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As President Gordon B. Hinckley approached the podium to bring to a close the 165th Annual General Conference of the Church, a stillness seemed to settle over the gathering. Although the Tabernacle is known for acoustics so acute that a straight pin dropped at its podium can be heard in the rear of the building, the silence that prevailed belied the fact that some 6,000 people were present.

The young and the old, and those of all ages in between, sat a little taller in their seats and gave undivided attention to the 84-year-old servant of the Lord who was standing before them. It appeared that not one soul wanted to miss a single syllable of the message the new prophet was about to utter in closing the historic conference Sunday afternoon."We've participated in a miracle," President Hinckley said.

The "miracle" to which he referred lay in the fact that while every speaker during the conference chose his or her own topic there were no duplications of treatment and all the messages "fit together in a pattern that is beautiful and wonderful."

President Hinckley called the counsel offered at the conference "wise and inspired." He added, "We have been taught and we have been edified."

He noted a conference of the young women of the Church was held the previous week [March 25] in the Tabernacle, the theme of which was an appeal to the young women to read the scriptures.

"I look back to my own youth," President Hinckley said. "Neither young men nor young women were doing much scripture reading at that time. What a marvelous change has been wrought. A new generation is arising who are familiar with the word of the Lord. Growing up in a worldly environment that is laden with immorality and filth of every kind, our youth, for the most part, are meeting the challenge of living in the world without partaking of the evils of the world. It is with the young men as it is with the young women."

He mentioned the priesthood session of conference the evening before, in which men and boys filled the Tabernacle and gathered in other halls across the Church. "It is wonderful to feel the pulse of this generation of young people," he said. "Of course, there are some who do not measure up. That has been the case since the time of the great war in heaven described by John the Revelator. The issue then was free agency as it is today. Then, as now, choices had to be made."

President Hinckley quoted Rev. 12:7-9, which tells of the war in heaven in which Michael and his angels fought Satan and his followers.

"That ancient struggle continues, the unrelenting battle that comes of free agency," President Hinckley said. "Some, unfortunately, choose the wrong. But many, so many, choose the right, including so very many of our choice young men and young women. They deserve and need our gratitude. They need our encouragement. They need the kind of examples that we can become before them. May they be blessed as they pursue lives of virtue, of learning, of growing with faith and purpose, all the time remaining `True to the faith that [their] parents have cherished, True to the truth for which martyrs have perished.' " (Hymns No. 254.)

Referring again to the Young Women General Meeting, President Hinckley said emphasis in that gathering was given to the words of Alma: "Awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith." (Alma 32:27.)

Addressing the congregation as "my beloved associates," President Hinckley said: "Far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing.

"We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.

"We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord."

President Hinckley quoted lines from a beloved Latter-day Saint hymn: "Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear; But with joy wend your way. Though hard to you this journey may appear, Grace shall be as your day."

"We can do it," President Hinckley said, "if we will be prayerful and faithful. We can do better than we have ever done before.

"The Church needs your strength. It needs your love and loyalty and devotion. It needs a little more of your time and energy.

"I am not asking anyone to give more at the expense of his or her employer. We have an obligation to be men and women of absolute honesty and integrity in the service of those who employ us.

"I am not asking anyone to do so at the expense of your families. The Lord will hold you responsible for your children. But I am suggesting that we spend a little less time in idleness, in the fruitless pursuit of watching some inane and empty television programs. Time so utilized can be put to better advantage, and the consequences will be wonderful. Of that I do not hesitate to assure you."

President Hinckley expressed the hope that as members returned to their homes that they would go in safety, "pondering the things we have heard these past two days. May we go with determination to try a little harder to be a little better. Please know that we are not without understanding of some of your problems. We are aware that many of you carry very heavy burdens. We plead with the Lord in your behalf. We add our prayers to your prayers that you may find solutions to your problems. We leave a blessing upon you, even an apostolic blessing. We bless you that the Lord may smile with favor upon you, that there may be happiness and peace in your homes and in your lives, that an atmosphere of love and respect and appreciation may be felt among husbands and wives, children and parents. May you `look to God and live' (Alma 37:47) with happiness, with security, with peace, with faith."

President Hinckley noted that at the beginning of the session the Tabernacle Choir "sang a wonderful hymn: `Faith of our Fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee 'til death.' He added, "I'd like to leave that thought with you: `Faith of our fathers, holy faith. We will be true to thee 'til death.' "

Again, President Hinckley addressed his listeners as "my beloved associates," as he asked the Lord's blessings on them "in this glorious work."