My beloved brethren and sisters, we greet you in general conference, on this beautiful morning in the valley of the mountains, at this glorious Easter season. We are convened in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, in this the first general session of the 155th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church, is seated on the stand and we are delighted to have him with us this beautiful morning.
We welcome all who are participating in the conference, whether seated here in the Tabernacle or in the overflow session in the nearby Assembly Hall, where Elders J. Thomas Fyans and Rex D. Pinegar preside, or who are participating by satellite transmission, radio, cable, or television. These proceedings are being carried to over 750 stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, to which the conference is being carried by satellite transmission. We acknowledge the General Authorities of the Church, the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary general presidencies, and the Activities Committee, who are seated on the stand. We extend a special welcome to government, education, and civic leaders who are present.
My beloved brethren and sisters, my heart reaches out to you, wherever you are, with a great overflowing spirit of gratitude. This vast congregation spans the continents of the world as we are assembled in this great general conference.
We are so delighted to have President Kimball with us this morning. He recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday. While he is unable to speak to us, his very presence stirs within each of us a great sense of appreciation to the Lord, who has spared his life during these four score and ten years. That is a long season for the life of a man in this generation. He is here because of the manifest power of the Lord. I assure you that we meet with him frequently and that no action for which there is not a well-established pattern is taken without his approval. He customarily meets with us in the weekly temple meetings of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. His presence is a blessing and an inspiration to all of us. Unitedly we invoke the favor of the Lord upon him that he may be preserved in comfort and ease.
We regret the absence of President [Marion G.] Romney, who suffers from the problems of illness and age. We anticipate that he will be with us during at least one of the sessions of this conference.
We remember with sincere appreciation our able and beloved associate and friend, Elder G. Homer Durham of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who passed away last January.
The Church moves forward with remarkable unity and strength. The burdens of responsibility are many and serious, but they are lightened by the absolute certainty that this is God’s work, that he is watching over it and directing it. It is our prayer that constantly he will give his direction, that we shall be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit at all times and in all circumstances, that his will may be done in earth as it is in heaven. The burdens of responsibility are also lightened by the demonstrated unity among the brethren and sisters, among all of the General Authorities who are united in a remarkable and wonderful way, among officers and boards of the auxiliary organizations, among local officers worldwide, and with relatively few exceptions, among the membership. I appreciate more than I can express in language your prayers, your letters of assurance, the sustaining power of your lives and faith, and your willing response to every request made upon you.
The Presiding Bishopric, particularly, have carried an extremely heavy burden since Bishop Victor L. Brown came into the Bishopric twenty-four years ago. He was named Presiding Bishop, and Bishop Peterson became his counselor thirteen years ago. Bishop Clarke is in his ninth year of service. Never before in the history of the Church have so many new buildings been constructed: meetinghouses, temples, and other significant structures, such as the new Church museum and the new Genealogy Building. With the work moving forward in more than ninety nations, these Brethren, who have had responsibility for all of these and many other activities, have been under taxing administrative obligations and the most rigorous schedules of travel in overseeing these vast and widely scattered programs. I cannot say enough of good for what they have accomplished. They have earned a change from the burdens they have carried so well for so long.
With great appreciation for all that they have done and with our sincere love and our blessing, we extend honorable releases to Bishop Victor L. Brown as the Presiding Bishop of the Church, to his First Counselor, Bishop H. Burke Peterson, and to Bishop J. Richard Clarke, his Second Counselor. All who wish to join in an expression of appreciation to these devoted and able Brethren may do so by the uplifted hand.
I shall now present to you the General Authorities and general officers of the Church for your sustaining vote.
It is proposed that we sustain President Spencer W. Kimball as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All in favor, please manifest it. Any opposed by the same sign. Marion G. Romney as First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Gordon B. Hinckley as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. All in favor, please indicate. Contrary, if there be any.
As the Council of the Twelve Apostles: Ezra Taft Benson, President; Howard W. Hunter; Thomas S. Monson; Boyd K. Packer; Marvin J. Ashton; Bruce R. McConkie; L. Tom Perry; David B. Haight; James E. Faust; Neal A. Maxwell; Russell M. Nelson; and Dallin H. Oaks.
As the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy: J. Thomas Fyans, Carlos E. Asay, M. Russell Ballard, Dean L. Larsen, Richard G. Scott, Marion D. Hanks, and Wm. Grant Bangerter. As new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy: Victor L. Brown, H. Burke Peterson, and J. Richard Clarke; and, additionally, Hans B. Ringger, Waldo Pratt Call, Sr., and Helio da Rocha Camargo to serve as new members of this quorum. All other members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the emeritus Brethren as at present constituted. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.
It is proposed that we sustain Robert D. Hales as Presiding Bishop, with Henry Bennion Eyring as First Counselor and Glenn Leroy Pace as Second Counselor. Simultaneously, we release Elder Hales as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy with our appreciation. All in favor. Any opposed.
It is proposed that we sustain Dean L. Larsen as Church Historian and Recorder. All in favor of this proposition. Any opposed.
For your information, Elder Ringger is a native of Switzerland. He has served long and faithfully in the Church in many capacities, including those of stake president and Regional Representative. Elder Call is a native of Mexico and has served as president of the Juarez Mexico Stake. He presently serves as president of the Uruguay Montevideo Mission. Elder Camargo is from Brazil, where at various times he has served as stake president, mission president, and Regional Representative. Also for your information, in harmony with the principle we have followed of calling some members of the First Quorum of the Seventy to serve as temple presidents and as mission presidents, Elder Victor L. Brown has been called to serve as president of the Salt Lake Temple—his appointment will become effective June 1; Elder Peterson to serve as president of the Jordan River Temple—his appointment to be effective at the same time; and Elder Clarke to serve as president of the South Africa Capetown Mission, a place and a work he has loved ever since serving as a missionary in that land.
By way of announcement we desire to inform you of decisions of Area administration. In three international areas, for over eight months, we have tested the concept of having Area Presidencies living on site. This has been done in Europe, in the southern part of South America, and in the Pacific Islands, and has proved highly desirable. We now announce that effective July 1 three more Area Presidencies will be put in place—one to reside in Brazil, to serve Brazil and the northern portions of South America; another in Mexico, to serve Mexico and Central America; and another will reside perhaps in Japan to serve the Far East—so that beginning in July we will have six Area Presidencies presiding in the international areas. Additionally, we wish to confirm that seven Presidencies will have responsibility over Areas in the United States and Canada. We thank these brethren and their families for their willingness to go wherever they are asked to go.
With the exceptions noted, there have been no changes within the General Authorities or the general officers of the Church since the last conference. It is proposed, therefore, that we sustain all of the General Authorities and general officers of the Church as at present constituted. All in favor, manifest it. Any who may feel otherwise, may so manifest it.
It appears that the voting has been unanimous in favor in each instance. We thank you for your sustaining vote and for your undeviating support.