President Russell M Nelson has begun his global ministry tour, first stop London, Thursday 12 April 2018. This evening President Nelson addressed members across the United Kingdom and Ireland, gathered in local chapels, via broadcast from the iconic Hyde Park Chapel, London just by the Science, Natural History and Victoria & Albert Museums, just south of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens, a stones throw from the Royal Albert Hall, and incidentally just across the road from the alma mater of Hedgehog and Bro Hedgehog. It was a wonderful environment in which to be a student, and we know that chapel well.
President Nelson was accompanied by his wife Wendy Watson Nelson, Elder Jeffrey R Holland (Q12) and Sister Patricia Terry Holland. Also present were Elders Paul V Johnson, Alan T Phillips and their wives.
Prelude Music: As I have Loved You (organ)
Conducting: Elder Paul V Johnson
Chorister: Bro David Hooson
Organist: Bro Jonathan Mace
Opening Hymn: How Firm a Foundation (verses 1,2,3 and 7)
Opening Prayer: Bro Paul Omo-Bamawo*
Choir: Where Can I Turn for Peace?
Speaker: Sister Patricia Terry Holland
Thanks to the choir for the choice of hymn and beautiful performance which brought peace to all. It’s wonderful to be back in England, in this chapel, and to feel the spirit that can only be felt here. She is so happy to be with us. It’s one of the greatest privileges to be here with President Nelson, his historic ministerial tour. It is a compliment to us that we are his first stop of the tour. People all over the world would love this experience. How blessed we are. It’s a privilege for all of us. We are equally blessed to be here with his beloved wife. She is a perfect wife to him, and a perfect friend to Sister Holland. Her friends say she is the most loving person you could be with. She has more confidence in Sister Holland, than Sister Holland has in herself. She has perfect faith, and is perfectly obedient, exemplifying obedience with exactness. She has turned the hearts of fathers to children, and children to fathers. She is a loyal and trusted friend.
Sister Holland wants to pay a brief tribute to President Nelson. She wishes we could know President Nelson as she and her husband do. Perhaps if we listen to all his conference talks we will come to know him better. Elder Holland has described President Nelson as the man for whom the word gentleman was created. He is kind. He has the Saviour’s gentleness and compassion. He is mindful of everyone in a room, and seems to have insight into their lives. She has never heard him raise his voice or be angry. He listens more than he speaks; he wants everyone to be heard. He has never interrupted anyone (perhaps this is something he learnt as the father of 9 daughters). He fits the description given in D&C 121:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;” (D&C 121:41)
God has bestowed upon him, as on those who honour Him and are obedient, “peace like a river” (Isa 66:12). He is such a peaceful man in spite of the overwhelming burden and blessing of responsibility for the church.
“thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I have sent him, the Lord thy God who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go, hath done it. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” (1 Ne 20:17-18)
She testifies that this describes President Nelson (peace as a river, righteousness as the waves of the sea). She has one more scripture, a prayer we might all like to offer for President Nelson:
“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. …Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-12,14-16)
This is true of President Nelson and also his wife. The Saviour is in this room. He loves and honours President Nelson.
Speaker: Elder Jeffrey R Holland
It seems profane to say anything after Sister Holland and before the Nelsons. He can’t sing, and if he prayed we’d all think it was the benediction. He wants to bear testimony.
This afternoon there was a missionary meeting, very emotional memories. From the age of 19 on he has had a recurring love affair with the United Kingdom and Ireland. He describes himself as the only true Irish General Authority. (Shout out to the independent Scots.) These nations, islands have marked his church life. He served a mission here. He was present at the dedication of the Hyde Park Chapel by President David O McKay. The bookends of his life. He was here with a prophet as a young man, and now as an older man. Prophets are a gift to people like me, people like you. He lived and presided here as President Johnson does now. He came to know the people here. Memories buckle his knees. He has never been the same since touching ground at Heathrow in 1960. He loves what the gift of the gospel of Christ means. There’s significance in this land. Salvation came to the church when Joseph sent virtually the entire Quorum of the 12 to the UK, and then out into northern Europe; saved the church numerically.
He’s grateful for the privilege tonight, coming from a remarkable General Conference. He’s sure we felt what they felt in the conference centre. The spirit was palpable. The audience was weeping. He was weeping. A magisterial manifestation of revelation. The word we heard and continue to hear is revelation. He testifies that is our message, characteristic of a living church. The heavens are open. God speaks to his children. There’s an organised way to do this; institutionally he chooses a prophet, an unbroken sequence from Joseph Smith, through Brigham Young, John Taylor to Russell M Nelson. An unbroken chain of prophetic leadership, constant communication from heaven to earth through a prophet. That is our message. Our ultimate message is the atonement of Christ, some saving experience to get to the people, temple. But people need to understand that God has spoken to a prophet about those things. It needs to be the start of our message. God lives and the heavens are open. That declaration should be on our lips, and was heard on our lips during General Conference. Speaking about the Sunday afternoon session Elder Holland said President Nelson had given him permission to inject some humour late in the day, when he quipped about the rush of revelation “I don’t know how many more “rushes” we can handle this weekend.” and then President Nelson introduced more revelation after that. He wants to remind us what President Nelson said at the pulpit; his message was revelation. This shouldn’t have been a surprise:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. Drawn to the promise of James that if we lack wisdom we may ask of God, the boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation.
“In like manner, what will your seeking open for you? What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.
“Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen!
“I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” (Russell M Nelson, GC April 2018)
Perhaps we may almost have let it slip by us, this individual invitation to do what a prophet of God was modelling. Listen and hear what President Nelson said.
The two great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour. He tells us he’s quoting a Scot:
“Is every Christian expected to bear witness? A man content to bear no witness to the truth is not in the kingdom of heaven. One who believes must bear witness. One who sees the truth, must live witnessing to it. Is our life, then, witnessing to the truth? Do we carry ourselves in bank, on farm, in house or shop, in study or chamber or workshop, as the Lord would, or the Lord would not? Are we careful to be true? Do we endeavour to live to the height of our ideas? Or are we mean, self-serving, world-flattering, fawning slaves? When contempt is cast on the truth, do we smile? … I do not say we are called upon to dispute, and defend with logic and argument, but we are called upon to show we are on the other side. … The soul that loves the truth and tries to be true, will know when to speak and when to be silent; but the true man will never look as if he did not care. We are not bound to say all we think, but we are bound not even to look what we do not think.” (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons third series)
Elder Holland bears witness of President Nelson as a prophet, part of an unbroken chain, never without that guidance. We of all people are most fortunate and can sing “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”. He’s grateful for a knowledge of saving ordinances.
Speaker: Sister Wendy Watson Nelson
Sister Nelson loves being with us, this great gathering of covenant-keeping saints, and those who want to be. Three of her family lines come from England and Scotland.
She’s grateful for the choice of hymn by the choir, and so has decided to share the following with us. At 11.02 on Tuesday January 2nd, they received a phone call about the death of President Monson. The hymn “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” came to her mind. She did get hung up on the line “Where can I run?” for a while. On March 31st she wondered how it would feel during the solemn assembly. When the time came she felt an entirely unexpected, yet overwhelming peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).
This morning whilst she was awake with jet lag, she pictured us in a kitchen with hot chocolate and biscuits. She thinks we might want to know what it has been like at home. There’s an old saying that the wife is the last to know. The Lord intervened so that she was not the last to know. She had a distinctive experience engraven on her heart and seared into her mind. This experience was repeated two days later. She won’t share the experience with us, because of its nature, but she can testify that President Nelson is called to be a prophet today.
After 12 years of marriage she is used to President Nelson waking in the night with ideas for a conference talk and noting them down. The frequency of these night-time awakenings has increased. He writes in a notebook. She is careful not to read them. Sometimes he makes notes while she is there. One morning she woke up, feeling she needed to get up and leave the room, so she got out of bed and worked on projects around the house. Two hours later President Nelson emerged from the bedroom with detailed instructions from the Lord that he’s to follow.
It is quite an experience to send him off to work in the mornings. He returns home a little different. He becomes more and more of his true self every day. And why not. This is what he was foreordained to do. She quotes Bruce R McConkie on Spencer W Kimball, applying this to President Nelson:
“Russell M Nelson knew and worshiped the Lord Jehovah, who was “like unto God.” (Abr. 3:24.) He was a friend of Adam and Enoch. He took counsel from Noah and Abraham. He sat in meetings with Isaiah and Nephi. He served in the heavenly kingdom with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.” (Bruce R McConkie, GC April 1974)
This is the Lord’s church. President Nelson was foreordained. We also lived premortally. The war in heaven continues to be fought here. We also covenanted to gather scattered Israel. We must recover valour to stand up for the truth, and keep covenants with ever-increasing precision.
Speaker: President Russell M Nelson
Thank you for being here. He will always remember this wonderful sight. We didn’t need to be here on a Thursday evening. Thanks to his team for cheering him on. His funeral can’t get better than this.
He’s come back to the British Isles, and London in particular. He has memories. On July 24th 1987 he accompanied President Benson and President Hinckley to a dinner at the Savoy Hotel. It began and ended with trumpets. President Benson gave a message and other dignitaries spoke. He had a copy of the Book of Mormon that Brigham Young had prepared for the Queen. Another occasion he remembers well, January 15th 1988. He was on a plane from New York to London, and was due to speak at a fireside in Crawley one hour from touchdown. The pilot announced that Heathrow was closed due to fog, and they would be diverting to Manchester (this is the other end of the country). He prayed (he has often prayed on planes, but this was different). He had promised the Mission President Ed Pinnegar that he would speak at the fireside. Then the pilot announced that they hadn’t got enough fuel to go to Manchester, so would be stopping at Gatwick to refuel only, before going on to Manchester. No one would be allowed to get off the plane. Gatwick is the closest airport to Crawley. He spoke to a stewardess asking that he and his wife be allowed to disembark, explaining there were 1000 people waiting to hear them speak in Crawley. She said there were no customs officers, and they wouldn’t be able to get their baggage. President Nelson and his wife had no checked baggage, and she did allow them off the plane. They phoned the Crawley chapel for someone to collect them from the airport. They arrived just after the opening prayer. The Pinnegars had been waiting at Heathrow, and were surprised to find the Nelsons had arrived first. He’s had lots of answers to prayers.
Here we are in London in 2018. He’s seen photographs of the chapel being cleaned and refurbished in preparation for the visit by the Inspector General, and thanks those who’ve made it look good. He and his wife have discussed the minute detail of the cleaning (toothbrushes were involved) to make things spotless. How can we do the same with our lives? By focusing on Christ. We should know more about Christ than any other people, having the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and continuing revelation.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, a mortal mother and immortal father allowed both His death and resurrection. Because of this we too can be resurrected. An unconditional gift. He is the Anointed One of the Father to do this, and as such has two titles – Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean the Anointed One. He was foreordained to be the Saviour of the world. He was the creator of this and other worlds, “worlds without number have I created” (Moses 1:33). By his word (Christ) he created them (Moses 1:32). We show no surprise when new planets are discovered. It’s part of our doctrine. Jesus is our advocate with the Father, and will speak for us when needed.
Jesus is Jehovah. One time President Nelson was at a meeting in Hollywood where he was asked to pray. He closed the prayer in the name of Jehovah. One of the men there was Jewish, and commented that Jehovah was his God. He taught the commandments to Moses, made promises to Abraham. The Saviour would be born through his lineage, though Isaac, Jacob and Judah. The house of Judah was responsible for the first coming of the Lord. Joseph, through Ephraim and Manasseh is responsible for preparing for the second coming of the Lord. A charge to participate in the great gathering of Israel and prepare for the second coming. Apostles are asked when the second coming will be. He has the answer. We don’t know. Not today or tomorrow, there is still a lot to do, but we’re a day closer than we were yesterday.
So, we do our duty, with thought of participating in the gathering of Israel. Participating as families, sealing in the temple. A destiny we can qualify for because of Christ. Eternal life is conditional on faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, the temple endowments, sealings, and keeping covenants. It doesn’t matter how long you live, so long as you are prepared. A death is only premature for those who aren’t prepared.
Jesus is Immanuel prophesied by Isaiah. He is our exemplar. In our ministering responsibilities we should do what Jesus did. Find someone having a bad day, lonely, afraid, feeling unloved and take care of them. A higher, holier way. We’ve learnt a lot from home and visiting teaching. Now take a step higher, extend ourselves. Be spiritual physicians. The gospel has the power to lift, love and save. They thought about calling us shepherds, but that could have been misunderstood.
President Nelson has a wonderful home teacher (his name will be changed now, well not his actual name he hopes). A cold icy snowy day, he was there with powerful tools chopping the ice from President Nelson’s driveway.
Our doctrine is not complicated, convoluted or complex. Love God, love your neighbour. Maybe revelation maybe obedience to those two commandments. Loving and caring for one another. Wanting people to have a better life. In his responsibility in the past for opening nations to the gospel he has spoken with leaders behind the iron curtain. They asked what the church would do for them. He said they would make life better. Gives the example that the preaching of the word of Wisdom would improve levels of alcoholism in Russia. Look for a way to help others.
Christ is our judge, “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there” (2Ne 9:41). The Lord will be the one to interview us. A marvellous work and a wonder. In Hebrew marvellous and wonder have the same root, meaning miracle. It’s a miraculous miracle. Jospeph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. Lost 116 pages and had to start over. Wendy was working on a manuscript at home, and lost the whole thing. It was a calamity. Dinner was not very good that evening. Well the dinner was alright, but their ability to enjoy it had been modified.
Elder Nelson invited Wendy to join him at the stand and tell us about the first meal she ever prepared for him (Sister Nelson seems to adhere to the Hedgehog school of experimental cookery, just saying, Bro Hedgehog found this anecdote highly amusing). She tells us that perhaps because she has been single for a long time she tends to be creative, recipe books are more a suggestion only thing. So President Nelson’s response to this meal was to ask “if we were in a restaurant and wanted to order this what would we call it?”
We will be judged, so we need to clean up our act.
The first presidency and Quorum of the 12 are totally united and love one another. No one is late for a meeting. They’re all early. They like the opportunity to talk with each other. This is the Saviour’s church and we are His people, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33)
Jesus is the Christ. This is His church. The priesthood is His, the power to act in His name is His. He would that every man speak in the name of the Lord, but few take Him up. He is the head of the church, and does give direction to the prophet and apostles.
President Nelson, speaking on behalf of the Apostles then proceeds to give an apostolic blessing. We are blessed to feast upon the words of Christ, to apply His teachings, to be kind and considerate to our neighbours, family, friends, all those we come in contact with. We are blessed with safety in travel, strength and fidelity in our families. There’s a blessing of healing and health for those who are sick. We are to be engaged in the work of God. He is out Father, and we are His children.
Closing Hymn: We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet
Closing Prayer: Sis Hollie McKee
*Thanks to commenter Alana for the African name I didn’t catch properly.
Post updated 13/4/18.
Spelling of the name Hollie, previously showing as Holly, corrected 14/4/18.
Spelling of the name Hooson, previously showing as Hewson, corrected 16/4/18.
NB. As always this is constructed from my scribbled notes made during the broadcast; any errors in reporting are mine, as is the choice of hyperlinks.