Below are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, given by Grant Bennett on Thursday night at the RNC. Bennett is a close friend of the Romneys and has held leadership positions in the Mormon church.

"I have spent thousands of hours over many years with Mitt Romney.

We spent our time together serving our fellow men and women - we spent it serving in our church.

We embraced Christ's admonition: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an unpaid, lay clergy. While raising his family and pursuing his career, Mitt Romney served in our church, devoting 10, 15, even 20 hours a week doing so.

Like all Mormon leaders, he did so on his own

time and at his own expense.

I was an assistant to Mitt when he was our pastor. As we began working together, Mitt asked, "How early can I call you in the morning?" I said 6 a.m. I regret my answer - for several years, Mitt became my alarm clock.

A typical morning call: "Grant, it's Mitt. I'm at the airport. Hazel Young tripped last night and bruised her hip -- please visit her this evening and give her my love; I'll arrange for meals and I will visit her on my way home from the airport tomorrow."

In our early morning calls, Mitt didn't discuss questions of theology. He found the definition of religion given by James in the New Testament to be a practical guide: "Pure religion … is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction."

So, what specifically did Mitt Romney do as our pastor?

For one or two evenings each week and several hours every weekend -- week after week and year after year -- he met with those seeking help with the burdens of real life, burdens we all face at one time or another: unemployment, sickness, financial distress, loneliness.

Mitt prayed with and counseled church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions, immigrants separated from their families, and individuals whose heat had been shut off.

To uphold the dignity -- and respect the privacy -- of those who came, he met with them in private and in confidence. He has upheld that trust.

Mitt's response to those who came was compassion in all its beautiful varieties: He had a listening ear and a helping hand.

Drawing on the skills and resources of those in our congregation, Mitt provided food and housing, rides to the doctor and companions to sit with those who were ill.

He shoveled snow and raked leaves for the elderly; he took down tables and swept the floors at church dinners.

Years later, I became the pastor. Only then did I understand the dedication this calling requires -- and the clarity this service provides into the full range of our shared human experience.

Mitt challenged each of us to find our life by losing it in service to others. He issued that challenge again and again.

The church itself was a marvelous vehicle for extending that challenge.

Mitt seldom delivered the sermon himself - he gave that opportunity to fellow church members.

He sought to involve everyone so everyone could grow.

Mitt taught faith in God, personal integrity, self-reliance and service to our fellow men.

And Mitt did what he challenged us to do. He led by example.

I treasure every minute we served together.

I am grateful for my apprenticeship in "the things that matter most" under the hands of a deeply good man named Mitt Romney.

Now it is my privilege to introduce two families from our congregation. First, Pat and Ted Oparowski. They will be followed by Pam Finlayson."