The 164th Annual Conference coincides with Easter weekend

As messages pertaining to the Savior's redemptive mission, the sanctity of the home and the importance of obedience to divine teachings resonated on Temple Square during conference on Easter weekend, a new apostle - a special witness of Jesus Christ - was sustained.

The 164th Annual General Conference opened Saturday morning, April 2, with President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor, seated on the stand. They took turns conducting the conference sessions and addressed the gathering on Sunday morning and at the priesthood session Saturday evening.President Ezra Taft Benson, 94, suffering the effects of age and illness, was not able to attend the conference. However, his counselors noted, he watched the proceedings on television in his apartment.

Noting the absence of President Benson, President Monson, who conducted the concluding session of conference, said: "President Benson's chair, situated between President Hinckley and me, has been unoccupied at this conference, although he has viewed the conference proceedings at his apartment by television. Our hearts have been full of love for the prophet of God, and his teachings ring in our ears. If he were standing before us at this moment at the conclusion of the conference, I believe he would say, `Lord, it has been good for us to be here.' "

All General Authorities of the Church were present except President Benson and Elder Clinton L. Cutler of the Seventy. Elder Cutler has been seriously ill for many months.

At the conference, Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales was sustained a member of the Council of the Twelve, filling the vacancy created by the death of Elder Marvin J. Ashton. Bishop Merrill J. Bateman, who was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy in June 1992, was sustained to succeed Elder Hales as Presiding Bishop. Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Second Quorum of the Seventy was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and five new members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were sustained: Elders Claudio Roberto Mendes Costa, W. Don Ladd, James O. Mason, Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Lance B. Wickman. (See adjacent box.)

Twenty-eight General Authorities and two general auxiliary officers delivered a total of 32 addresses at four general sessions and the priesthood session.

President Hinckley captured the essence of the Easter message in his Sunday morning address when he said the miracle of Easter encompasses all who have lived, all who now live and all who will yet live upon the earth.

"As mortals we all must die," he said. "Death is as much a part of life as is birth. Looked at through our mortal eyes, without comprehension of the eternal plan of God, death is a bleak, final and unrelenting experience. . . . But our Eternal Father, whose children we are, made possible a far better thing through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

"His was the ultimate sacrifice, His the sublime victory."

Conducting the final session and bringing the conference to a close, President Monson said: "May we be obedient to the commandments of God. As we reflect upon the messages of conference, we see woven like a beautiful golden thread in a tapestry the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sanctity of the home, the importance of obedience to divine teachings.

"I like the thought, Before Easter, there must be a cross.' And many have heavy crosses to bear. With the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment - a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. He may come to us as one unknown, without a name, as by the lakeside He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words,Follow thou me,' and sets us to the task which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands, and to those who obey Him . . . He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings that they shall pass through in His fellowship; and they shall learn in their own experience who He is.

"May we praise His name, follow His example, and incorporate His truths into our lives, and then this conference will have been successful."

Temple Square was filled with members attending the conference sessions. Sunny skies prevailed during the weekend, adding to the brightness of thousands of colorful flowers blossoming on the square. It was only in the last moments of the final session of conference that storm clouds darkened the skies. Rain held off, however, until most attending conference had left Temple Square.

Sessions of the conference were carried by the Church satellite network to more than 3,000 meetinghouses equipped with satellite receivers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, West Indies, Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. In addition, all sessions were transmitted via satellite to more than 1,100 cable television systems in the United States.

The Saturday and Sunday morning sessions of conference and the Sunday morning Tabernacle Choir program, "Music and the Spoken Word," were transmitted to 100 Church-owned downlinks in 11 languages, and were accessible in some areas of Europe.

Portions of the conference were provided to commercial television and radio stations and cable networks in the United States on a public service basis.

Church units where the satellite and other transmissions were not available will receive videotapes of the conference sessions. *****


Conference highlights

Sustained to the Council of the Twelve

Elder Robert D. Hales

Sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Cree-L Kofford

Sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Claudio Roberto Mendes Costa

Elder W. Don Ladd

Elder James O. Mason

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Elder Lance B. Wickman

Sustained as Presiding Bishop

Bishop Merrill J. Bateman

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