By SHAWN DICKERSON
Gordon B. Hinckley, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced plans to make the blessings and ordinances of the temple available to more members of the church during the priesthood session of general conference Saturday.
“I believe that no member of the church has received the ultimate which this church has to give until he or she has received his or her temple blessings in the house of the Lord,” he said.
After announcing plans to build full-scale temples in Houston and Porto Alegre, Brazil, President Hinckley said the church is planning to construct smaller temples in areas around the world where the need is great.
These temples would contain all the facilities necessary to perform all temple ordinances, he said.
“They would be presided over by local men called as temple presidents, just as stake presidents are called,” President Hinckley said. “All ordinance workers would be local people who serve in other capacities in their wards and stakes. Patrons would be expected to have their own temple clothing, thereby making unnecessary the construction of very costly laundries. A simple laundry would take care of baptismal clothing. There would be no eating facilities.”
He said these smaller temples would be open to local demand, maybe only two or three days a week, and, where possible, the buildings would be placed on the same grounds as a stake center.
“One of these small temples could be constructed for about the same cost as it takes just to maintain a large temple for one year,” President Hinckley said. “It could be constructed in a relatively short time — several months.”
The church is planning construction of some of these smaller temples in Anchorage, Alaska, the LDS colonies in northern Mexico and in Monticello, Utah, he said.
“We are determined to take the temples to the people, and afford them every opportunity for the very precious blessings that come from temple worship,” he said.
President Hinckley went on to speak about the responsibility members of the church have to fellowship new members.
“This is serious business,” he said. “There is no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must be inseparable.”
President Hinckley read a letter he had received from a man who had been converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1994.
The man wrote of his experience joining the church, writing, “I earnestly studied the church and felt as if I had found a home. I decided to be baptized on Oct. 8, 1994.”
The letter then described how, after his baptism, the man noticed a change. He was no longer the focus of attention and was thrown into an environment where he was supposed to know what was going on. He wrote of using the missionaries for support for a long time, but once they were transferred he felt very alone and began to pay more attention to anti-LDS influences.
Eventually, the man wrote, he had his name removed from the records of the church.
“I am constantly praying and asking God to guide me,” he wrote. “I know in my heart that he will guide me to his true church. However, I don’t know if that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or if it even exists at all.”
The man concluded, writing, “I know from my past that had the support (of church members) been there I would not be writing this letter to you.”
President Hinckley said the experience described in the letter was a tragedy.
“Brethren, this loss must stop,” he said. “It is unnecessary. I am satisfied the Lord is not pleased with us. I invite you, every one of you, to make this a matter of priority in your administrative work.”
President Hinckley then addressed his remarks to the young men of the church.
He counselled the young men to stay away from pornography, alcohol and drugs, and warned them of the dangers of becoming involved in steady dating too early in life.
“You have missions ahead of you, and you cannot afford to compromise this great opportunity and responsibility,” he said.
President Hinckley’s final remarks were addressed to bishops and stake presidents concerning missionary service.
He said the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve were united in saying that the young sisters of the church are under no obligation to serve missions.
“Young women should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men,” President Hinckley said. “Some of them will very much wish to go. If so, they should counsel with their bishop as well as their parents. If the idea persists, the bishop will know what to do.”
“Again to the sisters I say that you will be as highly respected, you will be considered as being as much in the line of duty, your efforts will be as acceptable to the Lord and to the church whether you go on a mission or do not go on a mission,” he said.
In closing his remarks, President Hinckley said, “You men and boys provide the leadership for this great organization which is moving across the world in a marvelous and miraculous manner. I have not the slightest concern for the future. This church has become a great builder of leaders.”