Singing, dancing, listening, laughing, waiting in line. It happened as it happens every June in Salt Lake City, in a happy whirl of LDS youth and people who love them. It was June Conference time again.
“Reaching the One” was the theme of June Conference, and reaching the one was what it was all about. Speaker after speaker expressed the idea that every person without exception is important and must be helped to return to the presence of God.
The mood was set in the opening session when a group of young people made a moving presentation of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA theme: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.)
Throughout the conference the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, the Aaronic Priesthood MIA presidencies, the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA directors, and others stressed that the youth of the Church should be given increased leadership opportunities and that the program must be adapted as necessary to the needs of each individual.
In workshops and conference sessions the leaders were thoroughly versed in the new Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood MIA programs. President Harold B. Lee and many other speakers bore strong testimony that this program was inspired of the Lord.
And while the stake and regional leaders were being told that the young people of the Church had tremendous potential, the young people of the Church were proving it nightly in some outstanding musical and dramatic performances.
The Young Artists Music Festival featured the Mormon Youth Orchestra and Chorus, as well as eight guest soloists, all young people. These young artists performed some extremely challenging numbers and drew enthusiastic reviews from local music critics.
“Up in the Air at the Fair” was the title of the June Conference Dance Festival in which 5,400 dancers participated. The dancers visited a 1910 country fair via a time machine, combining modern and “good old days” dances with great skill.
A reader’s theater production of House of Many Rooms was presented. It told the story of life in a small Mormon town some 50 years ago and was adapted from a novel of the same name by Rodello Hunter Calkins. The readers’ sensitive interpretations sold more tickets than there were seats, and a special matinee performance was held.
Fiddler on the Roof was presented by a cast of young Mormons. Their insightful performance, enhanced perhaps by the similarities between the Mormon and Jewish cultures, brought overflow crowds.
Six outstanding roadshows were presented at Roadshows in the Round. One of the roadshows, “In the Beginning,” told of the conflict between different styles of music but ended by advising everyone to make his own kind of music but to sing in harmony. “If You Were a Lonely Banana” told of a rejected banana who was too old and mushy to be eaten on corn flakes. The cast pointed out, however, that everyone has something to contribute because “it’s the mushy banana that makes great banana nut bread.” A lack of communication and a cure for the problem was discussed in “What the World Needs Now Is Happy Talk.”
The presentations were inspirational not only for the audience but also for the young men and women who participated. After the dance festival was over and the audience had gone home, the huge cast got together and danced once more—just for the joy of it.
Another high spot of youthful ingenuity was Activities Unlimited, a huge sea of exhibits and demonstrations illustrating activities young people can engage in. The exhibits were set up and manned by classes, quorums, and other groups of young LDS people. Held in the Salt Palace, the exhibits included demonstrations in such things as kayak building, candy making, sewing, flower arranging, dancing, karate, movie making, scripture chases, manners, swimming, refereeing, archery, and many, many others. Conference visitors, frantically taking notes, could hardly get them all down.
There was no doubting the dedication or enthusiasm of the leaders who came to the conference to learn their duties. They stood in bulging lines outside the tabernacle to get in, and then many had to wait outside during the sessions. And everywhere they were talking to each other, not about baseball or the stock market or Watergate, but about the program, trying to find someone who understood it a little better than they did, trying to find out how to make it work, trying to learn how to better fulfill their stewardship.
In one of the sessions Bishop Victor L. Brown asked everyone who loved youth to stand up.
They all stood up.