CONFERENCE MOMENTS: `Important resolution'

An unusual and momentous event occurred at the 146th Annual General Conference April 3-4, 1976.

It came during the Saturday afternoon session. President N. Eldon Tanner, then first counselor in the First Presidency, stepped to the pulpit. After conducting the sustaining of Church officers, he said:"President [Spencer W.] Kimball has asked me to read a very important resolution for your sustaining vote. At a meeting of the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple on March 25, 1976, approval was given to add to the Pearl of Great Price the following two revelations:

"First, a vision of the celestial kingdom given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, in the Kirtland Temple, on Jan. 21, 1836, which deals with the salvation of those who die without a knowledge of the gospel.

"And second, a vision given to President Joseph F. Smith in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Oct. 3, 1918, showing the visit of the Lord Jesus Christ in the spirit world and setting forth the doctrine of the redemption of the dead."

The conference unanimously sustained the inclusion of the two revelations as part of the standard works of the Church. At first, they were inserted into the Pearl of Great Price but later were published as Sections 137 and 138 in the newest edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

They had always been accepted by the Church as doctrine, but inclusion of the two revelations demonstrated to Latter-day Saints that the scriptural canon is subject to additions from time to time.

The revelations gave clarification pertaining to salvation for the dead: for example, the fact that Jesus did not go personally to preach to the spirits in prison, but rather, appointed messengers to do so. (See D&C 138:29-30.)

The addition to the canon of scripture came at a time when the work of redeeming the dead was poised to move forward with unprecedented momentum. Publication of Alex Haley's Roots generated great interest among the public in family history. There followed an explosion in the application of technology to genealogical research, record keeping and temple ordinances.

The work continues today at an unslackened pace.

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