There were Rainy skies and colder temperatures on Sunday April 1, 2012 in Salt Lake City. But, inside the Conference Center we felt the warm glow of fellowship during the final two sessions of the 182nd Semi-Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Here is a brief recap based on some of my own random notes from Sunday’s sessions, (feel free to review the Saturday sessions here);
If you ever have a chance to attend General Conference live, try to snag some Sunday morning session tickets which gives you a ‘two-fer”. One half hour before the opening Sunday session of General Conference The Mormon Tabernacle Choir always performs their weekly Sunday morning television/radio broadcast (now in their 84th year of weekly broadcasting – the longest continuous network broadcast in history).
Sunday Morning Session
The Choir opened this session of General Conference singing “Come Ye Children Of The Lord”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The opening address this session was by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Sharing excerpts of a letter he recently received from a woman distraught over the bitter falling-out between two of her children, Pres. Uchtdorf voiced his “growing concern for many” due to strained and broken relationships. He focused his talk on overcoming the spirit of envy and malice.
The most memorable quote from this talk came from a bumper sticker Pres. Uchtdorf recently saw:
“Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do”
(I predict mass printing of this quote on all kinds of LDS memorabilia in coming weeks!)
Other quotes of note:
“Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions.”
“The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of wrath from our eyes”
Elder Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve)
Elder Nelson spoke about the importance of Gratitude. He questioned if we are living day-to-day without God’s providence and love, or do we choose gratitude?
“Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for [God]“
Elder Nelson recounted the multiple miracles and blessings we each have received; particularly our physical bodies, and our immortal spirit, combined to make our unique living soul. Some quotes of particular note from this talk:
“The family is the most important unit in time and all eternity.”
“Some of the sweetest spirits are housed in the most frail of human bodies”**
“Could an explosion in a printing shop create a dictionary?” [likewise, the exquisiteness of a human body could not have happened from a "big bang"]
“To return to God is a joy for those who love Him.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband Quorum of the Seventy
Elder Rasband shared the personal story of his new grandson named Paxton, who has been born with a rare genetic disease and faces many physical challenges ahead.
“Some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames”**(duplicate quote alert! see Elder Nelson above)
When physical challenges arise for us or someone we love, it is easy to question “How can God let this happen?” and “Why me?“. Elder Rasband spoke about Heavenly Father’s Plan, and reminded us that this life is a training ground for the next life. Things happen to us that are intended to “build faith” in God “when questions abound and answers are few.” Elder Rasband talked about the importance and blessing of reaching out and helping others in need without having to be asked:
“If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you first ask them if they need help, or would you jump in?”
Elder Rasband reminded that “the worth of a soul is great in the sight of God” and that the Savior has promised that “[He] will come to you“.
Elder D. Todd Christopherson – Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Christopherson addressed the increased media attention about our Church, stating that “we welcome interest in the church, but there is still some confusion regarding our doctrine“.
He then outlined the basics of our beliefs.
1. An Apostacy happened – the priesthood authority given by Jesus was lost from the earth, and many plain truths were lost or corrupted.
2. The First Vision – God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to the boy Joseph Smith “initiated a virtual flood of revelation” and restoration of truth and authority to the earth in these latter-days.
3. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ given to the world to testify with the Old Testament and the New Testament of truth. “Pure. Clear. Easy to understand.“
4. Continual Revelation – The truths and doctrine we have received we believe comes from God. Chosen men can be sustained by the holy priesthood as “prophets, seers and revelators“. And, the president of our church is the “prophet, seer and revelator for the whole church” (and the whole world). Elder Christopherson expounded upon the idea that there are “many ways that the Lord can reveal His will”. Using as example’s from the ancient church Peter’s dream which became a revelation that the gospel would be preached to “every nation”, and later a decision by counsel regarding the question of the necessity of circumcision for the gentile converts, after which the apostles ratified the decision that it was not necessary, a letter was sent out to the entire church (as done today).
“Jesus is our doctrine”
President Thomas S. Monson – (President and Prophet)
We were privileged to once again hear from our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson who stated that he wanted “to speak of Eternal Truths.”
“Everybody is in a hurry these days!”
“In this fast-paced life, do we ever pause for meditation?”
When times of crises arise, it is often then that we see “what is really important“, and “moments of clarity come to us“.
“In our greatest need, the soul reaches heavenward.”
President Monson acknowledged that everyone faces a time in their life when they wonder “Why am I here?” He reminded that this is a “time of testing“, and that we came to receive a “body of flesh and bones“. We have been given the “gift of agency“, and “we discover that there are consequences attached to our actions“. Other memorable quotes from this beautiful talk:
“Life moves relentlessly forward. . . God our Father and Jesus Christ have marked the Way.”
“Death is not what some people imagine. . . it is [just] like going into another room”
“[The Savior says] Come Back, Come Up, Come In, Come Home, Come Unto Me”
The Choir concluded the morning session with a beloved anthem of praise
“Redeemer Of Israel“
SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION
The Choir opened the final session of General Conference with the exultant hymn “On This Day of Joy and Gladness” directed by Ryan Murphy.
Elder L. Tom Perry (Quorum of the Twelve)
Elder Perry stood at the pulpit sporting a lovely yellow silk tie, he shared that he has a friend named Scott who was born with many challenges but possesses a pure testimony. Elder Perry explained that Scott always picks out a new tie for him to wear ever General Conference - saying “He has good taste, don’t you think?” - this brought an approving chuckle from the audience.
Elder Perry spoke about the special blessing of The Book of Mormon. Stating “The Book of Mormon delivers us by teaching in a pure way the doctrines of Jesus Christ.“
Elder Perry taught that the theme of Deliverance is evident throughout the Book of Mormon. Citing the stories of King Lemhi’s people and Alma’s people both who were in bondage, and then delivered by the hand of God. He also pointed out the differences between these two groups. Both were delivered, but those living righteously were delivered more quickly. The theme of deliverance is also a prominent theme in The Bible.
“Both the Bible and The Book of Mormon are necessary for our salvation and exaltation”
Elder Perry encouraged us all to “face the doors of our tents (homes) firmly toward the temple” as evidenced in the scriptures of those living righteously.
M. Russell Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve)
Holding up his cell phone, Elder Ballard mentioned the marvels of having available our own personal Liahonna’s today which come in the form of a GPS. “I don’t need to ask anyone anymore! I know exactly where I am”. He said that being “lost” can apply to the world and individuals. In terms of finding happiness and security in our nation and our world, Elder Ballard counselled:
“There can be no genuine happiness separate from the home…the home is what needs reforming.”
Elder Ballard talked about the discouraging new social statistics which show a “growing disregard for marriage“, and an “ever-growing gap between rich and poor“. Elder Ballard taught that society at large are strengthened by commitments to marriage and family.
“When families work and play together…less government and social programs are required.”
“The most important cause of our lifetime is our families”
This is not easy where hearts are changing. In today’s modern world, “wrong is portrayed as right, and right as wrong“. But, as members of this church, we can reach across the gaps. “The church is the mooring in this tempestuous sea“. And, the Lord will use the church as a tool to pull people to safety. “The Spirit of Elijah has no boundaries“.
Elder Ballard went on to outline ways for us to teach our children and strengthen our homes and families. We should teach our children how to work, to avoid movies, video games and too much media entertainment. We should “Do things in order“; First Marriage, then children. Husbands & wives were encouraged to read the Proclamation on the Family together and to “take full advantage of family resources of the church“. He reminded us that “The church is the scaffolding in which we build the family.”
O. Vincent Haleck – (Quorum of the Seventy)
Elder Haleck is from America Samoa. His message focused on the blessing of Fasting and Prayer. He shared the story that his parents fasted and prayed when he and his brother were young and they felt impressed to send their sons to the United States where they could receive a better education. Elder Haleck taught that ”we too come to understand the challenges of our lives by fasting and prayer“.
The Saviod has a great vision of who we may become. The Holy Ghost can help us see that vision, which in turn inspires us to act. Elder Haleck taught that The Holy Ghost will prompt us to act on things we learn at this Conference.
“Let us see ourselves as the Savior sees us. . . [and] may we have the faith and courage to do“
Elder Larry Y. Wilson (Quorum of the Seventy)
Elder Wilson shared a story from his early days of marriage. One day his wife was driving and he was seated in the passenger seat. He critisized her driving and she asked in frustration “What gives you the right?” He answered “Because I am you’re husband, and I hold the priesthood!” (this garnered a loud groan from the audience, as intended) Elder Wilson sheepishly admitted he definitely learned a good lesson with that foolish response. He then went on to teach:
“We lose our right to the spirit when we exercise our control over another”
Men and women can both exercise unrighteous dominion over each other. Parents also must wisely weigh when children are ready to make important choices on their own, and be allowed to make mistakes.
“We must help our children establish their own connection with heaven.”
Elder David F. Evans (Quorum of the Seventy)
Elder Evans gave another resounding talk centered on the Family.
“Our most important work is within our own family”
He encouraged us to always “talk of Christ” and teach of Christ. We should continue our Family Home Evenings, pray together daily, and that when our children are away, we should write them letters that can be “held, thought about, and cherished.” Parents should help their children know that their Heavenly Father loves them, and that they can always repent. The Holy Spirit can work on several people at the same time to help others. If we pray and get a prompting to help someone we should “act without delay“.
Elder Paul B. Pieper (Quorum of the Seventy)
Elder Pieper taught about the difference between the Sacred vs. Secular. He quoted the lyrics of a favorite hymn entitled ”Let The Holy Spirit Guide“, and encouraged each of us to confess God’s hand in all things by keeping journals and personal records that record our life’s sacred events and blessings.
“Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because Heaven is its source. . . those who hold sacred things sacred receive promises.”
Elder Neil A. Anderson – Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Anderson gave a masterful talk about living as a Christian.
He shared a story of a reporter who spent a long time studying the church, and his response was “How could someone consider you not Christian?” But, Elder Anderson instructed that even more important that what others think of us, we should be asking “What thinks Christ of me?“
“Discipleship is not a competition at all, rather it is an invitation to all.”
[OK. I am going to admit that I actually fell asleep in the middle of Elder Anderson's amazing talk. Shameful, I know. In my defense, I was struggling with the beginnings of a sinus infection, and this was the result of taking some antihistamines to prevent a coughing attack. Sorry, Elder Anderson! I promise to read his entire talk when it is published.]
President Thomas S. Monson, Concluding Remarks
President Monson stepped to the pulpit to give some concluding remarks. He began with a statement of gratitude:
“My heart is full…we have felt the strength of the Lord…we have enjoyed beautiful music…I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those behind the scenes…” ensuring a smooth and beautiful General Conference.
He thanked the service of outgoing leaders, and welcomed the new leaders that “have been called by inspiration from on high.” Indeed, President Monson expressed his love and appreciation to all. He declared “How blessed we are! . . . The gospel provides meaning, and purpose and hope for our lives.“
President Monson warned that “we live in troubled times” and encouraged us to call on the Lord in prayer “always“, [Note: he paused from his prepared remarks to specifically cite the following scripture]
“Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth.” – D&C 19:38
President Monson furthered counselled to
“Love your families. If there are disagreements or contentions among you, I urge you to settle them…settle them now!
Note: He added another scripture not on the screen:
“…There shall be no disputations among you..For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. But behold, this is not my doctrine, but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away.” 3 Nephi 11: 28-30
President Monson vowed to serve us, with all his “might, mind and strength” and expressed the desire with all his heart to serve God and to serve us. He invoked “the blessings of heaven upon each of you” – (prompting a laugh from the crowd as he pointed all around the building and up and down, and explaining with a smile “the building is full!”)
“May you ponder the truths you have heard. May they help you become even better than you were when Conference began two days ago.”
The Choir concluded with a musical prayer
“I Need Thee Every Hour“
To watch, read, or listen to the entire April 2012 LDS General Conference, click here!
- LDS General Conference Saturday: Family, Faith, Atonement (and David Archuleta) (mormonsoprano.com)
- Getting To Know The First Presidency (mormonsoprano.com)
- We Listen To A Prophet’s Voice (mormonsoprano.com)