'Drink at fountain of eternal truth'

The first Sunday of the new year found President Gordon B. Hinckley doing what he so frequently did on Sundays during the previous 22 months of his presidency - going out among the members of the Church.

"I had a free Sunday and I thought I would just drop in on a stake conference and see what is going on," President Hinckley said as he offered closing remarks at the conference of the Salt Lake Sugar House Stake on Jan. 5. President Hinckley presided over the conference, with his wife, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, seated on the stand by his side.The Church leader commended stake members for the goodness of their lives and for their efforts to abide by the commandments and gospel principles.

He encouraged members to "live the gospel, love the gospel," and to read the scriptures. "You won't get a testimony of the Book of Mormon unless you read the Book of Mormon. You won't get a testimony of the Doctrine and Covenants unless you read the Doctrine and Covenants," he declared. "Faith comes of drinking at the fountain of eternal truth."

President Hinckley said he knew that many members had problems and difficulties, but he encouraged them to "go forward and try to do the right thing."

The prophet directed some of his remarks to eight men who were sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood during the stake conference. "I want to say to those eight men that this is a marvelous and remarkable thing," he said. "All in this large congregation have raised their hands in supporting you, to sustain you in receiving the priesthood of the God of heaven. It is not a small thing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, which came under the hands of Peter, James and John to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This is the priesthood by which the Church is governed. This is the priesthood by which you administer in the name of the Lord to those who are sick. This is the priesthood by which you bless. This is the priesthood by which you speak in the name of the Lord. Do not take it lightly. Never take it lightly. Always guard it, live worthy of it in every respect. I humbly pray that you may be blessed as you receive the blessing of the Melchizedek Priesthood after the order of the Son of God."

Two young adults who recently received calls to serve full-time missions were invited, without previous notice, to address the conference. Don DeLaMare of the Richards Ward, called to the Mexico Monterrey Mission, and Kellye Shea of the Sugar House Ward, called to the California Fresno Mission, had the distinctive experience of bearing their testimonies in the presence of the prophet.

President Hinckley acknowledged the testimonies of the newly called missionaries, and spoke of the growth of the Church. Noting the presence of many Spanish-speaking members from the stake's Lucero Ward, he mentioned particularly the expansion of the Church in Central and South America. "To these Spanish-speaking people who are here this morning, I express my confidence in you to live the gospel and keep the commandments and be a part of this great, vast, huge congregation of Latter-day Saints found now throughout the United States and Mexico and Central America, through all South America and over in Spain." He noted that the Spanish language "has become the second language of the Church."

He encouraged members of the stake to "go forward in faith. Live the gospel. That is the way to happiness. That is the way to peace. That is the way to peace in your lives, in your homes - living the gospel. If we live the gospel we have love and respect one for another. If we live the gospel we'll reach out to assist one another, we'll put aside our selfishness and try to bring happiness into the lives of others. Those are the sweet fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Further, he said, "We have a big job to do. This is 1997. We are going to celebrate the arrival of the pioneers to this valley this year. There will be many things happening, many things that will occur." He referred to the coming of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley as a "wonderful thing. It was a thing of faith. I just stand back and marvel at the leadership of Brigham Young. He had never seen this place, except in vision. They had never tried this soil, whether it would grow anything. Yet they came here, moving thousands after them to this valley of the mountains. It was, I think, a leap of faith. And the work in which you and I are engaged is a work of faith."

Pioneers and Church history are topics close to the hearts of many members of the Salt Lake Sugar House Stake. One of the first sights Brigham Young noticed when he entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, was a camp of more than 100 persons who had arrived in the valley two days earlier. That advance company of pioneers with 60 wagons had left the mouth of Emigration Canyon on July 22, and followed the stream in a southwesterly direction.

On their way to the valley floor, they passed only a few blocks north of the present intersection of 2100 South and 1100 East. A ward was organized in what is now the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City in 1848, the year after the pioneers settled the valley. A sugar mill that Brigham Young had built (1854-55) at the corner of today's 2100 South and 1100 East gave the community of Sugar House its name. The Sugar House Stake center is located at 1700 South and 1100 East.

Pres. Robert L. Miner, who was notified just a few days earlier that President Hinckley would be attending the Sugar House Stake conference, said, "We were humbled and honored to have the prophet attend our stake conference. Our theme, `Follow the Brethren,' and our planning and hopes for the conference were complete by the visit of President Hinckley. The members of the Sugar House stake were strengthened by his words of counsel and love. The feeling and the spirit of our conference was powerful as we witnessed the prophet of the Lord testify to the members. This visit by the prophet is an event we will not forget."

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