Church members in the Midwestern United States reside in areas where great truths of the gospel were revealed to Joseph Smith and today are witnessing a "marvelous and wonderful thing" as, in stark contrast to Joseph's day, the Church is better accepted than at any time in its history, said President Gordon B. Hinckley May 15.
Speaking via satellite to 133,000 members living in 41 stakes in the Ohio Valley, President Hinckley noted that in the "vicinity of Kirtland, in Hiram, and in other areas of Ohio, revelation after revelation was received, revelations of instruction and revelations of comfort and great promise."
This year, President Hinckley added, there are many events taking place to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the 175th year of the organization of the Church including a conference held at the Library of Congress May 6 and 7, in which scholars, LDS as well as those of other faiths, discussed Joseph Smith. (For complete coverage of the Joseph Smith conference, see the May 14 Church News.) Church members today, including those who participated in the Joseph Smith event, receive a much different reception than did Joseph Smith when he traveled to Washington to see U. S. President Martin Van Buren in 1839, said President Hinckley.
In addition to President Hinckley, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Elisa, and Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy and his wife, Tamara, also participated in the satellite conference, which originated from Salt Lake City.
During his remarks, Elder Wirthlin asked the vast congregation, gathering in 223 chapels in five states, to follow five keys that have blessed his life. "I believe that if you will apply them in your life they will be a blessing to you as well," he said.
1. Don't be afraid. "Sometimes fear makes us run away from things, things like setting and achieving goals, developing noble relationships that last a lifetime or becoming the people we should become like," Elder Wirthlin said. "Sometimes fear can even paralyze us to the point that we don't even try to achieve our goals."
2. Have faith. "With faith miracles can occur," he explained. "One way to increase our faith is to spend time communicating with our Heavenly Father."
3. Work. "I have found that many of the best moments of my life have been when I have immersed myself in worthy and worthwhile work," said Elder Wirthlin.
4. Do what is right, let the consequence follow. "Every aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the principles, the doctrines, and the commandments (are) part of our Heavenly Father's plan to help us obtain peace and happiness," he said.
5. Persevere to the end. "If we are to reap the great blessings the Lord has in store for us we must persevere," concluded Elder Wirthlin, adding, "I know that you will be blessed as you implement these five keys."
Sister Wirthlin spoke about the family, the most basic unit in the Church.
"The pattern for families was to get children to know God so that we can all come back into His presence together," she said. "As parents, grandparents and uncles and aunts we can each help our posterity to return to our Father in Heaven."
Parents, she said, should instill in their children principles of the gospel, including faith and prayer. "We have to set good examples," she said.
Elder Snow, who conducted the meeting, noted that those participating in the conference lived in areas where important events in both American and Church history occurred.
He recalled serving as a mission president in Jackson, Miss. There he met a Church member who built his own airplane. The member explained that he had a manufacturer guarantee that if he followed the instructions exactly to construct the plane, it would "fly like the prototype."
"Our Father in Heaven has a plan for us in this life, a plan of happiness, and when we follow that plan exactly, He assures us that we will be lifted up like the prototype, our Savior and Redeemer," said Elder Snow.
Members must follow the doctrine of Christ to become like Christ, he added.
"If we have faith in Him, if we follow His plan with exactness, He will change our hearts and awaken us out of the deep sleep of mortality and illuminate our souls by the light of the everlasting word and we, too, will awaken to God," he said.
Sister Snow told the congregation that she has a "deep connection with your land and people that goes back many generations."
Her ancestors, she noted, came from West Virginia and Ohio.
In the book of Mormon, she said, one learns that obtaining the genealogies of our families something that is a "challenge, adventure and rewarding joy" is worth a great price.
"Whether you come from a long line of members of the Church or are a new convert, whether you do the research to find the person or are the one to take the name to the temple, you will have been a life-saving hero," she said.
"I testify that God loves all His children, past and present, your family and mine. He created this world and the Plan of Salvation for all who ever lived. He has placed you and me here at this time and place to use our time and the tools He has made available to do a work that will save all His children."
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