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`Drawing near to the Lord'

At a time when the Church has a better reputation than ever before in its history, Latter-day Saints gathered on Temple Square in Salt Lake City for the 167th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, Oct. 4, and Sunday, Oct. 5.

On the beautiful fall weekend, graced with "absolutely magnificent weather," Church members filled the Tabernacle to capacity. Overflow crowds gathered in the Assembly Hall, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and on the grounds of Temple Square. Thousands more viewed the proceeding via satellite in meetinghouses across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Two general sessions were transmitted live to Europe, and a general session and the priesthood session were transmitted tape delay Sunday, Oct. 5."You come from far and wide," said President Gordon B. Hinckley in his opening remarks. "You come with the expectation of being inspired and blessed, and drawing nearer to the Lord."

President Hinckley told the congregation, "We meet today under very favorable circumstances." In general, he said, Church members walk in an environment of good will. "This is because of you."

President Hinckley presided over the four general sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday, and the priesthood session Saturday evening. During the two-day conference, 25 General Authorities and two general officers gave 32 speeches. President Hinckley spoke four times and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, spoke twice.

Conference addresses were translated simultaneously in 34 languages.

Conference speakers lauded the Church's support of the pioneer sesquicentennial this year, then urged members to look forward to a bright future, emulating pioneer virtues and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Among the conference highlights were:

- The announcement of plans to construct small temples in remote areas of the Church that have small LDS populations and additional traditional temples in areas of greater Church membership. The first three of these small temples will be built in Anchorage, Alaska, in the LDS colonies in northern Mexico, and in Monticello, Utah.

- The announcement that the Church plans to build traditional temples in Houston, Texas, and Porto Alegre, Brazil.

- The sustaining of new counselors in the Sunday School general presidency - Elder Glenn L. Pace and Elder Neil L. Andersen - and in the Young Men general presidency - Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, and Elder F. Melvin Hammond.

- The sustaining of Margaret D. Nadauld as the new general Young Women's president and Carol B. Thomas and Sharon G. Larsen as her counselors.

- The granting of emeritus status to Elder J. Richard Clarke, Elder Dean L. Larsen, and Elder Robert E. Wells - all members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

- The release from the Second Quorum of the Seventy granted to Elder Lino Alvarez, Elder C. Max Caldwell, Elder John E. Fowler, Elder Augusto A. Lim, Elder V. Dallas Merrell, Elder F. David Stanley, and Elder Kwok Yuen Tai.

- A newly produced motion picture, "An Ensign to the Nations," which was telecast over the satellite and on KSL-TV in Salt Lake City between conference sessions. The documentary told the stories of faith and sacrifice behind the worldwide growth of the Church.

- An emotional goodbye from President Hinckley at the end of the closing session of conference. "I have a confession to make," he told Church members around the world. "I love you. . . . God be with you."