News Story

Pacific Area Leaders Encourage Wellington Latter-day Saints to Love and Lift, One by One

"When we are working together in the Lord's way, we can lift together"

On Saturday 20 March, local lay leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in Porirua, New Zealand for a unique experience.

The Pacific Area Presidency led a meeting of over 200 leaders from four stakes (groups of congregations) from Wellington, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Palmerston North.

It was a rare opportunity for Church members to hear from all three members of the Area Presidency.

Elder K. Brett Nattress, First Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency, said that normally the members of the Area Presidency travel to different locations all over the Pacific region - which includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the nations and territories of the South Pacific.

"This year," Elder Nattress said, "with travel restrictions in so many places, we decided to focus closer to our home base here in New Zealand and go out and meet with the many faithful members here.”

The Church has about 115,000 members in Aotearoa-New Zealand in 225 congregations.

Elder Ian S. Ardern, Pacific Area President, set the theme for the training meetings with a discussion about the importance of understanding the needs of individual members.

In an interactive discussion, he asked leaders to meet in teams to seek better ways to “focus on the one” in their congregations.

Elder Nattress conducted an exercise that showed that we can make a positive difference in our congregations and communities by each person inviting one other person to join us in following Jesus Christ.

Elder Yamashita shared some principles for helping individuals struggling with sensitive challenges. 

He said that we should listen with love, validate challenges, and invite others to turn to Jesus Christ for comfort, peace, guidance and power.

Leaders from four stakes in Wellington met with the Pacific Area Presidency on 20 March to discuss how to minister to the one. New Zealand, March 2021.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rhyno Heydenrych, a new Elders Quorum President in Tawa Ward, Wellington Stake, said, “Having the entire Area Presidency all together here was a great spiritual boost for me after a time of such great uncertainty over the last year.”

“I will take the messages that we heard about ‘Ministering to the One’ into our meetings," said Craig Dunlop, First Counselor in the Elders Quorum in Palmerston North.

He added, "Love needs to be the motivating principle, and leads us to identify those who need help. The gospel is about making a personal connection with Jesus Christ. On an academic level, you can read and you can know the stories but it’s when it touches the heart that magic happens.”

The Area Presidency taught valuable principles that govern having more effective meetings with fellow leaders and members. These include being prepared by seeking inspiration in advance for your organization, contributing in humility, being respectful of others' opinions and their time, and giving feedback in a positive way.

A breakout session focused on the needs of women, youth and young children. It was led by Sister Paula Ardern, with a panel consisting of Sister Shawna Nattress, Sister Tazuko Yamashita and Sister Noeline Odgers.

The dynamic discussion focused on many topics including improving family scripture study and ways to to help inspire young people to serve as missionaries.

Sister Ardern led off the discussion by saying. “We need to encourage members to follow Jesus Christ. True followers help each other.”

At the end stages of this session, Elder Ardern joined the panel discussion.

“Our leaders are children of God, just like all of us," said Margaret Parata from Upper Hutt.

"This was the first time I have heard Elder Ardern in person. He listened to our concerns and I liked it when he said, 'Yes, I understand what you’re saying.' He is so down-to-earth and I really felt the Spirit.”

Mika Butters from Tawa Ward and Wellington Stake Young Women President was very touched by the messages from her female colleagues.

“I’d love to share with the young women of my area what a wonderful experience this has been, and how to be at the right place at the right time so as to be spiritually nourished. It wasn’t just from the talks, but also the mingling with the members afterwards. Today I’ve felt that I need to trust my own inspiration and then follow it.”

Mere Fiore, from Wainuiomata, commented about the women’s session. “We can achieve anything in the gospel of Jesus Christ if men and women are working together, like two wings of the same bird. When we are working together in the Lord's way, we can lift together.” 

In another breakout session, for clerks, the focus was on helping Church leaders and members minister to the needs of others in Christ-like ways. 

Stake and ward clerks discuss importance of record keeping at the Wellington region leadership meeting. New Zealand, March 20212021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

They discussed a scripture from the Book of Mormon, in Moroni 6:4, to understand more deeply how clerical service can make a difference in the lives of individuals and families.  

“And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”

Speaking about the meeting afterwards, Elder Nattress said, “Everything we do, including this training, is to help individuals find peace, hope, guidance and power in Christ, in a troubled world.”

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