“President Hinckley Attends Preview of Joseph Smith Documentary,” Ensign, Jan. 2000, 75–76
During October President Gordon B. Hinckley participated in a preview of a new PBS documentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith and dedicated the expanded Ernest L. Wilkinson Center at Brigham Young University in Provo.
Preview of American Prophet
“Look at what this young man did,” said President Hinckley at a 13 October preview in Washington, D.C., of American Prophet, a new PBS television documentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith that later premiered nationally on 26 November. “He represents to me a magnificent man who did a magnificent work. Joseph Smith’s lengthened shadow extends through all the history of this Church now and all across the world.”
About 300 people attended the preview, including diplomats from 22 countries, several members of Congress, and top business leaders. Also present were Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Sheri L. Dew, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
President Hinckley said, “I’m just delighted that those times of great stress and misunderstanding and persecution … have passed, that we live in a new age and in a new time when there is … respect and an eagerness to understand the great characters of the past.” He also said: “This Church has become the largest, the most vital, the most viable, the strongest religious organization to ever come forward on American soil. To me that is a very remarkable and interesting thing.”
On 15 October Elder Ballard participated in a preview of the documentary at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in South Royalton, Vermont. Also present were officials from Vermont Public Television, which was involved in the documentary’s production. The film, which was not Church sponsored, was produced and directed by Lee Groberg.
BYU Student Center Dedicated
On 5 October President Hinckley dedicated Brigham Young University’s enlarged and renovated Ernest L. Wilkinson Student Center following nearly four years of construction. President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who serves as commissioner of Church Education, and Elders Merrill J. Bateman and Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy. Elder Bateman serves as president of BYU.
“It has become a new and shining emblem of this great institution,” President Hinckley said about the student center. “Those who grind away at their studies need an occasional respite. They need a place of refuge. They need a place where they can enjoy the spirit of BYU. And this they will find within the walls of this great structure.”
Paying tribute to former BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson, President Hinckley said: “I can honestly say that he brought scholarship to Brigham Young University with his constant insistence on the updating of the faculty and the strength of the student body. What we have here today is really an extension of that great shadow of Ernest L. Wilkinson which began back in those days. He had a great vision of the future.”