Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Night in Bethlehem

Saturday the 6th December was the stake Christmas activity at the Devonport Chapel called "A Night in Bethlehem". Many people helped with the huge amount of preparation that went into getting this activity ready. Thank you to those people and also everyone who attended and made the evening a great and successful experience. 

Visitors to 'Bethlehem' were given a pouch of 'coins' enabling them to experience some of the food, drink and crafts of the period. Food stalls ranged from fruit, cheese, yoghurt, bread, meat and juice. Other stalls included basket weaving, plants, candles, woodwork and blacksmithing. Outside there was also a petting zoo where children enjoyed seeing and touching some animals.

Giving to the Poor
Cheese / Yoghurt

During the evening everyone gathered together for a Nativity performance. This was an opportunity for everyone as well as a choir to join in singing Christmas carols and watch the Christmas story be told.


This 'Night in Bethlehem' was to remind us what Christmas is really about. Please watch the 'He is the Gift' video and think about ways you can also #ShareTheGift yourself.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Seminary Celebrations

Tamar Ward

(Bishop Rogers)

Periodically this year in my capacity as Bishop I have had the privilege of attending Seminary. As the year started drawing to a close I felt quite strongly that our ward would be blessed by having these remarkable youth from both the Esk and Tamar Wards presenting in our sacrament meeting the experiences, challenges and highlights of their time in seminary this year.

I put the idea past Brother Dale Prebble, our fearless seminary teacher, who agreed that it would be a feasible idea and he accepted the task of putting together a presentation.

On Sunday 23rd November we had the privilege of hearing from 4 of these remarkable youth (Jaylen King, Macady Roberts, Eliza Woodward & Lizzie Prebble), one of the seminary kids parents (Sister Tammy Rowlings) and from their wonderful teacher (Brother Dale Prebble).

The messages that were shared were both heartfelt and real. There was no sugar coating that the early mornings were not hard or that at times it wasn’t a battle. What was heard from all was that the sacrifice of getting up, the sacrifice of having to fit one more thing into their busy lives was worth the reward, both as a parent, as a teacher and as a student.

I felt the spirit strongly testify to me in this meeting that we need these youth, each and every year to have the opportunity to tell us how they have done what they have done. We would all do well to follow the pattern of faith that they are providing us. We cannot simply sit in front of the fireplace of testimony and demand warmth, certainty and the spirit. We have to have the faith in the first place to make the sacrifice, to go the distance, to give up what so many others would not, to then see the rewards. Moroni, the mighty Book of Mormon prophet said it best in Ether 12:6 “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”.

Unbeknown to all of us was that sitting back in the congregation that day was Brother Fell who oversees seminary in this part of Australia. Divine providence, or sheer coincidence, it was a pleasure to have him attend.

The meeting was uplifting and inspired, as is the seminary program. I can testify that if our youth attend 4 years of seminary that they will not only be better missionaries and members, but that they will be better husbands and wives, and better students and workers.

These blessings are too good to turn down. With Seminary only 2 months away from recommencing, what are you waiting for? Enroll today and commit to something great, that will, without question, change your life for the better.

Burnie Branch

(Paige Triffitt)

On Sunday, November 23, Burnie Branch held its annual seminary sacrament meeting. As many of you know we have been studying the Book of Mormon this year in seminary. It has been such a wonderful experience to learn more about and ponder the lives of those prophets who are in this amazing book. We were able to share what we have learnt throughout the year and to talk about some of our favourite events and prophets that have strengthened our faith in Christ.

There were six Burnie youth that participated in the sacrament meeting. At first everyone was worried that we would not take up enough time; but amazingly we somehow managed to run overtime and had to skip our seminary teachers’ talks all together. This was a truly amazing feat for our seminary class who hardly spoke unless food or ‘Brigham Bucks’ were offered.

We were able to listen to talks about the brother of Jared and his peoples’ struggles whilst journeying to the promised land; Nephi and his peoples’ trials to the same land; Alma the Younger and his conversion to the Gospel as well as his counsel to his sons; the sons of Helaman and comparisons to our time; the Prophet Moroni and his teachings and examples; and last but not least how seminary has impacted the life of one of Burnie’s youth. Everyone spoke outstandingly! From a student’s perspective it was wonderful to see that the seminary program has been just as significant in my peers lives as it has been in mine. I know that I have come to understand and love the Book of Mormon so much more this year, both because of seminary and the challenge to read it twice in one year. Personally it is such a blessing to be able to start the day learning with other youth who hold the same standards. It has brought the Spirit into my day and has opened up so many more missionary opportunities than I ever could have imagined. Not only does seminary help us to grow spiritually but it also allows the youth to form a strong bond together. Now that seminary has finished it feels strange not seeing the other youth every day! We get to see each other at our best and our worst. I know that I have gotten to know and love my fellow youth so much more because of the opportunity of seminary.

If you ask any youth who attends early morning seminary, they will tell you that it is not easy. I often wanted to stay in my nice warm bed (especially in winter), or would start to fall asleep during class. But I know that as we fight off the natural man and attend seminary we will be blessed. It is not there to deprive us of sleep, it is there to help us prepare, grow and come unto Christ.

Seminary Graduation

(Andrew Spilling)

The Graduates
Sunday, November 23, saw the conclusion of another successful year of seminary and institute with the 2014 seminary and institute graduation and devotional evening held at the Deloraine Chapel. Attended by more than 80 people including family and friends, the evening was a celebration of student achievements throughout the year. Certificates were awarded for ‘Scripture Mastery’, ‘Scripture Reading’ and ‘Course Completion’. Three students were recognized for completing the four-year seminary program and received their ‘Seminary Graduation Diploma’. 

The 2014 graduates were – Emma Spilling (Esk Ward), Nathan Rowlings (Esk Ward) and Justine Hames (Devonport Ward).

Presiding at the meeting was President Lionel Walters, President of the Devonport Australia Stake. Brother Mark Fell, who is the seminary and institute of religion coordinator for the Melbourne West, Victoria and Tasmania regions, was also in attendance to present the certificates.

The Quote Wall
The meeting was conducted by graduating student Emma Spilling and included talks by Brother Andrew Spilling, of the Stake High Council, who provided a history of seminary in the Church along with details of the changes planned for 2015 to ‘elevate learning’. Ellie Roberts delivered a great talk from the perspective of a future student while graduating students Nathan Rowlings and Emma Spilling gave us a glimpse of how seminary has helped and motivated their lives. Brother Jason Rowlings provided a parent’s perspective while institute teacher Brother Scott Prebble shared some ‘light bulb’ moments where students just ‘get it’. President Peter Buckley, second counsellor in the Stake Presidency, gave the closing remarks and shared some inspirational messages expressing the Saviour’s qualities and love.

After the meeting a customary graduation cake was cut by the graduating students. Members and friends enjoyed a beautiful supper of cupcakes, fruit and drinks as they mingled in the hall.

Congratulations to all the students and a big thankyou to the seminary and institute teachers of the stake for a wonderful 2014.

We look forward to an exciting and successful 2015.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Stake Temple Trip

Attending the temple is something that I truly look forward as I get to go into the Lord's house and feel of the spirit strongly, and this temple trip was no exception. I love how as members we are able to go into the temple and do temple work for those that have passed on before us.

Once we arrived and got some food, we drove to the temple. For some that were among us it was the first time that they had been to the temple and it was wonderful to witness their first time in the Lord's house. Not only did we get to witness this but many of us were able to do work in behalf of family members for the first time.

I love the peace that comes to me when I am in the temple, and I'm grateful that we are able to go and do service and I know that the things we do within the temple will be of benefit to those who are having their work done but it will also benefit and bless us too.

(Phebe Woodward)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Community Dinner Unites Faiths in Common Values

Sister Liz Walker of Deloraine Ward made history on Friday 14 November by hosting the community's first interfaith dinner to celebrate International Tolerance Day (16 November). Over 60 people from around the Meander Valley representing a broad range of faiths gathered at the Deloraine Primary School hall dressed in religious or cultural attire and bringing dishes reflective of their culture.

The tone of the evening was set by a special video presentation on religious freedom. In the spirit of that video's message it was inspiring to see Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others sharing tables, breaking bread together and mingling in a spirit of friendship and mutual respect. Theological differences were set aside in favour of a celebration of common values.

The purpose of the evening was to help community members learn about the diverse faiths represented in the region and to explore values that were of common importance. This was accomplished by a number presentations from representatives of different faith traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Baha'i, Hinduism and Islam (which was presented by an Imam from Melbourne who had travelled to Deloraine especially for the event). Shari, an interfaith minister from Launceston, spoke on valuing all religious systems and she was followed by LDS stake president Lionel Walters who offered some closing remarks (attached below).

All attendees were uplifted by the presentations and unified by common values of faith, family and religious freedom. Many commented afterward that there was a special spirit at the gathering that continued to be felt as they continued on to their regular worship services over the weekend.

Sister Walker, who has been a volunteer religion columnist for the Meander Valley Gazette since its first edition and has written articles about many of the faiths in the community, was commended by speakers and participants for her efforts in organising the pioneering event. One couple commented, "You have lifted tolerance to a completely new level, not just talking about it, but doing it."

Click here to learn more about the importance of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue.

Remarks by President Lionel Walters, Devonport Australia Stake President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

I am honoured to be with you this evening and am humbled by this opportunity to offer some concluding remarks at this historic interfaith dinner. I am a lifelong Christian and currently serve as the stake president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northern Tasmania.

Let me first recognise our host and chief instigator for this unique event. Liz Walker is a remarkable woman. Although she has deeply held beliefs of her own, she recognises beauty and goodness in all belief systems and has been an effective advocate for all faiths through her articles published in the Meander Valley Gazette and by organising this wonderful evening.

Liz is a member of our congregation but she is first and foremost a member of the human family and of this community. I am quick to point out that her efforts to encourage a dialogue between the diverse faiths in our community have not been directed by her Church but have been motivated by her personal faith in the inherent good of faith itself.

This spiritual maturity is sadly lacking among many of the faithful who dogmatically hold to the notion that “it’s my way or the highway” and forget the great commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. While we may not agree on the source and effects of ultimate truth, we surely can have respect for the beliefs of others and seek to work together to pursue common goals and improve the society in which we live. Cardinal George Pell expressed it this way:
Cooperation between the different [religious] communities should be natural to us, not just because of a common interest in preserving religious freedom and the freedom to present [religious] teaching, but also because of our shared commitment to a free society and respecting the rights of others. (1)
To this end, let me say on behalf of all of us here tonight, thank you, Liz, for leading the way and helping us to come together as people of diverse faiths to explore and celebrate our common values.

Tonight I wish to direct my remarks to three common values, each of which can contribute to a rich expression of the Two Great Commandments to love God and our neighbour; namely faith, family and religious freedom.


First, faith. I recently read about a Chinese economist who visited the United States of America to study democracy but who in the course of his study made an unexpected discovery. The economist described what he learned in this way: “In your past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week. When you were there, from your youngest years, you were taught that you should voluntarily obey the law; that you should respect other people’s property, and not steal it. You were taught never to lie, and to respect the life and freedom of others the same as your own. [People] followed these rules because they had come to believe that even if the police didn’t catch them when they broke a law, God would catch them. Democracy works because most people most of the time voluntarily obey your laws.” (2)

Otherwise stated, faith compels us to do good for others. Of course I do not suggest that religious people have a monopoly on goodness because such is clearly not the case, but studies conducted overseas and in progress in Australia suggest that religiously observant citizens tend as a group to be more generous and civically-minded neighbors. For example, more than 90 percent of those who attend weekly worship services donate to charity, and nearly 70 percent volunteer for charitable causes. These outcomes are irrespective of any particular brand of religious faith, but rather stem from an active belief in Something or Someone beyond ourselves that teaches us to love our neighbour and live moral lives. (3) Mere cultural “enlightenment” is insufficient to produce universal and sustainable good.

To illustrate and conclude this point, I quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of Great Britain. He said:
You read Jane Austen [and] you put it back on the shelf and it makes no further demand of you until you feel like reading it again. But you read a sacred text and you put it back on the shelf [and] it’s still making a demand of you. It is saying this is a truth to be lived. ... That is the difference between religion and culture. ... Unless you hear a command [or] an obligation that comes from beyond you, you will not be able to generate sustainable, [actionable faith]. (4)

Next, family. Just as religious faith is at the foundation of most free, peaceful modern societies, faith also has the power to fortify families. Sacred texts teach about the obligations of marriage and the privilege of having children, for example the Bible counsels husbands to “love [their] wives even as Christ loved the church” and describes children as “an heritage of the Lord.” Whether you subscribe to this particular religious text or not, the principle that marriage and children are of immeasurable value to a stable society cannot be denied. And yet, occurrences in our modern, “enlightened” society of divorce, elective abortions, abuse and neglect are frequent and disheartening.

Rabbi Sacks identified “the individualism of the consumer age” as being at the heart of this malaise affecting the family and proposes religion as the most powerful antidote. Movements over the last hundred years touting causes such as “equal rights” and “political correctness” have achieved much good in providing basic freedoms and civil rights to individuals. Too often, however, instead of raising the moral standard to provide equality these movements have standardised the lowest common denominator resulting in increased promiscuity, no-fault divorce and, perhaps most destructively, the fear or imposed incompetence of parents (in favour of institutional experts) to teach, correct or discipline their children.

Religion in and of itself is not a silver bullet that will stem this tide of broken homes, but faith of the quality I described previously--that is, faith which is deeply held and actively practiced--provides a framework for rescuing families one at a time. Let me share an example which may resonate with you in the context of your own faith tradition. Last Sunday I met with a young man who with his family had recently joined our church. He told me how he had always believed in God but he didn’t always live up to that belief. As a result he had done some things in his life that had distanced himself from God and from his partner and children. As is our custom, after marrying and joining the church he was soon given opportunities to serve his fellow congregants, a process which had the effect of deepening his own faith and love for his family. In describing how his newfound belief and church service had affected his relationship with his wife and young sons he said, “it just makes me want to be better for them!”

Religious Freedom

Finally, religious freedom. This term does not simply refer to the freedom to practice our beliefs in our homes and churches, but it also incorporates the freedom of individuals to make decisions of conscience in the public square. One key protection of this freedom is the separation of church and state. In recent years the media has brought to our attention the plight of faithful people around the world of all religions whose deeply held beliefs are outlawed and who have become the subject of severe persecution. For many in this situation, the act of faith in defiance of state-instituted opposition means a literal sacrifice of their lives. I know that many of you have seen or even experienced at close range this horrifying oppression and the damage it can cause to individuals, families and societies. Let me be plain: religious faith can never justify or excuse the persecution of others, even when we don’t agree. Freedom of religion promotes exactly the opposite.

Modern media has also accentuated the behaviour of religious extremists who through their wilful and immoral misapplication of faith bring shame to honourable religious communities. Even in our own free society we occasionally hear misinformed judgements and insults leveled against an entire culture because of the actions of a foolish few. In this media-saturated climate, activists seeking to justify or legalise subjective moral positions often do so by ridiculing the faithful or by citing the uncivil behaviour of the extremist minority in an effort to discredit the entire cause of religion. Ironically in their efforts to ban religious belief from influencing public decision-making they are actually seeking to impose their own brand of belief upon the public conscience, the enforcement of which may, in later years, resemble the chaos and unrest seen in the nations that I referred to earlier.

On the subject of public discourse, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of our church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently taught:

We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. ... We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. ... When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation. (5)

We are truly blessed to live in a nation that protects religious freedom by maintaining the separation of church and state while at the same time valuing and promoting the free expression of religious belief. Faith and religious freedom are embedded in the foundations of our society, and the peaceful application of these principles continues to be a blessing and a strength to our nation. It is therefore incumbent upon us as people of faith to stand in defence of all that is virtuous and good in our society, beginning with the many beautiful religions whose teachings encourage love of God and neighbour and whose fruits include happy families and peaceful communities.

To round out this point, and to summarise my hope for our community of believers, let me paraphrase a statement from Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, which was immortalised in his letter to Christians entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”:
Justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour. Thus in obedience to [our holy texts], we invite people of all faiths to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love. (6)
I am deeply grateful for the Christian faith that has blessed me from my childhood and to which I believe I owe my life. Everything good that has come to me, including my dear wife and our precious children, and any modest contributions I have been able to make in the lives of people around me, have come as a direct result of my choice to believe and to act upon that belief. I express my sincere admiration and respect for each one of you gathered here tonight and for the faith traditions you represent. That your faith will continue to bless and sustain you as my faith has done for me is my sincere prayer.

  1. George Cardinal Pell - annual lecture on religious freedom at the University of Notre Dame Australia School of Law, 22 August 2013
  2. Clayton M. Christensen, “The Importance of Asking the Right Questions” (commencement speech, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, N.H., May 16, 2009).
  3. Arthur C. Brooks, “Religious Faith and Charitable Giving,” Policy Review (October 2003). Similar statistics are found in the “Faith Matters Survey 2006,” as cited in American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.
  4. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, from The New York Times, “The Moral Animal”, 23 December 2012
  5. Dallin H. Oaks, "Loving Others and Living with Differences," in October 2014 General Conference
  6. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, from “A Common Word Between Us and You”

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Youth - The Body Shop

On the 15th November, the stake held a youth activity called 'The Body Shop'. It was held at the Devonport Chapel and focussed on the importance of our bodies by keeping them fit, healthy and morally clean.

The youth participated in multiple workshops where they were instructed on nutrition, physical fitness, the law of chastity and being aware of negative influences in the media.

Following the interactive workshops, the youth were able to continue learning about what nutrients our food contains. A healthy salad bar lunch was then provided for them. 

Each ward/branch was assigned to prepare a 2 minute video and include the question: "Are you looking after your body?" These were presented and the youth from Tamar ward won the title of "Video Activity Winner".

To finish off the day, the youth enjoyed a game of Ultimate Frisbee as they ran around in the field. Thanks to all the leaders and the approximately 40 youth who participated on the day.

Monday, 27 October 2014

"Invitation Sunday" - Special Area-wide Fast

The Pacific Area Presidency have invited all members to participate in a special Area-wide Fast on Sunday November 2nd.

The purpose of the fast for each member is three-fold:

a) Increase our personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

b) Ask the Lord to guide us in identifying new opportunities as He ‘hastens His Work of Salvation’ in our wards, branches, stakes, and districts

c) Seek revelation on who we could invite to come to a special Sacrament Meeting to be held on November 30th 

What a wonderful opportunity this will be to join together with thousands of saints, fasting and praying for the same purpose.

The Stake Presidency would like to encourage all members of the Devonport Stake to take up this challenge from our Area Presidency.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

What Would a Holy Woman Do?

The Deloraine Chapel was the venue for a Women’s Conference held on Saturday 18th October. Over one hundred members of the Relief Society travelled from all over Northern Tasmania to attend. Keynote speakers were Sisters Karen Maxwell and Sue Hoare.

Sister Maxwell’s husband, President Cory Maxwell, presides over the Australia Melbourne Mission. She and her husband are from Salt Lake City and have eight children. Prior to this assignment, Sister Maxwell was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Music Chairman in her local stake.

Sister Sue Hoare and her husband, President David Hoare, have six children. They live in Melbourne where they currently serve as President and Matron of the Melbourne Australia Temple.

Sister Maxwell spoke to the theme of the conference “What Would a Holy Woman Do?” citing experiences of women who had asked themselves that question when faced with decisions in their lives.

Sister Hoare’s theme was her experiences of righteous women in her life and how important it is for women today to strive to exert that same influence on our families and those we come into contact with.

Workshops were held on how to make a ‘house’ a ‘home’ and how important it is for all women to look after their own well-being, whether they have a family or not at this stage of their lives. They were reminded that rearing a family is not an easy job and that making the home into a refuge from the world is a goal to strive for. The four Workshops were all informative and the presenters well prepared.

During the course of the meeting a presentation of over 280 hygiene packs was made to representatives from the Salvation Army to help in their work in the community.  These packs were produced and donated by Northern Relief Society members.

Mrs. Deb White, Deputy Mayor of the Meander Valley Council joined us for part of the day.

Congratulations to Sister Gail Challis, our Stake Relief Society President, for her leadership and organisational skills, and to all the Sisters who helped organise the event. It was an uplifting and informative day. Thank you for your service.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ultimate Youth Convention 2014

Ultimate Youth Convention 2014 (UYC14) was hosted by the Devonport Australia Stake at Queechy High School in Launceston from Wednesday 1 October 2014 to Saturday 4 October 2014.  The UYC14 theme was taken from Moroni 10:32 - "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him and deny yourselves of all ungodliness".

After months of planning and two days of set up, 76 youth arrived on site on Wednesday afternoon and, upon registration, were divided into 5 tribes - the Ammonites, the Amulekites, the Teancumites, the Abinadites and Captain Moroni's Troop!  Each tribe was led by a group of dedicated and well-trained young single adults, serving as YSA Counsellors, to lead the youth through the next four days of intensive spiritual, social, emotional and personal growth and development.

UYC14 featured a comprehensive program of tribal camps, daily devotionals, tailored class sessions, activities, service & sports, special presentations on the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith and missionary service and three amazing dances, facilitated by prepared and diligent presenters and complimented by uplifting music and imagery.  The highlight and purpose of UYC14 was the dedicated devotional sessions aimed at helping our youth learn why and how they can "come unto Christ" as individual children of Heavenly Father, and how they can invite others to come with them.  We were so pleased to also welcome a number of non-members and less-active youth at UYC14.

Four days of learning, laughter and love culminated in individual tribal testimony meetings where almost all of the youth and YSA participants were able to bear testimony and share feelings about marvellous, miraculous and life-changing experiences that were had during UYC14.  In addition, old friendships were renewed and new friendships fostered.  Barriers and challenges were overcome.  Unity was forged amongst the youth, YSA and leaders of the Devonport and Hobart Stakes, and resolutions were made to commit and recommit to living the principles, ordinances and covenants of the gospel.

Thousands of man-hours went into the organisation, set up and delivery of a fantastic UYC14.  Sincere thanks to the twenty dedicated members of the UYC14 Organising Committee for a mighty effort.  Also, thank you to over 120 additional members who served the youth at UYC14 in some capacity, whether large or small.  Thanks also to our Priesthood leaders for their vision and foresight to hold such an event, and finally, we acknowledge our loving Heavenly Father for His spirit and blessings upon us for a wonderful event and wonderful experience for all involved.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Called to Serve at Any Age

Following is a report from Jim and Ruth Pawson about the "Preparing for Senior Missionary Service" fireside on 16 Steptember. A recording of the talks from this fireside is available by clicking "Stake Broadcasts" at the top of this page.

For several years now our Church leaders, from President Monson down, have been calling for Senior Missionary singles and couples to serve in the mission field and this fireside gave those who had been specifically invited to learn some specifics as to what was required.

Three senior missionary couples who are currently serving in the Melbourne Mission spoke to us about "Why they decided to serve a mission and what they did to prepare"

They encouraged us to decide early that we would serve a mission and then work toward reaching that goal.  All of our callings and service will be of benefit to us and the mission field.

Specifically, we need to have the desire, read and study the scriptures and also Preach My Gospel.

There are so many areas where senior missionaries can serve such as helping to strengthen small branches, family history missions,  humanitarian and self- reliance missions;  but the best news is that more and more missions can be served from our own homes and can be tailored to suit our personal circumstances.  A video was shown of the "Seniors" who serve in our mission going about their work.  President Maxwell assured us that although the work is plenty and hard it is compensated by the "fun" and " lifelong friendships" and blessings  that are found in the mission field.  Several questions were asked by those in attendance and answered.

President Walters was the final speaker and reminded us of the great blessings that would come to our families as senior couples serve their missions and of the great example it is to our children and grandchildren.  Likewise that example can be of benefit to the youth of our stake and the whole stake can also be blessed.

Some of the scriptures that were quoted include Mosiah 2:17,  Matthew 25:40,  D&C 20:37, D&C 4.

A bus load of senior missionaries  were in attendance and each of them carried with them the spirit of the missionary work they were engaged in.

Great meeting.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Stake Youth Fireside "For the Strength of Youth"

A stake youth fireside held on Sunday 21 September was an opportunity for youth to know the standards outlined in the booklet 'For the Strength of Youth.' The focus was understanding the doctrine behind the standards and the importance of upholding them so that youth can stand against worldly influences.

Lizzie Prebble, a laurel of Esk Ward and Austen Howe, a priest of Devonport ward, were two of the youth in attendance on the night. Both commented on the joy in living the standards. "The standards in the (For the Strength of Youth) book are clear and easy to understand, and following them brings happiness in our own lives", said Austen. Lizzie also mentioned her gratitude in upholding the standards: "I am so grateful for the standards that help keep me grounded and focussed on what is most important. I know that the choices I make in life do matter and it's through the gospel of Jesus Christ and its teachings that I can make the right choices and experience true joy."

The fireside started with an overview of the For the Strength of Youth booklet, given by Macady Roberts. She spoke about how we should be honest with ourselves and how doing so can help us better live the commandments and the standards contained in the booklet. Macady shared her own personal experiences and also spoke about youth around the world, who had decided to "stand for humility" And "stand for what they believed was good and right".

The night was then broken up into workshops where youth received object lessons from Carlos and Ashley Furlan, Bishop Aaron and Elissa Woolley, and Scott Prebble on the topics of honesty, dating and language.
The dating workshop included fun ideas and activities and left the youth with important lessons. "A key point to me was that each person is responsible for the other's honesty and virtue in a dating situation," Austen said. Lizzie similarly learned that "the purpose of group dating is to protect each other's honour and virtue.

Bishop and Sister Woolley taught that bad language isn't just swearing; bad language could include mocking and ridiculing. They talked about counteracting negative comments with positive comments. "It doesn't take much to be complimentary...We all have the spirit and it will guide us to say positive things" the Bishop said. Sister Woolley compared listening to music with a little bit of swearing to eating chocolate fudge with a little bit of dog poo in it. "I think everyone was a little worried about the free fudge after the workshop" came a cheeky remark from Austen.

Using a clever object lesson comparing the content of raspberry cordial (which contains no raspberries at all) and Ribena (which is packed with real fruit), Brother Prebble demonstrated that integrity is about being the same on the inside as you are on the outside. "Our actions should always reflect who we are and what we believe, regardless of the circumstance," Lizzie was reminded.

A meme posted on Facebook by Austen Howe.
After everyone reconvened to the chapel, James Sayers spoke about a process he calls "flipping the switch" on situations where standards are questioned, even at times, in a negative light by others. He said that by teaching the doctrine behind the standards in question, any reasonable person will naturally come to understand why those standards are important - in the same way flipping on a switch would shed light to a room. "The effect works, especially if we understand the doctrine, especially if we believe the doctrine and especially if we are living the doctrine" he said.

Youth were left with a three-step challenge: 1 - Understand the reason why we have and need these standards; 2 - Try 'flipping the switch' in a situation when standards are questioned, 3 - Invite  a 'plus one' to the final activity of the year which has the focus on specific standards.

The final stake youth activity will be held at Devonport chapel on the 15th of November. It is entitled 'Body Shop' and will focus on the importance of looking after our bodies. The youth leaders and youth committee, which is comprised of five youth around the stake have promised this to be an outstanding activity and one not to miss."

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Impressions of the Recent Stake Temple Trip

Jim and Ruth Pawson from Esk Ward share their thoughts on the Stake Temple Trip earlier this month and on the Missionary Fireside. The following are their words:

Despite the early morning start Jim and I always enjoy the Stake Temple Trip days.  There is something very special about going to and being in the temple with other Stake members.

It is nice to have other members who are perhaps coming on the temple trip for the first time as they bring an air of excitement with them which seems to infect the whole group.

This time we had youth from the Deloraine Ward  and they were especially happy to be going to the temple.  I love the fact that once we arrive at the temple we really do have the opportunity to leave "the cares of the world " truly behind us and focus on participating in the work of "redeeming our loved ones"  I noticed that every one of our members had a determination to complete as much temple work as they possibly could.

The "days at the Temple" are really a great blessing to individuals and also to our stake and  I would encourage all of our Stake members to set a goal to attend at least one a year.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Impressions of Stake Conference - Part 2

For Part 2 of the series we have chosen to share some writings from Sister Simone Triffitt, a Mother of 5 from Deloraine Ward.  The following paragraphs are her words:

Over the stake conference weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Saturday night session at the Deloraine chapel. I began the night, thinking I would just write down some of my favourite quotes from each talk but by the end of the night I had written over 8 pages because everything each speaker talked about, resonated within me.
The first speaker President Buckley, talked about an article by President Uchtdorf in a First Presidency message in 2013 called Walking In Circles. President Uchtdorf explained that if we are out bushwalking and don’t have something to fix our gaze on, a visible landmark as such, that we will start to walk around in circles. President Buckley said that we have our own landmarks such as reading the scriptures that help us and if we remove our gaze from these spiritual landmarks that lead us to eternal life, we will end up walking in circles.  President Buckley brought up Jacob 4:16 and explained how the Jewish people had the Saviour in their midst but they looked beyond him, they  “looked beyond the mark”. President Buckley said that we have many things in this world that can distract us from our spiritual landmarks and when we turn to these things, we are looking beyond the mark.
President Buckley also touched on Alma 37: 38-46 and the Liahona. He said the words of Christ can be a personal Liahona to us, as is our Prophet, President Monson.
President Buckley reissued a challenge set down by President Monson in 2012 for more senior people to go out and serve missions. He reiterated a quote by Elder Oakes that said “special sacrifices are made by senior missionaries”.  This challenge by President Buckley made me think of my own mother serving a family history mission in Salt Lake City and finding out about all the amazing work, senior missionaries are doing over there to “hasten the work”. What a great example and motivator are our own ward members out there serving senior missions.
The musical item was very beautiful and it truly brought a feeling of the Spirit and peace and humbleness into the meeting house. The choir sang “Lord I would Follow Thee” and many people were wondering why they didn’t showcase in the Meander Valley choirfest the previous night. Next time!
The second speaker was Sarra Triffitt who spoke about how children and youth can serve their families both living and deceased through family history. She touched on how family history research is suited to the rising generation who love to use modern technology for everything. She quoted Elder Bednar in a talk he gave in October 2011 about it being no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools are coming forth at a time when young people are so familiar with technology. Sarra talked about doing family history work during mutual and preparing to go to the temple next week. She spoke of her experience in the temple last year and how what she learned about the temple in Primary and FHE, now made sense to her.  I remember going to the youth temple day with her last year and seeing her enter the waters of baptism for the first time as proxy and to see her standing there in white surrounded by other youth from our Stake was a very special experience that both she and I and everyone in attendance will never forget. Sarra talked about her Nan serving a family history mission in SLC and the vast amount of work being done. For example 300,000 indexers work around the world each day, entering names into the FamilySearch database. Sarra said that working together this way, gives each person a greater chance of finding information about their own ancestors and be able to take those family names to the temple.
The next speaker was Samantha Triffitt who spoke about how family history can help young parents appreciate their own families. She highlighted a talk by Elder Allen Packer in 2013 who outlined the difference between family history and genealogy. Elder Packer said family history includes the past, present and future of families. I thought this was quite profound and saw it as our families in the present working to help our families of the past to benefit our families of the future. We have the very important job of connecting our ancestors to our descendants. Sam talked about finding out about her own family history and reading the conversion story of her grandfather, Jack Prebble senior. She sees it as the beginning of the Prebble line in the membership of the church. Sam said that this means she and her children are a part of that family history, binding her to family members yet to come. Sam also highlighted a talk by Elder Packer who outlined some ways you can create history with your children as you live in the present. These included recording stories of ancestors, putting memories in a box, picking a relative and finding out more about them and performing ordinance work in the temple.
The next speaker was Brother Corey Bailey who talked about how people of any age can master the tools of family history. He explained that we have spiritual tools in our hearts and hot just handheld tools in our hands. I loved that statement and it made me realise that technology is no barrier to anyone if we have the right spiritual attitude toward family history. I also liked it when Brother Bailey said that people don’t need an apprenticeship or years of study to become proficient in family history work. Brother Bailey explained that with the surge in modern technology even since 1994, we now have family history centres in our homes. Some of the tools available to us at home are indexing, FamilySearch, find my path and With the addition of FamilyTree now, people can attach recordings and stories to FamilySearch lines.
For me, to be able to go into FamilySearch and see photos and stories about my ancestors really brings them to life and makes the work so much more exciting.
Sister Maxwell spoke about how family history can help us in our missionary work. Sister Maxwell compared Elder Uchtdorf’s journey out of East Germany to the safety of West Germany, saying that was one of his family history stories and how families have their own story of making it to the safety of the gospel. Sister Maxwell said that “everyone wants to know where they came from”. This is a great tool for missionary work because members can give their friends a copy of the booklet, “My Family” and invite their friends to find out more about their ancestors. Sister Maxwell talked about an article in the New York Times that suggested that children who knew about their family stories and felt that connection were more resilient in life. A simple question for missionaries is explaining their name badge and asking if the person knows anything about their own family name. Sister Maxwell talked about the importance of adding saving ordinances to the family history connections. She said that the retention rate of new members is 95% in those who within 3 months of baptism, go to the temple on a limited use recommend. She also explained that in the last year there were 21,000 baptisms in the Pacific region but only 400 of those new members took a name to the temple so there is work to be done.
Brother Josh Triffitt recently returned from a mission in New Zealand and spoke about how full-time missionary service has changed his life. Brother Josh explained that he didn’t wake up one morning and feel different but that it was a process over the 2 yrs that has changed him for the remainder of his life. Brother Josh highlighted the importance of studying Preach my Gospel and that “you can’t convert beyond your own conversion”.  He said that serving a mission changed the way he thought about the gospel. I think this was my favourite part of his talk when he said,” it (the gospel) was not something to be done but a way to live”.   Brother Josh also said that his mission changed his perspective in that he now has a long-term perspective that brings him closer to Heavenly Father rather than just day to day goals. Practical changes that have happened include learning to talk to people and get along with your companion. Finally Brother Triffitt urged all young people to serve a mission because it is the best thing you can do.
Sister Tammy Rowlings was asked to talk about how we can help youth to prepare for a full-time mission. Sister Rowlings quoted Elder Bednar in a talk from November 2005 where he talked about becoming a missionary before you go on a mission. Sister Rowlings said she asked her son Jakob who is serving a mission in Japan, her teenage sons and the current full-time missionaries serving in her ward, what could be or what was done to help them prepare for a mission. Her son Jakob said working to save for his mission and having the trust of his parents to be a little independent, helped him to develop maturity before going out into the mission field.  Other helpful suggestions were having unconditional love from parents, the love of the gospel in the home, attending seminary and youth leaders who go the extra mile.  Sister Rowlings then touched on spiritual and physical preparation fo9r a mission. She said help the youth by understanding their hearts by taking advantage of teaching moments and be willing to listen to them talk about their day. Sister Rowlings studies “Preach My Gospel” with her two other sons and feels the closest to them each night as they do this. She also suggested that once your child turns 12, to make attending the temple with them a priority each year and let them see you attending the temple.
In relation to physical preparation, Sister Rowlings emphasised a talk by President Faust where he talked about future young missionaries working before their missions to learn responsibility and independence because they won’t automatically know how to work in the MTC. Lastly Sister Rowlings said always pray for guidance in how to help your child prepare for a mission because each child is an individual and needs help in different ways.
Next Brother Gary Woodward spoke about the power of everyday missionaries and based his talk around the book, “The Power of Everyday Missionaries” by Clayton Christensen.  Brother Woodward said that when he came off his mission, he was doing everything that he was doing on his mission but he felt like he wasn’t as close to heavenly Father like he was on his mission. He figured out that the one thing that was missing was that he was no longer sharing the gospel.  Brother Woodward talked about redefining the success of missionary work for members. He spoke about the fear of opening your mouth and said that each person is a successful missionary as soon as they invite someone. Even if they say no, you have still succeeded because you have given a person the opportunity. He referred to 2Nephi 2:16 where it talks about enticing men to do good and said that unless we invite people to do good, the only “enticing” will be by the devil because they have not been given a choice. Brother Woodward shared the experience of how he met his wife Lisa and how she came to join the church. He finished by saying that we are not to prejudge who we invite because we may not see people how the Lord sees them.
Elder Maxwell spoke about preparing for mature missionary service. I love the quote he gave that “logistics wins battles” and it is something that senior missionaries can do really well. He spoke of a senior couple in the mission office who were dearly loved and did so much for the running of the office. Elder Maxwell outlined some critical points for preparation for a senior mission. These included a desire to serve, to be willingly obedient, disciplined and financially prepared and the importance of scripture study in keeping your testimony burning brightly. He raised a point by Elder Henry B Eyering that “great faith has a short shelf life” so we need to continually study the scriptures to keep the spirit as our teacher. El;der Maxwell then touched on the blessings of serving a senior mission. These included friendships that last forever, high adventure, miracles and great joy, the memories from your mission remain with you for eternity and you learn lessons that last you for the remainder of your life. Finally he related a story by Elder Holland who said he thinks about his mission everyday and he is counting that it was 50 yrs and 11 days ago because it had such a big impact on his life.
President Walters then concluded the meeting with his testimony. He said that people are usually given a talk topic not because they are outstanding examples of the topic but that Heavenly father wants them to learn something and we learn something through them giving the talk. He said that every ward now has a monthly ward temple night to do family history work and every 3 months our stake has a temple trip to participate in saving ordinances. President Walters encouraged each of us to become actively engaged in hastening the work. He said  “sharing the gospel is the reason we join the church. Sharing the gospel was the only reason why the church was restored in these latter days”. Finally he encouraged each of us to go home and ponder tonight’s  topics and how Heavenly Father wants each of us to enlist in hastening the work of salvation.

I loved listening to each of the talks. The topics were truly inspired and each one has given me much to ponder on. I have always liked the idea of family history but I know now I am really going to enjoy the doing a lot more. I am excited to try out the new tools on FamilySearch. I already feel sorry for our ward family history consultants as I come armed with motivation and enthusiasm from tonight’s meeting ready to learn more how to  “hasten the work” and in doing so my connections to my loved ones both living and deceased will be strengthened as too my testimony of this great gospel work for those who have gone before us.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Impressions of Stake Conference - Part 1

Prior to the recent Devonport Stake Conference we invited a number of people to put pen to paper (or finger to tablet) and record some of the thoughts and feelings they had about the meetings, which we could share on this blog. Over the coming days we will be sharing some of the responses we received. We hope you are inspired by the words which these fantastic individuals have to share. We are grateful that they are being involved in Elder Bednar's challenge to Share Goodness.

For Part 1 of the series we have chosen to share some writings from Brother Jackson Corona, a young Priest from our Burnie Branch.  The following paragraphs are his words:

"As most of you may already know, this last weekend was Devonport Stake Conference. Its the time of year for us to take a step back and recharge our batteries through uplifting and educational talks given by a variety of people throughout our stake. The outline of the conference was ‘ We are all enlisted.’ Over the two days of sessions we were instructed on how to better ourselves in the areas in which we are enlisted. Whether it be Young Womens, Elders quorum, Primary etc, there was something for you at this conference."

"I was lucky enough to able to attend the Saturday evening and Sunday morning sessions of conference. Both sessions were really good and i certainly feel more uplifted and enlightened than i did before the conference. One of my favourite talks was given by Brother Gary Woodward at the Saturday evening session. His talk was about the dangers of judging others, specifically when doing missionary work. He shared the story about how he met his wife Lisa, and her conversion story. It was not only touching, but a prime example of why judging someone is wrong. I’m not going to go into the details, but if you wanted to hear the story I’m sure he would love to tell it again. It taught me to try and see people not for what they are, but for what they can become. We should try to see people in a different light. Learn to put aside the negative things and try to see them as a child of god. This leads to a greater love for that person and a greater desire to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them to experience the joys that we experience. Through my own missionary experiences i have seen the blessings of not judging someone for who they are at that time, but seeing what they are able to grow into. Jesus Christ sees all of us not by our mistakes, but by our potential. He sees our hearts, not our appearances. Therefore we must do the same to our brothers and sisters."

"That session was definitely one i won't forget, and the Sunday morning session was just as good. This session set clearly the theme of ‘We are all enlisted’ by hearing talks from a representative of the different groups one can be involved in throughout the church- Young mens, Relief Society, Priesthood etc. We were even privileged to hear from a Hannah Walters, a 10 year old girl from Primary! Through these representatives the whole congregation was able to learn how they are individually enlisted in the Lord’s work. We were also we taught about the importance of Motherhood and Fatherhood in raising children to become servants of the Lord. It was an overall brilliant session of conference and I feel spiritually refreshed and ready to keep improving myself as a priesthood holder and servant of the lord. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your god.”- Mosiah 2:17 This scripture kept going through my head whilst listening to conference and i believe it is a good summary of the message that the conference gave."

"In President Buckley’s talk in the Saturday night session he spoke about when people don’t keep landmarks when journeying they walk in circles, and how that also applies on a spiritual level. I agree that sometimes we can get a bit lost in our lives and lose sight of our land mark. I see these conferences as little marks on trees or stakes in the ground that remind us that we are on the right path, give us strength throughout our journey and sometimes even point us back on the right path when we are lost. I bear you testimony that Jesus Christ lives. He has enlisted us in a great and marvellous work that can only bring us happiness. Whatever your calling may be, Christ is right beside you ready to help you fulfil it. He has prepared the way and he has prepared you. We have to keep being diligent, obedient and faithful and in doing so, we will be blessed and cared for throughout our journey. I am a strong believer in keeping an eternal perspective, having an eye singled to god, keeping our eye on that land mark. Our goal is to return with our brothers and sisters and family to our Heavenly Father’s rest to receive the blessings he has in store for us. Don’t ever forget that the Saviour loves you infinitely, you will always be able to find a friend in him. He has enlisted you in the great work of bring souls unto him and he will help you all along the way as you do so."

Monday, 15 September 2014

Second annual Meander Valley Choirfest a success!

On Friday 5 September the Second Meander Valley Choirfest was held at the Deloraine community complex. The purpose was for community and church groups around Northern Tasmania to come together and enjoy an evening of music. The theme "Sacred Song" was chosen to recognise the important role religion has in strengthening communities.

Choirs, small groups and soloists from Launceston right through to Burnie gathered in the beautiful town of Deloraine to perform for the Meander Valley community. The programme was made up of choirs such as Right on Cue, Diminished 5th, Devonport Men’s Quartet (comprising of Devonport ward members) and In the Groove from Devonport and the Meander Valley Choir and Del City Singers from Deloraine. We also heard beautiful arrangements of LDS hymns from the Deloraine and Launceston wards. The most breathtaking performances of the night would have been the two soloists' performance by Georgina Harvey singing When the Saints Come Marching in and Charlotte Austin-Lund with Right on Cue's rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You".

The performers enjoyed themselves and the reception was highly positive. The audience was captivated throughout the whole event and many were impressed with the quality of the performances.  Each person made a gold coin donation with all proceeds going back in to the Meander Valley community to help support families in crisis. It was great to see so many people supporting these families and recognising the importance of helping the hands that hang low.

Mark Shelton MHA wrapped up the evening well with his closing remarks. He mentioned that he comes across a lot of people that are disconnected from society and it is great that things like the Meander Valley Choirfest can give people the opportunity to network with others.

It was an entertaining night with an opportunity for church groups, community musical groups and the Meander Valley community to mingle together. Because of its success this year and musical groups wishing to participate again next year, we will look forward to another Choirfest in 2015!

By James Sayers

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Review Stake Conference for a limited time

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for an uplifting and inspiring stake conference. Your faithfulness in attending and participating in the sessions - especially over a Father's Day weekend - was a blessing to all who were there. We hope that you felt the Lord's call to enlist in His hastening work of salvation.

We are pleased to offer a delayed broadcast of stake conference for a limited time. To access the broadcast click the "Stake Broadcast" link above or go to

We encourage you to share this link with your family and friends who live within the boundaries of the stake. Please do not post your invitation as a general status message on social media but make personal contact with those you wish to share conference with. The broadcasts will be removed on Saturday 20 September.

We look forward to an exciting and miracle-filled six months as we act upon the messages from this stake conference to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ, share the gospel with our neighbours and extend the saving ordinances of the temple to our ancestors.


The Stake Presidency

Monday, 1 September 2014

Devonport Ward enjoys a boot scootin' bush dance

Last Saturday night 30th August, Devonport Ward family and friends donned their boots, jeans and checkered shirts ready for a boot scootin’ bush dance!

We were privileged to hear musical items by Brother Tom Triffitt, James Sayers and the Primary children who played instruments and performed 2 musical numbers. Aaron Buckley courageously sang a solo of “Waltzing Matilda” and was joined by the rest of the Primary children to end with “The Church of Jesus Christ”.

The energetic atmosphere provided a night of wholesome entertainment, good company, dancing, photo booth fun, music, and yummy snacks enjoyed by one and all.

A big thanks to those who helped to make the night a success, especially our bush dance instructor Clinton Garratt, those who helped organise and decorate the hall and bake treats, and to everyone who came along to make it a fun night out.

By Aimee Sayers

Are you prepared for Stake Conference weekend?

Dear brothers and sisters,

Every six months stakes of the Church around the world gather together to be instructed and uplifted by leaders and members on the principles of the Gospel. Our stake conference is this coming weekend, 6-7 September and "we are all enlisted!"

Conference weekend will begin with the second annual Meander Valley Choirfest on Friday 5th, 7pm at the Deloraine Community Complex on Alveston Drive. This unique community event is hosted by the Church and will feature guest choirs, ensembles and soloists from around the region. A gold coin donation will be collected with proceeds going to families in crisis. We enlist your help to attend and bring your friends!

The Saturday sessions will be held at the Deloraine chapel (153 Emu Bay Road), with Priesthood Leadership at 3pm for all members of stake and ward priesthood executive committees, their counsellors and secretaries AND all Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents, and the Hasten the Work Session at 6.30pm for all members ages 12 and over.

On Sunday at 10am at the Devonport Stake Centre (cnr. David and Young Streets, East Devonport) we will be treated to music and messages from primary children, youth and adults on the topic of how "we are all enlisted in strengthening the family." What better way to celebrate Father's Day!

Some years ago, President Eyring of the First Presidency described the gravestone of a mother and grandmother which had the following enscription, "Please, no empty chairs." Her plea to her descendents was for them to receive all of the saving ordinances and covenants of the gospel so that there would be no empty chairs in their heavenly home.

As a stake presidency, we extend this challenge to you: "Please, no empty seats!" In other words, fill up your cars with people who would be unable to attend conference without your help; fill up your homes with people who might need a place to stay over the weekend; and fill up the stake centre with people who need the messages of stake conference! We echo the Lord's promise of joy, peace and forgiveness as you accept and act upon this invitation.

We sincerely look forward to the opportunity of worshipping with you this weekend.

The Stake Presidency
Lionel Walters
Dion Triffit
Peter Buckley