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LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at age 97

LDS president met call with humility, vigor

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

Instinctively, he answered, "Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.

"We are particularly proud of our youth," he added later on. "I think I have never had a stronger generation of young men and women than we have today. ... They are going forward with constructive lives, nurturing themselves both intellectually and spiritually. We have no fears or doubts concerning the future of this work."

In his first address to the general membership during the 165th Annual General Conference on April 2, 1995, he urged LDS faithful to move forward and become more Christlike.

"The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"This is a time to be strong.

"It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth and the importance of our mission.

"It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow.

"It is a time to be found keeping the commandments.

"It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain.

"It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike."

He also expressed gratitude for his wife and family and brought laughter when he said, "Sister Hinckley and I are learning that the so-called golden years are laced with lead."

He continued: "But I still experience a great, almost youthful exuberance in my enthusiasm for this precious work of the Almighty.

"I love the people of the church, of all ages, of all races and of many nations."

In his closing address that afternoon, he admonished the Saints to "go forth with new energy."

In a priesthood talk that same conference, he cited President Harold B. Lee's admonition to survey large fields and cultivate small ones. "He was saying that we must know the big picture and then assiduously work on the particular niche assigned to each of us, and in doing so we concentrate on the needs of the individual."

For instance, he said, President Hunter urged greater temple activity, a work that concerns the entire human family, past and present, but it is accomplished on an individual basis.

Likewise, he noted, missionary service is a personal labor with the missionary teaching and bearing witness to the investigator, who must search and pray alone if he or she is to gain a knowledge of the truth.

To the young men he warned that immoral acts of any kind will introduce an ugly thread into the fabric. "Dishonesty of any kind will create a blemish. Foul and profane language will rob the pattern of beauty."

After his sustaining, President Hinckley embarked on a legendary travel schedule that took him around the globe. He was the most physically vigorous man to take the church's helm in recent history. "I spent one night in the hospital in my life," he said early in his administration. "I was past 75 when that occurred. That doesn't mean I'm ready to run a 100-yard dash."

During general conference in April 2001, he showed a cane he was using to the congregation, saying he was using it because he had a touch of vertigo. Even so, members often wondered aloud at his stamina, which he attributed to God's blessing. He rose early, exercised daily, read several daily newspapers to stay informed, and was often asked to address various business and professional groups.

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