“President Benson Visits Church Historical Sites in New York,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 73
President Ezra Taft Benson visited three key Church historical sites in upstate New York August 2–3, then celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday August 4 in the Washington, D.C., area with family members.
His visit included a trip to the Sacred Grove, where he addressed a gathering of missionaries serving in the New York Rochester Mission. President Benson told the missionaries that they stood where “the greatest demonstration of the power of God took place.” He pointed out that it was in this area that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared. “There is no other revelation in all the world that can compare in power with this, but this was just the beginning,” he said.
President Benson also visited the Hill Cumorah, where the Prophet Joseph Smith unearthed the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. President Benson attended the final performance of the 1986 Hill Cumorah Pageant August 2, and on Sunday morning, August 3, addressed a gathering estimated at more than fifteen thousand.
President Benson declared that “the Book of Mormon was written for us today” and said that God expects people to read it, ponder it, and use it as the basis for preaching the gospel. He noted, “We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong as they could be unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ.” He also said every Latter-day Saint should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, “he is neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life.”
That afternoon, President Benson and his wife, Flora, along with other family members and guests, were served lunch in the visitors’ center of the Peter Whitmer Farm. While there, he inspected the nearby Peter Whitmer cabin, which has been restored and is open for tours. The Peter Whitmer farm is where much of the Book of Mormon was translated; it is also where the Church was organized on 6 April 1830.