|Pittsburgh Stake Presidency|
From left: Dwight Ferguson, Brennen Murray, Erich Peterson
The Sunday morning session of Stake Conference, held on February 23, 2014, was broadcast from Green Tree, Pennsylvania, to nine buildings throughout the stake, which encompasses parts of western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Those in attendance heard a series of heartfelt messages about conversion and this year’s stake theme: rescue.
President Ferguson spoke on marriage and family, first discussing the ideal family as outlined in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Although we desire the ideal family, we are imperfect and unideal. No matter what our situation, we should remember the following two points:
1. We should heed the commandments, even if we don’t understand them.
2. We should not harden our hearts.
Christine Robker (Monongahela Ward) told about being introduced to the Church while in nursing school in Pittsburgh. “The Gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said, “is lasting nourishment for the soul.” To avoid “spiritual illness,” we must partake of spiritual nutrients, specifically the nutrients of prayer and scripture reading. She particularly suggested that we look up and read the talk “Because My Father Read the Book of Mormon.”
Jory Bulkley of the Wheeling Ward joined the Church at age 18. He alluded to the many challenges he faced when he joined the Church, whether it be through family not accepting his decision or through not initially finding friends in the Gospel, and touched on a number of other challenges that people face regularly. In our trials, we must turn to Christ and his example of love, of not shrinking, and having faith to be healed (“not my will, but thine, be done”). He concluded, “Trials will come, but if we let them, they will consecrate us rather than consume us.”
Anne Martz of the Pittsburgh Sixth Ward knew of some Mormons in her high school, and she always observed their behaviors. “People notice you when they know your Mormon,” she said. She didn’t really start learning about the Church until she was in college, and, though she was scared when she felt that the Church was good, she decided to act and be baptized. Though the conversion path is not easy, she says that “things that are worthwhile take hard work.” She knows that she would have lived a good, happy life without the gospel, but not as happy as she has been with it.
President Clint Topham, the mission president reminded us of the role of the Book of Mormon in rescue—the Book of Mormon is our most powerful resource. If you want to approach the Book of Mormon with new eyes, read more about how missionaries may present the Book of Mormon to someone they’re teaching.
In the final address, President Murray spoke of three Rs: Rescuing, Remembering, and Repenting. Particularly on the last point, he shared several quotes form Neal A. Maxwell’s October 1991 talk, “Repentance,” a talk that is definitely worth reviewing. In particular, President Murray reflected on the phrase from Christ in 3 Nephi 17: “Bring them hither,” Christ says of all those who are sick or afflicted. “Bring them hither and I will heal them.” The people who bring the sick and afflicted ultimately find themselves at the feet of the Savior, also being healed. Whether we be sick, or whether we be the ones carrying the sick, there is room for all of us at the feet of Jesus. As we participate in our stake-wide efforts to rescue, we will find that healing comes to all who participate.