Our Heavenly Father loves all of His children, and His Church is meant to be a welcoming place for all people.
On the first day of the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He taught this principle clearly to the people gathered at the temple in the land of Bountiful:
Ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.3 Nephi 18:22-23
Earlier that day, He had invited everyone present to feel the wounds in His hands and in His feet (3 Nephi 11:14-15). He invited them to follow His example of inclusiveness:
Ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world.3 Nephi 18:25
What about a church member who is not living according to the teachings of the gospel? They may not be able to partake of the sacrament. “Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him” (3 Nephi 18:30). Our love and support can help them through the repentance process.
What about someone who refuses to repent? They may not be able to participate fully in the Church. “Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:32). Our love and support may help them want to repent.
Shortly after the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, there was some confusion about who should be included in church meetings. On March 8, 1831, the Lord resolved the confusion, reaffirming the principle He had taught anciently.
“Ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings,” He said. This includes members of the church who are not worthy to partake of the sacrament, and it includes all who are “earnestly seeking the kingdom,” whether they be members of the church or not (Doctrine and Covenants 46:3-5).
A few weeks ago, Elder Gerritt W. Gong urged us to make room in the Savior’s Inn—His church—for all who wish to come. Elder Gong said that the Savior “trusts us to make the Inn the place He needs it to be.” And then he taught us what we can each do to make our church meetings more welcoming:
All are welcome to attend sacrament meetings, other Sunday meetings, and social events. We reverently worship our Savior, thoughtful and considerate of each other. We see and acknowledge each person. We smile, sit with those sitting alone, learn names, including of new converts, returning brothers and sisters, young women and young men, each dear Primary child.
Imagining ourselves in their place, we welcome friends, visitors, new move-ins, busy individuals pulled in too many directions. We mourn, rejoice, and are there for each other. When we fall short of our ideals and are rushed, unaware, judgmental, or prejudiced, we seek each other’s forgiveness and do better.“Room at the Inn,” General Conference, April 2021
Today, I will help others feel welcome in the Savior’s church. I will remember that my actions, my outreach, and my kindness can help others on their journey back to our Heavenly Father.