By Steven Baugh
May 29, 2016

Elder Holland Offers Keynote at BSA Duty to God Breakfast

The breakfast began with showing the Duty to God video produced by the Church. I was struck once again by the quotes from Baden-Powell: King and Country, only in the second place. His first duty is to God and his statement, “There is no religious side to the movement. The whole of it is based on religion.” It was moving as the video concluded to see the credits: produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It made me proud to be a member of a church which was the first religious organization to sponsor Scouting and continues its full support.


“Surely, an important part of our duty to God is helping them fulfill their duty to Him.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was the keynote speaker. Here are the notes I took:

Some use duty to God to divide. We use it to unite. The moral and spiritual dangers of technology are increasing. The battle grows more intense by the day. An oath is a personal commitment. We will not shrink. We will not fail. We better mean what we say when we say, “On my honor.” It’s about kindness, compassion, service. Duty to God has to translate into daily action. It is not a project, not an event, not a catchy slogan, not a box to check. It is who we are. It is who we are becoming.

prayer-at-valley-forgeElder Holland referred to the painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge, commenting that he loved this painting by Arnold Freiburg, “a recently deceased member of our congregation.” He said he sees something different when he views the painting. He sees a junior high student or a disadvantaged neighborhood. He sees them as they can be, not necessarily what they are now. The best thing we can do is to be true to our own pledge. May God help us all to live “On my honor.”

You can view his message in it’s entirity here:

Robert Gates, National President, following Elder Holland’s address, recognized Elder Holland in very appreciative terms for his support and for the support of the Church.

George Coker was the keynote speaker at the Americanism Breakfast on Friday, May 27. He survived 6 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He said that during the isolation and torture his first several months his only conscious thought, his little tiny thread, was “On my honor I will do my best.” “I owe my life to this little tiny phrase.” “Know it, understand it, live it, no matter how bad it gets.” His words and his experience were very moving. Surviving his ordeal was a powerful example of the value of Scouting’s ideals in action.

Notes from the LDS-BSA fireside held prior to the Silver Buffalo event on May 27.

Randall StevensonRandall Stephenson, new National President, attended and made a few remarks. He said, “We share a passion with the Church.” The Boy Scouts fills a unique role in the United States. It teaches duty to something greater than self. We develop leaders to a duty higher than self. “The importance of the Church in Scouting cannot be overstated.” Boy Scouting is relevant. If there was no Boy Scouts of America, would the world be different today? “Absolutely.”

Primary Presidency

Sister Jones was nominated and approved as a BSA National Board member; and her counselors, Sisters Jean B. Bingham and Bonnie H. Cordon, were nominated as members of the National Advisory Council.

Joy Jones, Primary General President, stated that through Scouting her son learned to do hard things which prepared him for his missionary service in the Amazon jungle.

Stephen Owen, Young Men General President, spoke of the importance of being prepared. Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision after the emotion for making the decision passes. [I think he was quoting someone else.]

Elder Holland started his remarks by referring to Randall Stephenson. He said it is a tremendous compliment to us that he [Stephenson] wanted to stay to the fireside with so many other places he could be–places that would be more exciting. “We’ll all be in bed by 8:30.” [Laughter] “You could probably find a more raucous group elsewhere.” [More laughter]  [It seemed apparent that Elder Holland wanted to let Stephenson know our appreciation for who he is and that Elder Holland has already begun a close relationship with him.]

Elder Holland’s comments: Duty to God. Duty to Country. We have reason to be sobered by the times we are in. This world needs the virtues of the Church and Boy Scouts of America–we are totally and completely symbiotic. We need the values more than ever. Problems of corruption and graft. Life is tough enough without this. Innocent peple are hurt. Common virtues; civic virtues. We deserve to have confidence in one another. Values, virtues, and leadership is what Im taking about. What about the future?

He quoted three individuals:

Burke: put moral chains on their appetites. men of intemperate minds cannot be free.

Drucker: leadership is not a magnetic personality. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision, lifting a personality beyond what would be considered usual

His third quote: [I didn’t catch the name]: trials serve to separate the unwavering from those who show ambivalence.

Elder Holland said we cannot be ambivalent about integrity and values. “No snowflake felt any responsibility in an avalanche.” . Some things are universal, eternally important. We must be unwavering.

“I’m proud of the Scouts in this building.” We can be a moral people.

0712-08 School of Education Faculty Baugh, Steven McKay School of Education December 6, 2007 Photo by Kenny Crookston Copyright BYU Photo 2007 All Rights Reserved (801)422-7322
Author: Steven Baugh | Council Vice-president of District Operations

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2 thoughts on “Elder Holland Offers Keynote at BSA Duty to God Breakfast

  1. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

    The phrase “No Snowflake felt responsibility in an avalanche” really resonates with me. If we ever do or say anything that makes an individual feel small or unimportant, we are giving him permission to abdicate responsibility for his actions. If we recognize how very important each boy is and help him to see it, we show him how very much his decisions matter.

  2. AvatarHank Brock

    You correctly observe that he was quoting someone else when he stated “Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision…..” That is a clear quote of Hyrum Smith, one of the co-founders of the Franklin-Covey Corporation.


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