By AARON SHILL
The words of the general authorities at the 168th Semiannual General Conference were tied together with the theme of preparation.
The leaders of the church encouraged members to prepare to move forward with the work of God, particularly in the area of temple building and attendance.
“There is an urgency in this work that motivates us to extend the blessings of the temple to as many of our Heavenly Father’s children as possible,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Enthusiasm for the church’s temple building effort was evident during each session. Sunday, President Gordon B. Hinckley said the church, which announced plans last April to construct some 30 smaller temples, will likely have more than 100 operating temples by the year 2000.
“We shall not stop at these,” President Hinckley said in his closing remarks. “We will go on building.”
Bishop H. David Burton, member of the Presiding Bishopric, said members of the church can participate in the temple building effort by faithfully paying tithes and participating in ordinances for the deceased.
“Very simply stated, the great opportunity is to see that the lights of our temples burn early and late in the day,” Bishop Burton said.
With the focus on new temples also came an emphasis on preparing for temple attendance. The general authorities encouraged members to be personally righteous.
“We pray that the people will be worthy to use them,” President Hinckley said.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said temple attendance gives individuals the power to resist temptation, honor covenants and obey God’s commandments. Elder Wirthlin also encouraged members to cultivate Christlike attributes in preparation for the second coming of Christ.
“We should resolve to begin a new era of personal obedience to prepare for his return,” he said.
The conference also focused on the importance of moral cleanliness in preparing to enter the temple. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke on the importance of remaining morally clean so that youth will be worthy to make temple marriage covenants.
“In matters of human intimacy you must wait,” he said. “You must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married.”
The emphasis on preparation also extended to temporal matters. During the general priesthood session, President Hinckley said members should avoid debt and prepare their homes against a fragile economy.
“There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed,” he said.
President Hinckley said the church, which never operates on borrowed money, is concerned with the growing consumer debt around the world. According to President Hinckley, members should learn to live within their means.
“I urge you brethren to move to the condition of your finances,” he said.
Along with instructions for preparation, many general authorities expressed optimism for the future. Elder Richard G. Scott, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told youth to be enthusiastic about the world despite its problems.
“Life is beautiful when you make an effort to find beauty in it,” he said.
One of the more stirring moments in the conference involved Elder Neal A. Maxwell, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who has once again undergone chemotherapy for leukemia. Elder Maxwell focused his talk on the need to have hope in a world “burdened with cynicism.”
“By pressing forward hopefully, we can, repeatedly and joyfully, stand on what was yesterday’s distant horizon, thereby drawing even further hope from our very own experiences,” Elder Maxwell said.