He has served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since 2017, following five years in Germany in the Europe Area Presidency. He was named Senior President of the Seventy in August 2020. He currently assists Elder David A. Bednar in supervising the Middle East/Africa North Area and Elder Ronald A. Rasband in supervising the Utah Area.
Elder Kearon has lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United States in a range of industries and ran his own communications consultancy. His civic and community involvement has included service on the boards of charities, a school, an enterprise agency, and a college.
After joining the Church on Christmas Eve of 1987, Elder Kearon served in numerous Church callings, including Young Men president, counselor in a bishopric, branch president, stake president, and Area Seventy.
Patrick Kearon was born in Carlisle, Cumberland, England, on July 18, 1961. He married Jennifer Carole Hulme in January 1991. They are the parents of four children.
Sister Jennifer Carole Hulme Kearon is the youngest of eight children and was raised in Saratoga, California.
She received her bachelor of arts degree from Brigham Young University in humanities with an emphasis in English literature. While studying in London she met Elder Kearon, who had been baptized a member of the Church two years earlier. They were married on January 12, 1991, in the Oakland California Temple and are the parents of four children.
The Kearons lived in London and the West of England, where Sister Kearon served and taught in various capacities.
Sister Kearon enjoys reading, walking, family history and temple work, art museums, and playing the piano and flute.
Avoiding the Poles: Lifting Society through Service, Dialogue, and Understanding
By: Elder Patrick Kearon
I am very grateful to be here and to share this experience with my sweetheart, Jen, who lives everything that she's talking about. I'm sure you can sense that I want to head in the same direction. I suppose with my thoughts, and certainly desire, we will have the same outcome.
I'm a convert to the Church. I found the Church in my mid-20's and joined after looking for two years at it while wondering about it, and in many senses, of wrestling with it. Any time I approach a moment like this, I do so with two different perspectives. First, a perspective of someone who has looked from the outside in, and now someone who looks from the inside out. Those two elements are intertwined with me and for me.
I know, at this moment, we're going through a time of a pandemic, and it is unsettling. I know it comes at a time in your lives when you have already had some of your plans derailed, and you are uncertain as you look to the future. Happily, for most, it hasn't been devastating. It has, for a few, been very devastating in terms of life, health, loss of income, or the ability to provide for their families. But for the majority, it is something far short of that, and I'm deeply grateful for that being the case. I'm grateful that the means to treat this disease are improving, and also the means to prevent it are on the horizon and not too far away.
All of this makes me reflect on something the young women were taught several times a few years ago. In fact, that is carried forward in young women and youth teaching, generally. Some of you were youth in this era. They were taught that "we can do hard things," and the foundation for this teaching was knowing who we are, where we came from, why we're here and where we're going, and having the knowledge that our time here and our experience here is tiny. This is sometimes represented, as I've seen it been taught, as the thin edge of a piece of paper and that we're just here from a moment in our eternal existence. So, today at the heart of my thoughts lies that context. We can do hard things. Where just for a moment and these hard things turn us into who we're meant to become. Some of you, I know, are groaning as you hear this and thinking, "I don't want to hear that kind of thought again. I've had enough of that. I've had enough of this. I want to know where I'm going, and I want to know when I'm going there.” Well, that will come. Not only can we do hard things, but as faithful Church members, we actually thrive on opposition. Ever since Joseph Smith walked into that wood that became a sacred grove, we have had to thrive on the opposition, and it's become a part of who we are. None of us get through life without experiencing some adversity. No one will go unscathed, but one of the glorious truths, when we wake up to it, is that we can actually thrive on it. That's a beautiful realization. Now, that doesn't mean that I or anybody else goes around looking for the opposition. It tends to find us in one way or another, and it tends to locate us in terms of what we need. At least some of it does and far less than what we want.
I'm grateful for that realization. I feel grateful as I look back at the opposition I've experienced and realize, “Yeah, I suppose that did do me some good, even though sometimes it's excruciating in its pain while we're going through it.” So, I want that to sort of set the scene for these thoughts that I want to share with you, and then I want to look at a few things in particular.
As I recognize, and as we all should recognize who we are, I want to share a verse with you that caught my eye recently in the Doctrine & Covenants. This was given to Joseph for Hyrum, his brother. It's in the 11th section in the 12th verse. “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.”
“And this is my Spirit.” We're here in the United States, but I'm acutely aware that I'm speaking to students who come from at least 66 countries. I'm just delighted that this is such an international congregation, and I'm happy that there are at least three Brits here today as well. With this in mind, and when considering the turmoil that has been a part of the election process here in the United States, it's highly apparent that this is a pretty good example for many countries around the world in terms of polarization, opposition, and tribalism — in the negative senses of that, clannishness and people finding too much confrontation in too many areas. That polarization is damaging in so many ways. And I want to invite you to avoid the polls or the extreme of the discourse in public and private life too. It's hard for two people at opposite poles to see eye-to-eye, and I want to share a thought or two concerning that.
If we use politics as an example, one thing you could do if you acknowledge that you're out near one pole or another to move inwards from those poles, is read the point of view of the other people. If you have been, for instance, reading a particular publication or strands of information delivered to you through social media or through other sources, deliberately go and read the point of view that some of your friends are being delivered through their own media channels or publications. The value of doing this is greater now than it ever has been before because as we're learning, one of the ways that our media gets delivered to us is that it constantly hones in on the things that we're already looking at. So, it gives us more and more, an ever-greater diet of the thoughts and ideologies that we already adhere to. When it would do us very well to turn, read, and listen to the ideologies, thoughts, and concepts of those we currently may disagree with. If we do that with an open heart, we'll be blessed to understand the people we disagree with and become a force for peace. And goodness knows, we need greater peace in our public and private life.
It's not just reading, but also listening and viewing in this world where more of what we consume is delivered either visually or through audio. We need to look at and listen to the point of view of others and ask to be able to understand them. Why? To diminish this polarizing effect and come to a point where we can have a chance of understanding one another.
It's been so discouraging to find people in political parties pick on your political party. In any of the major political parties in the countries that I've been closely exposed to recently describe people of the other party as bad or worse. This is ridiculous because it, in many cases, it represents something close to half of a population. Those out on the extremes are frequently saying that people who adhere to this or that ideology are bad. They often express it worse, and I'm moderating my language for this moment. Again, we need to listen. We need to watch it. We need to talk to those who don't share our ideas, come to an understanding with them, and recognize step-by-step that above all, they are children of God too. They want happy lives for themselves and happy lives for their children and grandchildren. You must be examples of this. You have the gospel as your foundation and have been taught that we must be peacemakers. This is work for you to do. And to continue on that, perhaps while you're still studying and beyond, I would encourage you to take your place in contributing to society in governments of various different forms.
Government starts with a school board. Sitting on a school board and helping guide a school towards things that will better nourish all of the children and staff in those schools. It might lead you to college or university government, city government, county government, state government, or perhaps even to a national government. Goodness knows we need good people to help run our institutions and far fewer people just to knock them down, as the habit has become. Let's get involved rather than criticizing. That would be a natural continuation of your exploration of other people's points of view. It will give you the ability to listen and understand and share in very temperate tones your own point of view.
I want to return to the idea of the poles again. If we think of the poles on the earth, the North Pole and the South Pole, we think of them as freezing and largely desolate places. Quite a handy image for what I've been trying to describe as the poles being places to avoid. Now, I know and we know a few people who love to go and study there. We have friends who go each year to the South Pole, but they do so in the summer when there's little or no darkness. But I have to say, it's still freezing down there, and for most of us, it wouldn't be where we’d choose to go. The poles are inhospitable to the vast majority of us. During their winters, they have no light at all, and during their summers, there's no night or time for rest, and the climate remains pretty wretched. Let's move away from our poles and come together and make peace.
Hatred and disdain have become very powerful in society. We have a role as a Church, as a community of believers, to change that and become peacemakers. With that in mind, I want you to know, realize, and acknowledge that we're led by optimists. President Nelson can walk into a room and lighten the atmosphere. His calm loving nature, kind questions to those present, and sweet responses to any question extended to him can change the climate of a room or any gathering. He has this ability to change or create the mood in vast congregations to congregations of millions, all while avoiding the poles, and creating a warm inviting climate for you and for me. I'm so grateful for that.
I want to share with you in a moment a video that was made out of something he said as he narrated this a few years ago. He returns to our trials, and he takes some of life's biggest challenges and reminds us how we deal with them. He starts off the story with him being in a plane that is crashing. Everybody onboard believes it's going down. He then talks about how he feels and likens that to the trials of life. He reminds us of who we are. We are here today to remind you of who you are as we remind ourselves of who we are.
Look at President Nelson here, while remembering that you can do hard things, and in our own way, we can thrive under opposition. Once we've shared these few minutes of President Nelson’s teachings with you, I'll return to share some closing thoughts.
"I was in a small airplane, and all of a sudden, the engine on the wing caught fire. It exploded. Burning oil was poured all over the right side of the airplane, and we started to dive toward the earth. We were spinning down to our death. This woman across the aisle - I just felt so sorry for her. She was just absolutely, uncontrollably hysterical. And I was calm. I was totally calm, even though I knew I was going down to my death. I was ready to meet my Maker. We didn't crash. We didn't die. The spiral dive extinguished the flame. The pilot got control and started the other engine up. We made an emergency landing out in the field. But I thought through that experience. If you've got faith, you can handle difficulties knowing that with an eternal perspective that all will be well.
"In Luke 21, “The earth shall be in distress. Nations with perplexity, the seas, and the waves roaring. Men's hearts failing them for fear.” What we're seeing is a prediction that in these latter days, people will be afraid. Men's hearts are failing, and that includes women because they forget their identity and their purpose.
"The heartaches will come. I've lived through the death of my wife and the death of a daughter. I've seen the troubles that divorce brings, children or grandchildren go astray, disability, illness, and injuries. To the individual who is weak in the heart or fearful in the heart, be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life but in the next life. Don't demand unreasonable things, but demand for yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you, through that, He will make the difference.
"I'm so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that allows me that kind of strength in these tumultuous times."
If the video didn't play well for you as part of this stream, I hope you'll return to us and watch it in your own time. Indeed, I hope you'll watch it again and again. I just love it, and it does me good every time I watch it. It's called “Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them.” I love it because I feel President Nelson's optimism. I love how he responded to the immediacy of the crisis that the plane was in at the beginning. It's an example for all of us. Think about that as you think about adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing while considering the inverse of whatever problem you are facing.
I pray that you will, as President Nelson said, “Remember who you are.” Yes, you have immediate problems, and yes, you need to hear heaven's voice. Yes, you need to let God prevail in your life, and at times that will be demanding. But as you remember who you are, you will be blessed as you become a depolarizing voice and as you train yourself to become such. If you've got over dug-in in your points of view, and if you can't see it, ask a friend if you've become so, and then go to work and watch your rhetoric, and be calm, considerate, and thoughtful as you consider the ideas of the ideology and positions of others.
Come close and understand them. You may never fully agree, and that's okay. But be a voice for peace and get involved at suitable points in your life in the leadership of schools, universities, cities, counties, states, and nations. We are a people who thrive on opposition. Again, we don't seek it, but we must now be people who thrive in union and unison with others. We must find others with whom we haven't always agreed and get closer to them and find common cause with them, find things that we can unite around and build a better town, better city, better world with them, and build happier families at the heart of all of that.
In the 111th section of the Doctrine & Covenants, there's a beautiful verse. In the 11th verse, it says, “Therefore, be wise as serpents” — an interesting choice of words. Then it goes on to say, ”Therefore, be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin; and I will order all things for your good, as fast as ye can receive them. Amen.”
I pray that as you do your math, as you are as wise as you can be, as you are a peacemaker, as you are a family and community builder, and as you avoid those dark frozen poles, that you may become without sin. And that you will be able to acknowledge that he will order all things for your good, as fast as ye can receive them.
I'll leave these thoughts with you with a testimony of a loving Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, who has come to do everything for all of us that we cannot do for ourselves — putting in place prophets upon the earth at critical times. Having placed Joseph Smith, just in a moment, where he could do the things he needed to do, so this healing and comforting truth of the Restoration could be conveyed to a weary world at a time such as ours. I give thanks for that Restoration. I give thanks for Joseph, and I give thanks for President Russell M. Nelson, who now is a prophet to guide us. I testify that we will have prophets with us to guide us until the Savior returns. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Simple Math for Drawing Closer to the Lord
By: Sister Jennifer Kearon
We are grateful to be with you students of Ensign College, particularly as we all begin to turn our hearts toward Christmas and the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth. We know that this time of year for you also means finals and projects and deadlines, but it helps to remember what a privilege it is to have access to this kind of excellent education and the opportunities it provides. Not everyone does, and it’s important to give thanks for the tremendous blessing you have here to pursue higher education.
As the year 2020 draws to a close, with all its ups and downs and unexpected turns, it would be wise for us to evaluate if we are learning the lessons we should and could from this pandemic and the other events of this year. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland posted this thought as he reflected on what he is learning through this very unusual time:
“I hope when things go back to normal—whatever normal is going to be—that I don’t forget the feelings and experiences I’ve had during these months of reflection and solitude….We would be foolish to miss out on this sacred opportunity to search our souls, do a little repenting, and look for how we can be better and kinder.”
With that as a foundational thought, let’s have a little math lesson. I love math, with its logic and precision and predictability, but we’ll keep it simple, because simple math is all I can do these days! We’re going to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
With all the wild noise that surrounds us, with all the divergent voices clamoring for our attention and loyalty on our phones, on our screens, and even inside our homes, we need to add a holy place to our lives. Think about where you live; picture it in your mind. Are you in an apartment? Living at home with family? In a basement? With or without roommates? Where do you go for stillness, for prayer, for connecting with God? And is it working? Whatever your living situation, you can add a holy place to it—a space where you find stillness in order to hear the voice of God, to “hear Him” as our Prophet has counseled us to do, to commune and find guidance and direction for your life.
Where in your living space can you add a holy place? Try to find a specific spot or a furnishing that can be your holy place. Maybe it’s your bedroom quilt once your roommate leaves for the day, or a certain chair by the heating vent where the hot air comes out during the winter months. Maybe it’s a fluffy rug you find online and put beside your bed to kneel on. This holy place can become a sanctuary for you. For some reason, and I speak from personal experience, strength and comfort can come to you from knowing that your quilt, your chair, your fluffy rug, whatever, represents your deliberate holy place and is where holy things happen. Turn off the noise. Create stillness—very deliberately—in order to hear Him! Jesus teaches: “For all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16).
President Nelson has said, “I invite you…to make your apartment, your dorm, your home, or your room a holy place where you can safely retreat from the dark distractions of the world.”
Next comes subtraction. Think about how you spend the 24 hours you are given every day. Many of those hours are spent sleeping (probably not as many as you’d like!), and many of those hours are spent in class, studying, doing homework, and preparing for tests, presentations, and projects. Many hours are spent working and earning money to live. The hours (or minutes!) that are left to you after your various commitments to school, work, and family, you might call your “disposable time.” This is the time over which you have full decision-making power. How do you decide to spend that time? What do you choose to do with your disposable time?
Make a mental list of how you have spent your disposable time over the last few days. Then think about what needs to be subtracted from what you do during that disposable time. Are there pastimes or phone scrolling or media choices or time-wasters that would be better either dropped completely or at least limited? What needs to be subtracted from your life? That could be a question for you to ponder and ask Heavenly Father about when you are in that holy place you are going to add!
Let’s subtract anything from our lives, especially from our disposable time, that offends the Spirit, whether that be actual activities or behaviors or habits, or whether it’s thoughts and attitudes and the language we sometimes use. If it offends the Spirit, subtract it. Let it go. Remove it from your life. And add more holy. Subtract what offends the Spirit and add more holy.
Let’s move on to multiplication! What do we want to multiply in our lives? What in your life would you like more of, and I mean, a lot more of? Probably the first thing that came to your mind was money! Wouldn’t that be nice to multiply the balance in your bank account or the paycheck you receive, even if just by 2 or 3???
But really think. What would you like to multiply in your life? What about love and loving relationships? What about feelings of peace and joy? What about forgiveness and healing? Don’t we all want a lot more of these things? We can put all of this under the heading of “blessings.” Don’t we just want to multiply our blessings—all the good things in our lives?
We believe in a God of abundance, a God of eternal and infinite capacity and resources—love, wisdom, and goodness. He wants nothing more than to mercifully multiply our blessings, but we must draw near to Him through a lifestyle of repentance and keeping His commandments. As we multiply our active pursuit of light, service, and the attributes of Jesus Christ in our life, as we multiply our quest for repentance and obedience, our Father then miraculously multiplies our blessings. It’s a simple equation.
And these blessings are multiplied again as we share our joy and faith and peace with others. We help to multiply THEIR blessings and the goodness in THEIR life when we give of our love and our desire to do good, lift others, and relieve suffering. All of this is multiplied yet again when we join forces with others whose goals are the same as our own. And on and on the multiplication of blessings goes.
Now for division. Hang on a minute. Do we want division in our lives? Jesus teaches us clearly that if we are not ONE, if we are not unified, we are not His. He wants us to be one with each other, to create powerful unity out of our beautiful diversity, so that we can be one with Him. In order to achieve this kind of unity and oneness, yes, there are some things we must divide ourselves from.
Jesus teaches clearly: “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, … and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:29). So we must divide ourselves from contention, from being stirred up to anger against those around us.
Jesus also teaches us clearly: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you” (3 Nephi 12:44). To even begin to follow that Christlike commandment, we have to divide ourselves from our pride, from our selfishness, from our prejudice, from any animosity towards groups different to us, and specifically from any form of racism. I’m sure we can all remember what it felt like to hear President Nelson say, “I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice” (Let God Prevail, October 2020). And so, we must divide ourselves from contention, pride, and racism.
There’s one more math operation I want to explore, the inverse. If you take the number 5, for example, which is really 5/1, the inverse of 5 is 1/5. Do you remember that? It’s sort of like the opposite—you simply flip the number on its head in a way. So, when you are facing adversity, which is just about all the time in one form or another, apply the inverse and flip it on its head! Instead of asking, “Why me? Why is this difficult thing happening to me?” try asking, “Why NOT me? What can I learn from this? What can I change? How can I grow through faith in Jesus Christ?” There’s such power in this!
When you are dealing with an issue that is causing you to doubt your faith, apply the inverse and flip it on its head! By all means, fully explore the questions you have, but flip cynicism on its head by approaching your questions from a place of faith, from an eternal perspective, from an acknowledgment that God’s ways are higher than your ways, and His thoughts are higher than your thoughts, or anyone else’s thoughts, for that matter (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
You will certainly be able to identify other ways you could apply the inverse and flip a less faithful perspective on its head!
Let God Prevail
We all remember President Nelson’s invitation to let God prevail in our lives. He asked a series of questions:
“Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?” (Let God Prevail, October 2020)
Letting God prevail in our lives is applying the inverse when we confront adversity and uncertainty and decidedly turn them on their heads!
So, to review, this math lesson has taught us to:
- Add a holy place and hear Him!
- Subtract anything that offends the Spirit
- Multiply our blessings by drawing near to the Lord through repentance and obedience
- Divide ourselves from contention, pride, selfishness, prejudice, and racism
- Apply the inverse and let God prevail!
Jesus, the Master Mathematician, is our Saviour and King. His perfect love for you is real, life-changing, and life-saving. Let Him prevail in your life, and you will find unspeakable joy. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.