White house visit: Pres. Clinton meets with Pres. Hinckley, receives his six-generation family history
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In comments to the media after visiting President Bill Clinton at the White House Nov. 13, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "It is our feeling that if you're going to fix the nation, you need to start by fixing families. That's the place to begin."
The family was the predominant topic of conversation during the visit President Hinckley had with President Clinton. The visit renewed an acquaintance dating back to 1992 when then-candidate Clinton visited Salt Lake City and met with the First Presidency. The last visit of a Church president to the White House was in 1986 when President Ezra Taft Benson called on President Ronald Reagan."We had a very delightful visit," President Hinckley said. Vice President Al Gore was present for a short time during the visit. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Church's Public Affairs committee accompanied President Hinckley to the White House.
President Hinckley presented President Clinton a copy of the Church's "Proclamation on the Family," issued in September by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. The proclamation calls for "responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." (See Sept. 30 Church News.)
Presentation of the proclamation to President Clinton led to a discussion on the importance of families. President Hinckley said that President Clinton was very respectful and appreciative of what Church leaders had to say on the subject. "President Clinton has spoken a good deal about family values recently and we discussed that and expressed our appreciation for what he has said," President Hinckley added.
President Clinton was also presented a volume containing six generations of his family history and another containing that of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. A copy of each family history was provided for the Clintons' daughter Chelsea. President Hinckley described the President "as most appreciative and very grateful" to have the history. "He leafed through the book and we talked about his forebears," President Hinckley said.
President Hinckley said he told the President that "we advocate in the Church a program we call family home evening, reserving one night a week where father, mother and children sit down together and talk - talk about the family and about one another and study some together." He suggested that President Clinton might "get Hillary and Chelsea and sit down with those books and have a family home evening." President Clinton said he would take the family history books with him to Camp David for Thanksgiving where the family could have a good time discussing their heritage.
White House spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn said the conversation covered a range of issues, including welfare, education and the need for parents to be actively involved in their children's lives.
During the 30-minute visit, President Clinton and President Hinckley did not discuss any political matters. In response to a question as to whether there would be follow-up meetings, President Hinckley said, "I expect when he campaigns in '96 that he will come by and see us again. Our doors are always open."
On Sunday evening, Nov. 12, before his White House visit Monday, President Hinckley and Elder Maxwell met with full-time missionaries serving in the Washington D.C. North and South missions.
Elder Maxwell, who first addressed the missionaries, highlighted "the tremendous harvest basket that the Restoration has brought to us." He added that the New Testament speaks of a "harvest basket pressed down shaken together and running over. Now that's the Restoration. We have been given, Elders and Sisters, far more than we can possibly inventory at this time, let alone fully appreciate." He cited the additions the Book of Mormon brings to a full knowledge of the Atonement and the plan of salvation.
President Hinckley spoke of the often-unseen results of missionary work. "You never can foretell the consequences of your service as a missionary," President Hinckley said. "Don't get discouraged."
President Hinckley commented on the vicinity in which the missionaries are serving, noting there are many ambassadors in Washington, D.C. He told the missionaries they are ambassadors, also. "Do you know what an ambassador plenipotentiary is? One with full powers and authority granted by his government to act in its behalf. That's what you are. Each of us is an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ with authority given by Him to represent Him in this work of teaching the gospel to others."
After meeting with the missionaries, President Hinckley hosted an informal reception with LDS members of congress and their spouses. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah; Reps. Michael D. Crapo, Idaho; John T. Doolittle, California; Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa; Jim Hansen, Utah; Wally Herger, California; Ernest J. Istook, Oklahoma; Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California; Ron Packard, California; and Matt Salmon, Arizona; attended, along with Landra Reid, wife of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
President Hinckley told those in attendance at the reception that he had not come to Washington to discuss politics, but to "express to President Clinton the fact that we pray for him as we do for all of our elected representatives." He related a story about a man who worked with a candidate who ran for president, and whose candidate lost the race. The day after the election in their family prayer, the man prayed for the new President of the United States. One of his children asked why he was praying for this president when he had just defeated the candidate the man had worked for. To this he answered, "He needs our prayers."
President Hinckley indicated that this is a critical time in the history of the nation and expressed confidence in the elected representatives who were present in going to work to help solve the problems that beset the country.
"Many of the members of Congress expressed appreciation to me for the opportunity to meet with and listen to the prophet," said LaMar Sleight, director of public affairs for the North America Northeast area of the Church who assisted in arranging the reception.
After his visit with President Clinton on Monday, President Hinckley traveled to New York for a luncheon at the Harvard Club with several business, industry and media leaders.