“President Kimball is unable to be with us in person,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, as he opened this year’s April general conference.
“However, he presides and is in his hotel apartment across the street, where he joins with us as the proceedings are carried to him by closed-circuit television. … He dresses each day. But he is weak, and his body is tired. He recently commemorated his eighty-eighth birthday and is feeling the effects of his advanced age and the cumulative effects of the surgical procedures he has undergone in the past. What a magnificent example he has been for all of us. The whole church has quickened its pace and lengthened its stride in response to his clarion call. He has been a prophet to us whose vision and revelation have reached out to people of the entire earth, regardless of nation or color or station in life, freely offering the matchless blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will accept. He sends his love and blessings to all of you.”
Thus opened the 153rd Annual General Conference of the Church. Both President Kimball and President Marion G. Romney, First Counselor in the First Presidency, were not in attendance in the Tabernacle due to illness.
“President Romney,” said President Hinckley, “is likewise experiencing difficulties. He, too, is feeling the effects of age and the natural wearing process of scores of years of vigorous and unrelenting activity in furthering the work of the Lord.”
Conducting this year’s five sessions of general conference were President Hinckley and President Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The conference included three sessions Saturday—morning and afternoon sessions, and the evening priesthood session—and two Sunday sessions, morning and afternoon. In harmony with a previous announcement, there was no Saturday morning general welfare session, and the Saturday evening priesthood session began at 6 P.M. rather than at 7 P.M. as has been the pattern in the past. Also, overflow crowds were able to again use the Assembly Hall due to the completion of its renovation.
Prior to general conference, on Friday, April 1, were held a Regional Representatives’ Seminar during the day and an evening meeting for Regional Representatives and stake presidents. The seminar focused on leadership counsel for the Church’s 212 Regional Representatives called from throughout the world.
Conference proceedings were relayed to 1,395 chapels via closed-circuit audio (1,260, U.S. and Canada; 120, Australia and New Zealand; 11, Philippines and Korea; 4, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico). In addition, 549 U.S. stake centers received conference via permanent satellite-dish television reception. Twenty chapels in Salt Lake Valley received television broadcasts of conference from portable satellite dishes. Fifty-six commercial television stations in the U.S. carried some or all of conference, as did upwards of 2,000 cable TV stations; 47 television stations in Canada also carried some of conference; and 61 U.S. radio stations carried some or all of the proceedings. Video tapes were also made available immediately after conference in numerous non-English languages.—The Editors