News of the Church

By Chad Phares, Church Magazines


First Presidency Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

A decade after being called to lead the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley and the counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, discussed in a news conference many of the challenges and achievements within the Church during the last 10 years and expressed continued optimism for the future.

President Hinckley remarked that several significant things have blessed the lives of members and others since the day he became the 15th President of the Church.

He mentioned the announcement and success of establishing the Perpetual Education Fund, the construction of the Conference Center, the distribution of more than 50 million copies of the Book of Mormon in the last 10 years, and the allocation of a considerable amount of funds for humanitarian aid to those in need.

President Hinckley spoke briefly about the traveling he has done since 1995. He has traveled to more than 70 nations and logged more than one million miles (1.6 million km).

“It becomes very tiring, very wearisome, but it’s very faith promoting,” he said. “When you get out among the people and see their strength and their capacity, their devotion and their love, it’s a wonderful thing, really. You just can’t believe it until you experience it, and it’s tremendous.”

President Hinckley praised his counselors as men of wisdom, faith, and devotion, saying he couldn’t find any two men better suited to serve with him.

President Monson and President Faust spoke of their admiration for the work President Hinckley does.

“He is a man of vision who does not take counsel from his fears,” President Monson said. “He plans, he prepares, he prays, then with that prophetic influence which comes to him … he moves forward with faith.”

President Hinckley said he was not concerned about what he and his counselors will be remembered for. “We just do our very best today and leave the rest for whatever happens,” he said.

1995 to 2005 at a Glance

3 million

Increase in membership from 9.1 million to 12 million

87

Temples dedicated, rededicated, or announced

19

Additional languages into which all or part of the Book of Mormon has been translated, reaching 106 total languages

641 million

U.S. dollars provided in humanitarian assistance, including $105 million for emergency response in 111 countries

98,763

Wheelchairs donated to people in 95 different countries

40

Countries where clean water systems have been installed

1 million

Miles (1.6 M km) President Hinckley has traveled to visit more than 70 countries

First Presidency Time Line

March 12, 1995

First Presidency is set apart.

September 23, 1995

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issue “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

February 28, 1996

International Church membership surpasses U.S. Church membership.

April 6, 1996

President Hinckley announces plans to construct the Conference Center.

May 27, 1996

President Hinckley becomes the first Church President to visit mainland China.

November 2, 1996

The First Presidency announces the establishment of Latter-day Saint Charities.

April 5, 1997

The office of Seventy is added to the call of Area Authorities, a part-time regional leadership position created two years earlier.

October 4, 1997

President Hinckley announces plans to build smaller temples.

November 1997

Worldwide Church membership reaches 10 million.

January 1, 2000

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issue “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” a declaration of their apostolic witness of the Savior.

April 1–2, 2000

First general conference is held in the new 21,000-seat Conference Center.

March 31, 2001

President Hinckley announces the establishment of the Perpetual Education Fund.

June 27, 2002

President Hinckley dedicates the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

January 11, 2003

First-ever global leadership training meeting is transmitted by satellite in 56 languages to more than 97 percent of the Church’s priesthood leaders.

Deseret Morning News contributed to this report.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (center), President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency (left), and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, have served together in the First Presidency for 10 years.

Since President Hinckley became President of the Church, 87 temples have been dedicated, rededicated, or announced. (Photograph by Ravell Call; courtesy of Church News.)

Church Now Fourth Largest in the U.S.; Growth Continues Worldwide

While a lot of attention is paid to worldwide growth, Church growth within the United States continues as well.

According to the 2005 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, of those churches providing figures, the Church is now the fourth-largest denomination in the United States, with more than 5.5 million members reported in 2004. The Church, which was the fifth-largest faith in the country one year ago, “continues to grow remarkably,” according to the yearbook, experiencing a 1.71 percent growth rate in the United States during 2004.

The growth of the Church worldwide is also noteworthy. According to the statistical report given during April general conference, membership worldwide had nearly reached 12.3 million at the end of 2004. More than 240,000 converts were baptized during 2004, and children of record increased by nearly 100,000.

The growing number of members led to the creation of 41 new stakes, 1 new mission, 2 new districts, and 433 new wards and branches during 2004. Three new temples were also dedicated.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, who has seen Church membership increase by more than three million members since he was sustained as President of the Church in 1995, said the work of the Lord will continue to go forth.

“A new day has come in the work of the Almighty,” he said. “That work has grown and strengthened and moved across the earth. It has now touched for good the lives of millions, and this is only the beginning” (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” Ensign, May 2004, 83).

English Hymnbook Celebrates 20 Years; 21 Languages Have Followed

A full 170 years after Emma Smith’s original collection of hymns was published as A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, members of the Church worldwide are now celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1985 English edition of Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The 1985 edition, which includes 341 hymns, was created with the knowledge that it would serve as a prototype for new hymnbooks to be printed in other languages.

The First Presidency Preface to the 1985 hymnbook says, “All [hymns] have been selected to meet the varied needs of today’s worldwide Church membership” (Hymns, ix).

Many of the hymns in the 1985 edition have been translated into 21 languages, and additional translations continue.

When hymns are first translated into a new language, the collection includes 35 hymns and 10 children’s songs. After membership within a language group grows sufficiently, a new hymnbook is translated that includes 107 songs that are standard in every language, a choice of 50 additional hymns that are recommended, and 50 more hymns that are chosen by a committee for each language.

While finding translators with experience in music is difficult at times, Michael Moody, chairman of the general music committee, said the consistency of the hymns included in each language is faith promoting.

“One of the beauties of the Church is that we are united,” Brother Moody said. “It’s marvelous to know that the same messages and music are used worldwide.”

The hymnbook executive committee, the group that chose the hymns for the hymnbook, was called in the early 1980s. The committee was made up of musicians, historians, music editors, and text specialists. There were also several subcommittees and research groups that contributed to the creation of the hymnbook.

The selection committee listened earnestly to feedback and sought to make proper choices, and the Lord’s direct guidance was clearly evident.

Twenty years ago, Brother Moody was invited to attend a meeting in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square for mission presidents. During the meeting, missionaries from the Missionary Training Center marched in singing “Called to Serve” (Hymns, no. 249).

The mood in the building was electric, and although it was late in the selection process, the committee “knew [that hymn] had to go in,” Brother Moody said. The hymn became the last one included in the 1985 edition.

While the 1985 edition of the hymnbook includes 26 hymns that were included in Emma Smith’s original, 92 of the hymns in the 1985 edition were new. Of that total, 44 were new Latter-day Saint compositions.

In addition to the hymns, the 1985 edition also includes a guide titled “Using the Hymnbook” that gives guidance to beginning music directors, instructs how to use hymns for choirs, and offers advice in selecting the right hymn for Church meetings.

Brother Moody said that while the committee was selecting hymns that were memorable, it also strived to choose hymns that would be useful to all members—regardless of musical talent.

The First Presidency Preface in the 1985 edition concludes by saying, “Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, ‘and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads’” (Hymns, x).

Keeping Time through the Years: A Sampling of English LDS Hymnbooks

1835 A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Emma Smith included 90 hymn texts in this, the Church’s first, hymnbook.

1840 A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe. The first of this hymnal’s 25 editions was published in Manchester, England, by Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor.

1889 Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody. This was the first large collection of LDS hymns to include musical settings with the text.

1908 Songs of Zion. In contrast to the choir-oriented hymns of the Psalmody, Songs of Zion included about 100 gospel hymns.

1909 Deseret Sunday School Songs. Although this book was intended for use in Sunday School, Deseret Sunday School Songs became the most popular hymnbook in the Church at the time.

1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns. This hymnal combined the best of Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody, Songs of Zion, and other selections and was used alongside Deseret Sunday School Songs.

1948 Hymns, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This book grouped hymns in four general classifications: congregation, choir, men’s voices, and women’s voices.

1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This edition includes a diversity of hymns from every generation of Latter-day Saints and has served as the foundation for hymnbooks in 21 languages.

Since it was published 20 years ago, the 1985 hymnbook has served as the foundation for hymnbooks in 21 languages.

Tabernacle Choir Getting to Know Unique Conference Center

Until the renovation of the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square for seismic upgrades and additions to the choir facilities is complete in late 2006, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has had to move to the Conference Center.

For many members, their only opportunity to see the choir perform is during general conference, which has been held in the Conference Center since 2000. So it is easy for members to assume that over the past five years, the choir has become accustomed to performing there.

However, aside from general conference and a handful of other performances each year, the majority of the choir’s performances, including their weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast, have continued to take place in the Tabernacle. That changed with the decision to renovate the choir’s namesake and home since the building’s dedication in 1867.

Aside from the logistical challenges associated with moving—the choir’s library and wardrobe remain across the street under Temple Square—the choir and organists have had to make some adjustments to meet the challenges presented by a building with drastically different acoustics.

Whereas the Tabernacle seats about 5,000 people, the 21,333-seat Conference Center auditorium is believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built. The second-largest, the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico has about 11,000 seats. But the very thing that makes the Conference Center unique has created one of the greatest challenges.

Large enough to comfortably hold a Boeing 747, the auditorium has a volume of 8.5 million cubic feet. The Tabernacle’s volume is 1.5 million cubic feet. The famed London Royal Albert Hall is just over one-third the volume of the Conference Center with 3 million cubic feet.

What’s more, the auditorium is carpeted, its seats are upholstered, and its ceiling and walls are acoustically treated to reduce reverberation—ideal for the spoken word, the building’s primary purpose, but a challenge for the choir and its accompanists.

Sound is made by moving air. There is so much air to move inside of the auditorium that Craig Jessop, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, says performing there “is like singing outside.”

Even a choir as large as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir can’t fill that space properly without some amplification—a process requiring continual adjustments depending on each performance. Not only is amplification necessary for the audience to enjoy the musical experience, but speakers are located throughout the choir seats because the singers need to be able to hear each other.

The room’s size also required an organ capable of filling the space with sound when performing without the choir, but still capable of accompanying the choir without overwhelming it. And while many organ-playing techniques remain the same from one organ to the next, each organ is unique with different sounds and different console layouts.

“Every organ has its own personality,” says John Longhurst, Tabernacle organist. “Each is designed and built specifically for the room in which it is housed. The organist has to become acquainted with each instrument on its own terms.” (See accompanying sidebar on the Conference Center organ.)

However, Brother Jessop feels the choir’s extended stay in the Conference Center is actually helping them solve these challenges.

“These acoustic issues have to be addressed every time we perform there,” he says. “Performing there on a regular basis has forced us to solve some problems that we didn’t have time to address before because we were only there two to three times a year.”

In spite of some of the building’s challenges for the choir, those involved believe the Conference Center was “absolutely inspired,” according to Brother Jessop.

“The Conference Center was as revolutionary in 2000 as the Tabernacle was in 1867. Tens of thousands of members who want to attend general conference can sit and listen in the physical presence of the apostles and prophets,” he says. He also points out that the building “is a powerful tool for presenting the gospel message around the world,” equipped with state-of-the-art studio and broadcasting equipment.

“Culturally, the world is slowly discovering that this is one of the great halls of the world. Even the greatest cities in the world do not have a facility like the Conference Center.”

Conference Center Organ Unique in Own Right

Aside from the buildings’ sizes, one of the most notable differences between the Tabernacle and the Conference Center for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is in the two organs.

The Tabernacle organ is famous for its history, sound, and size—on most lists it is ranked among the 15 largest organs in the world with more than 11,600 pipes in 206 ranks.

While the Conference Center organ is not among the largest in the world (7,667 pipes in 130 ranks), it is still a commanding instrument. In order to fill the enormous Conference Center auditorium, many of the instrument’s pipes use higher than usual wind pressure, provided by six blowers totalling 38 horsepower, to power its notes. It is one of only a few organs in the world to have two stops that descend into the ground-shaking 64-foot range, reaching GGGGG# (roughly an octave below the range of a grand piano). And its five-manual (or keyboard) console puts it in an unusual class.

“There aren’t many five-manual organs built,” says Clay Christiansen, Tabernacle organist. “And in our lifetime, there hasn’t been an organ built with so grand a bass section as this instrument. It’s a remarkable instrument.”

The creation of the organ was a seven-year project from conceptualization to the final “voicing” (or acoustical testing) of each pipe in the auditorium. Installation of the thousands of pipes was a three-year process by itself, one that wasn’t completed until 2003, well after the first general conference held in the building in April 2000. During that conference, the choir was accompanied by an electronic organ.

“During that first conference, the only pipes installed were the ones you can see,” says John Longhurst, Tabernacle organist. “That’s about 170 out of the 7,700.”

The organ’s builder, Schoenstein & Co., obtained some components of the organ from firms across the United States and around the world, from places as far-flung as Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, California, Germany, and England.

“An organ builder is like a general contractor,” says Brother Longhurst. “You build what you can and outsource what you can’t. Because of the scope of the Conference Center project, more firms were used to help meet deadlines than is typical.”

But the organ was worth the work and the wait.

“To anyone who sees it, it makes a statement,” says Brother Christiansen. “Aurally, it does the same.”

The Conference Center organ is made up of 7,667 pipes, most of which are housed behind the 170 pipes that can be seen by the audience. (Photograph by John Luke.)

John Longhurst accompanies the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Conference Center.

The organ’s pipes come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from about 3/4 inch (44 mm) to nearly 40 feet (12 m) in length. (Photograph by John Luke.)

Four Temples to Be Dedicated by October

In March the First Presidency announced the open house and dedication dates for four temples on three different continents. The San Antonio Texas, the Aba Nigeria, the Newport Beach California, and the Apia Samoa Temples will be dedicated before general conference in October.

San Antonio Texas Temple

The open house for the San Antonio Texas Temple was held from April 16 through May 7. Following the open house, the temple was formally dedicated on Sunday, May 22, in four dedicatory sessions.

The San Antonio Texas Temple is the fourth operating temple in Texas and serves nearly 50,000 members of the Church who reside within the temple district’s boundaries.

Aba Nigeria Temple

The Aba Nigeria Temple’s open house took place from June 18 through July 2. A cultural celebration will be held on August 6. The temple will be dedicated in four dedicatory sessions the next day, August 7. The temple will be open for ordinance work on August 8.

The Aba Nigeria Temple will join the Johannesburg South Africa Temple and the Accra Ghana Temple as the third temple in Africa.

Newport Beach California Temple

The open house for the Newport Beach California Temple will be held from July 23 through August 20 every day except Sundays. A cultural celebration will be held Saturday, August 27. The temple will be dedicated in four dedicatory sessions on August 28. The temple will open for ordinance work the next day, August 29.

The Newport Beach California Temple will be the sixth dedicated temple in California.

Apia Samoa Temple

After being destroyed by fire more than two years earlier in 2003, the Apia Samoa Temple will be rededicated September 4, in four dedicatory sessions.

The temple, which was gutted by flames during renovation in July 2003, will open its doors to the public every day except Sundays from August 6 to August 27.

A cultural celebration will be held on September 3, the day before the dedication. The temple will open for ordinance work on September 5.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, August 2005

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the August 2005 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “The Gift of the Holy Ghost on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

1. Help the children memorize the first article of faith [A of F 1:1]. Use Gospel Art Picture Kit 403 (The First Vision) and 602 (The Gift of the Holy Ghost) to teach that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit (see D&C 130:22). The Holy Ghost witnesses of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. What do we need to do to gain a testimony from the Holy Ghost? Invite a recent convert, missionary, or ward or branch member to talk about the witness of the Holy Ghost in his or her own life. Copy pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit or Primary picture packets that show children keeping the commandments, such as Gospel Art Picture Kit 604 (Passing the Sacrament), 605 (Young Boy Praying), or 616 (Family Togetherness). Choose the number of pictures needed to have one picture for every letter in the word testimony. Write one letter on the back of each picture, and post the letters on the board, spelling out testimony. Invite a child to turn over one of the letters and tell what is happening in the picture. Ask the children to think of ways or times they also do the things illustrated in the picture. How does it make them feel? How does that activity help their testimony grow? Take responses, and reinforce the principles with songs or hymns. Continue until all the pictures are revealed.

2. Whisper as you ask the children to follow simple directions such as, “Put your hands on your head. Stand and stretch to touch the ceiling. Sit down and fold your arms.” Explain that the Holy Ghost also speaks with a “still, small voice,” and that we often “hear” the Holy Ghost by the way we feel. Sing a song or hymn about the Holy Ghost. Review Morm. 8:1–7, and give some background about Moroni. Moroni was familiar with the gifts of the Holy Ghost and how they bless us. Some of his last writings on the gold plates teach us of the blessings of the Holy Ghost. Using the board or individual worksheets, have the children play a matching game. Scramble and list the following scriptures on one side of the board or worksheet. Scramble and list the gifts of the Spirit on the other side. Have the children find the scriptures and match them with the gifts of the Spirit: (1) Moro. 10:9–10—teach the word of wisdom and knowledge, (2) Moro. 10:11—faith and healing, (3) Moro. 10:12—work mighty miracles, (4) Moro. 10:13—prophecy, (5) Moro. 10:14—beholding of angels, and (6) Moro. 10:15–16—tongues and interpretation of tongues. Sing or recite Articles of Faith 1:7 [A of F 1:7]. Illustrate these gifts of the Spirit with your own examples, or use the following: (1) relate the testimony of a recent general conference speaker; (2) story from Primary 5 manual, lesson 19, enrichment activity no. 4; (3) President Gordon B. Hinckley and building temples (see “Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 49–50; “New Temples to Provide ‘Crowning Blessings’ of the Gospel,” Ensign, May 1998, 87–88); (4) Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 7–10; (5) the gospel is restored through Joseph Smith by the ministering of angels (see JS—H 1:12, 30–32, 68–70); (6) story of Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi from Primary 3 manual, lesson 24. Recite together Moro. 10:4–5. Bear testimony of the blessings of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Speaking Today

President Faust Encourages Members to Keep Church in Heart

During a devotional at Brigham Young University on March 1, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught students that the Church needs to be firmly in place in the hearts of its members.

President Faust told of a time when a visitor to Salt Lake City asked him for directions. “Where is the church of the Mormons?” the traveler asked, not knowing to whom he was speaking.

President Faust pointed to various sites in the city but later realized that he may not have accurately answered the visitor’s question. “I could have pointed to my chest and said that the Church should be first and foremost in our hearts,” he said. “And then the traveler surely would have been somewhat bewildered, but that response would have been more accurate.”

President Faust said members who place the Church in their hearts have stronger families and thus are able to more effectively fight off elements of societal decay.

“Nothing can destroy individuals of our country as quickly as drugs,” President Faust said. “It is not confined to any segment of society, and it has created more damage than anything else I have witnessed in my life. Suffice it to say that government can’t stop it, the police can’t, but the family can.”

President Faust said that one of the reasons the Church exists is to strengthen families, and he emphasized that if the Church is not in the hearts of individuals within the family, family effectiveness weakens.

“So the family is, and must always be, an important part of the Church,” he said. “But the Lord’s kingdom ultimately must be found in our hearts before it can be found anywhere else.”

President Faust stressed to those in attendance that having a strong family can be achieved through perseverance, regardless of how many or which members are in the family unit.

“What seems to distinguish a successful family is that the members of the family continue to care. They don’t give up. They never quit. They hang together through hardships and deaths and other problems,” he said.

President Faust also said the Church is increasingly being asked to fill in for weakened families. “Because of the erosion of family life and family values, we frequently hear urgent pleas requesting the Church as an organization to take over activities formerly considered family activities,” he said. “I wonder if our maturing youth can hold everything together without family home evening, daily family prayer, and daily family scripture study.

“I say this because I am persuaded that family activities can be more effective in fostering the eternal values of love, loyalty, honesty, chastity, industry, and self-worth, and personal integrity than any other institution.”

President Faust also spoke of the importance of extended family to be involved in helping family members through hardships. “I would urge members of extended families … to reach out in concern and to succor,” he said. “Mostly what is needed from grandparents, aunts, and uncles is unreserved love manifest as interest and concern. It builds confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.”

President Packer Tells Students to Go Forward with Faith

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, encouraged students at a Brigham Young University–Hawaii devotional on March 1 to continue to go forward in their lives, having faith that the Lord will provide a light and a way for them.

“Some of you who look at yourselves as being less or having less are the ones who are going to succeed most permanently and perfectly in life,” President Packer said. “But as you go ahead in life, you are going to go like Nephi did … who went forward not knowing beforehand the things that he should do.” (See 1 Ne. 4:6.)

President Packer told of a time in his life when he had a goal, but was unsure how to achieve it. After telling President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) of his problem, he said President Lee told him: “Boyd, you want to see the end from the beginning. You’re going to have to learn to take a few steps in the dark, and then the light will turn on before you.

“With that, I stepped into the unknown—into the dark—and the light went on, as it will with you,” President Packer said. “You move forward, but you move forward on the principles of the gospel, and you have an inner light.”

President Packer promised that although people will make mistakes, if they will listen to the Spirit, those mistakes can be less painful.

“We make all kinds of mistakes; it’s kind of a trial and error in life,” he said. “But as you move forward in life, you cannot make a major mistake—any mistake that will have any lasting consequence in your life—without having been warned and told not to do it.”

President Packer emphasized the importance of obedience in receiving promised guidance. “[Obedience] can be very tough,” he said. “But it’s the most protecting word, the most revealing word—you obey and you cannot go wrong, and you will be provided for.”

President Packer encouraged those in attendance to continue forward, promising that guidance will be given to the obedient. “You who are going ahead—not knowing right now which way you should go—always your life will be that way, but always you’ll know step by step what step you should take.”

Elder Bednar Emphasizes Obedience

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told students at a Brigham Young University–Hawaii devotional on March 1 of the need for and importance of being obedient to the laws of the Lord.

In his address, Elder Bednar referred to the invocation to the devotional, which included a request for a greater “desire for obedience.” He then told those in attendance about a conversation he once had with Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

He said that Elder Maxwell told him that the thing that distinguishes this generation today from others is a greater capacity to be obedient.

Thanks to that capacity, this generation is responsible to use this obedience to further the work of the Lord, Elder Bednar said. “‘Unto whom much is given much is required’ (D&C 82:3)—not expected but required,” he said. “That greater capacity for obedience is a necessary prerequisite for the work that we are to do in this latter day.”

“It is not a coincidence that we are here,” he said. “There is a divine design such that we are here at this time—with a greater capacity for obedience—to participate in the building of the kingdom of God in all the earth.”

Elder Bednar also warned those in attendance that one of Satan’s “subtle, seductive strategies” is to lead people to believe that we are on the earth to be entertained.

“Given the work that needs to be done, each of us has the responsibility to become a tool that can be used in the hands of the Lord—a sharp, strong, refined instrument.”

In the quest to become an instrument in the Lord’s hands, we will receive help, Elder Bednar said.

“I further testify and promise … that as we consider the perspective of the Restoration, there will come even greater understanding about the tools that we must become and the roles that we must play,” he said. “[This work] is accomplished by the Lord through us … and we are the tools that will be placed in His hands to be able to accomplish that work.”

President James E. Faust

President Boyd K. Packer