"Thanks be to God, truth will prevail," was the exclamation of early Church missionaries in England, according to President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Speaking at the World Forum of Silicon Valley on March 19 in Santa Clara, Calif., President Hinckley offered remarks on the subject, "The Global Reach of the Latter-day Saints."During the meeting, which was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California, the Church leader addressed some 500 people - half of whom were not LDS - at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. Prior to his speech, President Hinckley was interviewed by representatives of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.
In his remarks, President Hinckley referred to the Church's utilization of technology. "We presently have some 3,350 downlinks in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. We are established on the World Wide Web. We have been at the forefront in the use of available technology to extend our work. All of this, however, does not replace the need for one-on-one contact by those who have gone into the world to declare our message."
This outreach, he continued, began 160 years ago in 1837 when Joseph Smith sent Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Hyde and Joseph Fielding to England to open missionary work. Upon arriving in Preston, England, the missionaries saw a banner hanging from a building - "Truth Will Prevail." That, President Hinckley declared, became the missionaries' motto.
"Those first elders reaped a tremendous harvest. Literally hundreds of thousands of Church members have been gathered from the British Isles," he added.
President Hinckley spoke of the sesquicentennial of the arrival of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. "Between that time and the coming of the railroad in 1869, there was traffic in both directions along the route across the plains."
Ox wagons and handcarts not only brought pioneers west, but also took missionaries east, particularly en route to Europe, he explained. Concerning the expansion of the Church during this time, President Hinckley spoke of the Mormon Battalion's arrival in Southern California in 1847 and of the arrival of the ship Brooklyn in 1846 in what was then Yerba Buena (San Francisco) after which the settlement San Bernardino was established.
"When a false and vicious rumor brought the Army of the United States to Utah in 1857, these colonies were largely withdrawn, but their establishment represented a significant outreach."
Continuing, President Hinckley described missionary work throughout the world from Europe to Asia. "There are now more than a hundred thousand members in Japan with strong units reaching from the north island of Hokkaido all the way down to and including Okinawa. We now have a beautiful temple in South Korea, many houses of worship, with more than 60,000 strong and faithful members."
In addition, a temple stands today in Hong Kong, serving five stakes "in that colony which will become Chinese July 1st of this year. The work has been established in strength in Taiwan, in Thailand, in Singapore, in parts of Indonesia and India."
The Church president also described the growth of the Church in the Philippines and other lands in the Pacific, and in South America, Central America, Eastern Europe and Africa. He also noted the work of some 55,000 missionaries who serve at their own or family expense.
"And so the little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands is rolling forth to fill the earth. Such was Daniel's vision. We think that vision is coming to fulfillment. We have become the second largest Christian denomination in California. We are the seventh largest Church in the United States."
President Hinckley spoke of the $138,000,000 in humanitarian aid given in the past five years to those not of the LDS faith "to ease the burden of hunger and distress so evident in so many places."
"People are attracted to the Church because it is an island of stability in a world of shifting values," the prophet added. "We put great emphasis on the building of a strong family life, on physical health, on the importance of education.
"We are grateful for this day of good will when we can move over the world and give our message. We do not wish to impose that message on anyone. To those not of our doctrine, we say, `Bring with you all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it.' "
After President Hinckley ended his address, he answered several questions posed him by those attending. For instance, as to what criteria the Church used in determining what countries to send missionaries, the Church president replied: "We go in the front door. We don't go into those lands where we are not welcome and we are not in a lot of places in the world."
In response to a question about women and equality, he said: "We have believed through all of these years in educating our daughters as well as our sons and that becomes a very important principle because those women will become the mothers of our grandchildren and that is a very important consideration."
President Hinckley spoke of the 3.9 million members of Relief Society "with their own presidency, their own board, their own program, their own teachings. Those women who are officers of that organization sit on the boards of other organizations such as the BYU Board of Trustees."
Speaking of Church membership, the prophet said: "The present figure is 9,700,000; it will probably be 10 million by the end of the year, we think. We have a few more outside the United States than we have in the United States, and that number is growing. I think it will continue to grow. Our great problem is growth, but what a wonderful problem to have if you have to have a problem."