PROVO, Utah Speaking as a former printer who worked in that trade from childhood, President Thomas S. Monson declared, "You won't find a better piece of printing than the standard works of the Church that came from the Scriptures Publication Committee."
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, was the keynote speaker Feb. 24 at the Second Annual Recognition Banquet of the Crandall Historical Printing Museum honoring the producers of the 1979 LDS version of the King James Bible and the 1981 Triple Combination. His remarks preceded a panel discussion by some of those who worked on those editions, which are now standard throughout the Church.
President Monson, who served as chairman of the committee, reminisced about working with his colleagues, which included Elders Bruce R. McConkie, Boyd K. Packer and, early on, Marvin J. Ashton, all of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"Brother Packer was determined to keep the price down and to have (the editions) readable for a teacher," he remembered. "Brother McConkie was determined to improve many aspects of the Standard Works, and he had the ability to do it. And my responsibility was to kind of hold us all together and see that we met our deadline and that the project was worthwhile."
He described the project as "prodigious" but said that, when finished, it was one of the finest projects he had ever seen. He praised those who worked on it, declaring, "You've affected the world; you've affected the youth; every missionary who has gone out is a better product because of the work you did with very little credit."
He recalled going to Cambridge University Press in England when the editions were being printed. Twelve presses were running simultaneously. He asked that a sheet be pulled so he could examine it. Immediately he spotted an error on the page, which required that the entire line of presses be stopped so it could be corrected.
"It wasn't a major error, but I wasn't going to let that go," he said. He credited the Lord with directing his eyes in the direction of the press on which the sheet was being printed that contained the error.
Citing entries from his journal, President Monson listed five major contributions he feels he has made as a General Authority of the Church. One of them is the chairing of the Scriptures Publication Committee. The others are consolidation of Church printing in its own printing plant rather than commercial presses; the renegotiation of the Newspaper Agency Corp. contract between the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune; the work carried out behind the iron curtain culminating in construction of the Freiburg Germany Temple; and a leadership role in the production and distribution of the current Church hymnbook.
Speaking to those who helped in the production of the scripture editions, he applied this scriptural passage: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88). "And so it will ever be when as Latter-day Saints . . . we put our hearts as well as our shoulders to the wheel to carry out our assignments," he said.
"God bless you for laboring on and bringing to pass this great achievement, which has won national prizes, international prizes; but what are they when compared to helping others to receive a testimony of the truth?" he concluded.