About 1,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the greater Chattanooga area gathered for Stake conference on Saturday and Sunday, at the LDS Stake center (meetinghouse) located at 3067 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road, Ooltewah.
Held every May and November, Stake conference in the greater Chattanooga area is a gathering of 12 LDS congregations. The public is welcome to attend. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann; Esther Helton of the East Ridge City Council; Marty Haynes, Hamilton County Assessor of Property; and Darrin Ledford of the Chattanooga City Council attended Sunday services.
John Griffey, president of the Chattanooga Stake, conducted services and spoke of Jesus Christ. “Everything we have is because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” President Griffey said. “Only Jesus Christ had the power to lay down His life and take it up again. Only He can save us from our sins. Because of Him, all people will be resurrected. Because of Him, those who obey His gospel will have eternal life with God.”
Jesus Christ suffered all things that we might not suffer if we repent, “which suffering caused…the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit…Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, [because Jesus Christ] partook and finished [His] preparations unto the children of men (D&C 19-16-19). Because Jesus Christ was resurrected and atoned for us, “We have a responsibility to reconcile our will to His will,” President Griffey said, “We should try to be like Him. We should internalize the qualities of Christ.”
Other speakers also spoke of Christ. Celeste Ward, who heads up the women’s organization (Relief Society) for LDS women in the greater Chattanooga area, reminded those in attendance that Jesus Christ offers hope, love and joy. “His gifts are freely given,” she said. “But they also must be freely received.” She spoke of her work with the refugees, who are starting over again in Chattanooga, and how serving them as Jesus would do – giving as He would give – has brought about change in her life and in their lives, too.
President David J. Pickett and Sister Kristin J. Pickett also spoke. President Pickett serves as the mission president for the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, and he and Sister Pickett care for the more than 150 missionaries serving in the area. The Picketts serve, without pay, for a period of three years. The Picketts are originally from a small farming community in Idaho where they are ranchers “in the wild, wild west,” Sister Pickett said. The young Mormon missionaries and senior couples serving in the Tennessee Knoxville mission with the Picketts also serve without pay and share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone they meet.
“We have the greatest gift on earth – the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We should show by action and deed that Jesus Christ is the anchor of our souls,” Sister Pickett said. “And we should share the gospel with those who are searching, who are looking to add to the truths they already know.”
President Pickett told the congregation that his great grandfather served an LDS mission in 1880 in Chattanooga, and that he was hopeful to carry on the great work of inviting others to come unto Jesus Christ. He said that Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Hope, and that if we will plant a seed, if we will allow the seed to grow, that the Spirit will bear witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness so that all men and women might have joy.
President Lyle J. Stucki and his wife, Sister Bonnie Stucki, serve as the president and matron of the LDS Atlanta Temple. Both spoke of the need to gather our families to the temple to be sealed together forever. Family is for everyone, they said. They also encouraged all in attendance to search out their ancestors, to engage in family history work. Sister Stucki said the LDS Church will have 159 temples operating in the world where members can go to make and keep sacred promises to always remember and follow Jesus Christ.
President Brian D. Silvenis who serves as 1st counselor to President John Griffey quoted the Spartan Dienekes. Before engaging in battle, the enemy said, “We will darken the sky with our arrows,” to which Dienekes responded, “All the better. Then we will fight in the shade.” “The Lord is our Light,” President Silvenis said, “and we should not fear to follow Him, no matter what.”
President Jim Barrott, 2nd counselor to President Griffey, spoke of the Book of Mormon, how it is another witness of Jesus Christ, and how if we read it and pray about it with a sincere heart we will know it is true. We will come to know that it is a companion to the Holy Bible with a divine purpose to lead us more fully to Jesus Christ.
President Griffey concluded conference by testifying that the Holy Scriptures are true, that Jesus Christ lives, and that we owe Him everything. “Contemplate what we can do to bring Him more into our lives,” he urged the congregations.
Music, provided by the choir and congregations, included “How Great Thou Art,” “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me,” and “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” – hymns which underlined the sweet messages of redemption, salvation, of grace, mercy and justice and reminded us that Jesus Christ will come again to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords – and when He does – every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is The Christ.