Dissemination of the Gospel
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, October 1946, pp. 3-8)

I have sometimes said to my friends in different parts of the world, when referring to these great gatherings, the annual and semiannual conferences of the Church, that they will see no other spectacle like them in all the world, and I believe this to be true.

Uplift of General Conferences

These conferences offer the opportunity for the officers of the Church from all parts of the world to meet and to become acquainted with one another, and to be edified under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Fortunate are we that those who came to this valley in an early day erected this splendid structure. There is not anything like it to be found elsewhere, a building that will make comfortable approximately ten thousand people in which all can hear the speaker. Of course with our modern devices, we can hear very well.

We come together, not just to visit, not just to be seen; but as sons and daughters of the Living God, we assemble in his name, and he has never failed to fulfill his promise made of old, that when two or three shall meet together in his name, he will be there and that to bless them (Matt. 18:20). And so we look forward to these gatherings every six months and have joy in being able to go back to our homes with the statement that the Lord was with us, and blessed us, and we enjoyed the power of his Spirit.

Early Conferences

Of course this is only a little handful of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints compared to the great number that belong to it. The first conference of the Church was held on June 9, 1830, and there were eighteen present. The second conference was held a few months later with about the same number present; then the first annual conference of the Church was held June 3, 1831, just one year later, and there were present in that conference forty-three elders, ten priests, and ten teachers, making a total of sixty-three present.

In those days the meetings were held for the officers of the Church, and the public was not generally invited to attend, but later in Nauvoo, it became customary to invite the public, and from that time on, each six months, the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been invited to meet with the Lord in a general conference of such a character as the one we assemble in this morning.

As I look out into this congregation and see the men and women who are here, I recognize those that I have known, many of them from my childhood. I have been in many of your homes and have been entertained most graciously, when I have been visiting the stakes of Zion and the mission field. Every once in a while we are able to get together here and enjoy the companionship of one another, and more than that, to feel the power that comes from our Heavenly Father in fulfilment of his promise that he will be with us.

Unsatisfactory Condition of the World

The conditions in the world today are anything but desirable. After nearly six thousand years of teaching by the Lord through his prophets, the world is still in a pitiable condition, with about two-thirds of the population not accepting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have their own deities whom they worship, their own false gods who have kept them far from the truth during the centuries that have elapsed. Of the other one-third of the population of this world, so-called Christians, about fifty percent do not have membership in a church or if enrolled, they are inactive, so that it leaves a small portion of the people of the world who have, after all these years of advice and counsel, taken advantage of their opportunities. Unless the people of this world hasten their repentance and turn to the Lord, the conditions that we have recently passed through in this great world war will be intensified in wickedness and sorrow. So this morning, my dear brothers and sisters and I speak that word "dear" with all my heart—I am grateful for your fellowship and your companionship. As we meet together, how thankful we ought to be, how grateful our souls should be when we contemplate our surroundings and our wonderful opportunities!

. . . Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Rev. 18:4),

was written about two thousand years ago.

Spirit of Missionary Service

The gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the year 1830, after centuries of darkness had passed. When the call was given, the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went out into the world—not to criticize others, not to find fault, but to say to our Father's other children:

Keep all the good that you have received, keep all the truth that you have learned, all that has come to you in your homes, in your institutions of learning, under your many facilities for education, keep it all; and then let us divide with you additional truths that have been revealed by our Heavenly Father in our day.

Under that ministry, beginning, as I have said, in that conference when there were only sixty-three members of the priesthood present, there have been thousands upon thousands of missionaries; more than seventy thousand have gone out into the world, and in love and kindness they have gone from door to door saying to our Father's other children:

Let us reason with you; let us explain to you something that we are sure will make you happy as it has made us happy!

That is the history of the missionary work of the Church with which we are identified. Today we have missionaries scattered in many parts of the earth; some of them are in the armed services and rejoicing in their testimonies, they have been glad to divide the truth with those with whom they came in contact.

Short Wave Broadcast to Japan

Just a few weeks ago I was invited to have a little visit with some of our servicemen who are in Kyoto, Japan. One of our brethren here in the valley telephoned me he had a licensed shortwave station and said, "If you will come down, Brother Smith, I will let you talk to the men and women in the armed services who are absent from their homes and are now over there serving the Government of the United States." I did not know just what it was going to be like. I went to his little station, and after a moment or two he called a station and talked back and forth with the man at the other end. That was the Philippine Islands, so he said: "We are not visiting with you today. We are going to visit Japan." Then he switched from there to one of the other islands in the Pacific and told them the same thing. And then when he was ready, after a little conversation with the station in Japan, he said: "Now, Brother Smith, there are two hundred and three members of the Church that will hear your voice as soon as you speak."

So I stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes and talked to them of the blessings of God bestowed upon them, of their lives being preserved during a terrible war, and of the love of those who are here waiting for their return. I urged them to keep the commandments of God and assured them that there was no other road to happiness but by keeping the commandments of God. I encouraged them to retain the fine records that they had already made and to come home clean and sweet to their loved ones with the favor of the Lord upon them. When I had finished, they took their turn, and several of these men said: "Thank you, Brother Smith. It has been a great encouragement to us to hear a voice from the tops of the Rocky Mountains, one that some of us are familiar with, and to know that you are thinking of us and are anxious for us. We will not let you down."

I thought that was a beautiful experience, and that is just one of many that we have. Personally, I have traveled more than a million miles in the world to divide the gospel of Jesus Christ with my fellowmen, but that was the first time I ever delivered a religious address to a congregation seven thousand miles away. Short-wave broadcasting will continue to improve, and it will not be long until, from this pulpit and other places that will be provided, the servants of the Lord will be able to deliver messages to isolated groups who are so far away they cannot be reached. In that way and other ways, the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, the only power of God unto salvation in preparation for the celestial kingdom (Rom. 1:16), will be heard in all parts of the world, and many of you who are here will live to see that day.

We are here today as a great family waiting upon the Lord. I see people in this house who are farmers, mechanics, who are active in the various pursuits of life. I see those who represent us in Washington and at home. I am glad to see here those who represent us as officers in our city. We are all sitting under the same roof, without differences, all having the same opportunity, and if we have come with the Spirit of the Lord resting upon us, each of us will be fed the bread of life (John 6:48), not by the individual who speaks, but by the Lord who gives voice.

Contributions of Relief Society Sisters

I want to congratulate this fine group of singers who have sung for us thus far. It is lovely to know that our sisters are so interested in the work of the Lord. I did not have the pleasure of being in this hall yesterday, but I am informed that there were as many women here in this building as there are today, or nearly so. The sisters are active. I would like to say to you husbands, fathers, and brothers, these women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a great strength to the Church.

Yesterday the great national Relief Society of the Church, the first great women's organization and the oldest now in existence, met in conference. Their representatives were here from all parts of this country and other countries, just as anxious to be what our Heavenly Father would have them be as we who are here today.

Rewards of Missionary Work

I am lifted up in my heart today as I look into the faces of my brethren. Some of them have been in the mission field for many, many years. They have remained away from home and reared their families. They are back to visit with us in conference, and ready to go again if they may be needed. That is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A mission president who had been away from us about ten years was released and game home recently. He and his wife reared their three children down in the South Pacific among the descendants of Father Lehi. When he came home, he was glad to come back to this marvelous country that we live in and to associate with his family; and then when the matter of going into the mission field was talked about briefly, he was ready to turn around and go right back.

That is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to labor without a salary, to labor without the comforts that we sometimes have at home, but to labor for the salvation of the human family, to bring our Fathers other children to a knowledge of the truth. The great reward that missionaries expect as the result of these years of service is to have the companionship of these men and women that they have brought into the Church in the world, the companionship of their own families that they love, right here upon this earth throughout the ages of eternity.

I would like to say to you mission presidents that you are doing a wonderful work. The Lord has blessed you and magnified you, and the work of the Church has only just begun. All of us may have to go again and again into the mission field, but it is the one way that we can lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20) and be sure that they will await us when we go to the other side.

Prayer for Saints

May the Lord add his blessing. May we so live that every day of our lives the world will be better for our having lived in it. May we so live that our neighbors and friends will be constrained to seek after the wisdom of our Heavenly Father and his righteous purposes and thereby gain happiness, not only here but hereafter.

I pray that in our hearts and in our homes there may abide that spirit of love, of patience, of kindness, of charity, of helpfulness that enriches our lives and that makes the world brighter and better because of it.

I pray that we may continue to rejoice together under the influence of the Lord here until the end of the conference, and when that time comes that we may go to our homes renewed in our determination to keep the commandments of the Lord, that our happiness may be perfected as a result of our righteousness. If we will do that, then our visit here will not have been in vain. On the contrary, it will be a tremendous blessing to us.

I pray that the Lord will bless you in your hearts and in your homes. I pray for those of our people who are isolated in distant lands, far from the organized wards and branches of the Church, many of them almost alone in great communities. I pray that the Lord will bless them and that they may feel today the influences that we enjoy here, and in the due time of our Heavenly Father that they may be permitted to "come out of her" (Rev. 18:4), as the Lord indicated his people should do, prior to the winding-up scene when this earth will be cleansed and purified by fire, when all mortality will be taken away and only those who are prepared to dwell in the celestial kingdom under the guidance of our Heavenly Father, under the leadership of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, will be here. I pray that they and we and all the men and women of the world who have the desire to live righteously and are keeping the commandments of God may be among that number.

I pray that our homes may be sanctified by the righteousness of our lives, that the adversary may have no power to come there and destroy the children of our homes or those who dwell under our roofs. If we will honor God and keep his commandments, our homes will be sacred, the adversary will have no influence, and we will live in happiness and peace until the winding-up scene in mortality and we go to receive our reward in immortality.

God bless you; peace be with you; joy and satisfaction abide with you all, henceforth and forever, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.