`Count your blessings,' Pres. Hinckley urges

On a pleasant spring weekend, with dogwood trees and azaleas in bloom, President Gordon B. Hinckley visited the nation's capital April 26-27 for a conference of the eight stakes in the Potomac Virginia Region. Some 13,500 members gathered in the Cole Field House on the campus of the University of Maryland for the general session on Sunday, April 27.

Speakers were President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie; Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve; and Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, who is also president of the North America Northeast Area, and his wife, Kathleen. The previous day, Saturday, April 26, 1,100 priesthood leaders gathered for a leadership meeting held at the Oakton Virginia Stake Center.Stakes participating in the conference included Annandale, Centreville, Fredericksburg, McLean, Mount Vernon, Oakton, Warrenton and Winchester, essentially the entire area of northern Virginia.

In his remarks at the Sunday session, President Hinckley commented on the intermediate hymn sung by the congregation, "Count Your Blessings." He then proceeded to recount the blessings enjoyed by members of the Church, including the First Vision; the Book of Mormon; the restoration of the priesthood; the keys restored by Moses, Elias and Elijah; temples and temple work; and the laws of tithing and the Word of Wisdom. "I just have an overwhelming sense of gratitude [for these blessings] . . . . I hope there isn't a day [that] passes that you don't get on your knees and thank the Lord for His goodness to you," President Hinckley said.

In speaking of the Book of Mormon, "this testament, this added testament of the Lord Jesus Christ, this voice speaking out of the dust of the earth," President Hinckley encouraged those attending, saying, `We do need to read it more, we need to think about it, we need to pray about it, we need to receive and accept its marvelous message."

In speaking of the uniqueness of temples and temple work, he said, "I am thankful for the great keys brought to the earth by Moses, Elias and Elijah. How thankful I am for the work of the temples. This great work for the redemption of the dead. There is nothing like it anywhere in all the world. Every time I lay my hands upon the head of a man to confer upon him the sealing authority, I think of the wonder of that power which binds in the heavens that which is bound upon the earth."

To those who had been married in the temple by that sealing authority, President Hinckley added, "[You] have been blessed by reason of that great and sacred and divine authority."

The prophet spoke at length of the divine law of tithing. "How thankful I feel for the law of tithing. Where I go across this Church, whether at BYU, whether in the temple at Salt Lake or Washington, whenever I go to any meetinghouse, when I go to any mission home, when I go to any gathering of this kind, I can say, `Your tithing, and the tithes of your associates throughout the Church have made all of this possible.' What a privilege and an opportunity to pay tithing . . . . The law of tithing is so simple."

President Hinckley continued: "I am grateful that the Church is in good financial condition because of the faith of the people, and I see the evidence of the Lord pouring out His blessings upon the people wherever we go. And you are the recipients of those blessings, my brothers and sisters."

Turning his attention to the Word of Wisdom, President Hinckley referred to D&C 89:4 and said: "The Lord used those words, `evil and conspiring men.' Very interesting words, really. Read the paper, listen to the radio, watch the television news, and you'll see almost those words in the things that are taking place these very days in which we live."

He spoke of the promises associated with this law, "that the destroying angel shall pass us by, as the children of Israel and not slay us, and that we shall have great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures . . . This means knowledge of the things of God which will come by the power of the Holy Spirit."

President Hinckley concluded his summary of the blessings enjoyed by Church members by expressing his delight at the "tremendous" growth of the Church. "We're becoming a mighty congregation, 160 nations, many, many languages, all speaking the same doctrine, believing in the same things, living by the same standards. It is marvelous."

He continued: "You are the fulfillment of Peter's prophecy . . . . (1 Pet. 2:9.) May you build one another, strengthen one another, uphold and sustain one another in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We're the greatest society of friends on earth. Wherever you go as a Latter-day Saint and introduce yourself, you have friends. It is a wonderful thing.

"Count your many blessings," President Hinckley added. "Name them one by one. We are a blessed people."

For those attending this regional conference, the privilege of having the living prophet visit them could be added as one of the great blessings that has come into their lives.

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