The Fourth Mission of the Church: Why Absent from Conference?

At this last General Conference, I was anxiously awaiting someone–particularly President Monson or the Presiding Bishopric–to discuss details about the Church’s new mission: helping the poor and needy. This mission will be added to the the Church’s existing three missions, which will be called four purposes: perfecting the saints, proclaiming the gospel, redeeming the dead, and helping the poor and needy.

I assumed that it would at least be mentioned. Which would have been nice, as most members I’ve talked with, including priesthood leaders, are unaware of the announced addition to the church’s mission.

To my surprise, there was no mention of it (unless I missed something). This post is not a complaint; I imagine the Brethren know what they’re doing in terms of implementing the new mission. Perhaps they just want to take the time to develop a systematic program before they make a big deal out of it.

So why did the Church make the announcement several months ago? Perhaps it was more a message to the world than to the Saints. Perhaps they didn’t want to wait to let others know that we are really serious about helping the poor and the needy.

I’m curious if anyone has information about the rolling out of the fourth mission. Has the Church communicated anything about this to stake or ward leaders? Has anyone’s ward, stake, or quorum began any kind of organization or new callings associated with helping the poor? For example, has anyone’s Elders Quorum called a Helping the Poor and Needy chair? And would it be OK to do something like this, absent specific instructions from Salt Lake?

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7 Responses

  1. The new mission was mentioned in the stake conference broadcast to the east coast two weeks before general conference. Nevertheless, I too was surprised it got no mention in general conference (although there were many mentions of actual examples of helping the poor and needy, especially those living in Haiti, Chile, and Samoa).

    One of the last speakers (Anderson?) mentioned that there were no assigned topics, so everybody might just have assumed that somebody else would mention it and it fell through the cracks.

  2. There are new versions of the handbooks coming out at the end of the year/beginning of 2011, so they are probably waiting for that.
    Also, at least one speaker mentioned the “Leadership Training Emphasis” which is something that we’ve been given (as leaders) and it has some added wording about helping the poor and needy.

  3. Perhaps this past conference is an example of why general authorities need to coordinate their talks. Perhaps if they discovered that 80% of the speakers were considering talking about a topic that they had selected, they might consider speaking about something else. I felt sad that the fourth mission of the Church was ignored and that little, if anything, was said about reaching out to the poor, the lonely, the widows, the orphans, the suffering, the sick, the homeless, the dying.

    According to the scriptures, that is what true religion is all about. Our words will seem very hollow if we do not reach out to others with true love and compassion.

  4. Carol:

    Perhaps if they discovered that 80% of the speakers were considering talking about a topic that they had selected, they might consider speaking about something else.

    This may be true, but I’m glad that there is not coordination of talks. If the speakers are truly inspired about what to speak about (and if they’re not, then there’s really little reason to listen), then something is communicated when so many speakers address overlapping topics. Because there is little originality in the substantive content of General Conference talks, what is focused on is one of the biggest indicators what may be important for members to focus (more) on.

    You may be right that it would have been nice to have more talks about reaching out to the poor and needy (although humanitarian efforts were at least mentioned several times). But it’s important to recognize, too, I think, that the purpose of General Conference is not to recapitulate every gospel topic. Caring for the poor and needy ought to be so clearly connected with gospel living that it’s not a big problem if it’s not mentioned overtly over and over again in conference. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in an upcoming conference, this theme is dominant.

  5. I’ve been waiting for a bigger deal to be made of the fourth mission as well. Most people I’ve talked to about it have heard nothing about it.

    Loved conference though and loved the fact that so many of the talks were about family (parenting etc). I agree with Dennis in taking the position that when there are multiple talks with the same message there is something to be gained from focusing more closely on that message.

    Look forward to hearing how the 4th mission of the church will be implemented and emphasized in the future.

  6. It will come, and when it does everyone will know about it. It will be in the ensign, new era, friend, church news, maybe a latter read in church. Probably general conference. I am prone to agree with Graham

  7. I wonder if this will bring any new callings or councils. We already have welfare program, church does a lot in field of humanitarian aid; now it is just named as the fourth purpose.

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