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NEW YORK CITY — President M. Russell Ballard stood at the pulpit of the empty U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York City on Friday and reflected on the work that is done there by the 193 member-states.
“What we hope is that everyone can come here and get together and find ways of peace, joy and happiness, and turn people’s hearts to loving one another instead of trying to figure out how to hurt each other. That’s what we need,” said the 91-year-old acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It’s possible to fix things if everybody that sits in those seats, when they’re together, can think in terms of what is best for the human family and not necessarily what they’re just concerned about for their own constituency.”
President Ballard cultivated new relationships for the church and continued old ones during a newsmaking Friday in the City That Never Sleeps. He met with a high-ranking U.N. official, gave separate interviews to reporters at the Associated Press and New York Times at their offices and toured a historic Jewish synagogue led by a rabbi friendly to the church.
He began the day at the AP’s offices on Liberty Street at 8 a.m., when the morning sunshine struggled to peek through the city’s skyscraper canyons and steam billowed upward from food stands and pipes.
President Ballard provided the AP’s new, expanded global religion team with insight about why the church will end its century-long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of the year.
“The reality there is we didn’t really leave them; they kind of left us,” he said, according to a story published by the AP. “The direction they were going was not consistent to what we feel our youth need to have...to survive in the world that lies ahead for them.”
The interview covered a broad range of topics, according to President Ballard and the AP story, from civility and political discord, to church growth and youth retention to the recent massacre of nine women and children in Mexico and the church’s support for medical marijuana.