the Tallahassee Mission, also answered questions. Mrs. Smith answered questions about her position, and assured us that we can all be missionaries and to be secure in that knowledge. President Smith, who remarked about the thunderstorms they traveled through and how different that was from Mesa, Arizona, their home. He urged us all to participate in the missionary effort and not just be spectators.

Bishop Kevin Parker’s topic was “Making Good Men Better." In it he quoted Elder Bednar from the Quorum of the Seventy and Moroni 33 from the Book of Mormon which states: “then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God through the shedding of the blood of Christ that ye become holy without spot.”

President Roberts shared with those attending his thoughts on faith, using his medical school training and learning to illustrate how his faith allowed him to learn without studying on Sundays. Recently returned missionary from Crestview Second Ward Michael Baltimore spoke on faith and the impact of the Book of Mormon on his mission. He spoke of President Ezra Taft Benson and his urging us to keep reading the Book of Mormon many times as part of our daily scripture reading. Elder Baltimore served in Nicaragua, Managua Mission.

Amanda Jex, Relief Society president of Fort Walton Beach First Ward, spoke in an entertaining and informative way on the topic of “Feasting on the Scriptures," saying that our souls need the scriptures. Posting a scripture of the week in various spots around the house helps to remind us to ponder this scripture and to remember to paraphrase the Biblical words for the younger children.

The vast musical talents of the stake were evident in the performances on both days of conference. Donavan Black and Caralena Graves from the Niceville Ward sang a duet, "Oh Divine Redeemer,” accompanied by the versatile Melissa Kibler which thrilled the congregation. The many talented Ingrid Roberts served as accompanist for the congregational hymns then worked her magic with the violin playing “Nearer My God to Thee” with Melissa Kibler at the piano. On Sunday David Simmons conducted the choir to a stellar performance.

Libby McSheehy is a resident of Walton County and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.