“Report of the 156th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 1
In the majesty of his calling as prophet of the Lord during this period of mortality, President Ezra Taft Benson stirringly admonished members of the Church at the October general conference regarding holy scripture prepared specifically for the Lord’s people in the last days.
“Today I would like to speak about one of the most significant gifts given to the world in modern times,” said President Benson at the opening of the Saturday morning, October 4, general session of conference. “The gift I am thinking of is more important than any of the inventions that have come out of the industrial and technological revolutions. This is a gift of greater value to mankind than even the many wonderful advances we have seen in modern medicine. It is of greater worth to mankind than the development of flight or space travel. I speak of the gift of the Book of Mormon, given to mankind 156 years ago.”
Again and again the President returned to his theme, noting with clarity how the Lord had specifically prepared the book for our times: “From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?” he said (see p. 4 for article).
In the Sunday closing general session, President Benson again turned to the subject of latter-day scripture: “This afternoon I would like to speak particularly about the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. These two great books of latter-day scripture are bound together as revelations from Israel’s God for the purpose of gathering and preparing His people for the second coming of the Lord.”
“The Book of Mormon must be reenthroned in the minds and hearts of our people,” said President Benson. “The Doctrine and Covenants is a glorious book of scripture given directly to our generation. It contains the will of the Lord for us in these last days that precede the second coming of Christ,” he said (see p. 78 for article).
Presiding at the two-day general conference was President Benson, who was assisted in conducting the conference sessions by his counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor. All General Authorities were in attendance except President Marion G. Romney, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder J. Richard Clarke, president of the South Africa Cape Town Mission.
Two important administrative actions occurred at the conference. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy was sustained a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy (see pp. 95–97 for articles).
At the close of the priesthood session, President Benson announced that “seventies quorums in the stakes” would be discontinued. “Brethren now serving as seventies in these quorums will be asked to return to membership in the elders quorums of their wards,” he said. “Stake presidents, in an orderly fashion, may then determine who among such brethren should be ordained to the office of high priest.” The change does not affect the First Quorum of the Seventy. President Benson said that elders and high priests would be called to serve in stake mission presidencies. He also said that detailed instructions regarding the announcement will be given to local priesthood leaders (see p. 97).
Conference proceedings were televised via satellite to many gatherings of Church members in ward and stake centers throughout the United States and Canada. Videotapes of conference will be made available to members in most other parts of the world.
Preceding general conference by a week was the General Women’s Meeting, held on September 27 and broadcast to satellite reception centers in the United States and Canada. Addresses given at the meeting are included in this issue (see pp. 81–91).—The Editors.