GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought the message of love to Glendale on Sunday.
Russell M. Nelson delivered a devotional speech to about 68,000 people at State Farm Stadium.
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"The message is the same for all. Come into Jesus Christ and enjoy his blessings and make life better for people," Nelson said before his speech.
Nelson said his speech was for both members of the church and nonmembers. He hopes the message spreads and people can come together.
"If they can get the help of the Lord and his teachings, it will not only give them hope but help," Nelson said.
Nelson wants to connect with young people as well. He said his advice to them is the same as Paul's advice to Timothy.
"Do what's right and let the consequences follow," Nelson said. "Love your neighbor. Be kind. Be gentle. Be truthful. Be fair."
Nelson has made some significant announcements for the church during the last year. Back in August, Nelson said not use to "Mormon" or "LDS" as a substitute for the full name of the religion. He says the full name was revealed to Joseph Smith in 1838. In November, the LDS changed the three-hour Sunday meeting schedule for all LDS churches from three hours to two hours. Nelson emphasized it was for families to have more Christ-centered homes.
"We've altered the curriculum a little bit because we want to strengthen our homes, make our homes the primary sanctuary of faith," Nelson said.
Arizona has one of the biggest concentrations of LDS members outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. There are about 428,000 members and six temples in the state.
In a sit-down interview with Arizona's Family, we asked what the church has to say about immigration -- a divisive subject in America that especially effects our border state.
"We approach that from the standpoint of the separation of families," Oaks said. “We believe in families. We believe they should have loving associations and the opportunity to progress and be happy and be reunited when they've been separated. We’ve issued a statement earlier, pleading with our government officials to find ways to bring families together that have been separated.”
“Our responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ is to help people to learn to love one another," Nelson said. "You don’t have to hate your enemy. So we would like to spend our time building bridges of cooperation rather than walls of separation."
Floor seats at the massive devotional were mostly reserved for teenagers.
“I think it’s really special because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said 12-year-old Dalton Turley.
Even the people who arrived hours early still said they had a 40 minute wait to get into the doors of State Farm Stadium.
“It’s really interesting," said David Monson of Chandler after arriving at the church service in an NFL stadium. "Obviously there’s football all around us. It’s kind of different than any church I’ve ever been in.”
Nelson and Oaks met briefly with local dignitaries, including Governor Doug Ducey, and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.
Though the stadium-sized devotionals are not common, the church does have other large-scale meetings like these planned for other areas around the country and the world.