ST. LOUIS, Missouri — President David K. Sylvester of St. Louis Missouri South Stake doesn’t just preach the restored gospel to members; he invites them to celebrate it!
Members of his stake have come to expect exciting invitations stirring them to put in practice the gospel in their lives. It is a regular occurrence for the stake presidency to issue challenges in conjunction with anniversaries, like printing of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s birthday and the stake’s own birthday. So of course the tenth anniversary of the St. Louis Missouri Temple provided members with yet another auspicious date to celebrate and make participation in temple and family history work a part of their daily lives.
Over the course of six months — from January to June — members were invited to participate in the “Turning the Hearts” celebration. Members wrote their personal temple experiences and created artistic representations of family trees. On March 17, these were shared in a cultural arts program — “It’s a Small World” — with live performances and displays (see photographs at the end of the article).
Members of the stake were also challenged to record their four generations and prepare names for temple work. Beginning, today, June 1, the actual anniversary of the St. Louis Missouri Temple Dedication, members are scheduled to “Bring Your Ancestors to the Temple” and flood the temple by participating in at least two sessions on June 1 and 2. Another stake in the area, St. Louis Missouri Stake, challenged members to attend ten weeks prior to the tenth anniversary: “ten times before the tenth.”
Temple attendance is up in the area and among St. Louis Missouri South Stake members. But President David K. Sylvester is not as impressed with numbers as what those numbers indicate about how temple work is helping members focus on the gospel and make Christ central to their lives. He observed:
It has been very rewarding to read their stories and see their efforts and creativity. This has been such a blessing to my own family, so I know how much it means to others. It is amazing. I think the Saints want to be moving ! I think they want and need challenges to keep them spiritually alive.
Too many people sit in my office overcome with grief from sin that could have avoided the serious pitfalls they are in if they were focused on the Gospel, serving in the Church, attending the temple, making the Scriptures a daily anchor in their lives.
I hope that the Saints all over the Earth will find reasons to celebrate the Gospel, the Church and their families. This is what will matter when all is said and done. This has been such a blessing to our stake and to our families. You could ask anyone who has participated in these events over the last many months!
Come and enjoy, through photographs, some of the displays and ideas presented at the “It’s a Small World” celebration.