Concluding Address
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, April 1946, pp. 181-186)

It is just five minutes to three—in San Francisco. (Laughter.) This has been a very delightful experience for me to be at this conference, notwithstanding the fact that some of the dearest friends I have ever had, who were here a year ago, are not here today. We have listened to the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and I realize that for every one now in that quorum, a very dear friend of mine and member of that group has passed away. Their places have been well filled. These brethren are really servants of the Lord, but I miss the men who are gone. Aunt Augusta Grant has sat through this conference attending most of the meetings. That blessed woman sat by the side of President Grant, helped him rear his family, and blessed this community. I am grateful to see her here today. I am sure that quite a number of elderly people are here that some of us do not know about. I mention Aunt Augusta Grant because President Grant stood here not long ago. Aunt Mary, wife of President Joseph F. Smith, is here also and is always at our meetings, and many others whom we love. I am sure they are blessed by being here, and we are blessed by their presence. It will not be long before many of us will pass on. We will not all leave as fine a record as some of those I have referred to, probably, but it is a wonderful thing to have that kind of companionship throughout life.

Just to look into your faces and see the earnestness of your lives is a joy, because that earnestness is written in your faces. I want to say to many of you that I know personally, I can never repay your kindness and helpfulness to me in many ways. I say never—I'll say I can't do it in this life, but I believe that we are living eternal lives, and perhaps some of these failures here may be remedied hereafter.

Lasting Greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Much has been said in this conference about the Prophet Joseph Smith. There isn't much that I could say, except that which is good. Many of the benefits and blessings that have come to me have come through that man who gave his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been some who have belittled him, but I would like to say that those who have done so will be forgotten and their remains will go back to mother earth, if they have not already gone, and the odor of their infamy will never die, while the glory and honor and majesty and courage and fidelity manifested by the Prophet Joseph Smith will attach to his name forever. So we have no apologies to make.

It is a wonderful thing to live in an age like this when so many problems are being solved. It is also a disquieting age to live in when people find pleasure in harshness and unkindness toward those who are seeking to bless mankind.

Choice Associations in the Church

I am glad that I belong to a Church that has produced such men and women as this Church has produced. I have traveled approximately a million miles in the world in the interest of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been in many climes and in many lands and in many nations, and I have never seen any place that I thought was as rich in the sweet companionships of life as I have found in the valleys of these grand mountains and in the organizations of the Church established in other parts of the world. It is a wonderful thing to have such friendships of good, true, honorable, sweet, faithful men and women. I have often said no man in the world has been more blessed than I. From my childhood, ever since I can remember, I have never been compelled to associate with evil individuals. I have been fortunate in having my life so adjusted that I could choose the very finest men and women that could be found in the world to be my companions. This has enriched my life, and I am grateful.

The Primary Association

I think of my early experiences in the Primary Association. Mentioning the Primary calls to my attention the fact that it is a marvelous institution. It was the Savior of the world who said: ". . . Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). In this organization there is a program to develop little children and to give them the advantage of education, refinement, and culture equal, if not superior, to any other in the world. Personally I feel today to thank the general officers and the stake and ward officers of this organization who give their time to developing these little children. I am reminded of it because yesterday and today I see quite a number of these children sitting in the aisles, on the steps, and elsewhere, paying attention and listening to what has been going on. It is lovely to have so many little children here, and it makes me feel comfortable to have them in the audience. The Lord loves them, and I am sure we love them.

The Sunday School

And we have our great Sunday School organization. There is no such Sabbath School group in all the world as we have in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is marvelous what has been accomplished, and its teaching has been so adjusted that anybody, old or young, may find development and uplift in it. So I would like to thank those who have made it possible for me, in the Primary and in the Sunday School, to associate with men and women whose ideals are real Christian ideals, not make-believe, and who train those under their watchcare to walk uprightly before the Lord, to honor father and mother, to love one another, to be honest and true and chaste and benevolent. These are great organizations.

Mutual Improvement Associations

I think of what the Mutual Improvement Association has done for me. It is one of the most remarkable organizations in all the world, prepared and adjusted for those above twelve years of age. It has given me the companionship, as the other organizations did, of a little older group, but a group of the same fine quality, having faith in God, love for their fathers and their mothers, and honor and respect for those who preside over them in the Church and state and nation. What a wonderful help the Mutual Improvement Association has been to me. I feel to thank and bless whose who made it possible for me to have those companionships. There are in this audience today men and women with whom I have associated in that great group for many, many years, and I would like them to know that I appreciate their love and their kindness.

The Relief Society

There is another fine organization in the Church, the Relief Society, organized under the direction of a prophet of God, for the development of women. This organization is unsurpassed by any woman's organization in all the world. What a wonderful thing it is to have in each of our wards and branches, these mothers of men and women, who give their lives to uplift and bless the communities in which they live. What a blessing they are and have been to this Church and will continue to be!

The Genealogical Society

The Genealogical Society is another marvelous organization. It has the task of gathering the names of those who have passed on, generations ago, bringing them into a great depository where they may be sorted over and classified, so that we may trace our ancestry. I said to a man one day. "You can find out all about your ancestors if you will go with me to the Genealogical Library." He said, "I don't want to know anything about them." I wouldn't either if I thought my ancestors could be traced back to an orangutan or a baboon. But like William Jennings Bryan, those who have any pride in that kind of ancestry will not connect me with their family tree. I want to say that we don't appreciate what this great organization has done in gathering our genealogy and in tying together all the family lines that have been broken and lost.

Church Welfare Program

We have our welfare program. It has been organized only a short time, and yet today is in a position to ship carloads of food, clothing, bedding, and other materials, to men and women and children on the other side of the sea, who are starving and freezing to death for the various things that we have in abundance, gathered by that great organization.

This Church and its organization prepare us for the kingdom of heaven if anything does that is in this world. So today, as I stand here and look into your faces, I realize what the gospel of Jesus Christ has done for me. I have no words to express my gratitude to God for the ministry of this Church and the blessings of its members to me as an individual; then multiply that by what it has done for all the rest of you.

It is a wonderful thing to go through life, hand in hand with the Master of heaven and earth, and this Church comes as near giving me this privilege as anything can do in mortality. I am grateful as I look around this group and see what God hath wrought for us, and I thank these elderly men and women who have borne the burden in the heat of the day and carried on, that we who have come on might have the blessing of a knowledge of the purpose of life to prepare us for eternal happiness.

Church School System

We have our great educational institutions, our schools and seminaries, where our sons and daughters may not only be taught the rudiments of education but may be taught the fundamentals of eternal happiness. I am thankful that Karl G. Maeser, when I was only a child, put into my life a part of that which goes to make up the organization of the great Church school system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are many things that I might mention, but these are just some that come to my mind as I stand here.

Our Missionary Opportunities

As we approach the conclusion of this great conference I have only good will in my heart for mankind. I haven't any animosity in my heart toward any living human being. I know some that I wish would behave themselves a little better than they do, but that is their loss, not mine. If I can get my arm around them and help them back on the highway of happiness by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ, my happiness will be increased thereby. That is the purpose of the missionary work of this great Church. I would like to say to the brethren who are mission presidents, you have a real responsibility in your various fields. You do not have very many missionaries from Zion as yet, but they are coming. I want to say that you will have all you can do to take care of them and train and develop them, as well as to assist the local people who have been so faithful and helpful during these long trying times. The letter we read from Brother Benson today indicates that many of the people over there are nearly starving and freezing to death, but the thing they are thinking about apparently, as indicated by his letter, is not how they may have a palace on earth, but how they may help other people to enjoy a mansion on high. That is what the gospel does for us. It is not what we have that makes us happy; it is not the material things of life that enrich our lives; but it is what we are. The nearer we are like our Heavenly Father and his beloved Son Jesus Christ, the happier we are. Surely, therefore, not any man or woman under the sound of my voice, or in the world who understands, will hesitate to go out and teach these people who do not understand, and radiate sunshine. You cannot drive people to do things which are right, but you can love them into doing them, if your example is of such a character that they can see you mean what you say.

Gratitude for Helpfulness of Associates

I thank my brethren and my associates for their help and their kindness. When I think of what a weak, frail individual I am to be called to stand in the midst of this great Church, I realize how much I need the help of every soul that is in it, if I am to succeed; so I thank my brethren, my faithful counselors, who have helped me in the unusual experience of becoming accustomed to a great responsibility. I am grateful to my brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Patriarch, the Assistants to the Twelve, the First Council of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric—all these men who are servants of the Lord and who are seeking to keep his commandments and teach us the way of eternal life. I am grateful to them, and I invoke upon them, and upon all of you, my Father's children, here or wherever you may be, the blessings of peace and love and joy, and the companionship of the Spirit of God, and in the end eternal life in the celestial kingdom. I pray that that may be our privilege. When the Lamb's book of life is opened and the names of those are recorded who are to inherit the celestial kingdom, I hope and pray that you and all those you love, all these sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who are associated with you here, may have their names recorded there—not one missing. If that is the case, how happy we will be throughout the ages of eternity. Thanks to the prophets of old, to our Heavenly Father who sent them, thanks to his beloved Son Jesus Christ who died that we might live again, thanks to Joseph Smith whose name has been belittled by some ignoramuses in the world, that is, they have sought to belittle him, but they cannot. Thanks to him who was willing to lay down his life and seal his testimony with his blood as evidence of the fact that he knew whereof he had spoken. God bless you, my brethren and sisters; may peace abide with you in your hearts and in your homes. Love one another; love mankind; reach out to those who need you. If we do that happiness such as can be found in no other way will be our portion.

God grant that it may be, I humbly ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.