Conference: spirit of commemoration, gratitude and progress reflected in the talks

Held near the exact date of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, the 163rd Annual General Conference of the Church reflected a spirit of commemoration, gratitude and progress.

The conference, held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square Saturday, April 3, and Sunday, April 4, featured several addresses that focused on the Salt Lake Temple, which was dedicated April 6, 1893.President Ezra Taft Benson watched conference proceedings on television in his apartment near Temple Square. His counselors in the First Presidency, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, took turns conducting and addressing the conference's sessions, which included two general sessions each on Saturday and Sunday and a priesthood session Saturday evening.

Among highlights of the conference:

The calling of three members from the Second Quorum of the Seventy to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the calling of two new General Authorities, also to serve in the First Quorum. Called from the Second Quorum to the First Quorum are Elders F. Melvin Hammond, Kenneth Johnson and Lynn A. Mickelsen. The two new members of the First Quorum are Elders Neil L. Andersen of Tampa, Fla., and D. Todd Christofferson of Charlotte, N.C. (See biographies on page 4.)

The announcement that the Church is in the process of acquiring property for the construction of a temple in Spain, and in at least three other nations. It was also reported that the previously announced temple for Utah County in central Utah would be built in American Fork. (See article on this page.)

The Tabernacle Choir's weekly network broadcast Sunday morning, "Music and the Spoken Word," focused on the Salt Lake Temple's centennial. (See article on page 5.)

A film celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Salt Lake Temple dedication, "The Mountain of the Lord," was shown via the Church satellite network. In addition to the meetinghouses regularly receiving conference proceedings, the film, along with the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions and the Tabernacle Choir's program of "Music and the Spoken Word" were transmitted to 26 downlinks to the following: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium. (See article about "Mountain of the Lord" on page 5.)

The Church's 1992 statistical report reflected the continuing growth of the Church. (See graphs on page 23.)

If this year's annual conference were to have had a theme, it might have been this opening line from a well-known LDS Hymn: "The Spirit of God like a fire is burning." The hymn, which first was sung at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and has since been performed at subsequent temple dedications, became part of the fabric of this year's conference.

In an address that focused on the Salt Lake Temple's centennial, President Hinckley recounted from history events of the temple's dedication. In that address, he spoke of the prayer of dedication offered by President Wilford Woodruff. "[The prayerT was followed by a wondrous voicing of the Hosanna Shout by all assembled," President Hinckley said. "The choir then burst forth with Evan Stephens' setting of those same words of praise to the Almighty: `Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb!

"Then the congregation joined in singing, `The Spirit of God like a fire is burning,' " President Hinckley said of the event of 100 years ago.

As President Hinckley was concluding his address Sunday morning, members of the Tabernacle Choir quietly stood in the choir loft. An instant after he finished speaking, the choir began singing the exultant proclamation:

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb!

Amen, Amen, and Amen!

The House of the Lord is completed!

The House of the Lord is completed!

May our offering by Him be accepted.

May our offering by Him be accepted.

Amen. Amen.

Rejoice, O ye saints whose patient faith

and labor

Have reared this house wherein today ye stand.

Rejoice ye blessed departed saintly spirits!

Behold your temple finished crowns the land!

Rejoice ye souls awaiting your redemption!.

The work speeds on to set the captive free.

Thanks be to God for His eternal mercies!

Thanks be to God for endless liberty.

As the choir continued to sing the Hosanna Anthem, its conductor Jerold Ottley turned and faced those in the congregation and led them in singing, "The Spirit of God." Although not directed to do so, members in the Tabernacle rose to their feet as they sang. As the hymn progressed, hundreds began to weep. Many members of the Tabernacle Choir, although accustomed to singing during the most tender of moments, also struggled to control their emotions.

All conference sessions were televised via satellite to more than 3,000 LDS meetinghouses throughout the United Sates, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamacia, the West Indies, and the Dominican Republic.

In addition, all sessions except the priesthood session were transmitted via satellite to more than 1,100 cable television systems in the United Sates. Cable systems also received transmissions of the conference proceedings.

Church units or members in North America and Hawaii with access to proper TV satellite reception capabilities, had the option of receiving the conference broadcasts in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Cambodian, Cantonese, Haitian, Creole, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Navajo, Portuguese, Samoan, Tongan and Vietnamese.

Conference proceedings were translated into more than 30 languages for Church leaders and members from throughout the world attending in the Tabernacle.

Among the conference visitors was a member of Tonga's royal family. During the closing moments of conference Sunday afternoon, President Monson acknowledged the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Salote Mafile`o Pilolevu Tuita.

Pleasant spring temperatures and sunshine brightened the grounds of Temple Square as conference opened Saturday morning. Sunday's sessions were met with cooler weather and cloudy skies. Thousands of flowers were in bloom on Temple Square.

(Additional information)

Conference highlights

Highlight at conference included announcements that:

-American Fork has been selected as the site for a temple to be built in Utah County.

-Property is being acquired for a temple in Spain and "at least three other nations."

-Sites have been acquired for temples in Connecticut and Northern England.

-Three members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Elders F. Melvin Hammond, kenneth Johnson and Lynn a. Mickelsen.

-Two more leaders were called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elders Neil Linden Anderson of Tampa, Fla., and D. Todd Christofferson of Charlotte, N.C.

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