“In greeting you, I will paraphrase Paul's words: ‘Unto the Church of God in the Utah South Area, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ,’” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
He addressed 235 stakes from the Utah South Area during a conference held in the Marriott Center with 15 stakes in attendance. The other 220 stakes viewed the conference via transmissions to stake centers across the state, making it the largest gathering of Latter-day Saints outside of general conference. It is estimated there were over 400,000 people at the Marriott Center or viewing the broadcast.
“Because I am unable to personally meet with all of you in your 235 stakes where you are gathered in your many chapels, I'm giving to you my own epistle today to express my love and gratitude and to provide you some specific counsel,” said Elder Ballard.
He compared the Church in Utah to a heart of the Church body throughout the world. Elder Ballard said, “The Saints in Utah help pump gospel truths through the entire world—giving the members important spiritual oxygen and essential nutrients.”
Citing a Gallup poll, Elder Ballard said that the Utah South Area is one of the most religious areas in the United States, revealed in the flourishing religious landscape.