You—The Leaders in 1988 | M. Russell Ballard | 1978

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In a time when the Church experiences great growth throughout the world, we need to prepare to be its leaders, and our preparation begins with testimony.

This speech was given on May 16, 1978.

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"Good morning. It is a privilege for Sister Ballard and me to be here. I would trust that the Lord will enlighten my mind and bless me and bless you also that we might have a learning experience together here this morning. As I contemplated this assignment, the thought has run through my mind that unless, somehow, we all leave this building more determined than when we came in that we are going to become better prepared, I shall not have done what Heavenly Father would have me do.

I would like to talk to you this morning, my fellow students, about what I think is the most exciting and thrilling thing to contemplate in your lives. I would like to talk to you about the Church as I believe it will be ten years from now. I would like you to go with me and, projecting your vision from sitting here in this beautiful center in 1978, take a look at what the Church will be in 1988. Please bear this thought in mind: What the Church will be in 1988 will largely depend on how you are prepared to assume your rightful role in this glorious gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored to the earth.

It took the Church ninety-eight years, from 1830 to 1928, to organize its first one hundred stakes. During the next twenty-four years the Church worked very hard to organize the second one hundred stakes. Then we start to see a very interesting picture unfold. At the end of the next eight years, by 1960, the three hundredth stake of the Church was organized. I am proud to tell you that it was organized in Toronto, Canada, where Elder Thomas S. Monson was presiding at the time as president of the mission and, of course, where Sister Ballard and I were privileged to preside just recently. Then, after the next four years, we had organized the next one hundred stakes, bringing the Church to a stake population of four hundred by 1964. It took us six years after that to create the next one hundred stakes, bringing the population of the Church to five hundred by 1970. It took three years to create another one hundred stakes, bringing the population to six hundred by 1973; two years for another one hundred stakes for a population of 700 stakes by 1975; and an additional 18 months for the next 100 stakes of the Church, created during 1977. The nine hundredth stake of the Church was organized March 19, 1978.

I had the great privilege last weekend of being in Atlanta, Georgia, with one of the truly great priesthood leaders of all time as far as I am concerned, Elder LeGrand Richards. You missionaries who are here, how would you like to have as your senior companion LeGrand Richards? That was my experience this last weekend. We were assigned by President Benson and the First Presidency to go to his old mission field, where he presided forty-three years ago, and organize the Atlanta Georgia Stake. Elder Richards is the chairman of the committee that approves the creation of wards and stakes, and he told me on that trip that this year so far that committee had approved the creation of fifty-three new stakes. I think that I can say to you this morning without much fear of contradiction that in 1978 the chance of our organizing another one hundred stakes is very good. This means that in one year—1978—we will do what it took our first ninety-eight years to do.

Explore with me for a minute or two how this relates to you here this morning. Suppose that the Church creates one hundred stakes a year. (Now I do not believe that will really be the case; I think it will accelerate at a faster rate than that, as indicated in the figures I have already given to you.) But for the sake of my example, I shall estimate that in 1988 we will be a church of approximately 2,500 stakes: I would like you to think in terms of this. Where are the 2,500 stake presidents of 1988? Where are their first counselors, second counselors, executive secretaries, clerks?..."