Saints Hold Washington, D.C., Area Conference
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“Saints Hold Washington, D.C., Area Conference,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 109

Saints Hold Washington, D.C., Area Conference

“This conference has been a real success,” President N. Eldon Tanner proclaimed at the close of the Sunday afternoon session of the Washington, D.C., area conference.

The nearly 18,000 Saints who had gathered at Maryland’s Capital Center could agree with his conclusion. On September 8 and 9 they came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to hear leaders of the Church and to feel the strength that comes from gathering. Their presence confirmed that attendance is its own reward.

Visiting authorities for the conference included President Tanner and President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency, Elders Marvin J. Ashton and L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, Elders Neal A. Maxwell and Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Sister Barbara B. Smith of the Relief Society general presidency, and Sister Elaine Cannon of the Young Women general presidency.

At the Sunday morning session, which 17,639 persons attended, President Tanner recalled how his parents had taught him the vital importance of prayer. “I remember very well my father saying, ‘Let thy blessings attend us this day, help us to do what is right and be successful in our righteous endeavors, and we will report to you tonight.’ Now that was a great strength to me because I knew we were going to report to the Lord at night, and I wanted to be prepared for it. It gave me strength to overcome temptation and evil.”

President Romney first spoke to the 5,700 women assembled at the Saturday women’s session. His topic was the example of Eve, and he noted that sisters can strengthen their families and their marital relationships by following her example.

The next afternoon he spoke again, also bearing a fervent testimony of prayer. “God assists every soul who learns to walk the path of prayer,” he said. “Through prayer we may … gain from him the guidance that will lead us successfully through this mortal life.”

To a priesthood gathering of 5,400 men, Elder Ashton spoke of the way to “joy, success, and happiness,” addressing his remarks especially to the Aaronic Priesthood youth. He concluded his address by issuing the challenge, “May we … resolve that hour by hour and day by day we will … become more Christlike in our conduct and more Christlike in our dependence upon our Heavenly Father.”

Elder Perry’s Sunday talk was on the priesthood and on priesthood quorums. He bore testimony that the priesthood is “a precious gift,” saying, “I have felt its vitality. … There’s something real I cannot define that passes through me when I administer to the ordinances of the gospel. I know the virtue there is in the priesthood. It is a power. It is divine.”

In an address to the women assembled on Saturday afternoon, Elder Maxwell warned, “We must not expect uninterrupted peace or prosperity. Tribulation is a part of discipleship.” But even though we would be faced with “fiery trials,” he said, they were not designed to overwhelm us. “God will not give us more than we can bear. He will carefully calibrate the challenges that come to us.”

Elder Pinnock spoke in the Sunday morning general session of the significance of the location of the conference. “In the area represented here,” he said, “the Book of Mormon was translated. Fifteen revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in this area. Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood were restored here.” He then emphasized the importance of today. “A righteous life is built on living one righteous day after another, yes, by enduring one day at a time.”

President Tanner concluded the conference with an expression of appreciation to all who had helped make the experience a success. The choirs, a different one for every session, had done much to create a spirit of worship and unity. The ushers, those responsible for the facilities, the interpreters for the deaf—but most of all, the members who had come to the conference with prayers in their hearts—all had contributed to the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment that marked the end of the area conference.

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18,000 attended the Washington, D.C., area conference, held in the Capital Center. (Photography by James Reese.)