By KERSTIN SMIT
The 166th General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began Saturday morning with a full tabernacle — a tight squeeze the church hopes soon to remedy.
Church architects and engineers are working on a hall design to seat three to four times the number of people, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said.
He said the hall may also be used for other community and cultural events.
“More will be said on this at a later time,” he added, before introducing President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, as the first speaker.
The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Seventy, and in temporal matters the Presiding Bishopric are the brethren of the church, Elder Faust said.
As a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he was told to “stick to the brethren.”
Members of the church may receive revelation for their personal lives, he said, but only the prophet can use all the keys of the kingdom of God on earth.
Bishop Keith B. McMullin, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said, “One never stands alone in carrying the word of God to the world.”
The Law of Witnesses was established to introduce, affirm and seal the truth upon the hearts of God’s children, he said.
He said those who participate in conference through prayer, the spoken word and music will be testifying of what they know to be true.
Elder Earl C. Tingey, of the Quorum of the Seventy, next testified of the importance of the Sabbath day.
“Brothers and sisters, let’s not shop on Sunday. One way we avoid this is by planning ahead. Fill up the gas tank on Saturday. Acquire the needed groceries for the weekend on Saturday. Don’t you be the means of causing someone to work on Sunday because you patronize their establishment,” he said.
He quoted Spencer W. Kimball saying, “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a covenant people. … Like ancient Israel, who also was a covenant people, we should encourage proper observance of the Sabbath Day, by not shopping on Sunday.”
Sister Cheiko Okazaki, first counselor in the Relief Society Presidency, spoke of the oneness we share in the gospel.
To display this principle, she drew forth a jar of peaches bottled in Utah and a basket of tropical fruit typical of a Hawiaan household.
“Is the bottle right and the basket wrong?”, she asked. “No, they are both right. They are containers appropriate to the culture and the needs of the people, and they are both appropriate. And they are both appropriate for the content they carry, which is the fruit.”
She said after speaking to saints in their native Spanish, Korean and Tongan languages she felt the fruit of the Spirit bringing her their love.
“I could feel the Spirit making us one,” she said.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles followed Sister Okazaki.
Each of us needs to determine which way we face, he said. “In rendering service to others, which way do we face?”, he asked. “From the right or the left, we can only push or pull. We can lift only from a higher plane. To reach it, we don’t look sideways; we look up to our Master. Just as we must look to God to live well, so we must look to God to serve well.”
He also said the leaders of the church are representatives of the Lord, not representatives of their native countries.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles concluded the Saturday Morning session with a talk directed to youth.
He reminded youth of invisible dangers. “Fortunately you have within you a spiritual power much like a mine detector,” he said. “If you learn how it works, it will warn you of the presence of unseen crocodiles and mines and you can avoid trouble.”
All general authorities were in attendance except Elder James M. Paramore, Hinckley said