At his devotional speech on February 1, the President of the Provo Temple, President Merrill J. Bateman, gave a tribute to President Gordon B. Hinckley for his work with temples around the world. Because of Hinckley, millions of people around the world have access to a temple, and temple work is being done in at least thirty-five languages.
Hinckley was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1961. He was then called as a member of the First Presidency in 1981. He played a very important role in the first presidency and had a major responsibility in leading the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints long before he became president.
Bateman was in the room with Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson when the secretary walked in and said, "Brethren, President Hunter has just passed away." Bateman said, "I watched President Hinckley . . . I know he knew what that meant. I know he began feeling that load almost immediately. He looked at President Monson and said, ‘We need to go over and see Sister Hunter.’"
Hinckley was called as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just a few days later and served in this position for almost thirteen years.
Bateman continued his tribute to Hinckley by saying, "I honestly believe that President Hinckley will become known as one of the best prophets to ever be on this earth. Of all the great prophets, President Hinckley will be among them."
Hinckley developed friendships and made a good name for the church wherever he went. He had a personality that put people at ease. People liked him almost immediately, and he had a sense of humor and used it. It was once said of Hinckley, by a person of another faith, "He showed that Mormons are good, ordinary people and not weird."
Bateman finished his tribute by saying, "I believe that (President Hinckley’s) greatest thing will be the building of temples across the nations of the earth." In March 1995, forty-seven temples were in operation and in 1997 preparations were being made to dedicate the fiftieth temple after 150 years of church existence. Hinckley stated, "Brethren, before I die I want 100 operating temples." Bateman admits to thinking, "How long are you going to live? What did he know that we didn’t know?"
Hinckley went to work creating and designing the small temples. In September 1997 he explained his plan for small temples and in October he announced thirty new temples. By the end of December 2000 there were 100 operating temples. Now there are 124 operating temples around the world.
Hinckley said, "Without the temple, we only have half a religion. We can save Heavenly Father’s children but we can’t exalt them." So he took the temples to the LDS members of the world. He dedicated or rededicated 95 temples and build 80 across the face of the earth.
Bateman closed by again talking about the amazing progress of temples across the world and said to the students of UVSC, "May the Lord bless us to appreciate who we are and what we have."
Next week’s devotional will be given by the United States Air Force Academy’s Latter-day Saint Cadet Choir. The choir has been sharing testimony through song since 1997, and there are currently two directors, Carl Crockett and Barry Lauritzen, with Brother Stoffey at the piano.
Not only does the choir provide opportunities for LDS cadets to fellowship together, but it also gives a venue for sharing their faith in Christ and their dedication to service with audiences throughout Colorado and the west. They also have a close affiliation with the institute program at the Academy, where there are approximately one hundred LDS cadets. The choir consists of about 30 cadets, among whom almost half are returned missionaries, with missions having been served in locations around the world. Come and join us February 15, at noon in the North Chapel at the Institute Building.