Virginians urged to move Lord's work forward

In a city recognized as the birthplace of religious freedom, President Gordon B. Hinckley urged members of the Church from six stakes in the area "to be ambitious in moving the work of the Lord forward."

"The Lord expects so much of us . . . ," President Hinckley said Nov. 14. "We have peace and the good opinion of many, many people in many, many places. How ambitious we ought to be to move forward this, the work of the Lord."To accommodate the more than 7,000 who attended, President Hinckley spoke at a morning session that included members from the Chesapeake, Newport News and Virginia Beach stakes. He then spoke that evening at a second session to members of the Richmond, Richmond Virginia Chesterfield and Waynesboro stakes. Both sessions were held in the Arthur Ashe Center.

President Hinckley opened his comments with a salute to the youth.

"We've never had a better generation in this Church than the generation we have today," he said. "They know the scriptures better. They go to seminary. They know the gospel plan. And in the face of withering evil all around them, they're able to stand above it and behave themselves and do what's right."

President Hinckley centered his comments on 1 Pet. 2:9. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

"Here it is a Saturday afternoon," he continued, "and you are here, in your best `bib and tucker.' White shirts and ties, all dressed up. Saturday afternoon and you are in Church. Are you peculiar? You certainly are."

He closed by admonishing parents to "look upon your children as the wonders of the earth, that the God of Heaven would permit them to come into your nurture and keeping. May you children look to your fathers and mothers and listen to what they say."

President Hinckley began his comments by requesting the combined choir from Southern Virginia College that provided music for the session to sing "Shenandoah."

"I'm told they sing it very well," he said.

Following a few seconds of surprised confusion, the choir sang a cappella to the apparent delight of President Hinckley who said they sang "wonderfully."

President Hinckley was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie, who counseled members that in a world of mixed messages, to listen to those voices that speak the word of Jesus Christ.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, expressed his pleasure in seeing so many youth. He encouraged them to live worthy to receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy and president of the North America East Area, accompanied by his wife, Shirley, urged members to treat everyone they meet as if they were in need of their love.

Richmond holds historical significance because of the role two Virginians, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, played in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights.

In 1777, one year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that passed the Virginia General Assembly in the old state Capitol in Richmond on Jan. 16, 1786. It was the first law protecting religion on American soil.

In 1787, when the Constitution was written, Jefferson urged Madison to include a bill of rights to protect the people against the government. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, were passed in 1791 with the first amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion and speech.

Among those who listened to President Hinckley was the Rev. Jeffrey Spence, regional director of the National Conference for Community and Justice in Virginia, formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

"It was a privilege to be invited to hear from a man who is truly a servant of God and loves people throughout the world," he said. "He is a man of great honor and caring. It is good to know a leader that can make us laugh. It is wonderful to be in the presence of such wisdom."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed