- Reach out, help others
- Feed, nurture the hungry- Comfort, sustain others
Church members have "a great and solemn duty to reach out and help
othersT, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry and to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness."
This was the closing admonition of President Gordon B. Hinckley as the concluding speaker of conference Sunday afternoon.
In his address, President Hinckley reminded the congregation of next year's commemoration of the 1847 arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. "All of us need to be reminded of the past," President Hinckley said. "It is from history that we gain knowledge which can save us from repeating mistakes and on which we can build for the future."
The prophet described events of the October 1856 General Conference. The day before the conference, Franklin D. Richards arrived in the valley. He reported to Brigham Young that there were hundreds of men, women and children, most of which were pulling handcarts, scattered over the long trail from Scottsbluff
Neb.T to the valley. Winter had come early and they were in desperate trouble.
"Our people were hungry, their carts and their wagons were breaking down, their oxen dying," President Hinckley related. "The people themselves were dying. All of them would perish unless they were rescued."
President Hinckley said he did not think Brigham Young slept that night. "I think visions of those destitute, freezing and dying people paraded through his mind."
The next morning, Oct. 5, 1856, President Young came to the old tabernacle [on Temple Square] and told the conference-goers of the need to bring destitute pioneers on the plains to the valley.
President Hinckley quoted Brigham Young: "I shall call upon the Bishops this day. I shall not wait until tomorrow, nor until next day, for 60 good mule teams and 12 or 15 wagons. . . .
"I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the Plains."
That afternoon food, bedding and clothing in great quantities were assembled, President Hinckley said, and the next morning wagons were repaired and loaded. By the end of October 250 teams were on the road to give relief.
"Wonderful sermons have been preached from this pulpit, my brethren and sisters," the prophet continued. "But none has been more eloquent than that spoken by President Young in those circumstances."
President Hinckley said the stories of the Saints' suffering and death, and accounts of the many rescues - which stories will be repeated again and again during the next year - speak of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"I am grateful that those days of pioneering are behind us," he said. "I am thankful that we do not have brethren and sisters stranded in the snow, freezing and dying, while trying to get to this, their Zion in the mountains. But there are people, not a few, whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out for help and relief."
President Hinckley said many across the world are hungry and destitute who need help. There are also Church members who need help - "young people who walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices . . . there are those who were once warm in the faith but whose faith has grown cold."
"My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us, having participated in this great conference, would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them and put them on the way of happy and productive lives." - President Gordon B. Hinckley, closing address