Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We hope that each of you enjoyed a comforting, faith-filled, and Christ-centered Christmas. And of course our best wishes for a prosperous and joyful New Year! As a stake presidency, we have both deep feelings of affection for, and interest in the welfare of, each of you. We are proud of you and what you do. We are grateful for the service you render and the love you express—in word and deed—to others. Our prayers always are for your happiness.
At the September 10 session of our stake conference, we encouraged all in our stake to read (again) The Book of Mormon—and to complete that reading by the end of the year (to meet that challenge that beginning that day would require reading 531 double-columned printed pages over the course of 111 days, at an average of just under 5 pages a day). Having made that plea, I began myself the next day to read again, from the beginning, The Book of Mormon. I finished recently. For me, it was another learning and uplifting experience. The parallels between the events in The Book of Mormon and our day seemed even more striking. The lessons that should have been learned then should be applied by us now. The Book’s powerful witness of Christ, of His sacred Atonement, and of His and the Father’s love for us are unparalleled. I add my witness of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon and of its origins and manner of translation.
I echo this expression of servant-King Benjamin, in Mosiah 2:41:
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
As we begin a new year, many of us will be setting goals or targets for ourselves and perhaps our families. We do the same for our stake. Those goals are as follows:
1. Pray Daily: individually and as a family
2. Study the Scriptures Daily: individually and as a family
3. Hold Weekly Family Home Evening
4. Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts: repent; create a gospel sharing home; engage in meaningful gospel discussions; invite friends to home and church, and introduce them to the missionaries; commit and prepare to serve a mission
5. Engage in the Great Latter-day Work of Temples: hold a current temple recommend; worship at the temple often; perform family history work and temple ordinances for ancestors
6. Home & Visit Teach: make meaningful visits; love, reach out, and rescue
7. Observe the Sabbath Day at Church and in the Home: faithfully attend Sacrament and other Sunday meetings; fill each Sunday with uplifting Christ-centered activities
8. Become Self-Reliant and Care for the Poor: avoid unnecessary debt, establish a budget and live within means, and save and prepare for emergencies; pay a full tithe and generous fast offering; share of abundance
God be with you this New Year!
President Sterling Brennan