Traditionally, the President of the Church, the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator, provides the concluding expressions of a general conference and gives his blessing to all. Humbly and respectfully I respond to the assignment to represent him at this time.
This has been a glorious conference. The prayers have been sincere and from the heart, the music and singing have lifted us heavenward and given us an upward reach we thought perhaps was beyond our grasp. The Brethren who have spoken, and Sister Jepsen, have declared the word of God and touched our hearts with their inspired messages. We are all better for having been a part of the conference.
President Benson’s chair has remained unoccupied during the conference sessions, which brings some sadness to our hearts. His ready smile, the wave of his hand, the declarations of truth that have marked his influence have been missed. However, President Benson, we are pleased and grateful that you have been a part of the conference through television. Our hearts go out to you in the passing of your beloved eternal companion, Flora. How thankful we are for the sacred covenant that binds you two sweethearts together for all eternity! The entire Church joins in a mighty prayer to our Heavenly Father that you may be cradled in the palm of His hand and blessed according to your need and His divine purposes. We sustain you. We follow you. We love you—our Prophet.
President Benson revered President David O. McKay, who supervised his missionary labors in Great Britain those long years ago. President McKay closed a conference with these words: “As we come to this parting hour, I hope that the teachings and life of the Master seem to you all to be more beautiful, more necessary, and more applicable to human happiness than ever before. … Accepting him as my Redeemer, Savior, and Lord, I accept his gospel as the plan of salvation, as the one perfect way to human happiness and peace.”1
President Joseph Fielding Smith for whom President Benson had such great love, said as he concluded a conference: “Now I pray that our Father in heaven will bless his people—bless them abundantly and in full measure. I pray that the Saints shall stand firm against the pressures and enticements of the world; that they shall put first in their lives the things of God’s kingdom; that they shall be true to every trust and keep every covenant.”2
President Harold B. Lee, boyhood friend and companion, and later esteemed associate of President Benson in the Lord’s work, declared: “I can’t leave this conference without saying to you that I have a conviction that the Master hasn’t been absent from us on these occasions. This is his church. … He isn’t an absentee master; he is concerned about us. He wants us to follow where he leads.”3
President Spencer W. Kimball, who was sustained as an Apostle and member of the Council of the Twelve at the same time as President Benson, closed a general conference by saying: “As each one of these wonderful sermons has been rendered I’ve listened with [rapt] attention, and I have made up my mind that I shall go home and be a [better] man than I have ever been before.”4
President Benson, these have been declarations from four of your associates who have been an ongoing influence in your life. You, yourself, have said in a similar close of a conference: “May we all go to our homes rededicated to the sacred mission of the Church as so beautifully set forth in these conference sessions—to ‘invite all to come unto Christ,’ (D&C 20:59) ‘yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moro. 10:32).”5
My brothers and sisters, I know the love President Benson has for you, for the Lord, and for His work. He would urge us to keep the commandments, sanctify our homes, and perfect our lives. May we, in unity, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, achieve these three objectives. Doing so will bring joy to our souls, peace to our prophet’s heart, and the smile of God’s approval on our efforts.
Sing we now at parting
One more strain of praise.
To our Heavenly Father
Sweetest songs we’ll raise.
For his loving kindness,
For his tender care,
Let our songs of gladness
Fill this Sabbath air.6
The work is true. Jesus is the Christ. Ezra Taft Benson is a prophet of God. I so testify and pray that heaven’s blessings may attend all of us in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.