President Hinckley Visits, Counsels Church Members

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“President Hinckley Visits, Counsels Church Members,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 74–75

President Hinckley Visits, Counsels Church Members

In a busy October post-general conference schedule, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a Brigham Young University devotional, the dedication of the Ezra Taft Benson Science Building, a regional conference at Ricks College, and during two unannounced visits to congregations in Magna and Promontory, Utah.

Promontory Branch

On October 15, President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, surprised the approximately thirty-five members attending church meetings in the Promontory Branch in rural northern Utah by joining them for sacrament meeting.

“I’m here to keep my word,” said President Hinckley, explaining that more than a year ago he’d met branch president Brent H. Larsen and, upon learning that there was a branch in the area located about one hundred miles from Salt Lake City, promised to visit. “I’m thankful for branches of this kind in little areas across the world,” he said, pointing out that there are now branches or wards in more than 150 nations.

He went on to tell the members that if they had a question about a principle of the gospel, they should live that principle. “If you have any doubt of the truth of the law of tithing, pay your tithing. Live the law, and you will gain a testimony of the truth of that law. …

“So it is with every principle and practice of the gospel,” he continued. “And it is because of that that the Church grows and appeals to people. It carries with it a conviction of its truth as we serve in the cause of the Lord. … Prove the Lord. That’s all we have to do, through doing what He asks us to do. As we prove Him, as we test Him on that principle, there comes into our hearts a conviction of its truth and a knowledge of its certainty.”

BYU Devotional

Two days later, President Hinckley spoke to an overflow audience of students, faculty, and staff at the Brigham Young University devotional. During his address, he paid tribute to the university’s former president, Rex E. Lee, who was released at the end of last year.

“President Lee has become what he is because he has done what this church expects of each of us,” President Hinckley commented. “He has walked the path of faith and prayer and obedience. He has walked with faith in the Almighty, with faith in the risen Lord, with faith in the eternal verities which come as the word of God. I urge each of you to do the same. God is our Almighty Father. He is our anchor and our strength. We can look to Him, we must look to Him, we must extend our thanks to Him and seek His direction and guidance and blessing.”

During his remarks, President Hinckley also urged students to avoid pornography, “a vicious brew of slime and sleaze, the partaking of which only leads to misery, degradation, and regret.”

“The Church is the great teacher and builder of values,” he said. “Its precepts are designed to lead men and women along the way of immortality and eternal life, to make their lives more complete, more rich and happy while moving through this vale of tears, and in preparing them for the beauties and wonders of that which lies ahead. Keep faith with the Church. It is true. It is divine. He who stands at its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.”

Ezra Taft Benson Building

Three days later, President Hinckley returned to BYU to dedicate the university’s newest building, the Ezra Taft Benson Science Building. Accompanying President Hinckley were both of his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, as well as President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve.

“The Church has used sacred resources to construct this magnificent edifice dedicated to scientific teaching and research,” President Hinckley observed. “Is it not a singular thing, I ask you, that a church should dedicate the kind of money that comes of the consecrated offerings of its people for the construction of a facility of this kind … ? It says much concerning the mandate of the Lord given to this people to promote education, to seek knowledge by study and also by faith, to learn of things in the earth, under the earth, and above the earth [see D&C 88:78–79, 118], to explore the great secrets of the mighty Creator, who was the designer of the world in which we live. …

“I am confident that President Benson would feel highly honored by this great facility which will carry his name. We remember him with love, respect, and appreciation and are pleased to dedicate this magnificent structure in his name.”

President Monson and President Faust also spoke briefly at the ceremony, both mentioning President Benson. “President Hinckley and I had the privilege of serving for a number of years as President Benson’s counselors,” President Monson noted. “We knew him; we loved him. When he came here [to BYU] as a student, he was voted ‘Most Preferred Man.’ That phrase personified our feelings for him. He was the most preferred man in our hearts and in our lives, an example of the believers. …

“He was a man who could cry easily and who could defend vigorously, depending upon the nature of the topic and how close it was to his heart. He was a great prophet of love and a prophet of accomplishment.”

During his brief remarks, President Faust gazed at a nearby enlarged photograph of President Benson and said: “I think this portrait is a very good likeness of President Benson. It catches his warmth, the gleam in his eye, his zest for living, and his love for humanity.”

Magna Utah South Stake

A week after visiting the Promontory Branch, President Hinckley made another surprise visit to Church members, this time visiting the Magna Utah South Stake conference.

“I did not come here to preach,” he said in his remarks at the conclusion of the meeting. “I just came to tell you that I love you.”

He went on to tell the almost two thousand in attendance that “there is only one happiness for you, and that happiness will come if you live the gospel. The peace of the Latter-day Saints, the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, and, I believe, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints will depend on their living the gospel of Jesus Christ in a world that is crumbling all around them. Be faithful and true.”

Ricks College

A week later President Hinckley delivered a similarly powerful message to nearly ten thousand members during two October 29 overflow sessions of Ricks College’s five college stakes. The Church President spoke without a prepared text and urged listeners to “love the Lord, cling to the Church, live the gospel.”

“You are the greatest generation … ever in the history of this church,” President Hinckley told the students. “You are better educated, you know the gospel better, you are the products of seminaries and institute programs, Ricks College, and so on. You’re the youth of the noble birthright and the daughters and sons of our Father in Heaven.”

He said that loving the Lord is not just good counsel, but a commandment. “Love of God is the root from which springs all other types of love. Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right.”

Also speaking at the two sessions was Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said that natural man is not able to understand things that are spiritual. “Natural man is headed in the wrong direction,” he said. “If you will keep the faith, then the Lord will bless you with the understanding that helps you get through.”

Students fill the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University to listen to President Hinckley at a weekly devotional. (Photo by Mark Philbrick.)

President Hinckley speaks of former Church President Ezra Taft Benson during dedication of new BYU science building. (Photo by Mark Philbrick.)

“You are the greatest generation,” President Hinckley tells students at a Ricks College regional conference. (Photo by Mike Lewis.)

Members from the Promontory Branch, Tremonton Utah South Stake, stand with President Hinckley after he attended sacrament meeting at the branch. (Photo by Gerry Avant, courtesy of Church News.)