Stand as a witness; sustain prophets

Young women of the Church were counseled March 30 by President Gordon B. Hinckley to be true to the faith, to themselves and their associates, to their parents and heritage, to the Church, and to Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

Speaking from the Tabernacle on Temple Square, President Hinckley addressed the annual General Young Women Meeting. And considering the theme of the meeting was "Stand as a Witness by Sustaining the Living Prophets," the counsel offered by President Hinckley seemed even more relevant to the thousands packed into the Tabernacle on this warm spring evening. Also speaking were members of the Young Women general presidency, Gen. Pres. Janette Hales Beckham, who conducted the meeting; and her counselors, Virginia H. Pearce and Bonnie D. Parkin. (For reports on addresses of the Young Women general presidency, see page 4.)President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, attended the meeting. Other Church leaders in attendance were Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Harold G. Hillam of the Presidency of the Seventy, both of whom are priesthood advisers to the Young Women. Also at the meeting were the general presidencies of the Relief Society and Primary, and former Young Women general presidents Ardeth G. Kapp, Elaine Cannon and Ruth Funk.

Before the meeting began, lines of young women, their mothers and their leaders formed from the doors of the historic building to the sidewalks outside the gates of Temple Square.

In addition, the meeting was viewed via the Church satellite system in some 3,000 meetinghouses throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

In his address, President Hinckley offered the following counsel:

Be true to ourselves and associates. "How very important it is to be true to ourselves. Each of us has a thing we call conscience. We know the difference between right and wrong. We do not have to be instructed concerning what is good and what is evil.

"Being true to ourselves means being honest. It means being honest in school. We cannot afford to cheat or do anything of that kind. We go to school to learn and to equip ourselves for the work which we will do in the future.

"I urge each of you young women to get all of the schooling you can get. You will need it for the world into which you will move. Life is becoming so exceedingly competitive. The world is changing, and it is so very important that we equip ourselves to move with that change. But there is a bright side to all of this. No other generation in all of history has offered women so many opportunities.

"Your first objective should be a happy marriage, sealed in the temple of the Lord, and followed by the rearing of a good family. Education can better equip you for the realization of those ideals."

In speaking of personal virtue, the prophet admonished: "We cannot afford to be tainted by moral sin. We live in a world where temptation is constantly being thrown at us, particularly at you young people. It is on television. It is in magazines. It is in books. It is on videos which are readily available. Stay away from these things. They will only hurt you. When it comes to the moral law, you know what is expected of you."

President Hinckley continued: "Do not become involved in illegal drugs. Do not touch them. I plead with you, with every one of you, to shun them as you would poison."

He added: "My dear friends, be loyal to one another, your friends and your associates. Look for the good in those about you, and emphasize that good."

Be true to your parents and your heritage. "Regrettably there are a few parents who act in a way that does serious injustice to their children. But these are relatively few. No one has a greater interest in your welfare, in your happiness, in your future, than do your mothers and fathers.

"Your problems are not substantially different from what theirs were. If they occasionally place restrictions on you, it is because they see danger down the road. Listen to them.

"Your mother is your best friend. Never forget that. She gave you life. She cared for you, nurtured you, nursed you when you were sick, and looked after your every need. Listen to her now."

Be true to the Church. "I wish each of you would remember that tonight you heard me say that this Church is true. Other churches also do much good, but this is the `true and living Church' of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name it bears," President Hinckley declared. "Be true to it. Cling to it. If you will do so it will become as an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea. I give you my solemn testimony that this Church will never be led astray.

"Look to the Church and its leaders for counsel and direction. We have only one desire, and that is that you be happy, that your lives be challenging and satisfying, that you be saved from pitfalls of evil which would destroy you, that you will be the kind of people who will carry high the torch of eternal truth and hand it on to the generation which will succeed you."

Speaking of the opportunity young people have of being baptized for the dead, President Hinckley said: "There is not another organization in all the world that offers this opportunity. It affords the means by which to give the most unselfish kind of service."

Be true to our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Never forget who you are. . . . You are in very deed a child of God, a daughter of His. He is your Eternal Father. He loves you. You can go to Him in prayer. He has invited you to do so.

"He wants His sons and daughters to be happy. Sin never was happiness. Transgression never was happiness. Disobedience never was happiness. The way of happiness is found in the plan of our Father in Heaven and in obedience to the commandments of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."

The prophet admonished those listening to never use the Lord's name in vain and "never to indulge in sleazy, dirty talk of any kind. There is so much of it, and it is so common. There is no need to use such language.

"Be true to our Eternal Father and Beloved Son. When all else fails, our Lord is there to help us. Each of you has burdens. Let the Lord help you in carrying those burdens. He stands ready to help each of us with every burden. He loves us so much that He shed drops of blood in Gethsemane, then permitted evil and wicked men to take Him, to compel Him to carry the cross to Golgotha, to suffer beyond any power of description terrible pain when He was nailed to the cross, to be lifted up on the cross and to die for each of us."

In conclusion, the prophet spoke of repentance. "If any of you has stepped over the line, please do not think all is lost. The Lord reaches out to help you, and there are many willing hands in the Church also who will help you."

Counseling the young women who have had prior difficulties to pray, talk with their parents and with their bishops, President Hinckley said: "Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel. Forgiveness is a mark of divinity. There is hope for you. Your lives are ahead, and they can be filled with happiness, even though the past may have been marred by sin. This is a work of saving and assisting people with their problems. This is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Preceding President Hinckley's address, three young women spoke. Anne Marie Rose of the Oak Hills 9th Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake; Kirstin Boyer of the Springville 7th Ward, Springville Utah Stake; and Anne Prescott of the Midvale East 3rd Ward, Midvale Utah East Stake; shared their testimonies of following the prophet's counsel.

Providing music for the meeting was a choir of young women from the Payson Utah Region, with Connie Ericksen directing and Linda Margetts accompanying on the organ. Adding a warm touch on the cello was Nicole Jackson of the Pioneer 2nd Ward, Provo Utah Central Stake.

The invocation was offered by Vanessa Satini of the Bennion 5th (Tongan) Ward, Salt Lake Utah (Tongan) Stake; the benediction, by Coleen Menlove of the Young Women general board.


Pres. Beckham: Sustain prophet through action

"Is sustaining the living prophets different from having a testimony that we have prophets?" Young Women Gen. Pres. Janette Hales Beckham asked.

Speaking in the General Young Women Meeting in the Salt Lake Tabernacle March 30, Pres. Beckham continued: "When we sustain it means we do something about our belief. Our testimony of the prophet turns into action when we sustain him."

The general president referred to the April 1995 general conference, during which President Gordon B. Hinckley was sustained as prophet, seer, revelator and president of the Church. "I watched the young women when, for the first time in history, you were asked to stand as a separate group; and I asked myself, `Do the young women know what it means to sustain?'

"I often discuss our [Young Women] Theme with young women and ask what it means to them to `stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.' I believe it means that we show by our behavior what we believe. Surely we are standing as witnesses of God when we sustain His living prophets, especially when we know what it means to sustain. We will abide by the direction and counsel of the prophets. We indeed become witnesses when we make this solemn covenant.

"I'll suggest another way to think of the word sustain," Pres. Beckham continued. "When you play a violin, if it is in tune, you can move the bow across one string and the other strings vibrate. The harmonious strings not only help sustain the sound, but they enlarge and carry the sound.

"As each of us listens to the prophet and responds to his message, if we are in tune, we can carry his message with us. Others will feel the prophet's message because of the way we act. In this way the message doesn't end tonight - it just begins. . . .

"When the prophets speak to us, it is as if our Heavenly Father is speaking to us. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 38, it states, `Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.' "

Pres. Beckham referred to the evening as a "sacred night for those of us who have gathered to hear President Hinckley's message for young women. Tonight, as President Gordon B. Hinckley has a message for each one of us, we as young women, mothers and leaders want him to know that we have a message for him and his counselors, President [Thomas S.] Monson and President [James E.] Faust. We sustain you. We know what it means to sustain - we will abide by the direction and counsel you give us. We will uphold you by our confidence, faith and prayers."

Sister Pearce: Prophet provides instruction

Living prophets are the "experts" to whom one should turn for instruction in one's life, said Virginia H. Pearce, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency.

Speaking in the General Young Women Meeting March 30, Sister Pearce related how one of her sons had some golf lessons from a professional and how she had wished at the time an "expert" would tell her how she was doing with her life.

"All at once, the light turned on! General Conference! No wonder I look forward to those meetings and messages. Here are my experts. Not only are these men experienced, but their instructions come directly from Heavenly Father to me by way of the Holy Ghost - personalized to my exact, immediate and individual needs. Who could be trusted more than this combination: the Lord, His mouthpiece and the Holy Ghost?"

"What an exciting process! As a Young Women general presidency, we desire to invite every young woman and leader to listen to President

Gordon B.T Hinckley and find a personal message. Then we invite you to put that message into action and experience the positive changes that will surely follow.

Sister Pearce then reviewed the steps of the "invitation:"

Listen to and read the words of President Hinckley. "Listen with new ears. Re-read the messages. Is the Lord using His prophets to answer your prayers? Is the Lord using His prophets to send you a message that you are loved and are on the right road . . . ? Is the Lord using His prophets to give you some instructions to practice or warnings to act on?

Identify, with the help of the Holy Ghost, a personal message. Sister Pearce told the young women that there will be "an idea or a few words that you will feel are spoken just for you. Their interpretation will be yours alone."

Put the message into action. "Practice. `But, be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.' (James 1:22.) This is the whole point of revelation. It doesn't matter how often the Lord chooses to speak to us if we fail to do anything about it."

Notice the changes in your life and feelings. "Good feelings will come when we conform our lives to the will of God, as expressed through His chosen prophets.

"President Hinckley has asked us to `try a little harder to be a little better,' " Sister Pearce declared. "I pray that we will follow that advice - that we will approach the messages of the prophet with an enthusiasm born of our desire to have the experts reinforce and instruct us in righteous living."

Sister Parkin: Testimony is `anchor to the truth'

A personal testimony of a living prophet is not only an invaluable possession for eternity, but also an anchor to the truth today, said Bonnie D. Parkin, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.

Speaking in the General Young Women Meeting March 30, she continued: "This testimony of our prophet is a crucial thing in our Church, something upon which we place great emphasis: we talk of it often, we hear it in testimony meeting, we worry about it when asked by friends.

"But obtaining it is a responsibility that is ours alone - only the Holy Ghost will give it to us."

"As a young woman, I came to downtown Salt Lake on a wintry day," Sister Parkin related. "I had parked in front of the Church Administration Building and was just putting a nickel in the meter when I noticed a man leaving the building. He wore a dark overcoat and a wool hat. But he had something more - a spirit that stirred my soul. I could not take my eyes off him. As he descended the steps, I suddenly realized he was President David O. McKay. He said nothing as he passed me; he merely gently smiled and tipped his hat. The Spirit literally filled my being. I knew I had seen a prophet of God.

"Not everyone will have the opportunity to see a prophet face to face. Fortunately, that isn't necessary. We can all receive the same witness I did on those steps long ago. More important than seeing a prophet is understanding the message that he has for us. Applying that message is a sure way to gain a testimony of his holy calling."

Sister Parkin shared the experience of a young woman who grew up in President Spencer W. Kimball's ward. "She had a fervent testimony of his calling, but while on her mission, President Kimball died. This young missionary worried about testifying of a prophet she didn't know. One evening as she prayed for newly sustained President [Ezra Taft] Benson, she was immediately flooded with the warmth of the Spirit, and she gained a new testimony.

"President Hinckley has promised that every one of us has a right to have a personal witness. I know that asking for this witness can be scary. We worry we just might not get an answer. Or, we know that if we do get an answer, we will have to live accordingly!"

Sister Parkin continued: "But think, what would a testimony of a living prophet do for you? How would it help you in your daily struggles? How would it change and bless your life?

"Only you and the Holy Ghost can answer these questions."

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