“MIA Leaders Instructed at June Conference Sessions,” Ensign, Sept. 1972, 90–91
Thousands of regional, stake, mission, and district MIA leaders gathered in Salt Lake City June 22–25 for the annual June Conference sessions.
Pre-conference activities began Thursday, June 22, with camp instruction for YWMIA leaders in the Salt Palace. That evening, at the Master M Man-Golden Gleaner banquet, some 1,600 persons witnessed the presentation of the 1972 honorary Master M Man award to Casey Golightly, president of the San Antonio (Texas) Stake, and the honorary Golden Gleaner award to Betty Herb, YWMIA leader in the Augsburg (Germany) Branch.
At the Friday morning general session, held for the first time in the air-conditioned Salt Palace Arena, the 1972–73 MIA theme was introduced: “And if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:7.) This theme will be repeated each MIA night during the coming year in thousands of wards and branches throughout the Church.
“House Talk,” this year’s parent and youth program, was presented in the Friday afternoon general session. First presented in 1964, it has been revised with additional music for 1972–73.
On Saturday, June 24, the MIA leaders dispersed to more than twenty department sessions in buildings throughout Salt Lake Valley for instruction and guidance in their respective MIA callings.
Two departments featured special presentations: In the athletic department, the Homer C. “Pug” Warner award, given annually to an outstanding leader in YMMIA athletics, was awarded to Jesse A. Pease, finance clerk of the Thatcher Ward, St. Joseph (Arizona) Stake. And in the Scout department, Troop 360 of the San Marino Ward of the Pasadena (California) Stake was honored as the top Scout troop in the Church.
Cultural events of the conference included performances of the musical Carousel, presented by the M Men and Gleaners of the University Second Stake in Salt Lake City; “Sing a New Song,” the music festival, which featured a 4,000-voice chorus and the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus performing original compositions by sixteen Latter-day Saint composers; a one-act play festival, and roadshows.
At the Sunday morning session, conducted under the direction of the First Presidency in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Joseph Fielding Smith expressed appreciation for “the many wholesome activities that are prepared for the youth of the Church.”
President Harold B. Lee announced that hereafter titles of the heads of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association and Sunday School on all levels—general, stake, and ward—will be changed from superintendent to president, and that the assistants will be known as counselors. Tracing the history of the titles, he observed that the terms superintendent and president had both been used in the past. He noted that President Brigham Young, in organizing the YMMIA in 1875, instructed the young men, “You should have a president and two counselors.”
At the Sunday morning session, Elder George R. Hill, who has been serving in the YMMIA general presidency since 1967, was released, and Elder Robert L. Backman was sustained as a counselor to YMMIA General President W. Jay Eldredge.
Elder Hill, who has been called as a Regional Representative of the Twelve, has accepted a new position as director of the U.S. Office of Coal Research in Washington, D.C. He was previously dean of the College of Mines and Mineral Industries at the University of Utah.
Elder George I. Cannon, former second counselor in the YMMIA presidency, was named first counselor. He served as president of the Central British Mission from 1966 to 1969.
The new second counselor, Elder Backman, had been a Regional Representative of the Twelve since 1970, when he completed three years as president of the Northwestern States Mission. He had served previously as a counselor in the Parleys Stake presidency, in a bishopric, in executive positions in ward and stake YMMIA and Sunday School organizations, and as a member of the YMMIA general board. He is a Salt Lake City attorney.