“President Hinckley Visits Members in Ohio and New York,” Ensign, July 1998, 74–76
During April President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed members in Columbus, Ohio, and Madison Square Garden in New York City and received a community award and spoke at a leadership conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Salt Lake City. On the first Sunday of May he addressed members from northern Ogden, Utah.
NAACP Leadership Meeting
Speaking to about 250 NAACP leaders and associates gathered from the western United States, Hawaii, Japan, and Korea in Salt Lake City on 24 April, President Hinckley said: “In the course of my life I have mingled widely with people of all races, with those of Asia and Africa, Europe and Polynesia, with people in high station and low station, both good and bad. The world is my neighborhood, and its peoples, regardless of status, are my friends and neighbors. I include all within the compass of the mandate of the Savior, who said: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’” (Matt. 22:37–39).
After referring to the many ills affecting society, President Hinckley said: “The black family in this nation has been a tremendous institution. It has added much to our culture and to the strength of our people. But in far too many cases families of all races have been denied leadership, the leadership of a good and devoted father who stands at the side of an able and kindly mother in quietly training, gently disciplining, and prayerfully helping the children for whom they both are responsible. The God of heaven designed the family as the basic unit of society. He did not design that children should be begotten and left to a single and often poor mother to rear. He designed that a father should stand as the pillar of strength in every household.”
Another theme of President Hinckley’s address was the need for family prayer. “A father who will kneel with his wife and children will do wonders for them,” he said. “The very act of getting on one’s knees before a Higher Power becomes an acknowledgment of our need for help. To thank the Lord in the presence of one another for life, health and strength, and family carries with it a wonderfully salutary effect. Remembering the poor and the needy and the unfortunate before the Almighty has an inevitable effect upon children. It leads to unselfishness, to concern for others, to a desire to lift and bless those in distress.”
President Hinckley received a standing ovation at the end of his talk and another ovation when he was presented with the NAACP Distinguished Service Award, signed by Julian Bond, chairman of the board of directors, and other NAACP dignitaries.
Addressing about 7,000 members gathered on Saturday, 25 April, in Columbus, Ohio, President Hinckley said that the Lord “expects so very, very much of us, my beloved brethren and sisters. It has been so from the earliest days of the Church. I come here to Ohio today, and I think of the times at Kirtland just up the way a little distance and of the early days of the Church and what was demanded of the people. … Those who were faithful, those who were true, those who were loyal stayed with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and those who were otherwise drifted away. That process has been going on ever since and will continue to go on. There will never be a dimming of the great expectations that devolve upon this people.”
Focusing much of his remarks on family relationships, President Hinckley said: “This is a day of repentance when you and I can turn around and face up to our responsibilities as husbands and wives, as fathers, as parents, and as children. The family is a creation of God. It is the basic unit of society. All else depends on it. If the family falls apart, the nation falls apart. There isn’t the slightest question in my mind concerning that. The Church holds great expectations concerning you in your family relationships.”
As part of his remarks, President Hinckley announced, “The time has come to build a temple in this great state of Ohio. The temple will not be a large building but will accommodate all of the temple ordinances.”
Local members responded with faith and enthusiasm.
Today the state of Ohio has about 45,000 members organized into 10 stakes. Columbus is located about 150 miles south of Kirtland, Ohio.
New York City
President Hinckley reminded an estimated 20,000 people who filled Madison Square Garden in New York City on 26 April of the “great expectations” the Church has of its members, including building strong families through faith and prayer.
He also emphasized modern revelation. “Christians generally and our Jewish and Muslim brethren and sisters revere the prophets of old who spoke words of revelation as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The times in which they spoke were less complicated. The ways of society were relatively simple. If there was need for revelation then, is there not an even greater need for revelation in this highly complex and difficult age in which we live? If God spoke to Abraham anciently, shall He not speak to prophets in this season of the world? We believe in modern revelation, and I stand before you and can testify in humility—but with certainty—that we are blessed with it in the guidance of this Church in this day and time. God has not forsaken us, nor will He if we will live in obedience to His commandments.”
President Hinckley’s remarks were translated into 11 languages and were broadcast simultaneously through an in-house FM-radio network. Before the conference he met with media and business leaders and international diplomats, including North Korean ambassador Li Hyong Chol, who expressed thanks for the humanitarian aid the Church has provided his famine-stricken country.
Some 20,000 members live in the New York metropolitan area, and members traveled to the conference from as far away as Massachusetts and North Carolina. “The biggest thing about this for me is having so many Latter-day Saints together all at once,” said Scott LeFoll of Hartford, Connecticut. “The Spirit is absolutely overwhelming.”
Anthea Pierre of Brooklyn, a Caribbean native who was baptized four years ago, said: “It meant so much to have the prophet here. It meant getting to personally feel his spirit. It gives me the belief that the principles and the doctrines that we learn and the messages that he passes on to us are real. They are from God, and he is a prophet of God.”
Service Awards for President and Sister Hinckley
President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie Hinckley, were both honored during April with service awards. About 1,000 people gathered in a Salt Lake City hotel on 15 April for the presentation to President Hinckley of the Legacy of Life Award, given each year by the LDS Hospital–Deseret Foundation in recognition of an individual’s contribution to the well-being of mankind. Presidents Thomas S. Monson and James E. Faust of the First Presidency attended the function with their wives.
Sister Hinckley received the Distinguished Service to Humanity Award on 2 April during the annual meeting of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP). “Her service has been in the form of steady, unwavering, and continual expressions of care, interest, and support for all of her brothers and sisters in all areas of the world and at all levels of status,” said AMCAP president Janet Scharman.
“We each do the best we can,” Sister Hinckley remarked at the award presentation. “My best may not be as good as your best, but it’s my best. The fact is that we know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not doing our best, it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience a peace.”
On Sunday, 3 May, President Hinckley addressed about 12,000 members from northern Ogden, Utah. “This is the great day in the work of the Lord,” President Hinckley said. “I just marvel at what I see. Everywhere we go we are treated with deference and respect. The media come out, and we have press conferences. People are anxious to hear about the Church. They want to know what makes us tick. We are large enough now, we are strong enough, that they pay attention to us, and that places upon each of us a great responsibility to live up to that which is expected of us, my brothers and sisters. This is the day of prophecy fulfilled. This is the day of which the prophets of old spoke. You are the people whom they described. How thankful we ought to be that somehow in the majesty and kindness and goodness of the Lord you and I were brought forth in this generation with the marvelous and wonderful blessings which we hold. God help us to be strong and true.”