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Jana Riess Remembers LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard: A Tribute

M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away after a life of service.

M. Russell Ballard, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at the General Conference in April 2022. The speaker shared a personal story about receiving a signed copy of his 1993 book "Our Search for Happiness" from the church headquarters, along with a note expressing appreciation for the person's conversion to the faith. The book, which emphasizes understanding and respect for the church's teachings, rather than conversion, reflects Elder Ballard's dedication to building trust and appreciation.

The news of Elder Ballard's passing at the age of 95 was not unexpected, as his health had been declining for some time. At the recent General Conference, he struggled to read from the teleprompter due to his failing eyesight, but he spoke from the heart, expressing his thoughts on the church's founder, Joseph Smith, and the purpose of life. Many who watched Elder Ballard speak at the conference realized it might be the last time they would hear him address the congregation.

In the last two months of his life, Elder Ballard was at the center of a national controversy due to his association with Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. The church issued a statement distancing Elder Ballard from Tim Ballard, and allegations about the sharing of confidential church tithing records have been denied. Despite the controversy, Elder Ballard's years of dedicated service to the church should be remembered, even as the investigation into his association with Tim Ballard continues.

Elder Ballard's book, "Our Search for Happiness," may not be considered a literary masterpiece, but it reflects his no-nonsense approach to the gospel and his dedication to the teachings he learned from his family, particularly his grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard. The book includes a moving account of his grandfather's spiritual experience, which left a lasting impression on Elder Ballard and served as an inspiration for him.

As we remember M. Russell Ballard, may we focus on his sincere dedication to the church and his desire to build trust and understanding among its members. While we may not agree with all his teachings, we can appreciate his commitment to his faith and his efforts to share its message. May he find peace and fulfillment in the presence of the divine, as his grandfather did, and may his legacy endure beyond his passing.

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