“Members Sustain Changes; Leaders Speak Out against Worldly Influences,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 121–22
In the Saturday afternoon session of the 173rd Semiannual General Conference, several General Authorities and Area Authority Seventies were released and four Area Authority Seventies were sustained. Changes were also announced for the Young Men general presidency.
Three members of the First Quorum of the Seventy were granted emeritus status and released from full-time service as General Authorities. For their years of service to the Church, Elder Angel Abrea, Elder William R. Bradford, and Elder Cree-L Kofford received expressions of gratitude from Church members gathered in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and in meetinghouses throughout the world.
Released as members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and given a vote of thanks for their service were Elder Duane B. Gerrard, Elder J. Kent Jolley, and Elder D. Lee Tobler.
Four new Area Authority Seventies whose callings had been previously announced were sustained at the conference: José A. Castro, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; William K. Jackson, New Delhi, India; Paul V. Johnson, Sandy, Utah; and Jay L. Sitterud, Highland, Utah.
Seventeen Area Authority Seventies were released. (For a full list, see “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” page 23, this issue.)
Changes to the Young Men general presidency were also announced. Elder Glenn L. Pace and Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy were released as first counselor and second counselor respectively. Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy was sustained as first counselor, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy was sustained as second counselor. Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy continues as Young Men general president.
During the Saturday morning session, President Gordon B. Hinckley invited Elder David B. Haight to join him at the stand. President Hinckley told the congregation that Elder Haight is 97 years old and “has lived longer than any other Apostle in the history of this dispensation.” Elder Haight waved to the congregation and was then excused from sitting on the stand during conference due to a recent illness.
In his address that morning, President Hinckley reviewed the growth of the Church, noting congregations of Saints worldwide: “We now have strong congregations in every state of the United States and in every province of Canada. We have such in every state of Mexico, in every nation of Central America, and throughout the nations of South America. We have strong congregations in Australia and New Zealand and the isles of the Pacific. We are well established in the nations of the Orient. We are in every nation of Western Europe and in much of Eastern Europe, and we are firmly established in Africa.”
“And this is only the beginning,” President Hinckley went on to say. “We have scarcely scratched the surface. … Our work knows no boundaries. Under the providence of the Lord it will continue.”
President Hinckley provided updates on several aspects of the work, including missionary work, humanitarian efforts (see related article on page 123), and the Perpetual Education Fund.
“To date the Church has granted about 10,000 loans to young men and women in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and other areas of the Church,” he reported. “To date about 600 young men and women have completed their training. … We are happy to report that the plan is working well and gradually expanding as we gain experience.”
President Hinckley and several other leaders also spoke of the declining standards of the world and reminded conference attendees that the Church’s standards will not change.
“I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world,” President Hinckley said in his Sunday morning address. “There are forces all around us that would deter us from that effort. The world is crowding in on us. From all sides we feel the pressure to soften our stance, to give in here a little and there a little. … We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator.”
President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also confirmed the Church’s unwillingness to alter its standards. “However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield,” he said during the Saturday afternoon session.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called the Saints to action in his Saturday morning remarks, encouraging them to take a stance against growing trends. “We need to raise our voices with other concerned citizens throughout the world in opposition to current trends. We need to tell the sponsors of offensive media that we have had enough. We need to support programs and products that are positive and uplifting,” Elder Ballard said. “Brothers and sisters, refuse to be used. Refuse to be manipulated. Refuse to support those programs that violate traditional family values.”