"This is the first time that this beautiful Conference Center has been used for a multi-regional conference," President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, said speaking to 16 stakes in the first such event in the center on Sunday morning, Feb. 25. A second such conference, also for 16 stakes, was held that afternoon, with President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, presiding.
The Conference Center, located across the street north of Temple Square, has been used for two general conferences, President Gordon B. Hinckley's 90th birthday celebration last June, the Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert and a few other special events. The gatherings Feb. 25 opened a new chapter in the center's functioning as a site for multi-stake conferences.
President Monson said he looked upon the two-hour meeting Sunday morning as a warm-up for general conference, though the TV cameras and radio were not operating for the multi-stake gathering.
He extended special welcome to all the young children who were attending the conference. Although there is an age 8 and up requirement for those who attend general conference, this multi-stake conference had no such age limitation. Packed houses of 21,000 attended each of the multi-stake conference sessions. All those attending were required to have advance tickets to ensure seating for everyone.
President Monson quoted from Paul's epistle to the Corinthians: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16.) President Monson then cited from Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 the counsel given by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith: "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."
He acknowledged that fasting is often most difficult for children, but said that people come closer to God on fast day than at almost any other time.
Illustrating tremendous examples of faith in modern times about members who were behind the Iron Curtain, he counseled every member of the Church to qualify to receive a patriarchal blessing.
President Monson said that people should make time in their lives for employment and for the Lord, but also should make time for their families.
He emphasized that Jesus Christ is the author of our salvation and related His teachings to our day.
Other General Authorities speaking at the morning session were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy.
Sunday afternoon, President Faust encouraged members to prepare for life's "defining moments."
He recalled such moments from his life, including the difficult days of the Great Depression and his decision to go on a mission and, later, serve his country during World War II. He also spoke of his decision to marry "the most significant conscious decision we make in life."
"Our marriage could not have been happier, even though our first dwelling was a single room with a bathroom down the hall," President Faust said, recalling the early days of his marriage to his wife, Ruth.
President Faust said his "defining moments" solidified his belief in the mission of Jesus Christ, the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and the Lord's continuing practice of providing modern-day prophets.
Other General Authorities speaking at the afternoon session were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Lynn Arave and Jason Swensen