Bishop James Holt of the Hyde Ward in the Manchester Stake was part of a team of writers who produced the current manual used in priesthood and Relief Society classes: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley. This marked the first time that members outside the USA had been involved in the production of the manual. Bishop Holt worked alongside members from the USA, as well as a member from South Africa and one from Australia.
In recent stake firesides in Dundee, Paisley and Manchester, Bishop Holt shared some of the highlights of producing the manual, as well as how he was affected by the two-year experience: “As we seek the kingdom of God first in our lives, we are blessed. I gained a greater understanding of the life and teachings of President Hinckley, and I was inspired to be a little better and stand a little taller.”
In preparing for production of the manual, each committee member read and studied every talk given by President Hinckley. Then the committee combined all the material down to 25 lessons. Bishop Holt commented that it was hard to pick a favourite as “there were many talks that touched me, but I can see two phrases that had an impact with my profession and my religious service. My profession gives me many opportunities to work with and teach people of other faiths; and as President Hinckley said: “we can disagree without being disagreeable.” As a disciple of Christ I strive to help everyone have “a friend, a responsibility and be nourished by the good word of God.” This really is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop James Holt, previously a secondary school teacher, is currently a teacher and educator at the University of Chester. He has a PhD in theology and has written and researched extensively on teaching practices. His most recent publication is Religious Education in the Secondary School: An Introduction to Teaching, Learning and the World Religions (Routledge, 2015).