My brothers and sisters, this has been a glorious conference. Only one thing has been lacking, and that is to have heard from the President of the Church, the prophet of the Lord. I wish that President Kimball might have been able to speak to us. We love him. We pray for him. He would have me convey his love and blessing to each of you.
We have likewise missed the counsel of President Romney. These our brethren have each reached an advanced age. Our hearts go out to them. We pray that the Lord will bless them and comfort and sustain them according to his all-wise program. His wisdom exceeds that of any man. He is working his grand design with reference to his purposes and his kingdom.
If our leaders could have spoken to us, I am confident they would have said, “Live the gospel.” That is the greatest challenge we face. It is a simple declaration, but encompassed in those few words is a mandate applicable to each of us. It concerns our home and family life. It concerns our daily work. It concerns our activities and responsibilities as men and women, brothers and sisters, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As we return to our homes, let us resolve within our hearts to more fully live the gospel.
One hundred years ago at the October 1884 conference, in this same Tabernacle, George Q. Cannon, Counselor in the First Presidency, standing where I now stand, said to those here assembled:
“If I could speak so that the whole world would hear the utterance I would like to sound it in the ears of all mortal men—that there is no power that will ever be permitted to array itself, or to combine itself against this work of our God, to retard its onward progress from this time forward until the full consummation will be achieved—that is, if the Latter-day Saints themselves are faithful to God, if they will keep the commandments of God, if they will sanctify themselves and cleanse themselves from sin, and live pure and holy lives. If they will do this, then the success and the triumph and the continued growth and advancement of this kingdom … are assured unto us as a people. There is no doubt of it. I say in the name of Jesus Christ, that it will be so.” (Journal of Discourses, 25:325.)
I appreciate what has been said by all who have spoken in this conference. I want to assure you, as I have assured you in the past, that there is unity in the leadership of the Church. There is not the slightest divisiveness among the General Authorities. There is a great sense of loyalty among them—loyalty to you, loyalty to one another, loyalty to this cause, loyalty to God and his Eternal Son.
I love these my Brethren. Not one of them has ever hesitated to respond to any call that was made upon him. They have been willing to travel over land and sea, in sunshine or storm, to accomplish any task asked of them. They have lived up to the solemn charge given each at the time of his call—to put the interests of the kingdom of God ahead of all other interests.
I can say the same of members of stake presidencies and bishoprics, Regional Representatives, mission presidents, and many others. It is a constantly unfolding miracle to me to witness the faithfulness of these men who have been appointed as local Church leaders.
I want to assure you that they have been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. They have been set apart by those who are in authority to do so. They have been blessed with judgment and understanding, with discernment and inspiration.
I urge the people of the Church, wherever you may be, when you are faced with problems, first to try to solve those problems yourselves. Think about them, study alternatives available to you, pray about them, and look to the Lord for direction. If you are unable to settle them yourselves, then talk with your bishop or branch president. He is a man of God, called under the authority of the holy priesthood as the shepherd of the flock.
So very many letters come addressed to President Kimball asking for counsel and advice on personal problems. Most of the questions raised could be settled by the individuals themselves, and most certainly in counseling with their bishops or stake presidents, who best know the members of their wards and stakes. These brethren are close to the people. It is my observation that they are willing to give of their time unselfishly to listen to the troubles of those for whom they are responsible. They are willing to fast and to pray in seeking solutions.
It is so much better that you consult with these your local brethren rather than that you write to the General Authorities of the Church, who, in many instances, will simply refer your query back to your bishop or stake president. Such referral will not come of an unwillingness to take the time to assist those in trouble. It will be prompted by an established procedure in the Church that we should look to our local leaders for counsel, those who know us best. They are entitled to inspiration from the Lord in counseling those for whom they have responsibility.
Even if President Kimball were in good health and vigorous, there is no way that he could deal with all of the personal problems of the people and still carry the tremendous administrative load which is attached to his office. If bishops and stake presidents do not know the answers to problems which come to them, then they may properly write to the Presidency of the Church. That is the order of things, my brethren and sisters, and there is great wisdom in it.
Now a final word. Enjoy your membership in the Church. Where else in all the world can you find such a society? Enjoy your activity. When I was a missionary in London fifty years ago, my companion and I would shake hands in the morning and say to one another, “Life is good.” Life in the service of the Lord is good. It is beautiful. It is rewarding.
Be happy in that which you do. Cultivate a spirit of gladness in your homes. Subdue and overcome all elements of anger, impatience, and unbecoming talk one to another. Let the light of the gospel shine in your faces wherever you go and in whatever you do.
God be with you, my beloved brethren and sisters. May he smile with favor upon you as you walk in obedience to his commandments.
I add my testimony to the many that have been borne in this conference. I know that God our Eternal Father lives, the Father of the spirits of all men. Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, our Savior and our Redeemer, who gave his life as a vicarious sacrifice for each of us.
Joseph Smith was and is a prophet. We have a prophet among us at this time. This is the Church of Jesus Christ, restored in this dispensation for the blessing of our Father’s children.
I leave with you my love and blessing and that of each of my Brethren in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.