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Mormon church president stresses importance of practicing love, forgiveness

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SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon church President Thomas Monson urged members to follow Jesus Christ's example by showing love toward others.

Monson also stressed the importance of forgiveness during a talk Sunday in Salt Lake City during the faith's biannual general conference, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1h5fb4B ).

"Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our exemplar," he said. "His life was a legacy of love. The sick he healed, the downtrodden he lifted, the sinner he saved."

Love should be "the very heart of family life, and yet ofttimes it is not. There can be too much impatience, too much arguing, too many fights, too many tears," he added.

The 86-year-old Monson said "forgiveness should go hand in hand with love," adding that "blame keeps wounds open (and) only forgiveness heals."

The conference, which ended Sunday, brought more than 100,000 Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City to find out church news and soak up words of guidance and inspiration from the faith's top leaders. Millions more watched worldwide.

Dieter Uchtdorf, Monson's second counselor in the governing First Presidency, said gratitude is a solution to bitterness and sorrow.

"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is," he said. "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?"

PHOTO: People enter the conference center and go through metal detectors prior to the morning session of the 184th General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Scott Sommerdorf)
People enter the conference center and go through metal detectors prior to the morning session of the 184th General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Scott Sommerdorf)

Elder L. Tom Perry, second in line for the Mormon presidency, urged members to avoid life's pitfalls by practicing obedience.

"Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive," the 91-year-old Perry said. "It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God's unlimited wisdom and omnipotence."

Jean Stevens, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency, urged members to face challenges with prayer and a trust in the Lord.

"We can trust that he will help us, not necessarily in the way we want but in the way that will best help us to grow," she said. "Submitting our will to his may be difficult, but it is essential to become like him and find the peace he offers us."

Stevens made Mormon history a year ago when she became the first woman to offer a public prayer at a Mormon general conference.

Elder William Walker of the Quorum of the Seventy said members should learn about the sacrifice and service of ancestors who helped build the church.

"The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices," he said.

Outside the conference, about 75 atheists, most of them former Mormons, marched through Temple Square, a walk that culminated in many participants mailing resignations to the church. Afterward, the peaceful crowd went to a nearby park to listen to an atheist leader speak.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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PHOTO: President Thomas S. Monson greets members of the Quorum of the Twelve as he leaves the morning session of the 184th General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sunday, April 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Scott Sommerdorf)
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