President Gordon B. Hinckley visited five states during a four-day tour that took him to Nauvoo, Ill.; Palmyra, N.Y.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Tulsa, Okla.; and Kansas City, Mo.
In Nauvoo July 11, he addressed a large outdoor congregation. On July 12 in Palmyra, he met with missionaries and attended the opening night performance of the annual pageant, "America's Witness for Christ." After his visits in Upstate New York, he traveled to Council Bluffs where, on July 13, he participated in the Grand Encampment honoring the Mormon Pioneers, dedicated the reconstructed Kanesville Tabernacle, and spoke to a large fireside gathering. On July 14, he visited Tulsa and Kansas City, where he spoke to missionaries and large groups of youth before returning to Salt Lake City.A report on President Hinckley's visit to Council Bluffs is on page 6. Following are highlights of his visits to Nauvoo, Palmyra, Tulsa and Kansas City.
On July 11, President Hinckley addressed nearly 3,000 people at a fireside held on a calm and pleasant evening. The meeting was held outdoors, at the site of the "City of Joseph" pageant on a hillside overlooking the Mississippi River. The temperature was moderate, the humidity low, unusual for mid-July in this city by the river.
The congregation included members from the Nauvoo Illinois Stake and from surrounding stakes, as well as visitors to Nauvoo and friends of the Church. They sat on chairs that had been provided, or on blankets and lawn chairs they brought along to enjoy an evening with the prophet.
The meeting was reminiscent of those held in Nauvoo's days when the Prophet Joseph Smith addressed Saints in the "grove" after the Saints settled here in 1839.
Accompanying President Hinckley were Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and first counselor in the North America Central Area and his wife, Anne, both of whom spoke at the fireside.
In his remarks, President Hinckley noted that he first visited Nauvoo in 1935, while en route home from his mission to the British Isles. He commented on the changes that have occurred since that time, and expressed his gratitude for the efforts of those who have assisted in the purchase of property and restoration of the many buildings in recent years. He paid particular tribute to the vision of the late Dr. J. LeRoy Kimball and his successors who have presided over Nauvoo Restoration Inc.
"Nauvoo always does something for me," President Hinckley said. "There is an affinity within me for this soil, for these old homes, for the foundation stones of the temple, and for Carthage where the Prophet and Hyrum were murdered on June 27, 1844, for their testimony of the truth."
He spoke of his own grandfather, Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, who, as a teenager, worked as a blacksmith at Nauvoo, and later left with those going on the exodus west. He detailed the history of Nauvoo, its rise and demise, between the years of 1839-1846. President Hinckley spoke of the beauty of Nauvoo - in its location, its beginnings, its creation and in its sufferings and decline. "Sunrise and sunset on the Mississippi, with a brief day between. Such is the capsulated story of Nauvoo," he said.
Speaking of the suffering of the Saints in Nauvoo, President Hinckley stated, "There can be beauty in suffering when there is faith. There is tragedy, yes; there is sorrow, of course. But there is something sublime in suffering for a great cause. There was something magnificent about the way they held up their heads and kept on going notwithstanding the travail through which they passed. But with all of that suffering, there was a certain beauty in the solemnity of it, in the sublimity of their faith, in their resolution to leave Nauvoo behind and re-create it on a grander scale somewhere in the West."
President Hinckley encouraged the congregation to remember with appreciation those who had gone before. "May the Lord keep ever green in the memories of our generation and succeeding generations a recognition of the miracle that was performed in the city by the river which was known as Nauvoo the Beautiful," he said. He praised those who "once lived here for their integrity, for their strength, for the power of their resolution, of their absolute loyalty and fidelity to the principles which they had embraced, and which has become for each of us a heritage of value beyond measure."
Elder Pinnock spoke of a pioneer woman who came out of Nauvoo, Rachel Ridgeway Ivins. She was the wife of an apostle, who became second counselor to Brigham Young, Jedediah M. Grant; the mother of a prophet, Heber J. Grant; "grandmother-in-law" of a U.S. Senator, Wallace F. Bennett, and great-grandmother of current U.S. Senator, Robert F. Bennett.
He said she was loyal and intelligent and overcame many hardships throughout her life. To thousands, "she was a striking example of righteous living," Elder Pinnock said. "Even though she experienced a severe loss of hearing later in her life, it did not limit her dedication and relentless service in the Church."
On July 12, President Hinckley visited Palmyra, a key site in the history of the Restoration. He was accompanied by Elder and Sister Pinnock.
Joseph Smith's family lived here for about four years, having moved to Pal-myra about 1815 when, according to Joseph's account, he was in his "tenth year, or thereabouts." (Joseph Smith - History 1:3.) After four years in Palmyra, the family moved to Manchester Township, two miles south of Palmyra. "Sometime in the second year" of the family's move to Manchester Township, Joseph went to what is now known by Latter-day Saints as "the Sacred Grove," where he uttered his first vocal prayer and where he was visited by God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith - History 1:14-17.)
Three years later, 1823, in the same log home, Joseph was visited by the angel Moroni who revealed the location on the Hill Cumorah where were hidden the Gold Plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. The Hill Cumorah is about two miles south of the Smith farm. It was there that Joseph was taught by the angel Moroni each year for four years before finally taking possession of the Gold Plates. A monument to the angel Moroni now stands at the top of the hill. (See Joseph Smith - History 1:27-74.)
After completing the translation of the Gold Plates in 1829, Joseph took the transcript to Egbert B. Grandin, a printer who had a shop on Main Street in Palmyra. Grandin agreed to print the Book of Mormon after Martin Harris, one of the Prophet's friends and supporters, mortgaged part of his farm to raise $3,000 to pay for the printing. The Church now owns the E.B. Grandin Building.
During his visit to Palmyra, the seemingly tireless President Hinckley spoke to missionaries serving in the New York Rochester Mission, and commented on the area where they are serving. "Every claim that we offer has its roots in the vision of the boy Prophet Joseph Smith," President Hinckley explained. "I am grateful to come again and feel the spirit in the sanctity of the wooded grove."
President Hinckley spoke of those who wonder why the Lord would call upon a 14-year-old boy and not wait until he was older. "He came in perfect trust as a 14-year-old - he said he needed wisdom," said President Hinckley.
President Hinckley also spoke to more than 600 members of the Hill Cumorah Pageant's cast, crew and staff assembled under a shelter at the foot of the hill before this year's opening performance July 12. The hill is about four miles from the village of Palmyra.
He spoke of having come to Hill Cumorah first in 1935 while returning from his mission with fellow missionary associates, and during which time the statue of the angel Moroni was unveiled at the top of the hill. The first pageant presentation had been given the year before, in 1934. President Hinckley told of the pioneering efforts of the pageant, and how it has progressed to the spectacle it is today.
President Hinckley mentioned that at the pageant he attended in 1935, four trumpets were sounded from the top of the hill. The tradition has been carried on at each performance since then. The pageant the young Elder Hinckley saw en route home from his mission was quite simple compared to the spectacular presentation on a seven-level stage the size of half a football field. It is lit from 10 towers and features a recording of the Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony, has a costumed volunteer cast of more than 600, and makes use of breathtaking special effects including visions with water curtains, lightning striking a ship, fireballs from a volcano, and Christ's appearance in the night sky. With all its high-tech presentation, the real beauty of the pageant remains the tender story of Christ's teachings and His expression of love for all.
At the meeting for members of the pageant's cast and crew, President Hinckley said, "In behalf of the entire Church, I want to thank you. Each one of us represents a thread, and when woven together it creates the fabric which makes up the Church."
That evening, dressed warmly to offset the chill of the night air, President Hinckley was among the estimated 14,000 people who gathered at the base of Hill Cumorah to watch the pageant. The audience spontaneously gave him a standing ovation as he arrived. Officials of the pageant report some 200 referrals expressing interest in learning more about the Church came as a result of the first night's performance.
Before leaving the Palmyra area, President Hinckley and his party arose early on Saturday, July 13, and visited the Sacred Grove.
In his remarks to missionaries, Elder Pinnock said: "The doctrine the Savior spoke about in 3 Ne. 11:21-40 is baptism. He mentions 14 times the importance of baptizing, how to baptize and what happens to an individual who is not baptized.
"Converts are to be baptized! We are to become like Alma and Amulek, as mentioned in Alma 15:3-14. Zeezrom said,
Yea, I believe all the words that thou has taught.' He trusted them. He had learned that they only spoke the truth and because of that Zeezrom went on to say,Yea, I believe according to thy works.' Let us be like them."
To members of the Hill Cumorah Pageant staff, cast and crew, Elder Pinnock said: "You have helped to create memories that will never die. Your dedication and spirit of service will be felt by all who attend. Forty-five years ago, while I was still in high school, my parents brought their three children to visit the Church history sites. The memory of those experiences burns brightly today.
"Be pure, be unselfish by helping each other and always be about the task of helping to create happy, positive memories for others."
At 1 p.m. Sunday, July 14, President Hinckley and Elder and Sister Pinnock met with 1,900 youth and leaders gathered in the auditorium of the Union High School in Tulsa. The youth and leaders had come from the Tulsa and Tulsa East Oklahoma stakes and the Fort Smith and Rogers Arkansas stakes.
They had gathered for a three-day youth conference, of which the high note was President Hinckley's visit.
In his remarks in Tulsa, President Hinckley noted that many of the youth are the only Latter-day Saints in their high schools. "We are not a small Church anymore. We are a big moving Church. For some of you it does not seem so because you are the only member of the Church in your high school. But actually you are part of a great, throbbing, wonderful organization that reaches across the earth and encompasses people in many, many lands," he said. The congregation busily took notes and marked scriptural references given by the Church leader. "I'm so proud of the youth of this Church," he said. "Be the best you can be at what you want to be."
Elder Pinnock told of his sister, who had become discouraged during her young teenage years. He said their mother told her to "be good to every person" and "live the commandments."
"That is wonderful advice for us all," Elder Pinnock said.
KANSAS CITY, MO.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Sunday, July 14, President Hinckley met with about 2,800 youth and leaders gathered in the Midland Theater in downtown Kansas City to hear President Hinckley speak. They had come from Independence, Kansas City and Liberty, Mo., and from Olathe, Salina, Topeka and Wichita, Kansas.
President Hinckley spoke of the rising generation, and the future missionary service to be rendered. "I hope every young man here has a mission on his list of goals," he said. "Don't let anything get in the way of this. The Lord needs you. He needs your voice."
President Hinckley spoke to the young women about their opportunities. "You are the future mothers of children yet to come," he said. "You will carry on with great responsibilities in the years to come. I hope there is not a young woman who does not feel she cannot stand equal with her male friends."
President Hinckley kept the congregation in rapt attention as he closed with expressions of his love for them. "You're very precious to us, and you're very important in the plan of the Lord," he said. "Live up to your high possibilities."
Elder Pinnock counseled the young men and young women about the absolute necessity of setting objectives and lifetime goals. "Today, this very evening, would be a good time to set your own personal goals," he said.
"He quoted Amos 3:7, and told the youth, " `Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.' Today, you hear the words of a true prophet. You will never forget today."