LDS Church members from 107 stakes stretching from Park City to Herriman gathered Sunday for a multistake conference to hear counsel and direction from President Gordon B. Hinckley and other church leaders.
Thousands participated in the event at the downtown Conference Center operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while many more watched the proceedings via satellite in scores of local meetinghouses. All heard a central message: take care of your families and yourself.
"The conference seemed to focus on not being so busy that you miss out on the important things in life — the eternal things," said Kim Watts, South Jordan, who attended the meeting at the Conference Center with her husband, Darin, and their five children.
President Hinckley centered much of his talk on marriage, calling the institution "a joint venture" that can yield great satisfaction between couples. However, he said, love and forgiveness are absent qualities in many marriages.
The church leader challenged husbands and wives to respect one another and spoke of the importance of effective communication in a marriage. Soft answers and quiet talk, he added, are "the language of love."
President Hinckley also called for regular family prayer and financial honesty. Beware of an extravagant lifestyle that might jeopardize family stability, he said.
In the not too distant past, President Hinckley and other general leaders had to trot the globe to participate in such stake and district conferences. But now the church's satellite broadcast saturation covers almost every area where the church operates, allowing LDS leaders to deliver area-specific messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
In the coming weeks, similar multistake conferences will serve church members in northern and southern Utah. By year's end, there will have been 30 such satellite broadcasts in 2007. Thirty more are scheduled for next year.
President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke of the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the church. Sunday's event was broadcast in several languages despite being limited to stakes in Utah.
Even with the troubles of the world, members can enjoy rewarding lives free from fear if they exercise faith, he said.
"Don't be afraid. Be happy. You can enjoy a full life," President Packer said.
Sometimes problems are not fixed in mortality, he added. But remedies are sure to be found in the eternities. "No blessing will be denied the righteous who are striving to do good."
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy encouraged members to "slow down" and make time for prayer and meditation. Needed spiritual respite can be found via Sabbath observance and regular temple attendance.
Primary general president Cheryl C. Lant encouraged families to examine their priorities and to find security in "the basics": personal prayer, family scripture study and proper usage of time and resources.
William D. Oswald, second counselor in the general Sunday School presidency, said blessings can be found when one is valiant in his or her testimony of Jesus Christ.
Michael LeBaron of Taylorsville attended Sunday's multistake conference at his local stake center. He appreciated the many messages that addressed the needs of his Utah family.
"The (leaders) pushed the basics of having a gospel-centered life," LeBaron said.