History's deadliest and most extensive conflict was drawing to a close at general conference time 50 years ago this month. Formal ceremonies of surrender ending World War II would be held the following Sept. 2.
On May 8, just one month after the conference, Germany surrendered, as did Japan on Aug. 14.Because of the war emergency, the general public was not invited to attend the 115th Annual Conference April 6-8, 1945. Invited to attend the conference were General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders, a member of the presidency and high council of each stake, a member of the bishopric in each ward and a member of the presidency in each branch. The proceedings were broadcast on radio.
Like millions around the world, Church members were weary of the sorrow resulting from the war. It was a topic in President Heber J. Grant's opening message. The venerable prophet was ill and unable to deliver his message in person. He died the following month, on May 14.
Elder Joseph Anderson, the clerk of the conference, who later would become the Church's longest-lived General Authority, read President Grant's address from the Assembly Hall pulpit.
"Into many of our homes sorrow has come since last conference," the prophet acknowledged. "May the peace and comfort of our Father in heaven bring its healing influence to all who are called upon to mourn and to bear affliction. And may we be strengthened with the understanding that being blessed does not mean that we shall always be spared all the disappointments and difficulties of life.
" . . . And may we always remember, because it is both true and comforting, that the death of a faithful man is nothing in comparison to the loss of the inspiration of the good spirit. Eternal life is the great prize, and it will be ours, and the joy of our Father in heaven in welcoming us will be great, if we do right; and there is nothing so great that can be done in this life by anyone, as to do right.
" . . . May God bless and preserve the Saints and the righteous everywhere, in all nations, in the far-off islands, and in lands torn by war as well as here among us. To all faithful, we extend anew the hand of fellowship, and hold you in remembrance before God; and may He accomplish His purposes, overrule in the affairs of nations, hasten the end of the war and of wickedness, and bring peace on earth."