Ten years ago, on Sunday, March 12, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the 15th president of the Church, succeeding President Howard W. Hunter, who died March 3.
At a press conference in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on March 13, announcement was made that President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust had been called as first and second counselors, respectively, in the First Presidency. Also, it was announced that President Boyd K. Packer would serve as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Many people members as well as those of other faiths often marvel at the growth of the Church and its accompanying good works during the past 10 years under the direction of President Hinckley, President Monson and President Faust. Many Church members might not have realized it at the time, but the timbre of the coming decade of this administration was set on April 2, as President Hinckley delivered his first major address to the general membership of the Church as its president.
Speaking in the Sunday morning session of the 165th Annual General Conference of the Church, he said: "Now, my brethren and sisters, the time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike."
One might wonder if President Monson knew how prophetic his words were when, at that March 13 news conference announcing the reorganization of the First Presidency, he said: "I believe we are poised on the edge of a great new movement of spirituality and expansion of the work of the Lord under his (President Hinckley's) leadership."
During these ten years of the current administration, the Church has moved forward on many fronts. (Please see highlights on pages 8 and 9.)
During the decade members worldwide have faced challenges perhaps unprecedented in times past, but they have been blessed also beyond anything their predecessors could have imagined.
In recent conferences, President Hinckley has presented "state of the Church" addresses that highlighted achievements and progress.
On Oct. 3, 2003, during the opening session of the 173rd Semiannual General Conference, he quoted the Lord's words in the opening of the work in latter days:
"Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together.
"For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. . . .
"And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.
"And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:12, 45).
President Hinckley said, "There can be no doubt concerning our responsibility to the peoples of the earth. There can be no doubt that we are moving forward in pursuing that responsibility."
He added, "We are ordinary people who are engaged in an extraordinary undertaking. We are men who hold the priesthood of the living God. Those who have gone before have accomplished wonders. It is our opportunity and our challenge to continue in this great undertaking, the future of which we can scarcely imagine."
Most recently, during the October 2004 general conference, President Hinckley said, "I am pleased to report, my brothers and sisters, that the Church is in good condition."
Further, he said: "Suffice it to say that I believe the Church is in better condition than it has been at any time in its entire history. I have been around now for nearly 95 years of that history, and I have seen much of it firsthand. I am satisfied that there is greater faith, there is a broader measure of service, and there is a more general measure of integrity among our youth. There is greater vitality in all aspects of the work than we have ever seen before. Let us glory in this wonderful season of the work of the Lord. Let us not be proud or arrogant. Let us be humbly grateful. And let us, each one, resolve within himself or herself that we will add to the luster of this magnificent work of the Almighty, that it may shine across the earth as a beacon of strength and goodness for all the world to look upon, is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
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