`Be believers,' Pres. Hinckley counsels LDS from 5 states,

From a five-state area, some 20,000 Latter-day Saints streamed into this major urban center Sunday, Oct. 18, where they heard President Gordon B. Hinckley admonish them to believe in and observe the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel.

President Hinckley addressed a capacity congregation in the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls champion professional basketball team. Church members and leaders from 16 stakes in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin filled the bowl-shaped arena. By the time doors opened at 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. meeting, lines snaked around the exterior of the building.Also addressing the meeting, billed as a special fireside, were Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and North America Central Area president, who also conducted the meeting; and the Church leaders' wives, Marjorie P. Hinckley, Mary C. Hales and Anne H. Pinnock.

An adult choir and children's choir, composed of members of the 16 stakes, performed. A reverent moment occurred early in the meeting when the children sang "We Ever Pray for Thee, Our Prophet Dear," building into a crescendo as they were joined by the adult choir on the latter verses.

As he began his talk, President Hinckley good-naturedly referred to the fact that some in the congregation had indicated they could not hear the speakers.

"I never have any fear of crowds when I come to a meeting of this kind, but what I always have is fear of sound systems!" he said, adding this quip: "They told me to speak slowly, that there's an echo in this building. If it echoes, don't worry about it. You'll hear everything twice!"

President Hinckley did speak slowly, - and distinctly - raising his voice to project to the immense congregation. It had the effect of investing his delivery and message with an unusual degree of might and power.

"I never dreamed that I would see in Chicago a congregation of this size and kind," he remarked.

"You are, for the most part, members of the Church. . . . There may be some investigators here today. . . . I welcome you most cordially! I hope that you will continue to come and meet with our people. I hope that you will listen to what the missionaries of this Church have to say. I do not hesitate to promise you that if you will do so, there will come light and understanding and knowledge and a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work. For God, in His power and majesty, has moved again to restore the gospel to the earth in all its purity and with all its wonderful blessings."

Basing his talk on the Savior's admonition to Thomas, the apostle (see John 20:26-29), President Hinckley exhorted the congregation to "be not faithless, but believing."

"Believe in God, our Eternal Father, the Father of us all," he said. "He is our Father; we are His children. . . . Therefore, we are all brothers and sisters, and we ought to treat one another as brothers and sisters. It matters not the color of our skin . . .[or] the land from which we come. We are all sons and daughters of God who have within us something of a divine birthright, something of divinity that speaks in brotherhood and sisterhood with all throughout the world."

Believe in Jesus Christ, he said, adding that "Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, He who through His great atoning sacrifice brought the blessings of the Resurrection to all who lived on the earth and beyond and the great blessings of eternal life and exaltation to those who will walk in obedience to the commandments of God."

President Hinckley admonished belief in the divine calling of Joseph Smith, emphasizing: "We do not worship Joseph Smith; we do not put him in the same category as the Father and the Son. But we reverence him. We respect him. We look to him. We sing of him. We bear testimony of him as the great prophet of this dispensation."

He spoke of having dedicated the little cottage in Palmyra, N.Y., a few months ago that is a replica of the Smith family home. He said it made him reflect on the account of the First Vision. "Out of that marvelous experience," he added, "came an understanding of the nature of Deity that has been denied to people down through the ages. They have met together in vast concourses, the learned scholars, in an effort to define Deity. I submit that in the few minutes that Joseph Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussions through all centuries of time."

Holding up his copy of the Book of Mormon, President Hinckley counseled the congregation to believe in it "as a witness of the Son of God."

"What about the Bible? The Bible is a marvelous book. I wish everyone would read the Bible more. . . . The Bible is a testament of the Old World; the Book of Mormon is a testament of the New World, and they have come together as two witnesses - not one only - but as two witnesses of the divinity of the Son of God. What a marvelous and wonderful thing it is. And if you've never read the Book of Mormon, my friends, I urge you with all the power within me to get a copy of this book and read carefully and prayerfully, and the God of heaven, by the power of the Holy Ghost, will reveal unto you the truth of the book."

President Hinckley continued in a similar vein, urging listeners to believe in the restored Church, to believe in themselves as children of God, to believe in prayer.

In a tone devoid of equivocation, he said: "You bright and able young people, walk in virtue! Do not let yourself come into the filthy web of pornography. Stay away from it. It will destroy you if you persist in it. It will utterly destroy you! And what I say to you I say to a few older people who may be leaning in that direction. It is addictive and it is terrible. And it makes a few men rich and wealthy at the cost of tearing you down to destruction. Stay away from it."

He also urged young people to avoid illegal drugs and to get all the education they can, adding that it is "the key which unlocks the door of opportunity."

"The Lord has laid upon His Church a responsibility to learn things above the earth and under the earth, of perplexities of nations and other things, by study but also by faith. (See D&C 88:78-79, 118.) Pursue it."

He told the congregation to believe in their capacity to do good, adding, "We have within us, each of us, the power to make the world a little better if we make the effort to reach out to others in kindness and love and with helpfulness."

Concluding his address, President Hinckley declared: "I love the Latter-day Saints wherever they are. We've been with them around this world, in Asia, the islands of the Pacific and all the nations of South America and Central America and Mexico and many of the nations of Africa and Europe. You know, you're all alike! You look alike. You look good. You look clean. You look tidy. You look neat. You look as if you know where you're going. You look as if you know what life is all about. And you do, because you understand the plan of salvation."

President Hinckley seemed reluctant to leave the hall after the closing prayer was given. He commended the choir for its magnificent melody, waved to the congregation and greeted stake and mission leaders on the rostrum as the choir and congregation joined spontaneously in singing, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet" and "God Be with You Till We Meet Again."

Major newspapers and television stations in Chicago gave coverage of President Hinckley's address.

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