“President Hinckley Gives Christmas Eve Interview,” Ensign, Mar. 2000, 75–76
During December 1999 President Gordon B. Hinckley participated in a television interview on Christmas Eve, joined in commemorating Sunday School with a time capsule, and toured the Church’s new dairy plant.
Larry King Live Interview
During an interview with CNN talk show host Larry King televised live on Christmas Eve from the Tabernacle on Temple Square, President Hinckley made “a plea to people to stand up, to declare the return of values, to be honest, to be upright, to be men and women with integrity, to be men and women who have faith, who pray, who return to the virtues that made America great.” He continued, “Let it become contagious. Let virtue move across the country, the nation, the world.”
When asked about relations among different religions, President Hinckley said: “We have differences; of course we do. But there’s a greater spirit of tolerance, I think, a great spirit of acceptance of other religions.” When asked how Church members have forgiven past persecutions, President Hinckley responded, “It comes of the gospel. You put your faith in the Lord. It casts your burdens on Him. You’re not likely to forgive unless you have that godly feeling.”
Speaking of today’s troubled youth, President Hinckley observed that many “have found the way and are living the teachings which are guiding their lives and are making of themselves valued and productive citizens of society.”
Also participating in the hour-long program were the Reverend Robert Schuller, who spoke via satellite from near the birthplace of the Savior in Bethlehem, Israel, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who spoke from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. President Hinckley had previously participated in an hour-long interview about the Church on Larry King Live in September 1998.
Sunday School Time Capsule
“It is to me a miracle that every Sunday, throughout the entire world, the Sunday Schools of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet together and study the same lessons in their respective age-groups,” said President Hinckley during a ceremony held on 8 December 1999 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Sunday School. “All of this has a tremendous binding effect on the Church. In these teachings is the glue which holds the Church together and becomes the basis for our individual testimonies.”
In continuation of the Sunday School’s tradition of preparing a time capsule every 50 years, a new time capsule was filled with mementos and artifacts during the ceremony and sealed, to be opened in the year 2049. Also participating in the commemoration were President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency; Elders Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Elder Harold G. Hillam of the Presidency of the Seventy, who serves as Sunday School general president. Earlier in 1999 a Sunday School time capsule was opened that had been sealed in 1949.
Formed from titanium in the shape of the world, the 1999 time capsule contains a piece of the Berlin Wall, blueprints for the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, a silver-plated trowel used in the cornerstone ceremony of the Billings Montana Temple, a chip of granite broken off the not-yet-completed Conference Center by a tornado, a laptop computer loaded with images and texts, and other documents, artifacts, and mementos from all over the world.
“May this great organization continue as a force for good, and may it touch the lives of uncounted millions who will come into the Church prior to the opening of this time capsule,” wrote President Hinckley in a letter sealed in the 1999 time capsule.
Dairy Plant Tour
On 1 December 1999 members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Presiding Bishopric, Presidency of the Seventy, and Relief Society general presidency toured the Church’s new dairy plant at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. Together those leaders comprise the Church’s General Welfare Committee.
“It’s a plant to meet the needs of the hungry and poor whom we are serving,” said President Monson. “And it does so efficiently, with the utmost cleanliness and in a spirit of love.” President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said the plant was clean and well operated. “I like the idea of stakes providing volunteers in the spirit of service.”
President Hinckley’s 1999 Travels
During 1999 President Hinckley spoke at 65 events—including 14 temple dedications—attended by more than 197,000 members in eight countries. Following are chronological highlights of his visits outside Utah:
March—Colonia Juárez, Mexico; Madrid, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel
April—Rexburg, Idaho; Bogotá, Colombia; Santiago, Chile
May—Los Angeles, California; Palmyra, New York
August—Maracaibo, Venezuela; Spokane, Washington
September—Columbus, Ohio; Rexburg, Idaho
October—Washington, D.C.; Columbia, South Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Nauvoo, Illinois
November—Halifax, Nova Scotia; Billings, Montana
December—Edmonton, Alberta; Raleigh, North Carolina