I must say whenever I hear the phrase: “going through the front door” or some variation of it in connection with the expansion of the Church, I ask myself why the Lord, or His Church would ever go through any other than the front door. Be that as it may, I hope that my remarks and observations will complement the overall discussion of the conference relating to the ethical, legal, and political challenges that confront you who are working so diligently to establish the Church in the international arena.
There is no expert quite so qualified to speak on a topic as the one who no longer has any responsibility for it. As I no longer have any responsibility for Church matters in Europe—or anywhere else for that matter, I qualify as such an expert. I hope you will forgive me if I forbear speaking of the current challenges in Europe, there are many here much more qualified and current than I to address them. However, I would like to direct some remarks to the first part of my assignment and speak of some fundamental principles that define what “going through the front door” means to me. I base my comments on the assignments I enjoyed for over a quarter of a century working with a front-door policy in helping to establish the Church in Eastern Europe. These principles guided me to the very end of my active service as a General Authority. As you consider them in light of your current responsibilities, and in the context of the conditions in which you must currently work, I hope you can benefit from them. I would like to speak about each of these principles, illustrating them with personal stories and examples.
I would like to begin by identifying five fundamental principles I have found central to the process of expanding and establishing the Church:
- Represent the Church with integrity.
- Respect and keep the laws of the land.
- Work with government officials who have responsibility for religious matters.
- Work to the limit conditions and situations permit.
- Use local leaders and members of the Church as fully as possible.