Like the rain that fell on conference-goers in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 1, the words of the Lord's servants poured nourishing and life-giving strength on all during the 176th Annual General Conference of the Church. As with conferences in the past, this was again a time to ponder and give thanks for the blessings of the restored gospel, and for divinely appointed leaders who light the way through troubled times.
It especially was a time to give thanks for a living prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley. He bore strong testimony and delivered timely counsel to Church members and the world.
His administration has been marked by clear and resounding instructions, and by an overriding desire for Church members to rise up to their divine potential. He has stressed over and over again the need for members to treat their neighbors kindly and to be examples of the Savior's love. This conference added a further chapter to that important counsel.
President Hinckley's priesthood session talk concerning the need for greater kindness in the world was strong, unequivocal and pointed instruction tailor-made for many of the events that now occupy world attention.
He urged Church members to avoid racism in all its forms. "I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ," he said. "Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ."
His wish, he said, is that "as Latter-day Saints we would at all times act like Latter-day Saints."
That is such a simple requirement — one that might seem self-evident to any observer — but it is one that is urgently needed as Church members navigate their way through a modern culture that is becoming increasingly coarse and vulgar. Latter-day Saints cannot allow themselves to be led by the world, as happens too often. The situation must be exactly the opposite.
President Hinckley also treated listeners to a rare and insightful reminiscence of his life and service in the Church. He spoke of his intimate acquaintance with inspired Church leaders through the years, and spoke tenderly of his relationship to his wife, who passed away two years ago. He spoke of how Church members worldwide had accepted his challenge last year to read the Book of Mormon and observed, "I trust that we have drawn closer to God because of reading this book."
It was a message of gratitude for blessings, and of testimony of the restored gospel. Church members everywhere would do well to count their own blessings and cultivate a similar spirit of gratitude for all the good things in their lives.
Other Church leaders offered inspired instruction, admonishments and, above all, expressions of love, as well, during the conference.
In a world where forces are continually pulling people in one direction or another in search of satisfaction, fulfillment or pleasure, there can be no place more sweet and enlightening than general conference sessions. Thanks to modern inventions, members of the Church have countless opportunities to hear these messages again and again, and to study them in their own languages.
That is a valuable blessing worthy of humble thanks.