Transcript of Boyd Packer’s Address at Multi-Stake Conference
Editorial Note: I have previously reported about rumors of Boyd Packer’s and Gordon Hinckley’s response to criticism of Julie Beck’s conference address, which has not only been discussed with a variety of points of view on the Bloggernacle and the DAMU but also by readers posting on the websites of various Utah newspapers.
Thanks to Saganist who has attended the conference, we now have a transcript of the speeches that we can share with you.
Here is the entire text of Boyd Packer’s speech:
I am very happy to be here this morning, and doubly happy because we live in this area, so our families are in stakes that were not invited to the Conference Center, so they’re listening in the stake centers from Kamas to Herriman. That’s the way it is now in the church, because of the great growth of the church. The number of General Authorities can’t increase, so the manner of broadcasting stake conferences around the world has become part of who we are and what we do. I was very happy to see all the little children here as we came in. We love little children.
I’d like to speak to you as families, and I suppose my message could be summed up in “do not fear”. Fear is the opposite of faith. And in the world that we live in, other speakers have mentioned the difficulties and challenges, but we’re not afraid. The church moves on across the world, and we see the hand of the Lord in what is done. We are broadcasting in General Conference in over 100 languages. This conference here, we’re broadcasting in four languages in this building, and about another four languages out to some of the stake centers. So we’re becoming a very cosmopolitan congregation in the church. The promises made and the challenges given by the Lord to preach the gospel in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people is being fulfilled.
When the pioneers first entered this valley, some of the brethren went up on Ensign Peak, which is just a very short distance north of us here. And President Young took a yellow bandana that Heber C. Kimball was wearing around his neck, and they put it on a stick, and they waved it and said, “Hooray, hooray for Zion!” And this was an ensign to the world, and they talked about the gospel moving forward. Not likely, that they were living in wagons then, had been driven from here and there, and were settled here and yet we see the fulfillment of the promises that the Lord has made.
Now we know we’re tested, and to you little children and to your parents, I say, don’t be afraid. Be happy. Life is good. And you can find a full and a righteous life ahead, for children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren because the work is not done. And parents, you assure your children, particularly you little children, that you need not fear if you will be prayerful. The Book of Mormon makes it very clear that men and women, yea even little children, oft do have things given unto them that confound the wise and the learned. So little children can be watched over and blessed.
We have a large family, and I traveled a lot in our early married life, and that left my wife to take the children to church in the Lindon ward. She was sitting there with the children, almost a rowful of them. And our children, unfortunately, were just like your children. Or maybe fortunately. Because one of them would push another, and then he’d say, “Don’t look at me, don’t touch me.” So my wife was trying to handle this little brood, and Sister Walker, a gray-haired grandmother in the ward, moved from the back row up, slid in the row where my wife was sitting with the little children, sat between two of them, broke up some of the combinations, and then after the meeting, as they were leaving, she said to my wife, “You have your hands full, don’t you?” And my wife shook her head. “Yes, I have my hands full.” She then patted her on the hand and said, “Your hands full now, your heart full later.” And as we have raised our children, married now and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we have the assurance and have come to know from our own experience that the power of the gospel and safety can surround them.
There are so many things that you parents can see that are not done. You wish you could do them. And so many things that are not quite right. We have some of you who are not married and want to be married. Some who are divorced. Others have other problems of one kind or another. They’re the problems of employment, there’s a problem of housing and food and clothing and shelter that are so real. And sometimes we maybe think that we’re not doing quite as well as we ought to.
There were two farmers once who had adjoining fields. The one never worked in his field on Sunday, and his neighbor used to chide him about it. He said, “Your crops aren’t doing as well as mine are. Why don’t you work on Sunday?” He said, “Well, I want to do what the Lord said. I want to gain the blessings of the Lord.” Then one October day, they stood at the fence line, and the one farmer said, “Well, just look at it. Look at my field. It’s beautiful, the grain is tall, the heads are full of wheat. And yours show a little sign of neglect. You haven’t tended yours as well as I have tended mine. Look at my harvest compared to yours. What do you say now about the blessings you thought you were earning?” This man thought for a few minutes and said, “Well, the Lord doesn’t balance his books in October.”
As Latter-day Saints, we don’t get everything done, we don’t get it done in our lifetimes. Sometimes we see challenges and problems that don’t get fixed. And yet if we have the patience and have the understanding, we know that we’re in an eternal pattern in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it goes on. And no blessing will be denied the righteous who are striving to do that which is good. Sometimes there are wayward children, and parents mourn and wonder. And sometimes those things don’t get fixed in mortality.
Once in a general conference, I made a statement quoting both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the effect that if parents were sealed in the temple and lived faithfully, they would not lose their children. That the promise was that in the eternal scheme of things, their children would be protected. I got an interesting letter from one woman. She was upset at the talk. She talked about her boy that was wayward, and she said, “He doesn’t deserve to be redeemed.” She told me, without thinking she did, what part of the problem was. The matter of raising families isn’t easy, and it doesn’t all get done in this lifetime. And the Lord doesn’t harvest everything in October. It isn’t all accounted for there. So you who have things that are worrying you or disappointing you or that are breaking your heart, just have faith. And do not fear. You little children, learn to pray.
The story is told of a little girl that was upset with her brother. He was building a trap to catch birds. She one day went out and kicked that trap to pieces. She had said to her brother, “You won’t catch any birds. I know, because I have prayed about it.” Well, she acted on her prayer to make sure it came true. Little children are very wise. We’re always smiling at one another, my wife and I, at the profound wisdom that comes from our children.
I was in a conference in Virginia not too many months ago, and I asked the stake presidency, wise, experienced men, as I often do, “Tell me what the biggest problem is that you have in this stake.” And the president gave me an answer in a simple sentence that I thought of over and over again. He said, “Our problem is that the programs and activities of the church are becoming a substitute for a testimony of the gospel.; The programs and activities of the church are becoming a substitute for a testimony of the gospel.
Now we have 107 stake presidents in this combined conference, and I would think between 650 and 700 bishops. Stake presidents are stake presidents. You are given the keys of presidency. You are to do what is best for your stake. If you do what is best, you will see that there is room for the families to be families. There will be time on Sunday for families to get together, and meetings sometimes are shorter than they might have been otherwise. Some meetings will not be called. Now the essential ones we call, the ones that are not optional. But we put so many other things on the schedule that parents sometimes have a hard time meeting their children. All kinds of activities.
Now I know we hear the statement, “If we don’t provide it, they’ll go to the community or the school for the various activities.” That part of it is not our problem. That part of it is for them to choose. But if we leave room and teach parents to gather their children, and to be fathers and mothers, that’s the eternal part of their activities.
I was out in the Uinta Basin a year or so ago, and I noticed a large number of gray-haired women. Widows, obviously, and I commented to the stake president about them. These beautiful grandmothers and great-grandmothers sitting there in the meeting, and faithful. I said, “Oh, how blessed you are to have these lovely grandmothers.” And he said, “Yes, but they’re not active in the church.” I thought for a minute and said, “Well, are they active in the gospel?” He’d never thought of that. It was the coming and going to meetings and the getting their names on the records that was counted as valuable. Are they active in the gospel?
We’ve sent our children away on some occasions, one of our sons and his little family were leaving in a car that wasn’t all that reliable to go to one of the eastern states to take his job. As we saw them drive out the gate and prayed that the car would make it, and a tear or two from the wife, and maybe one or two from the father, I said, “It’s all right. They’ll have a grandma there.” And we’ve told them, when they get to places, that there’s always a grandma in the ward, to look after them, and told our son that the older people around are very wise. They’ve been where you are, and done what you’re doing. See if you can find a grandma and a grandpa for your children while they’re there. And they’re there. You’re here in this meeting.
I was there to visit them. He had bought a little home, and the brick on the one corner of the house was eroded, so that I thought it needed repair. He actually showed it to me and asked me what to do about it. I didn’t know because I hadn’t lived in that climate. I could have said, “Why don’t you get a professional to come out and look at it?” but I said, “Is there an older couple that lives near here?” He said, “Yes, over across the street and down a few houses, there’s an older couple, but I haven’t met them.” I said, “Why don’t you go over someday and talk to this older man, not a member of the church, and ask him to come over and say, ‘Look at that’ and see what he would suggest.” He’d lived there all his life, he’d seen that a lot of times, and knew what to do about it. And everybody is happy to help everybody.
Now I want to say a word to you about living here, in the environs of the church headquarters. We are in the middle of the opposition of the church. That’s gone on forever, and we see so much published in the newspapers, and particularly on the Internet, those who are criticizing the church or criticizing the leaders, the priesthood or auxiliary leaders. Sometimes they’ve asked me, “What do the brethren think of this?” And I say, “Not much. We don’t have time.” We’re trying to operate the church across the world, and we don’t talk about those things, and in one way aren’t interested in them. When we see the enormous growth of the church, the marvel that’s there and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are not turned away by that opposition. It’s always been there. In fact, it isn’t our problem, it’s theirs. We don’t oppose them and we don’t go out preaching against them, trying to disturb them. They can go their way. So it becomes their problem.
We can say, however, that they can’t escape the consequences. Let me read what the Lord said about that.
“Cursed are all those who shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, which I have commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them down unto bondage and to death– wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinance of my house.” A terrible penalty. “Their baskets shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.” And then the most terrible of all penalties, “They shall not have the right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them for generation to generation.”
The Lord has said he will fight our battles, and we don’t wince much when there’s opposition and challenges. We go back and take care of our families and do the best we can. There are so many things that are apparent in family life, the wife and the mother, and their challenges.
President Lee told a few of us once that he had gone east to reorganize a stake. The man he chose by revelation as we know it was the husband of the stake primary president. He explained that we don’t usually put two official presiding positions, load that onto the same couple, so he explained that in the morning, she’d be released from her assignment as president of the stake primary. She was not pleased. The next morning, she approached then-Elder Lee and said, “Elder Lee, I misunderstood you, didn’t I? I won’t be released as primary president because my husband was called as stake president.” And I’m sure Brother Lee was thinking of the family. As wonderful as it is to give that service, there was a family to be taken care of. She said, “I misunderstood you, didn’t I?” He said, “Dear sister, Harold B. Lee has many faults and failings, but being misunderstood is not one of them.”
There are times when decisions must be made by bishops and stake presidents. Bishops look after the families. We know you look after the organizations, and there are many, and the activities are multitudinous. But look after the family. You’ll have a lot of decisions to make, and you have the authority to make them. The bishop is the presiding officer of the ward. He has the right to revelation and inspiration concerning all that goes on in the ward. The stake president likewise. Each of them holds the keys. The priesthood keys are a powerful safety authority to govern church organizations, and to look after the church in such a way that families can have breathing room.
We have so many things going on, and we ought to look at ourselves and you’ve already been told by the other speakers to slow down. And to, the scripture quoted, “be still and know that I am God.” Each of us in the church have the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred upon us at the time of our baptism, in a ceremony separate from baptism. As the Article of Faith says, “baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And that is a great and marvelous blessing. As we look across the church and visit the church in the world, we have the assurance that wherever we go, there will be leaders to lead the church, guided by inspiration. But more and more we see fathers and mothers, clinging to one another, raising their children, following the counsel and guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Part of the duty and office of the Holy Ghost is to warn. You’ll be warned of dangers, and learn to follow those warnings, and your little children likewise. Teach your little children not to be afraid. Tell them at night not to be afraid, that the Lord loves them and the Father in Heaven loves them. He is a father, and he has that love for them for all of us, and he will watch over us, to the end that we can look forward to the great and marvelous things that are ahead of us, ahead of this church. We don’t downsize anything in the church. Everything is growing. Everything is moving across the world. There is power and strength and faith in it.
If we will do the simple things of paying our tithing, observe the Word of Wisdom, attend the temple and make sure the ordinances are in place, and do the best we can, to make a living and have a family, and see them well taken care of. Now if you do all of that, your field might not be quite as productive as the one next door. And you may look at others who seem to have so many more blessings than you do when you have the challenge of meeting the obligations and seeing all that’s entailed in keeping your children in school. You may wonder, “Why aren’t we more blessed materially?” Just think of that farmer, who was wise and inspired in answering the question, “Where are your blessings now?” The Lord doesn’t balance his books in October.
And you’ll be blessed, and as time goes on, you’ll see that the Lord has been looking over you, as you’ve been faithful Latter-day Saints, paying your tithing and the other obligations. And you’ll come to know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, by his own declaration. And his power is upon it, and the Father broods over it. The Lord said he did nothing save what he saw his Father do. We have a Father in Heaven. A father. I bear witness that the Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was the prophet of God. I bear witness of Gordon B. Hinckley. I love him. See him often, sit next to him. I’ve seen the power of inspiration and revelation come to him. And the guidance and correction and direction of the church, that is poured out upon Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet, seer, and revelator. I pray the blessings upon all of us, as fathers, as mothers, as grandfathers, as grandmothers, as children, as members of his church. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.