'An unforgettable experience'

Latter-day Saints around the world gathered "as a great family in reverence and worship of the Lord" Oct. 7-8, for the Church's 170th Semiannual General Conference — a historic occasion that marked the dedication of the now-completed 21,000-seat Conference Center.

President Gordon B. Hinckley recounts the milestone accomplishments of "this great millennial year."
President Gordon B. Hinckley recounts the milestone accomplishments of "this great millennial year." Photo: Photo by Laura Seitz

"My brothers and sisters, what a wonderful occasion this is," said President Gordon B. Hinckley during his opening remarks at the last general conference to be held this century. "We are of one faith and one doctrine. We speak words of testimony concerning God our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son. We declare with conviction and certainty that they have restored in this last dispensation The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

A record-setting 30,700 people gathered in the Conference Center and in overflow facilities on and near Temple Square to attend the Sunday morning session, during which President Hinckley dedicated the building. (Please see report on page 11.)

The huge crowd filled the 21,000-seat Conference Center, the newly completed 900-seat Conference Center Theater, the 6,000-seat Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, theaters and presentation rooms in the North Visitors' Center, the 500-seat Legacy Theater and meeting rooms in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and spilled over onto the grounds of Temple Square and the Church headquarters campus.

Millions more gathered in 4,040 Church meetinghouses throughout North and South America to participate in the conference events via satellite. Two general sessions were also transmitted live to Europe.

"The great voices of radio, television and cable are now joined by the Internet to carry our words literally to the ends of the earth," said President Hinckley. "To meetinghouses scattered far and wide the satellite will beam our signal, to congregations large and small, and saints across the earth will watch in their own homes the proceedings of this great conference by means of the Internet."

President Hinckley presided over the four general sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday, and the priesthood session Saturday evening. During the two-day conference, 27 General Authorities and two general officers delivered 34 messages. President Hinckley spoke four times, and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, each spoke twice.

Conference messages were translated simultaneously in 49 languages.

President Hinckley thanked the workmen who labored long and hard to prepare the "magnificent Conference Center" for the general meeting and to be dedicated — an event that signalled an important chapter in the history of the Latter-day Saints had been written.

Other conference highlights included:

President Gordon B. Hinckley acknowledges members gathered prior to general conference to view   cornerstone ceremony.
President Gordon B. Hinckley acknowledges members gathered prior to general conference to view cornerstone ceremony. Photo: Photo by Laura Seitz

The cornerstone ceremony for the new Conference Center attended by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders: Elder L. Aldin Porter, senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy; Presiding Bishop H. David Burton; and auxiliary general presidents Sister Coleen K. Menlove of the Primary, Sister Margaret D. Nadauld of the Young Women, and Sister Mary Ellen W. Smoot of the Relief Society. The building's cornerstone, said President Hinckley, is symbolic of Jesus Christ — the Savior, Redeemer and Stone on which the Church stands. (Please see page 11.)

The sacred Hosanna shout and anthem during the Conference Center dedication, which, said President Hinckley, should remain an unforgettable experience.

The granting of emeritus status to three members of the First Quorum of the Seventy — Elder F. Enzio Busche, Elder Loren C. Dunn and Elder Alexander B. Morrison.

The release of four members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy — Elder Eran A. Call, Elder W. Don Ladd, Elder James O. Mason and Elder Richard E. Turley, Sr. (Please see page 4.)

The sustaining of two new Area Authority Seventies and the release of 20 Area Authority Seventies from the Third, Fourth and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy. (Please see page 4.)

The reorganization of the General Sunday School Presidency, with Elder Harold G. Hillam being released as president and Elder Marlin K. Jensen being sustained as president. (Please see page 4.)

The opening of the newly completed landscaping atop the Conference Center roof, which includes 1,400 trees, wildflowers and 21 native Utah mountain grasses. Rooftop fountains include one which flows from under the spire and cascades 67 feet down the front of the building.

The opening of the new plaza between Temple Square and the Church Office Building.

The debut of the Conference Center organ, which includes 7,667 pipes.

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