An awe-inspiring crowd of 20,400 people gathered at the United Center in Chicago early on Sunday morning. [October 18, 1998] Hundreds more waited outside disappointed that there was no more room and they could not get in. What could cause so many people to gather together on a crisp Sunday morning? What could be so important that many would drive four or more hours to arrive in Chicago by 8 AM, and then stand in the crisp, cold air for over an hour just to assure them a seat?
What you ask? ...the opportunity to hear their spiritual leaders speak.
Inside the huge United Center, the seats filled quickly. From the bottom seats to the utmost reaches not a seat was empty. With the standing room also taken it was sad to think there were hundreds still waiting outside who would not be able to attend. Seldom have so many people gathered together for such a spiritual feast. They would not be disappointed.
As the special "fireside" began, all the whispering and talking of the 20,400 stilled to a hush. Beautiful music filled the United Center as the congregation sang "Rejoice, the Lord is King" followed by an opening prayer by Brother Owen D. West Jr..
Once again the room was filled with the sounds of angels as the choir sang "We Ever Pray for Thee."
Each speaker in turn bore their testimony and shared their thoughts with the congregation. The speakers consisted of church leaders of great and distinquished character who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. The spirit of love and kindness radiated from each of the speakers and filled the room.
The first fours speakers were Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, his wife, Sister Anne H. Pinnock, and then Sister Mary C. Hales followed by her husband, Elder Robert D. Hales [Council of the Twelve Apostles]. Music once again filled the United Center as the congregation sang, "Come, Come Ye Saints".
The concluding two speakers of the conference were Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley and her husband, the Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinkley. There is no doubt that behind President Hinckley's quiet gentle exterior lies a dynamic man of God. As he started to speak, his sense of humor quickly put the congregation at ease. It felt as though a close and beloved friend stand before the crowd sharing his inspirations. His talk transformed into an inspirational masterpiece.
Concluding his talk and testimony, a closing prayer was given by Sister Beatrice D. Ward and the choir sang with great enthusiasm "The Spirit of God." As the choir finished their singing and the prophet rose to leave the building, the congregation stood and broke out in song [this was not on the printed program]. 20,400 strong, enthusiastic voices sang "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet" followed by "God Be With You Til We Meet Again." The spirit in the United Center could never have been so strong and as one looked around at the brothers and sisters [all 20,400] there was scare a dry eye in the place.
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