After receiving the accolade of International Executive of the Year from BYU's Marriott School of Management Nov. 6, President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that the Church's business is salvation.
But, he emphasized, to move forward the great work of salvation, a vast amount of temporal work is mandatory.President Hinckley noted that it is unusual for the president of an ecclesiastical organization to be honored as a businessman. He said that critics of the Church complain that it has become "a great business institution." However, he emphasized, "the spiritual has never been overtaken by the temporal."
"In fact," he added, "the two go hand in hand, the temporal to provide the means and the way for the accomplishment of the spiritual."
President Hinckley received the honor during a banquet attended by almost 1,600 guests - including General Authorities, leaders from the business community and numerous faculty members and students from BYU's business school.
President Hinckley was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie. Also in attendance were his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, and their wives, Frances Monson and Ruth Faust; Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, both of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Holland's wife, Patricia; and Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and BYU president, and his wife, Marilyn.
The International Executive of the Year Award was established in 1974 to honor annually an outstanding executive from the public or private sector who has "demonstrated exceptional leadership and high moral and ethical standards."
During his remarks, President Hinckley explained that from the very beginning of the Church, temporal work has been pursued to move forward a spiritual objective.
"Before the Church was organized, Joseph Smith borrowed from Martin Harris and entered into a contract with E. B. Grandin to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon at a cost of $3,000," he said.
From that small beginning, President Hinckley continued, the Church now prints more than 6 million copies of the Book of Mormon each year. In all, the Church will have printed more than 100 million copies of the book by the year 2000.
"The Church carries on a vast printing undertaking in addition to the Book of Mormon," President Hinckley said. "We publish magazines, special messages, the Church News, and other writings in 65 languages and to the extent of more than 25 million copies a year."
He said that more than 18,000 different curriculum items are also produced and distributed worldwide.
President Hinckley continued, saying that in the midst of the tremendous growth the Church is experiencing, the organization constructs between 350 and 400 new buildings a year. "This involves real estate purchases, title work, building permits, architects and contractors," he said.
And the Church is in a host of other businesses to facilitate its mission to bring "salvation and exaltation to people across the world," he said.
- The Church is in the travel business. "We have nearly 60,000 missionaries," he said. "A very large percentage must have visas to enter the countries where they labor. They must be transported to their respective assignments and brought home again. The Church maintains its own travel department to accommodate the needs."
- The Church is in the missionary training business. He said that some 50 languages are taught in 17 Missionary Training Centers.
- The Church is in the food business. President Hinckley noted that the missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center consume 24,000 pounds of cereals each year - enough to fill a meetinghouse cultural hall wall to wall and floor to ceiling. "They eat 115,000 pounds of apples - that is 57 1/2 tons. They consume 167,000 gallons of milk, the entire production of a 300-cow dairy. They get away with 162,000 pizzas," he said, adding that in a single meal missionaries at the training center in Provo consume 75 gallons of ice cream, 125 pounds of toppings and 11 gallons of chocolate syrup.
- The Church is in the education business. "The Church maintains, as you know, BYU, BYU-Hawaii, Ricks College and LDS Business College with a total enrollment of 38,692 students," said President Hinckley. "We have nearly 9,000 students in elementary and secondary schools [abroad], and in our seminaries and institutes we train more than 600,000 who speak a score of languages and live in many nations."
- The Church is in the clothing business. President Hinckley said the manufacturing of clothing associated with temple worship has become a very large operation. "In four plants - one in the United States and three in Latin America - we produce about 7.5 million pieces of clothing each year," he said.
- The Church is in the automobile business. Primarily, President Hinckley explained, the Church oversees the acquisition and administration of a fleet of cars used by its missionaries. "We have more than 1,000 vehicles for missionary use, and that is a very large fleet with all of the problems that go with it, including insurance, maintenance and occasional accidents."
- The Church is in the family history business. In more than 3,000 facilities across the world hundreds of thousands of people - half of which are members of other churches - look through vast records on microfilm, said President Hinckley. "It is estimated," he added, "that we now have over 6 million volumes on microfilm."
- The Church is in the humanitarian services and welfare business. "We are trying to feed the poor and clothe the naked," said President Hinckley. ". . . We now operate 106 storehouses with 87 canneries, 99 employment centers, 48 Deseret Industries Thrift Stores, 61 LDS Social Services offices and 105 production projects." He continued that in the past few years the Church has sent aid to 146 different nations, in 2,780 projects with the total value of $163 million.
- The Church is in other businesses. President Hinckley also noted that the Church owns Bonneville International Corporation, the Deseret News Publishing Company, the Deseret Book Company, Zions Securities Corporation, Beneficial Life Insurance Company and other establishments. "Each one of these commercial enterprises pays taxes," he said. "Each is expected to make a profit."
He explained that 10 percent of that profit goes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, where it assists literally hundreds of charities.
"In one form or another all these and more temporal undertakings go forward. They are properties of the Church, concerning all of which we feel a very heavy responsibility for we are dealing with the Lord's purse and the Lord's purposes."
President Hinckley then noted that in his 40 years as a General Authority he has served as an officer in almost every facet of the organization. "I know, when all is said and done, that the vast temporal undertakings with which we are involved are necessary adjuncts to the great spiritual mission which we have to perform. As the Lord has said, even though they may be temporal they are spiritual.
"It has been said that these temporal undertakings, when they are all brought together, become a vast and highly complex organization which would rank among the top corporations of the Fortune 500 list of companies. We have no concern about that. Our only interest is to manage all of these in such a way as to move forward the great work of assisting our Father in Heaven in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children of all generations."