From a Prophet to His People
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, April 1949, pp. 6-10)

You look mighty good to me. I wonder if any of you are as happy as I am, to be at this conference. I started praying about two and a half months ago that I might be here, and I am grateful to the Lord that he has heard not only my prayers, but also your prayers, and I take this occasion to thank every one of you for the interest you have had in me and for the kind words that have been written, and the prayers that have been offered.

Gratitude for Return

I would like at this time to thank all those who, out of the kindness of their hearts, have sent cards of greeting and letters of encouragement. It isn't possible for me to answer them all, but I am sure that those who have sent them will receive comfort because of what they have done.

I have just come back from California. We have a large congregation of people there and particularly in the place where I have just been, the Los Angeles area. It is remarkable how many kind people there are there, people who are not members of the Church, but who are interested in what we are seeking to do.

Los Angeles Temple

My visit to California this time was in the interest of building another temple. There are many people down there who didn't know what it meant. They thought it was just another meetinghouse. They didn't realize that while a meetinghouse serves a small community, a temple serves a larger community for a different purpose. We were anxious to have everything adjusted so everybody would be happy.

May I say that we have received excellent cooperation from people who are down there. Our own brethren who live there have made such a fine record that, when they visited individuals in regard to the matter, they have been received with consideration and kindness, and I want to take this occasion to thank them, particularly, Brother Preston D. Richards, who spent so much of his time doing the thing that I went down to do and visiting those who would be of importance in helping us to make our adjustments.

The word comes from the missionary field that the Lord has opened our way in numerous places. It is marvelous what a change there has been in many cases. The magazines and newspapers of the world are going out of their way now to be complimentary to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They sometimes don't understand the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they have discovered that we have some of the best basketball players in all the world. And that draws us a little nearer. The great Choir and Organ advertise us in the world, and it's a joy to many who are away to listen in to this great Choir.

Met to Worship

We are met here this morning not just to talk and visit. We have come together to worship in the most earnest manner. We are here in the Lord's house to wait upon him (Isa. 40:31). Many of you have come thousands of miles just to be present. If each of us today is here to worship, if we have come for that purpose and will exercise our faith, the Lord will not fail us, and we will conclude this conference feeling that he has blessed us marvelously.

I wish that many more of our people could be present on an occasion of this kind. Our house is not large enough. Even now we have to begin to think of a larger place for our general conferences, but today we are thankful to him who gave us this house and these surroundings.

We are thankful to him who is the Author of our being, and grateful that he came down to earth and brought with him his Beloved Son (JS—H 1:17) to begin a new dispensation—the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. This is not the Church of Joseph Smith or of any other leader who followed him. This is the Church of Jesus Christ, and it was our Heavenly Father who gave it its name.

Privilege of Church Membership

I wonder sometimes if we realize what an honor it is to have membership in this great organization. Even in our business affairs and in our social affairs we should carry with us the feeling, "I am a part of the work of the Lord, and I desire to be worthy of the blessings that have come to me." There has never been a time in the history of the world when the opportunity of disseminating the truth has been so great as now.

In our own land people are glad to hear our missionaries, pleased to learn something more of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people have worshiped the sun; some have worshiped other luminaries; and some have worshiped mountains and other things, with the thought that it was worship. But the worship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a devoted life, a desire to be worthy of him in whose image we have been created and who has given us all that the world has that is worthwhile—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contribution of Schools

When I think of the fine development that is being made in our schools, I am grateful. I refer particularly to the Church schools (and I wouldn't overlook the public schools). There are many teachers in the public schools who have done their best to teach our sons and daughters concerning correct principles. But there are many people identified with the education of the youth of this great land who do not have any faith in God.

We are fortunate to have so many who not only have the education that comes from the universities, not only have the benefits that are derived from science, but in addition to that, also have a testimony that God lives and that we are his children. It hasn't been very long since I saw a letter written by an educated man who concluded his letter with a suggestion that all religion was a myth. All of it! And yet that man has a position teaching the children of the Latter-day Saints.

Obligation of Parents

Brothers and sisters, we must depend not only upon the institutions of learning, but also we must follow the admonition of our Heavenly Father when he says that it is our duty to teach our children when eight years of age, faith in God, repentance, and baptism.

He refers there to parents. He doesn't turn that over to school teachers. If parents in Zion or any of her stakes which are organized fail to teach their children these things when eight years of age—not waiting until they're grown—but when they are eight years of age, the sin be upon the heads of the parents (D&C 68:25).

And, my, how grateful I am, that there are so many of the members of this Church who believe that, and who prize the children who have come into their homes, and devote themselves to teaching them.

Example of Latter-day Saints

When I observe as I travel and as I mingle among the people at home and abroad, the character of the Latter-day Saints, the fine example that they set, the manner in which they live, I wonder sometimes if we appreciate that our boys and girls are among the greatest missionaries that this Church has—if they have been properly taught. They love to share the gospel with others when they understand it, and they desire to understand it. We have just had a great conference here of the Primary Association of this Church. I was unable to be present with them in this house, but I understand it was filled with those who work with the young people, as well as some of the young folk themselves. Nobody will ever realize the great worth of the Primary Association unless he familiarizes himself with what it has done in this Church through the fine leadership of God-fearing women.

These organizations add to what we should teach in our homes other things that our children should know and inspire in them a desire to do what the Lord would have them do.

Brethren and sisters, it is a joy to be here. I thank my Heavenly Father for this privilege. I am grateful for your companionship, and I would like to cooperate with you, from this time forth, realizing that we have special blessings from our Heavenly Father, and that if we will be unselfish with those blessings and share them with those who do not understand and who do not enjoy what we appreciate, great will be our joy.

Missionary Efforts

This is the Church of Jesus Christ. Millions of our Father's children do not know anything about it, but they are his children just the same, and he expects us to do our very best. Since the close of the war, we have had as many as five thousand missionaries in the world. Many of them have done wonderful work. They have found the hearts of people softened and ready to hear the message.

Many of our missions have used the singers in their groups, and they have held concerts among the people where they could sing the gospel as well as teach it by other means. Many of you brethren and sisters are in charge of institutions of learning and are teachers of these young people. I pray that not only may you have the joy of feeling that your intellectual opportunities have been better than many, but also that you may draw near enough to the Lord that you will feel his presence and the inspiration of his spirit while you teach the most precious of all his gifts to man, the sons and daughters who come into our homes. I feel to bless these men and women who are giving their time in the mission field and in the schools and among the auxiliary organizations outside of their regular ordinary work of life. I feel like blessing them and asking God to bless them for their faithfulness.

Love for Neighbor

This is the Lord's house. We are his guests today. It is he who made it possible for us to be here, and now, while we are assembled together and while we are mingled during the conference, let us evidence by our conduct, by our gentleness, by our love, by our faith, that we do keep that great commandment that the Savior said was like unto the first great commandment (Matt. 22:37-39), "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (D&C 59:6).

I can say to you, my brethren and sisters, the happiest people in this world are those who love their neighbors as themselves and manifest their appreciation of God's blessings by their conduct in life. May the Lord add his blessing, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.