|Photo courtesy of LDS Public Affairs|
Elder Bednar, accompanied by his wife, Susan, spoke to a group of YSAs from the Buffalo, Rochester, Palmyra, Syracuse, Owego and Utica Stakes after a full day of training for leaders, missionaries and members in the upstate New York area. The Apostle spoke with Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gordon Smith of the area presidency in the northeast United States. Elder Bednar began with a few brief remarks, then opened up the two-hour-plus meeting to Questions & Answers from the audience, inviting the other General Authorities and their wives to weigh in at intervals.
The format required the youth to actively engage with these authorities, and to think critically about issues they would like addressed during the devotional.
"If one is to learn by the power of the Holy Ghost, then it requires the use of moral agency," Elder Bednar said. "Agency is the capacity to act and not merely be acted upon."The leaders addressed such issues as the Priesthood, effective home and visiting teachers, overcoming adversity and avoiding Satan's influence in the world, becoming converted by putting off the natural man and the new church-wide missionary age change.
Elder Bednar reminded the young adults that, despite their solitary status in the world, they are never truly without a friend and companion.
"You are never alone because of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost," he said. "And if you don't have the priesthood in your home, go to His home where you can have the priesthood all the time."The new missionary age range allows families to continue teaching their children, preparing them to serve honorable full-time missions well before the 18- and 19-year-old missionaries arrive at their respective training centers. These lessons are made possible because of the church's vast array of teaching materials available online at lds.org.
"You can have Sunday School anywhere you want, with the same textual and digital resources that the church has," Elder Bednar said. "You are now the library."The youth of the church are able to serve today better than in other eras. It is not enough to wait until reaching a future marital status, education level or state of employment to begin serving in the kingdom.
"Young adults should not ask what the church can do for them, but what can they do for the church?" Elder Bednar's wife, Susan, said. "You are special. You have so much to add. Don't just think about what you can take."