News Release

General Authorities Train Puerto Rican Leaders Through Technology

A series of meetings will be held in Puerto Rico and in the Dominican Republic to review the progress of the Church in the Caribbean Area.

As the world continues to find new ways to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ continues in new ways among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What is the objective? That the word of the Lord may reach every corner of the world through his servants, despite the difficult circumstances in which humanity finds itself and the restrictions that exist to travel and to meet.

Such is the case of the area review, a series of meetings that currently combine face-to-face participation with remote interaction through information and communication technologies. In these meetings, the General Authorities of the Church travel “regulating all the affairs of the (Church) in all nations” (D&C 107: 34) and building the Church throughout the world.

On this occasion, the Caribbean Area is being visited by Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy, accompanied by his wife Marcia, who, together with the Area Presidency and other area authorities, will carry out various activities presided over by remotely by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with the participation of general officers from Church world headquarters, to instruct Church leaders, members, missionaries, and employees. These meetings will take place from Saturday, August 21, to Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Leadership training meeting

The area review began with a leadership training meeting held at the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico meetinghouse, which in turn was broadcasted from a special room of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in Salt Lake City, Utah. From this location, and in fluent and natural Spanish, Elder Soares greeted the one hundred and twenty-five leaders who gathered in Guaynabo and the many others connected in a virtual way from various points of the island. He also sent greetings from President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, who currently has one of his grandchildren serving as a missionary in Puerto Rico.

The participants included stake presidencies, stake Relief Society, Young Women, and Young Men presidencies, as well as bishops. Elder Soares was accompanied by Sister Reyna Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, who is a native of Nicaragua.

The meeting focused on answering questions previously submitted by participating leaders, which focused on how to increase and strengthen the faith of members, help young people grow and remain active in the Church, and gain ideas for balancing the various responsibilities of leaders, both inside and outside the Church.

“The long-standing goal of the church is to help all members increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and in his Atonement, to help them keep their covenants with God, and to strengthen and seal their families,” said Elder Soares, quoting the words of the President Nelson, to emphasize that everything that is done in the Church is intended to increase and strengthen faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, since “faith is the catalyst to help people persevere in their covenants and qualify for eternal life ,” he specified.

The leaders of different stakes who attended the training reacted very emotionally to the words of Elder Soares and the other leaders who spoke.  Many indicated that “their prayers had been answered” and that “the Spirit of the Lord He had spoken to them in a particular way.” Sister Carmen Yolanda Morales, Relief Society President of the Ponce Stake, shared that “Heavenly Father does not leave us alone.”

In his message, Elder Soares spoke of what he described as "constant attacks from the adversary on our faith," which, in his words, "grow exponentially." He also emphasized how the Lord has been responding to the current world situation, especially in times of pandemic, through the voice of living prophets.

For her part, Sister Reyna Aburto stated that, to help the young people of the Church strengthen their faith and their testimonies, it is necessary to “have more confidence in them and know that they have the right to receive revelation, and not try to do everything for them. It is good to accompany them and help them, but we must let them be the ones who implement the youth programs, to be ministering companions, not as minor companions, but as equals, helping them to feel love for those to whom they minister and praying with them to receive revelation.”

In other comments, Elder Nielson taught about the importance of keeping the gospel simple so that people can understand it and apply it, saying, “The two great commandments summarize the law and the prophets. The gospel does not need to be complicated; it is simple. We show that we love God when we keep his commandments, and we show our love to our neighbors when we help them to see the truths of the gospel and to do good things. Every program of the Church falls within these two commandments, so when things get complex, let's remember the Savior's response: love God and love our neighbor."

With tender words, Elder Soares concluded the meeting by symbolically inviting all leaders to “wash one another's feet,” as a way to sincerely serve one another. He invited each one to ask themselves: “What am I doing to wash the feet of the members? What am I doing to follow the example given by Jesus Christ to bless them?” Then he added, “Our callings are to serve people according to the model established by the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the one who called us, because He inspired the leaders to call us. When we understand this, we bless all of God's children and help them stay on the covenant path.”

Other meetings

The area review is planned to continue with other meetings and devotionals for leaders and members across the Caribbean with the help of technology. These meetings include a devotional for all English-speaking members broadcast from the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico meetinghouse, as well as a similar activity for French-speaking members and a special conference for all stakes in Puerto Rico, with the members connected from their respective meetinghouses to avoid crowds, thus complying with the measures recommended by the authorities on social distancing and protection in Church meetings.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.