Rare opportunity for rural stake

Eager to look into faces of members, Pres. Hinckley dedicates meetinghouse

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — A billboard sign at the eastern boundary of this rural town west of Utah Lake proclaims its "clean air and clear nights."

That apparently appeals to many people. Such open space has grown increasingly scarce along Utah's Wasatch Front. Tracts of newer housing are scattered around the cropland and cattle pastures of Eagle Mountain and the surrounding Cedar Valley. Population growth in the past five years has been so substantial that two stakes of the Church now bear the name Eagle Mountain.

It was the construction of a new stake center in the town that drew the attention of President Gordon B. Hinckley.

"I came out here about a year ago, just riding around one day," he told a congregation in the new stake center on June 1. "I wanted to get out and see some of these outlying areas. And I came here to Eagle Mountain. I didn't know where Eagle Mountain was; we were just taking a ride. And this building was under construction."

He went home and told Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, president of the Utah South Area, that he wanted to dedicate the building when it was completed, that he would like to "look into the faces of the people who live there."

Thus the members of the Eagle Mountain Utah West Stake, formed last September from a division of the Eagle Mountain Utah Stake, had the treat of having the Church president dedicate their new building, rare indeed with meetinghouses in the Church being constructed on the average of more than one a day. He attended with his wife, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, and with Elder Groberg.

In an agricultural area such as Cedar Valley, perhaps it was natural that President Hinckley would touch on the five-year drought that has afflicted Utah and revisit a theme he spoke on at general conference.

"I think the Lord is trying us a little," he said. He quoted Leviticus 26:3-6, which promises, "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season."

"What a magnificent promise," he exclaimed and added that as he traveled to the stake center that morning, "I looked at the store parking lots that were filling on the Sabbath day. I looked at the farms that were being tilled on the Sabbath day. I looked at some of the other activities that were going forth on the Sabbath day, and I said to myself, maybe the Lord is reminding us that we need to draw closer to Him and be more true and faithful and deserving of His great and good and marvelous blessings."

He went on to quote from Solomon's temple dedication: "When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against thee, if they pray toward this place and confess thy hand and turn from their sin when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants" (2 Chronicles 6:26-27).

"I believe, my brothers and sisters, that the Lord is reminding us that we ought to be more faithful," President Hinckley said. "We ought to be more diligent. We ought to draw closer to Him. We ought to be more anxious to keep His commandments and do His divine will."

President Hinckley noted that it was the birthday of Brigham Young, who was born June 1, 1801. "I've been thinking of the tremendous courage of the man," he said. "I have in my office, right behind me on the wall, a portrait of Brigham Young. And when we get into a vexatious problem, I turn around and look at that portrait and I say, 'Brigham, what would you do?' And he looks down at me and says, 'Boy, the problem's yours, not mine!' "

He commented on the faith and courage of President Young "to lead this people into this dry mountain country." He added, regarding Cedar Valley, "This area out here where the Pony Express once ran, who would ever have dreamed that this would become a place of homes and families and children and churches and schools and all of these other things which inevitably must be here?"

President Hinckley congratulated stake members on their faithfulness. "You're not ready to ascend into heaven, believe me, but you're pretty good," he said.

He cited in particular the statistics of Young Men and Young Women at Sunday meetings at 82 and 81 percent respectively. "You're rearing a generation better than yours," he said to parents. "The Church is growing stronger, the Church is growing better, the Church is growing more faithful constantly across the world."

Addressing the congregation, Elder Groberg offered specific encouragement to mothers rearing young children. "Just keep trying," he said. "Don't worry about the little failures. Don't worry about the problems. Just keep trying, and the Lord will bless you."

Stake President D. Harold Draper spoke of the growth in the stake, comprising some 3,000 members in a geographic area where he once served as bishop and had just 300 members. He told of the sweet association he had in past Church callings, serving on a high council and in a stake presidency. "That which has brought us together in other associations also takes us away and creates new relationships that are as sweet as we ever thought we could experience," he said.

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