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The Prophet Receives the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize

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Morehouse College, a historically Black school in Georgia, has given its inaugural Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, read a citation and presented President Nelson with the award in a pre-recorded broadcast played at an award ceremony on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at the WorldHouse Interfaith and Interdenominational Assembly at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. An overflow audience of more than 2,600 people attended.

 

“We are honored to announce you as the inaugural laureate of the Morehouse College Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize as an internationally recognized medical scientist, revered president, prophet, seer, and revelator for the 17-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Carter said, reading the citation. “You have continued the legacy of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-day Saints movement and the first nationally recognized religious leader in the United States to advocate for the freedom of enslaved Africans by affirming racial and ethnic equality and running for the American presidency on a political platform of compensation emancipation. You have worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than create walls of segregation.” (Read the full text of the citation.)

Carter presented the prophet with a crystal obelisk that represents a shaft of light and the creative power of God. At its base are three phrases from scripture:

“Let There Be Light.”

“And There Was Light.”

“And The Light Was Good.”

“You have my favorite scriptures,” President Nelson told Carter.

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Three gifts that the Rev. Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, gave to President Russell M. Nelson on March 24, 2023: (1) a crystal obelisk that represents a shaft of light and the creative power of God; (2) a citation honoring the prophet; and (3) a medallion with the images of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

“May [this obelisk] reflect the light within you and inspire continued works of global peace, harmony, and reconciliation,” Carter said.

He also gave the prophet two other gifts: (1) a medallion with the images of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela and (2) nine books by and about each of these three champions of human dignity. President Nelson’s oil portrait was also inducted in the school’s International Hall of Honor.

Thursday night’s other honoree was Dr. Ira Helfand. He is a recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and a copresident of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In his acceptance speech, the 98-year-old prophet said his decades as a heart surgeon taught him important lessons about God’s love for every soul.

 

“In those operating rooms — where life hung in the balance — I came to know that our Heavenly Father cares deeply for every one of His children,” President Nelson said. “That’s because we are His children. Differences in nationality, color and culture do not change the fact that we are truly sons and daughters of God. And as a follower and witness of Jesus Christ, I have only come to understand that divine truth more deeply.”

The prophet also said his lifetime of travel to 138 countries has taught him a similar lesson.

“I can state without equivocation that God pours out His Spirit liberally upon all who seek Him,” President Nelson said. “God does not love one race more than another. His feelings of inclusion are very clear. As recorded in the Book of Mormon, which I esteem as companion scripture to the Holy Bible, the Savior ‘invite[s] all to come unto Him and partake of his goodness; … he [denies] none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.’”

“Every now and again, people should do what you did,” Carter told President Nelson. “And that is: Get out of the box and surprise some folk. Do something very different of what is needed to unite people, to bring harmony.”

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The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. and his wife, Dr. Marva Griffin Carter, talk with President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy, on Friday, March 24, 2023, in the Church Administration Building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

In his five years as leader of the Church, President Nelson has consistently urged us to love and respect everyone. At an event in 2018 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of extending the 1978 revelation on the priesthood to all races, he taught Latter-day Saints to “build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”

President Nelson began building such bridges with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 2018 with a joint call for greater civility and racial harmony in society. At the 2019 NAACP convention in Detroit, the prophet said, “We have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us.” And he expressed his hope that “we may increasingly call each other dear friends” and “go forward doing our best to exemplify the two great commandments — to love God and love each of His children.”

The next year, in response to riots and violence throughout the United States, President Nelson condemned racism and pleaded for peace.

“We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven,” President Nelson said. “His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto Him — ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.”

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The oil portrait of President Russell M. Nelson (bottom left) was inducted in the International Hall of Honor at Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Thursday, April 13, 2023.

The partnership with the NAACP continued. In June 2021, President Nelson pledged US$1 million per year over three years to fund scholarships for Black students. He also pledged significant funding for the Rev. Amos C. Brown fellowship to Ghana (which took place in August 2022) and joint humanitarian projects in the United States (two of which began in San Francisco and Memphis last year).

Elder Gerard and President Leavitt Inducted into the Morehouse College of Ministers and Laity

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On the morning of Thursday, April 13, 2023, in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy (third from left) and Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square President Michael Leavitt (fourth from left) were inducted as scholars into the school’s College of Ministers and Laity.

On the morning of Thursday, April 13, 2023, Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy and Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square President Michael Leavitt were also inducted as scholars into the school’s College of Ministers and Laity. The college acknowledges “those who have assisted in the effort to continue to move forward the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. to bring about true equity and equality in our society and our culture,” Elder Gerard said. “I am humbled and honored to be a part of it.”

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