“President Hinckley Visits Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 74–75
President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a seminar for newly called temple presidents on 13 October 1998, then the next day he departed on a five-day trip to visit U.S. members in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois. He was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Marjorie Hinckley; Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary Hales; and, for portions of the tour, Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area, and his wife, Lonna Jensen; and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, President of the North America Central Area, and his wife, Anne Pinnock.
President Hinckley spoke to about 1,600 members from the Montpelier Vermont Stake in a Burlington theater on 14 October. The last time a Church President visited Vermont was in 1976, when President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated a memorial at the birthplace of his grandfather, President Heber C. Kimball (1801–68), First Counselor in the First Presidency.
Shortly before President Hinckley was scheduled to arrive at the Burlington conference, a local power outage occurred. Temporary emergency lighting was turned on. A prayer was offered that electrical power would be restored before evacuation became necessary, and soon the power came back on.
President Hinckley spoke about how members can strengthen their belief in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, the divine calling of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the Church, their identity as children of God, the efficacy of prayer, and virtue.
Stake president Richard A. Baldwin said: “President Hinckley is an extraordinary teacher. I believe our dear Saints truly heard his precise counsel to focus on the fundamental beliefs of the gospel. The stake will be better for it.”
The next day, 15 October, President Hinckley visited the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont, and spoke in a nearby meetinghouse to about 160 missionaries from the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. Mission president Lee Ford Hunter said: “President Hinckley blessed, inspired, and enlightened the missionaries. He awakened in them increased determination to love and labor more diligently.”
On the evening of 15 October, President Hinckley spoke in Lowell, Massachusetts, to members from the Nashua New Hampshire, Concord New Hampshire, and Boston Massachusetts Stakes. Speaking about the Boston temple currently under construction, he said, “The Lord bless you, all of you, to equip yourselves to go to His holy house.” He then commented about the first small temple, which was dedicated in June 1998 in Monticello, Utah: “We did it close to Salt Lake City where we could watch its progress and learn something while we were doing it. Well, something marvelous has happened. … In the months that have passed since it has opened, they have 16 sessions a week. That temple has a capacity of 50, and the average attendance at that temple is 50.2.”
The next day, 16 October, President Hinckley met in Belmont, Massachusetts, with missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission. That evening, President Hinckley spoke in Worcester, Massachusetts, to members from the Hartford Connecticut, Hingham Massachusetts, Providence Rhode Island, and Springfield Massachusetts Stakes. He said, “Until you have received the sacred ordinances of the temple, you have not received all the wonderful blessings this gospel has to offer.”
New York and Illinois
President Hinckley spoke to about 2,500 members from the Albany New York and Utica New York Stakes in a historic theater in Schenectady, New York, on 17 October. After acknowledging the area’s economic troubles, President Hinckley said: “The Lord will look after you and bring you peace and satisfaction. His prospering hand will rest upon the Saints who pay their tithes and offerings.”
Sonia Fox, a Sunday School teacher in the rural Norwich Branch, Utica New York Stake, loaded her family and some neighbors into her car before sunrise and drove two hours for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a living prophet.” Albany New York Stake president John C. vom Lehn said of President Hinckley: “His thoughts about the impact of our decisions were a valuable reminder of the things that matter most, and his emphasis of the blessings which come from paying a full tithe brought hope to an area which has seen many economic ups and downs.”
The next day, President Hinckley addressed about 20,000 people gathered in Chicago’s United Center from 16 stakes in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Speaking to members of other faiths in the congregation, he said: “I welcome you most cordially! I hope that you will continue to come and meet with our people. I hope that you will listen to what the missionaries of this Church have to say. I do not hesitate to promise you that if you will do so, there will come light and understanding and knowledge and a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work. For God, in His power and majesty, has moved again to restore the gospel to the earth in all its purity and with all its wonderful blessings.”
He also said: “I love the Latter-day Saints wherever they are. We’ve been with them around this world, in Asia, the islands of the Pacific and all the nations of South America and Central America and many of the nations of Africa and Europe. You know, you’re all alike! You look alike. You look good. You look clean. You look tidy. You look neat. You look as if you know where you’re going. You look as if you know what life is all about. And you do, because you understand the plan of salvation.”