At the end of a "great conference," filled with magnificent music, inspired prayers, and talks and testimonies that touched hearts, lifted spirits and confirmed faith, President Gordon B. Hinckley stood and expressed his love for Church members worldwide.
"God bless you, my beloved brothers and sisters," he said.
Latter-day Saints worldwide gathered April 1-2 for the Church's 176th Annual General Conference to hear President Hinckley and other Church leaders offer counsel and direction. The conference marked President Hinckley's first Churchwide address since undergoing surgery in January for colon cancer.
President Hinckley presided over the four general sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday, and the priesthood session Saturday evening. During three addresses, he asked Church members to be a little kinder, reminisced about his life, and expressed appreciation and gratitude for his opportunities, accomplishments and "remarkable blessings."
Saying that he was now in the "sunset" of his life, President Hinckley left Latter-day Saints with a poignant testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. "I hope that all of you will remember that on this Sabbath day you heard me bear my witness that this is God's holy work," he told the Church's now 12.5 million members.
Capacity crowds filled the 21,000-seat Conference Center and overflow areas on Temple Square. In addition, the conference was sent, via satellite, to 5,952 Church buildings in 83 countries worldwide. The sessions were translated into 85 languages; live audio for the sessions was available in 61 languages via the Internet.
Conference was also broadcast on KSL-TV and BYU-TV, in Spanish on KSVN-TV and KBYU-TV, and to more than 1,700 cable television systems and radio and television stations in the United States and Canada. For the first time this conference, closed captioning of the proceedings was available in Spanish.
The 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir, under the direction of Craig Jessop and Mack Wilberg, provided music for three sessions of the conference. A combined choir from BYU sang Saturday afternoon and a priesthood choir from the Orem and Salt Lake Institutes of Religion provided music for the priesthood session.
During conference, one member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy was named to the First Quorum of the Seventy, and nine new members of the Seventy were sustained. Following are new callings and releases announced during general conference:
- Elder Keith K. Hilbig, a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy since 2001, was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
- Also called as General Authorities to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are Elder David S. Baxter, Suffolk, England; Elder Shayne M. Bowen, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Elder Daniel L. Johnson, Colonia Juarez, Mexico; Elder Marcus B. Nash, Lynnwood, Wash.; and Elder Anthony D. Perkins, Taipei, Taiwan.
- New General Authorities called to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy are Elder Craig A. Cardon, Gilbert, Ariz.; Elder Don R. Clarke, Buena Vista, Va.; Elder Keith R. Edwards, Las Vegas, Nev.; Elder Stanley G. Ellis, Spring, Texas; and Elder Larry W. Gibbons, Dallas, Texas.
- In addition, 17 new Area Seventies were called: Jose L. Alonso, 47, San Nicolas, Mexico; Vladimiro J. Campero, 60, Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Juan A. Etchegaray, 61, Montevideo, Uruguay; Hernan I. Herrera, 50, Santiago, Chile; David J. Hoare, 52, Sunbury, Australia; Cesar H. Hooker, 47, Lima, Peru; Javier Ibanez, 51, San Cristobal, Venezuela; Daniel M. Jones, 53, Cedar City, Utah; Stephen C. Kerr, 45, Stirling, Scotland; Joni L. Koch, 44, Bal Camboriu, Brazil; Daniel A. Moreno, 53, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kent H. Murdock, 58, Salt Lake City, Utah; J. Michel Paya, 61, Mougins, France; Stephen D. Posey, 58, North Augusta, S.C.; Carlos F. Rivas, 46, San Salvador, El Salvador; Juan M. Rodriguez, 54, Mexico City, Mexico; Carlos Villanova, 43, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
- Releases to be effective on May 1 2006 were announced for the following 16 Area Seventies: Salvador Aguirre, Jose C. Aleson, Daniel P. Alvarez, David A. Baxter, Shayne M. Bowen, Yatyr M. Cesar, Robert M. Cowan, Keith R. Edwards, Stanley G. Ellis, Franz R. Gaag, Daniel L. Johnson, Joel H. McKinnon, Marcus B. Nash, Armando A. Sierra, Jeffrey C. Swinton and Remus G. Villarete.