News Release

Young Latter-day Saints Encouraged to Stand Up, Be Heard

Nearly 150 young Aucklanders, age 18-30, attended a devotional Sunday night focused on preserving religious freedoms and positively impacting the future of their country and society.

They were reminded that religious freedom needs to be protected, that the policies and laws which shape New Zealand’s future are based on what the citizens want, and that it’s vital to “stand-up and be heard” or much of their future will be determined by others.

The devotional was conducted by the local Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is under the direction of Elder Paul R. Coward, the Church’s senior leader for the Auckland area. He was joined at the devotional by President William Gardner, a senior church leader in Panmure.

Bishop Skye J. Nicholls and Bishop Tere Tai Tutai were featured speakers at the devotional. They are leaders of the two large congregations in the Auckland area organized by the Church for young adult members of the Church who are single.

In his remarks Bishop Nicholls quoted from a recent address by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “I believe religious freedom is declining because faith in God and pursuit of God-centred religion is declining worldwide. If one does not value religion, one does not usually put a high value on religious freedom.”

Said Bishop Nicholls, “Each of us here place a high value on religion, so we highly value religious freedom. I encourage each of us to participate in society to protect religious freedom.”

Bishop Tutai reminded those in attendance to lead out and have their choices in life directed by the Holy Ghost.

In recounting the events of the evening, Elder Coward said, “Church members have a responsibility to become informed about the issues and candidates, and to independently exercise their right to vote. This counsel applies to the local city council as well as central government elections.

“And in all political and religious discussions, we should act kindly, following the example of Jesus Christ,” he counselled.

The evening gathering included workshops conducted by youth moderators which featured Members of Parliament Pita Paraone and Su’a William Sio. They were joined by Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, a member of the Manurewa local board, and Lydia Sosene, chairman of the Mangere-Otahuha local board.

The overriding theme of the workshops was that people under the age of 30 who are eligible to vote are largely silent on important issues and disengaged from the political process in general.

“We are concerned you 18 to 30 year olds are just not interested,” said Lydia Sosene.

“What happens in this country is because of the people who voted, or because of those who didn’t vote,” shared Junior Samuela, one of the directors of Auckland public affairs for the Church. “It is important to stand-up and be heard.”

Elder Coward encourages all young men and women of the Church to be involved in civic matters and commends those who are already engaged.

“Our young adults are remarkable and some are already making their stand in the public square and becoming involved in their communities. They have strong desires to ensure the future of their country and societies are what they want, and are not dictated by others,” he said. 

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