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PRES. HINCKLEY SPEAKS TO 7,500 AT NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL MEETING

In the first visit to New England of a Church president in 90 years, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to 7,500 members at the Boston Massachusetts Regional Conference April 23.

President Hinckley, who was accompanied by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Colleen, is the first president of the Church to visit this area since President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the Joseph Smith Monument in Vermont in 1905.On April 23, President Hinckley spoke at the regional conference in the Centrum Civic Auditorium in Worchester, Mass., and to missionaries of the Massachusetts Boston Mission. A day earlier, on April 22, he spoke to nearly 600 priesthood leaders at the Boston Stake Center and was interviewed by a television reporter.

During the trip, President Hinckley squeezed in a visit to sites associated with his pilgrim forebears, and paid respect to them, including one who came to America on the Mayflower and another who was governor of Plymouth Colony three centuries ago.

Because Sister Maxwell, whose maiden name is Hinckley, also shares a common ancestry with President Hinckley, he wanted to show her areas where their forebears lived.

They traveled to Plymouth, where their ancestor Stephen Hopkins arrived in America on the Mayflower. They saw a replica of that ship that is now moored in the harbor, and briefly visited the celebrated Plymouth Rock.

President Hinckley also took the group to the site of the homestead and grave of Thomas Hinckley, a forebear who was governor of Plymouth Colony from 1681-1692, in Barnstable, Mass., a community on Cape Cod Bay.

President Hinckley shared tender feelings about his ancestor, who has been described as a man of great piety and Christian feeling. The prophet expressed gratitude for his contributions.

Sister Maxwell commented, "And wouldn't he be honored to know what one of his progenitors has accomplished?"

At the regional conference, he was introduced by Robert S. Wood, regional representative, as "the first sitting president of the Church to visit New England since President Joseph F. Smith."

President Hinckley responded that he was not a "sitting" president, but a "running" one.

At the regional conference, the Church leader observed the national day of mourning for those killed in the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City, Okla. "I want to say that we of this Church deplore violence in any form or of any nature as a protest against the legal processes under which we live.

He continued: "There are peaceable ways to settle questionable matters, through the legislative process or the judicial process, and violence of any kind is out of order and is to be condemned, and it is contrary to the word and will of the Lord. We believe in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. We have little sympathy for those who in various parts of the world engage in terrorist activities to the destruction of life and property. I pray the Lord will bless those who have lost loved ones in that terrible occurrence."

President Hinckley said that despite the violence that has characterized this century "at the same time, this has been a century of enlightenment and progress. . . .

"And somehow under the providence of the Lord, my brothers and sisters, you and I have been born in this great season, in this the dispensation of the fulness of times when the God of heaven has restored to the earth all of the powers, the authority, the blessings of all previous dispensations of time. I thank the Lord every morning of my life for the land and time of my birth. How profoundly grateful we ought to be - a chosen generation, a holy congregation of Saints who, as I interpret, believe in God our Eternal Father and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."

He said Church members are a peculiar people. "We are. It's wonderful to be a little different, isn't it, in this world?"

He said that while some accuse Church members of not being Christians, in actuality, "no group of people on the face of this whole earth believes in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ to the degree that we carry that belief.

"We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (Article of Faith 1.)

"That's the first declaration of our faith."

He bore his testimony that "this work is true. This great book

Book of MormonT is a voice verily speaking out of the dust to this generation declaring the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God to a world where it seems less and less is known concerning Him and His nature, without a searching of the heart and prayer to the Almighty for a testimony concerning Him. Every man and woman in this Church is entitled to a testimony of the truth of this work. . . .

"I stand before you this morning, my brothers and sisters, as one who declares without equivocation that God our Eternal Father lives, an individual being, the Father of our spirit, the Creator and the Governor of the universe, the Almighty who is above all, whom we may approach in prayer, as His children. That Jesus is the promised Messiah, His Eternal Son, who wrought the atonement on Golgotha's lonely hill that you and I might have eternal life."

Elder Maxwell, in the general session address, spoke of the character of Jesus and admonished faith in the Lord.

"The most difficult aspect of discipleship is submission," he said. "I want to salute Jesus Christ for the atonement He wrought in our behalf."