“Southern Saints Rejoice at Atlanta Area Conference,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 110
Over 10,000 Saints from throughout the South attended the area conference held September 22–23 in Atlanta, Georgia. A few had spent weeks cleaning up after hurricane winds and rains before traveling to Atlanta, and the day before the conference, several Georgia counties were informed that another hurricane might hit that night. But the conference weekend was calm and peaceful.
President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided at the conference in the absence of President Spencer W. Kimball. Sunday morning he challenged parents to teach their children the gospel as his own parents had done. As he was growing up, he said, he never doubted the reality of a living God or the effectiveness of prayer, because “when we had family prayer, my father actually talked to God.”
President Marion G. Romney told the congregation Sunday afternoon that although “there is a direct relationship between the strength of one’s faith and the effectiveness of his prayer,” requests must be “in harmony with the will of God.”
Speaking to 3,291 mothers and daughters in the women’s session, President Romney said that God has honored women by giving them “the exalted task” of being mothers. He told mothers that the “observance of every principle of the gospel by the youth of the Church is largely in your hands. Sorrow and despair shall follow the shirking of this God-imposed responsibility.”
Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve quickly endeared himself to the congregation as he related favorite experiences he had in the South as mission president from 1934–1937.
Speaking in a powerful, unwavering voice, Elder Richards charged the Saints “to live, that your neighbors and your friends will recognize that you’re different than the rest of the word, that you can live in the world and yet not be of the world.”
The Saints responded enthusiastically to Elder Richards’s love for them. “We were glad to have one of our own come back,” one man said after the conference.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve explained Sunday afternoon that since everyone can read the Bible, everyone can have the word of the gospel. But it’s even more important to have the power of the gospel. That power, he explained, is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has “every key and power, right, grace, gift, and prerogative that had ever been held by any people in any age in the whole history of the world.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke Sunday morning of Christ’s preparation for temptation: “In solitude Jesus prepared to meet Satan. In solitude—pondering, meditating, praying—we can get close to the Lord to receive the help we need to live as we should. In the quiet of our pondering, we can listen to the Spirit.”
Elder Rex D. Pinegar, also of the First Quorum of the Seventy, counseled the youth—and all the Saints—Sunday afternoon to honor, have faith in, and be obedient to their parents. “As a parent,” he said, “I know that no greater honor can come to a parent than to see his children living the commandments of God.”
Also addressing the conference were Sister Marian R. Boyer, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency; Sister Arlene B. Darger, first counselor in the General Young Women Presidency; Francis M. Gibbons, secretary to the First Presidency; and Regional Representatives Marshall Lee Miller, William T. Brannen, Jack F. Joyner, and Robert N. Brady.
The Atlanta Civic Center auditorium, with its red carpets and plush red theater seats, was a comfortable, quiet setting for the conference. Floral arrangements in fall colors decorated the blue-carpeted stage. Acoustics were excellent for the 425-voice choir which provided inspiring renditions of hymns arranged by conductor Marlene Ledet.
As the last session ended and strains of “God Be with You” died out, people seemed to linger in the auditorium as long as they could before leaving. “I wish I could just stay here,” said Ella Van Huss of Paris, Tennessee, who, with her family, had driven eight hours to attend.
But they did all eventually leave, determined to do as President Tanner had charged at the close of the conference: “Let those who were not able to attend feel of your spirit and your testimony. … Live as you’ve been instructed in this conference. The Lord will bless you and strengthen you.”