Volume 19, Number 1, Jan/Feb/Mar/Apr 2018, Issue No. 74

…The Quorum of High Priests

High Priest David Van Fleet, President

A Flourishing Faith

Through the years, I have planted on our property many tree seedlings which I purchased from our state conservation department. One thing I have observed; weeds and grass cannot be allowed to grow up around the seedlings if they are to survive. They need sun, adequate moisture, and a lack of competition. Many of these seedlings are not like weeds that can grow just about anywhere. Our spiritual lives are equally as fragile, as seen in the many who claim, or have claimed, allegiance to Christ, but whose church attendance and devotion to Christ have been crowded out by other more secular activities.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus talks about three types of people who do not survive spiritually, and only one type that flourishes. There seem to be many more who are lost to the faith than those who grow in faith; “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:23). One spiritual condition Jesus mentioned in this parable seems particularly applicable for our day; he that is like the seed planted among thorns. Jesus says that this type of person “is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13: 20).

Church attendance trends are reported in a survey conducted by Barna Group and titled, “Church Attendance Trends Around the Country.” In this survey, published in May 2017, one third of Americans who formerly attended church, either somewhat or minimally, have not attended church in at least six months. In other words, these people have some background in the Christian faith but are no longer active in church attendance. They have quit attending because the banquet of life offers so many delicacies which are more enticing than a spiritually healthy diet.

The Lord warned Joseph Smith, Jr., of this situation in 1831 when the saints were told, “every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, …whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, …which shall fall” (D&C 1:3e). The term often used to describe the situation where saints are lost to the faith is “sift.” This term is used in all three books of our Scriptures, but the most commonly quoted one is from Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, behold Satan hath desired you, that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not; and when you are converted strengthen your brethren.”

The prescribed diet to avoid this atrophy is fellowship with the saints, regular church attendance and participation in the ordinances of the church, daily scripture study, continuous prayer, and, of course, obedience to the Lord’s commandments, including our stewardship. We need to put a stop to the exceptions we allow in our Sunday church attendance. Psalm 92 is subtitled, “A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath day.” The first two verses read: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High; To show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” This scripture has served as direction to many churches to hold both morning and evening Sunday services. However, this practice is predictably in decline as well.

May we pray for each other as the Lord did for Simon,that our faith fail not. Then let us go forth to strengthen our brothers and sisters that the faith of all of us may
flourish.

...The Quorum of Teachers

Teacher Donald Evans, President

The leadership of the Aaronic priesthood, in conjunction with the Presiding Bishop and the Bishopric, have been working on plans for the 2018 Aaronic Priesthood Retreat for February 23–25, 2018. This is the first time that the Aaronic priesthood has taken the lead in the planning of the retreat. I look forward to the event with excitement, anticipation, and a bit of apprehension. It is our baby, and, with this being our first time to plan the retreat, I want it to be perfect; thus the apprehension.

I am by nature a realist. I know that it will be a fluid event, and things won’t go exactly as planned. I know we will have to deal with that as it comes, but I believe God will bless our efforts. A major piece of our planning will come from time on our knees in communion with God. I would also ask for an interest in your prayers for the event.

Home ministry is the focus of the retreat. The funny thing about that is the November Quorum of Teachers meeting, which was the week before our first planning meeting, was focused on our personal ministry as teachers. Home ministry was the focus for each of us. God works to adjust our lives to his plan, even when we don’t see it coming. It brings me great joy to know that God focuses on each detail of our lives. What a wonderful Father he is.

...The Missionary-in-Training Coordinator

Apostle Terry Patience, MIT Coordinator

Through mid-January of 2018, we have held twenty-nine “Survey of Remnant Church Beliefs” classes. They are held Monday and Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. in the headquarters building. The classes began in September of 2017, and we are still going strong as we work our way through the Missionary-in-Training Academy material. Classes have covered questions exploring if absolute truth is extinct and if God exists. We have also explored the issues of truth and morality and the world’s view on tolerance. Our next class will begin the journey through what other churches believe compared to what we believe. It should be great.

Please note that there is a class summary available on the Remnant Church web page. Navigate to “Leadership,” and then “MIT.” It is hoped that class participants will be able to apply the knowledge they have gained as they encounter missionary opportunities and by volunteering for service in the new Visitors Center which is opening soon.

...The South Central District President

High Priest Elbert Rogers, SCD President

“Onward to Zion” should be our goal for this blessed new year. Instead of complaining about the miles that separate us, we rejoice in the fact that we have such a large area to increase our borders. We are determined not to just keep our scattered branches, but to expand them until the South Central District is one large, Zionic community. How can we do this?

1) Keep up to date within our branches. We are in the final stages of compiling and maintaining a district directory; we are all just a phone call away. It is vital that we keep in contact, whether it is a prayer request, a friendly chat, or a hospital visit. (Visits are not limited to priesthood in the church. Only the laying on of hands for a healing by the elders is a priesthood responsibility; administration to the sick can only be done if the elders have been called.) Active communication is one of the keys to the success of our district. Cynthia Tibbitts, of our Sperry Branch, continues to do an excellent job of receiving and sending out prayer requests and praise reports as quickly as she is made aware of them.

2) Use One Endeavor to bridge gaps between branches. After all, the word “endeavor” means work, attempt, or try. When we live, move, and think alike, we will become as one body of Christ, caring and sharing with each other in unity. How exciting is that?

3) Stay Active Together. Does that mean we’re all going to join an aerobics class together? No. It means we will actively gather together often, whether in fun, fellowship, or as we seek everlasting spiritual experiences. The SCD leadership committee has already planned a number of events to help us stay active with each other, including:

March 3rd: SCD women will meet on the Precious Moments grounds at 10:00 a.m. to tour the chapel and gardens. Contact Coral Rogers for details.

March 18th: SCD business meeting and worship, with guest speaker Ralph Damon, at Carthage Branch. Contact David Tevebaugh for details.

April 1st–7th: Plan to attend General Conference at The Gathering Place in Independence.

April 27th–29th: Blackgum Campgrounds work day. (Not limited to district laborers. All are invited.) Contact Darrin Moore for details.

June 16th–22nd: SCD Reunion at Blackgum Campgrounds (not limited to district attendees). Specific dates within this time frame will be finalized at the district meeting on March 18th. Contact Roger Tracy for details.

June 23rd–30th: Junior High Camp at Blackgum Campgrounds (not limited to district youth; all eligible campers are invited). Contact Elbert and Coral Rogers for details.

July 7th–14th: Senior High Camp at Blackgum Campgrounds (not limited to district youth; all eligible campers are invited). Contact Richard & Rebecca Paris for details.

September 16th: SCD business meeting & worship at Ava Branch. Contact Frank Potter for details.

October 19th–21st: SCD Women’s Retreat at Blackgum Campgrounds. Contact Coral Rogers for details.

November 9th–11th: General Church Men’s Retreat Blackgum Campgrounds. Contact John Atkins for details.

December 9th: SCD Christmas worship service Sperry Branch. Contact Steve Van Meter for details.

Remember Psalm 50:1–5: “The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."

…The Women’s Council

Marci Damon, Chairperson

The new year has started, and the members of the Women’s Council are busy planning for this year’s activities, including events that will take place during the April conference. The planning is preliminary, but we encourage everyone to keep a watchful eye on the council’s webpage on the church’s website for announcements regarding conference activities. We look forward to reacquainting with friends and developing new friendships during conference. Please make plans now to attend.

The council encourages every woman in the church to use our study book, Gifts and Talents. Hopefully, your branch Women’s Department is using the study material. If not, please plan to study the material independently or in a small group. The book may be ordered from the church office (at a cost of $8), or an electronic copy can be found on the council’s webpage.

You will also find monthly prayer suggestions on our webpage. We encourage you to become “prayer warriors” and include the prayer suggestion in your daily prayers. We know that the prayers of the saints can bring about wonderful blessings, so please include these thoughts in your prayers.

…Media Outreach

Ardyce Nordeen, Media Outreach Coordinator

A new year has begun, and the ministry projects in the Media Outreach department are in full swing! We are continuing to expand our broadcast streaming and hope to add new members to our production teams this spring. Our social media group has been formalized with specific responsibilities now, and they are eager to send the testimony of the restored gospel as far and wide as possible. Please keep their efforts in your prayers, and help as you can on the missionary Facebook pages.

We have mailed the first and second issues of the 2018 Moments with the Master, and it is also available digitally to those who provide us with email addresses. If you would like either the paper version ($20.00 per year) or the digital version (free), please contact us at headquarters. For the paper version, we will send you back issues with your subscription. With the digital version, your daily emails will begin as soon as your address is entered.

Video projects are taking shape as well. Our church video is progressing and will hopefully be ready for final viewing by conference time. We are also working on several short video projects to be used on social media and other missionary venues.

Please keep the media outreach efforts in your prayers. We recently had an email from a woman who had seen information on YouTube about the Remnant Church. She was reaching out and hoping for more information from us. We never know who will be watching or searching for answers that the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide. Pray that our diligence will be blessed by his Spirit!

...The General Church Music Director

Barbara Sherer, General Church Music Director

2017 ended with two significant musical events. On December 3rd, a Christmas sing-along provided the ministry for the evening service. Each congregation’s choir rehearsed separately and then came together for a joint rehearsal the day before. Forty-five choir members, along with a string trio, vocal trio and duet, and several readers who provided thoughts on the birth of Christ and the significance of his birth to all of us, created a beautiful setting of Christmas carol singing for all who attended.

Linda VerDught was our accompanist for the evening; Carl VunCannon and Barbara Sherer directed. A beautiful Christmas worship center was created for us by Lois Romer. The women from Center and First Congregations provided cookies for our fellowship afterwards. We regret the service could not be broadcast,
but a CD of the music is available from headquarters. December 10th, at Blue Springs Congregation, the Center Place of Zion youth and children presented a musical titled, “Jesus, Light of the World.” It was a precious evening as young children became excited about the birth of Jesus Christ when the older youth provided the Nativity. Many saints from the central branches assisted with costuming, staging, babysitting, preparing the children, and music. A fellowship followed, with Blue Springs and Bountiful branches providing the refreshments. We are looking forward to a 2018 richly blessed by the ministry of music.
Upcoming Hymns of the Month:

April: Hymn 171, “Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing!”
May: Hymn 371, “God Is My Strong Salvation”
June: Hymn 421, “God, Who Touchest Earth with Beauty”
July: Hymn 565, “We Have Been Warned”
August: Hymn 285, “What a Glorious Thing to Be”

...The Religious Education Department

Beckie Hogan and Linda Burnett

As we are thawing from winter, we hope you and your families are participating in the church school programs in your branches. We are always looking to improve the materials. If you have suggestions or ideas that would be helpful, please let us know. If you are currently in need of teaching materials, the catalog is available online, or you may request a hard copy from headquarters. If you do place an order, please allow a few weeks for printing and shipping.

If your branch is in need of pre-baptismal materials, they are available and suitable for children aged eight to twelve.

We hope you are looking forward to a busy summer filled with church activities. The Center Place of Zion Vacation Church School will take place July 16th–19th. June, July, and August will bring opportunities to participate in several camps and reunions. Class materials for these events are being prepared.

A new Religious Education web page has been created and should be online soon on the church website.