Latter-day Saints have become an honored and respected people. With that, said President Gordon B. Hinckley, comes a "great and sacred obligation to live the gospel, to let it shine through our lives, to be the kind of people we ought to be as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the kind of people who are a covenant people."
Speaking Feb. 23 in the Dee Events Center at Weber State University to nearly 12,000 members of six stakes from the Brigham City, Utah, area, President Hinckley added: "Each of us has made a covenant with the Lord and we renew that covenant as we partake of the sacrament. We take upon ourselves covenants in His holy house, and that covenant is in similitude of the covenant that Jehovah made with Abraham, that He would be our God and we would be His people."Accompanying President Hinckley to the regional conference were his wife, Marjorie; and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Robert E. Wells of the Seventy. Elder Wells' wife, Helen, also attended.
On Saturday, Feb. 22, President Hinckley addressed 984 priesthood leaders in the historical Brigham City Tabernacle.
During the Sunday general session, the Church president referred to the admonition of Brigham Young to the early settlers of Utah to avoid the temptation of the California gold rush. "If you stay here and plant your crops," President Hinckley quoted President Young as saying, "God will temper the climate and bless the soil and we will become a blessed people. This will become the great highway of the nations and kings and emperors will visit here."
"Such his solemn declaration," President Hinckley continued. "How true it is. Scarcely a week passes that we do not have some of the great of the earth come to call upon us in the office of the First Presidency. Kings, yes. The king of Tonga was here not long ago. Ambassadors, yes, from all across the world; men and women of prominence in government, men and women of prominence in education, men and women of prominence in business."
President Hinckley counseled: "Now, brothers and sisters, I feel like saying shape up. We can do better than we are doing; we must do better than we are doing. The world is crowding in on us now. Utah has been discovered. People are coming from all over the nation to live here and we must stand tall and be Latter-day Saints in very deed. There is no place for fence straddlers."
Quoting from Hymn #260, President Hinckley asked: " `Who's on the Lord's side? Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly. Who's on the Lord's side? Who?' "
President Hinckley told of being interviewed in Salt Lake City recently by two BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) radio reporters. "How do you feel about the growth that is coming to this state?" they asked the prophet, referring to Utah. He replied, "We are part of it."
"You know," said President Hinckley, "in 1930, when the Church was 100 years old, there were 310,000 Latter-day Saints in the state of Utah. That meant that about 60 percent of all of the Latter-day Saints in all the world resided in Utah - 310,000 of them.
"Today, there are a million and a half
members of the ChurchT in this state. Last year there were more convert baptisms, not natural growth, convert baptisms in the state of Utah than there were in all the British Isles where there are seven missions. All those working together did not produce the number of converts to this Church that these three missions in Utah produced in the year of 1996. We are growing here, but interestingly enough, whereas once 60 percent of the membership of the Church lived here, now only 17 percent live here. We have moved out across the world."
Speaking of the "world," President Hinckley referred to his many travels as Church president and expressed gratitude for the faith of the Latter-day Saints.
In closing his remarks, President Hinckley expressed his love for those attending. "Never a day passes that I do not get on my knees and thank the Lord for the faithful Latter-day Saints of this Church."