Recently the Financial Review interviewed Australian Latter-day Saint Elder Peter Meurs about his new fulltime role as a General Authority Seventy in the Church (read here).
His ease of manner, love of the gospel and enthusiasm for life, made the Elder Meurs article a great read. And it will no doubt increase readers’ understanding of how almost the entire ecclesiastical work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is carried out by ‘volunteers’ – people called to serve in various capacities without pay but with a lot of faith and energy and sacrifice.
That same faith and energy is found among the members recently called to local leadership positions in and around Adelaide.
For Firle Stake Primary President Annette Orth, serving is a ‘delight’.
“As I’ve visited the wards and branches of the stake, my faith’s been strengthened by the wise, loving leaders and teachers, and beautiful primary and nursery children,” Annette shared.
“I’m especially uplifted by the children’s personal stories and experiences, and their knowledge and understanding of gospel principles.”
Hearing the youngsters sing, and seeing them serve is a choice aspect of the calling too: “I’ve seen children sing in nursing homes, help someone give their talk, or make sure the younger children participate and feel a special part of Primary. They are great examples of the Saviour’s love in so many ways – including inviting friends to church, and showing kindness to teachers and other kids. I just love them!”
Annette, wife of Andy and busy mother of four children aged 3-11, is full of praise for parents and teachers: “Primary can be a wonderful support for families by reinforcing gospel principles and helping children learn to recognise the spirit, but we’re just a support really to what happens at home and in the family.
“I’m grateful to parents for teaching their children and bringing them to church; and our teachers and leaders deserve a big thank-you for their efforts, faith and prayers on behalf of the primary children.”
Prospect Ward primary children preparing to sing at an aged care facility close to their church meetinghouse
While Annette was able to draw on her previous experience as a counselor in Firle Stake Primary, recently-called branch president Shaun Scott will lead a new church unit in the city, created for both members living inside the city and Chinese church members and converts, bolstered by his faith and his two-year experience as a Mandarin-speaking missionary in Taipei, Taiwan.
“Emma (Shaun’s wife) and I are both excited at the chance we have to serve in the Adelaide City Branch,” said Shaun. “We are especially excited to work with our Chinese brothers and sisters across the three stakes.
“We hope that the branch will become a home away from home for its members, and will become a hub of activity for the students who study in the city and the young adults across the stakes.”
Being called ‘president Scott’ might take a bit of getting used to but Shaun, who also works full-time as a solicitor, says leading his branch with love will be easy.
“Chinese members are a joy to be around. They have a humility and an enthusiasm for the church that is contagious, and when they embrace the gospel they instinctively want to share what they have learned with others.
“It is so amazing to think that many of them had not heard about Jesus Christ before meeting the missionaries.”
The city branch – located at Level 7, 195 North Terrace – will commence officially next month.
Shaun Scott of the Firle Stake, pictured with his wife, Emma, has been called to lead the newly-created Adelaide City Branch
Marion Ward Bishop Nathan Tucci and Playford Ward bishop Daniel Santoro were also among those recently called to leadership roles.
For Bishop Tucci, looking after the rising generation is one of his priorities.
“I was serving as the YM’s president before, working with the youth,” he said. “I see this call as a great opportunity to continue to be heavily involved with the youth, helping to build positive changes in their lives and to strengthen their relationship with the Saviour.
“And I have realised very quickly serving as the Bishop, that tomorrow’s blessings and opportunities depend on the choices we make today.”
Bishop Nathan Tucci of Marion Ward, Marion Stake, with his wife Emily
He and his family have been part of the Marion ward for a few years, and the connection goes back even further with Bishop Tucci assigned there more than 22 years ago as a serving missionary. He says there is much to be thankful for: “I was born into the church and grew up in Melbourne with parents who immigrated to Australia – mother from England and father from Italia.
“My parents met the missionaries when they were dating, and they both joined the church just before getting married.
“My Dad was always hard working and I guess that was one of the lessons that I learned early in life – not to take things for granted. And I know that’s helped me to recognise and be grateful for blessings we are given.”
Bishop Santoro, a church convert of more than 12 years, is focused on ensuring he does what his Heavenly Father and Saviour Jesus Christ expect of him.
“I’m very humbled to be serving as a bishop in the Modbury Stake: I felt like I had been ‘thrown into the deep end’ as I was only just getting to know the people in the ward when I was called to serve as their bishop,” he explained.
“My family and I came to Adelaide (and had lived here before) from Townsville where I served in the branch presidency, and I gained a great deal of learning and insight into what is required to be a leader in the Church.
“Looking back, I can see that I was being prepared for the leadership role I have now. However I don’t think anyone expects to be called as a Bishop. And it totally surprised me!”
Playford Ward Bishop Daniel Santoro with his wife Sarah and family
Each of these new leaders highlighted the strength that comes from testimony and the support of others.
“I have a testimony of the restored gospel and of its priesthood authority,’ said Bishop Santoro. “… This knowledge allows me to serve with 100 percent confidence in my heavenly father and his son, Jesus Christ – and I know they will guide and support me as required, as well as my family and those who I work with and serve.”
“Every calling provides an opportunity to serve and to grow. The Lord organized the Church in a way that offers each member an opportunity for service, which, in turn, leads to personal spiritual growth. Whatever your calling, I urge you to see it as an opportunity not only to strengthen and bless others but also to become what Heavenly Father wants you to become.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counsellor in the First Presidency