My beloved brethren and sisters, I approach this
task with mingled feelings this afternoon. The only difference between
Bishop Richards' and my situation has been that I was asked to visit President
McKay last night at five-thirty. Hence the turmoil in my soul has existed
for twenty-four hours whereas in his case, he has only had two hours of
I would like to say that this change has brought
about an end of one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever enjoyed.
The last fourteen years in association with Bishop Richards has been a
great source of inspiration, joy and happiness for me.
I found him to be a man of great faith. He has
an abundance of humility and in his heart of hearts there is a great love
for all people. There has been a beaten trail to his door over the years
by those who have been in distress, and they have never left his office
empty-handed or without some inspiration and encouragement. And as he leaves
us, we shed tears at our parting, but we are only two floors apart.
It was just fourteen years ago this month when
the telephone rang in my office, and someone said, "President Grant would
like to speak to you."
I answered the phone. The President said, "This
is Heber J. Grant. We are reorganizing the Presiding Bishopric today. LeGrand
Richards has been asked to accept the position of Presiding Bishop, with
Marvin O. Ashton as his first counselor, and we are asking you to take
the position of second counselor." I was shocked, and I suggested to President
I should like to talk to him about the matter.
He then declared, "There are only thirty minutes
before the next session of the conference takes up, and I want to have
some rest. What do you say?"
I answered "Yes," and I have never regretted having
answered yes to that call and all calls that have come to me in this great
I think of Bishop Ashton today. I learned much
from him. He had a heart that was full of kindness and love for all mankind.
I say, "God bless his memory."
This great honor that has come to me today I accept
as a tribute reflecting back to those who made it possible for me to enjoy
all the blessings of this great Church.
I think of my Swiss grandfather and grandmother,
my English grandfather and grandmother, who paid a dear price from a physical
point of view for the acceptance of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My Swiss grandfather came into the valleys of
the mountains in destitute circumstances. He married his Swiss sweetheart
and took her to a mansion out on Eighth East and South Temple -- a dugout
-- where they lived for two years. But they were happy in the gospel of
the Lord Jesus Christ. In a short time my grandfather was called on a mission
At that time they had three children. He accepted
the call without any reservations. They had no resources except the family
cow, and that was sold to the end that his traveling expenses might be
paid, and my grandmother sewed salt sacks for one dollar a thousand in
order to sustain her family and help her husband who was out preaching
the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My English grandfather was a man of great faith.
As a young man he had the feeling in his heart that the gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ must be upon the earth somewhere, and that the Church of Jesus
Christ could be found.
So he prayed to the Lord earnestly that he might
find the Church and the gospel. Finally one Saturday night before retiring,
he knelt down and asked the Lord in faith whether or not the Church was
upon the earth, and if it was, could he find it.
During that night he had a dream, and in the dream
he saw a street in the city where he lived, and in that street there was
a hall, and in that hall two men were preaching the gospel of the Lord
When he awoke the next morning he was so impressed
by the dream that he got up, dressed, and went to the street, found the
hall, and there found two servants of God preaching the gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ. He came to this country amidst hardships. Because of the
faith of these forefathers of mine, I am here, living in peaceful valleys,
in the shadows of great mountains, and, above all, within hearing of the
voice of the latter-day prophets.
So I owe to them a debt -- a debt of gratitude,
and a debt that can best be paid in service to this great cause. I was
blessed with wonderful parents, a father who taught me the importance of
integrity and virtue, and a mother of great faith -- a mother who taught
me the lessons of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at her knee. She
taught me the story of the visitation of the Father and the Son, and I
accepted that story without any reservations.
She taught me with reference to Jesus Christ and
his divine mission. She taught me to honor the men who stand at the head
of this Church as prophets, seers, and revelators. And as I have lived
and grown older in life, I have found that her teachings were right, that
they are true, and because of her I owe to this great organization a service
which I pray the Lord will give me the strength to render in such a way
that those who have asked me to accept this position will be satisfied,
that I will please the Lord, and please you, my brethren and sisters.
I have been blessed with a fine companion, my
dear wife. I remember the time in the early years of our married life when
it was a struggle, and I labored in the bishopric of my ward; she gave
me encouragement. Many times I have come home from work late. My clothes
were spread out, my meal was prepared. I ate it quickly, changed clothes,
and visited in the ward until late at night, arose early the next morning
before my children were awake, and went to work.
For days at a time I did not see my children when
they were awake. So this companion of mine has the credit of rearing our
family, and since I have been in the Presiding Bishopric, being away for
weeks at a time, she has taken over, and has done a great service as far
as my family is concerned, and I say, "God bless her."
I have three sons. I love them with all my heart,
and I have the same love for the young men over whom we now have the responsibility
and privilege of presiding.