Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known around the world as Mormons, should not fight their nickname - but take pride in knowing that many associate it with "more good," President Gordon B. Hinckley said Sunday.
President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, opened the third session of the conference, and President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the meeting. President Ezra Taft Benson did not attend but many of the session's speakers expressed love to President Benson.President Hinckley also asked for the Lord's blessings on the family of former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson, who died Sunday morning.
During his address, President Hinckley encouraged church members to live with the church's nickname "Mormon" - and like him, adopt the motto: "Mormon means more good."
"After all, it is the name of a man who was a great prophet who struggled to save his nation, and also the name of a book which is a mighty testament of eternal truth, a veritable witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ," he said.
Rather than fight the nickname, President Hinckley admonished members to "live that our example will enhance the perception that Mormon can mean in a very real way, more good." He listed several ways in which this can be accomplished:
- Observe the Word of Wisdom. "This is a divine code of health received through revelation in 1833 - 157 years ago," he said. "It proscribes alcohol and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains. This Word of Wisdom came to us from the Father of us all, the God of heaven, for our blessing and the blessing of all who would observe it."
- Strengthen family lives. "The strength of any community lies in the strength of its families. The strength of any nation lies in the strength of its families," he said. "Strong family life comes of strong and clear religious understanding of who we are, and why we are here, and of what we may eternally become."
- Have more tolerance, mutual respect and helpfulness. "How great a thing is charity, whether it be expressed through the giving of one's substance, the lending of one's strength to lift the burdens of others, or as an expression of kindness and appreciation."
President Hinckley gave examples of the charitability of Mormons, who several years ago generously gave of their resources to help the homeless and hungry in parts of Africa "where we have no members, but where there was much of famine and suffering." He praised the Relief Society, the church's women's organization, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir - volunteers who lift the hearts and burdens of the people of the world.
The church leader made mention of Salt Lake City being named by Fortune Magazine as the number one city in America in which to do business.
"This is a great compliment. Some feel it will help to attract many new people to the community," he said. "For us of the church this presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate through our attitudes, through our integrity, through our industry and neighborliness that we are the kind of people others appreciate."
Pres. Monson: Demise of Berlin Wall, other events of 1990 show how swiftly the Lord can advance his work.
The events of 1990 show the Lord's work on earth advancing according to prophecy. Such events bring to mind sacrifices church members have made to spread the gospel, said President Monson.
President Monson said he and his wife gazed from West Berlin to East Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate this May to view what is now one united city.
Events important to the church that followed the Berlin Wall's demise include new missions in Poland, Hungary and Greece and a re-established mission in Czechoslovakia. "And now, official recognition of our Leningrad Branch in the Soviet Union.
"Who, except the Lord himself, could have foreseen these historic events. It was he who declared: `The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.' Surely the purposes of the Lord continue to unfold in a way that our eyes can truly see and our hearts can truly know and feel."
Missionaries that have spread the gospel across the globe first ventured outside the United States to Canada following the footsteps of Phineas Young, who received a copy of the Book of Mormon and traveled to upper Canada several months after the church was first organized in 1830, President Monson said.
While serving as a mission president in Toronto, President Monson said he met with a small congregation that had its meetings in the basement of a decrepit lodge hall in St. Thomas. Only 12 of the 24 church members in the area were in attendance.
At the end of the meeting, the president of the small branch of the church handed President Monson a copy of a church magazine that had a picture of a new chapel in Australia. "This is the building we need here in St. Thomas," the branch president said.
The branch president requested six additional missionaries be assigned to work in St. Thomas. He prayed with them in the back room of his jewelry store and then produced a copy of the telephone directory. "If we are ever to have our dream building in St. Thomas, we will need a Latter-day Saint to design it. Since we do not have a member who is an architect, we will simply have to convert one."
The branch president and missionaries then set about contacting business owners and tradesmen. "The individuals were invited to his home to meet the missionaries," President Monson said. "The truth was taught, testimonies were born and conversion resulted. Those newly baptized then repeated the procedure themselves, inviting others to listen, week after week and month after month."
Within 2 1/2 years, the St. Thomas Branch had experienced marvelous growth, and a new church building was being built.
"When I reflect on the town of St. Thomas, I dwell not on the ward's hundreds of members and many dozens of families; rather, in memory I return to that sparse sacrament meeting in the lodge hall basement with 12 people and the Lord's promise, `Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.' "
The recent completion of a temple in Toronto demonstrated the faith and sacrifices of church members. "The funds to build temples come from all tithe payers and consist of the widow's mite, the children's pennies and workmen's dollars - all consecrated by faith."
An Ontario couple, Gustav and Margarete Wacker, also emulated the spirit of sacrifice. Gustav Wacker made a modest living as a barber but would pay one-third of his income in tithing. He loved the missionaries and would cut their hair without charge. If it was raining, he would hire a taxi to drive the missionaries home while he would walk home, President Monson said.
Following the dedication of the Toronto Temple, President Monson said he paused and "gazed upward toward heaven, that I might offer a silent prayer of gratitude to God for his watchful care (and) his bounteous blessings."
Elder Haight: Latter-day Saints have a `partnership with the Lord for the salvation of the living and the dead.'
Elder David B. Haight called on church members to accept their responsibility to do genealogical research and to perform temple work "to redeem the dead.
"Latter-day Saints are chosen people, so appointed in the premortal world, to be in partnership with the Lord for the salvation of the living and the dead," he said. "The First Presidency has announced that one of the major responsibilities of the church, and therefore the members, is to redeem the dead."
Elder Haight encouraged church members to strengthen their faith and progress to exaltation in the celestial kingdom. This, he said, can be done in several ways:
- First, by fulfilling their responsibility to the dead. "Our opportunities are two-fold: to do genealogical research and to perform temple work. There may be a time when we may not be able to do the research required, but this should not deter us from receiving the blessings of temple attendance," he said. "With 44 functioning temples located in various parts of the world, the privilege of participating in temple activity is becoming more and more available."
- Second, by being endowed with power from on high. "The environment in the temple is intended to provide the worthy member of the church with the power of enlightenment, of testimony and of understanding. The temple endowment gives knowledge that, when acted upon, provides strength and conviction of truth."
- Third, by finding a place of refuge and peace. Elder Haight said the temple is a "refuge from the ills of life and a protection from the temptations that are contrary to our spiritual well-being."
- Fourth, by receiving revelation. Revelation comes in receiving greater understanding of the endowment as one seeks to comprehend its meaning.
- Fifth, by giving genealogical and temple service.
- Sixth, by becoming saviors on Mount Zion - by building temples and receiving ordinances.
- Seventh, by qualifying to see and understand God in the house of the Lord.
"Such heavenly enlightenment and blessings are available to each of us," Elder Haight said.
Elder Wirthlin: Avoid `attractive snares' of TV watching, sports, immorality and material possessions.
Comparing life to traveling a mountain road, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Sunday warned of the risk of getting sidetracked by temptations.
"Satan knows our weaknesses. He puts attractive snares on our paths at just those moments when we are most vulnerable. His intent is to lead us from the way that returns us to our Father in Heaven," Elder Wirthlin said. "Sin may result from activities that begin innocently or that are perfectly legitimate in moderation, but in excess, they can cause us to veer from the straight and narrow path to our destruction."
The church leader listed many examples that can distract people from the proper path:
- Sports. "If we spend excessive time with sporting events we may neglect things that are much more important."
In comparison, "good physical and spiritual health can help us stay on the straight and narrow way," he said. "We need to nourish ourselves spiritually even more than physically."
- Television - watching it excessively or viewing improper movies. "Our precious time must not be diverted to the sideline attractions of vulgar language, immoral conduct, pornography, and violence."
- Material possessions - placing improper emphasis on obtaining materialistic things. "Many of us have made sacred covenants to live the laws of sacrifice and consecration," he said. "But when the Lord blesses us with riches and affluence, we may give little thought to how we should use these blessings to help build Zion."
- Immorality. "The spark of an evil thought can enter our mind that could ignite and destroy the moral fiber of our soul."
How can church members keep on the straight and narrow way?
"The Lord gave the answer over and over again," Elder Wirthlin said. "We must learn the word of God by studying the scriptures, and apply his word by praying daily to the Lord and serving our fellowmen."
Elder Wirthlin encouraged members to take a personal inventory as they pray to see how they measure up in righteousness - in meeting the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"If we have advanced in material, outward things, how are we doing inwardly," he asked. "Are we willing to acknowledge our sins and then make the effort to forsake them, repent and make the course correction that will return us to the straight and narrow path?"
Elder Paramore: Many witnesses testify of Christ; we can `with perfect surety know of him and his ways.'
Nothing could be more important to the world and each inhabitant than to know Jesus Christ and his mission to bless all mankind, Elder James M. Paramore said Sunday.
Sharing a letter he had written to a young man - Ken - whom he met while traveling to Texas, Elder Paramore testified that there are many witnesses of Christ in each era of time "to which we can go and with perfect surety know of him and his ways."
"All these witnesses certify of him, of the things he taught, and of the guidelines or standards - yes, commandments - he gave that man could securely pass through this earth life with joy and happiness and eternal blessings," Elder Paramore said.
The church leader said that during Christ's short time on earth, he fulfilled his ministry by saying, `I am the way, the truth and the light'; by acknowledging that he was sent to do the work of his Father in Heaven; and by fulfilling all righteousness - he would himself be baptized by one whom he acknowledged as a prophet, John the Baptist."
Jesus Christ, Elder Paramore said, gave a special power - the gift of the Holy Ghost - to all who would follow him and be baptized. He established his church among them. He gave the priesthood and the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost to all who would follow him. He gave prophets and disciples to direct his church and people. He blessed the people, and many miracles followed his work.
Elder Paramore said that Christ's few days on earth are recorded in the Book of Mormon "to help us gain this witness for ourselves."
This, he said, will bring us "peace and safety in a world of ever more frightening challenges, and will ultimately . . . take us home one day to our Father in Heaven crowned with glory and eternal lives."