President Russell M. Nelson reached out to all during his first broadcast as President of the Church, saying, “whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church.”
Other apostles have reassured and invited all members to “come, join with us,” as did Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf in general conference a few years back. He said, “to those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.” Elder Neil L. Andersen likewise counseled, “when you are faced with a test of faith, stay within the safety and security of the household of God. There is always a place for you here.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said in The Concern for the One, a conference talk given in the last year of his life, “to you who have strayed because you have been offended, can you not set your hurt and anger aside? …There is a place for you here. Come, join the fold, consecrate your abilities, talents, and skills.”
There are people who read, “there’s a place for you here,” and they bitterly or sarcastically think, “yeah, right”, likely accompanied with some epic eye-rolling, because they or someone they know has felt the exact opposite.
These folks don’t see the face of the Savior in their mind as they read or hear, “there is always a place for you here”. They picture the ward building where they were bullied in as a teen, or the face of a member who had said the rudest most judgmental thing ever to them. Perhaps there is also doctrine they’re struggling with that makes them feel there’s no place for them or their loved ones in the Church.
When discussing that there is a place for everyone here, it seems important to acknowledge that not everyone who has a testimony or would like to come to Church feels completely welcome. The quotes posted below aren’t included here to be negative, but they are needed in order to be honest. Our leaders approach this from more than one angle. They recognize that mean or insensitive things happen at Church. They talk about how to handle it, and they counsel all of us to knock it off—
When a prophet of God and the President of the Church says, “there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church,” he knows he doesn’t say that on behalf of every single one of the 15 million+ members. He must know that some people, even some wards, are less welcoming than others. He does say it on behalf of himself, the other apostles, and many other Church members he’s spoken with along the way. Above all, and most importantly, he says it on behalf of Jesus Christ.
This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is His Church. He is the center of the Church; He is the core. If He says, through the words of his prophets, that there is a always place for you here, then there is. That’s the important thing to always remember.