It’s time for the Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! This is always an exciting time for members of the church – But, this weekend is EXTRA Special! And, I’m going to tell you why of course. Whether you are a member of our faith or not, all are welcome to join & watch. There are multiple ways to watch which are all listed here. Cable TV, YouTube, lds.org, online streaming… all good! And, it’s available in about a 100 languages, too!
1. A NEW PROPHET & 2 NEW APOSTLES
The April 2018 Conference is particularly notable because we have a new prophet being officially sustained (ratified by the membership)! President Russell M. Nelson is the 17th prophet of the church, succeeding President Thomas S. Monson who died on Jan 2, 2018. He has chosen Henry B. Eyring and Dallin H. Oaks as his two counselors. The three of them create the First Presidency of the Church.
There are two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve apostles right now. Their replacements will also be announced this weekend.
- Russell M. Nelson is a former leading heart surgeon.
- He was the doctor who once performed a life saving operation on the 12th prophet of the LDS church, Spencer W. Kimball.
- Dr. Nelson was called to be an apostle in April 1984 – on the very same day as his newly called counselor Dallin H. Oaks. Since Elder Nelson was set apart first, he was first in line this year to become our new prophet.
2. A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY
President Nelson will be officially sustained (voted/ratified) in by the church membership during the very first session of Conference on Saturday morning at 10:00 am Mountain Time. This is called a Solemn Assembly of the Church. Each group of membership are given a chance to stand and “sustain” the new prophet by raising their right hand in agreement. The men age 18 and older stand and vote, then the Young Men age 12-18, then the Women age 18 and older will stand, then the Young Women age 12-18. Then, the entire membership of the church are invited to stand – including all those who stood previously – arise and sustain the new prophet/President, apostles, and other general authorities.
I was present in the Choir loft during the solemn assembly for President Monson in April 2008 .
After the Solemn Assembly, we will most likely get to find out who our next two new apostles will be. There is a lot of excitement and speculation about who may be called… but, this is always a secret to the members of the church until their names are called (except the current apostles and first presidency, of course, who helped choose & sustain them). Then, they rise from their seats in the audience and take their seats behind the podium with the other quorum members.
3. EASTER WEEKEND
This year Easter Sunday and General Conference converge. It is always extra special when we can celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the same day that we listen to His representatives on earth share His inspired messages with us.
4. A MUSICAL ANNIVERSARY
As a life-long member I have always loved General Conference and I have many fond memories watching and listening with my family. However, for the past decade being a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has made Conference extra special. In fact, this weekend will mark my 10 year anniversary of singing my very first General Conference with the Choir. April 2018 is my 19th General Conference sitting in the Choir loft in the Conference Center. I have a unique view – instead of looking at the speakers I am looking out at the vast throng of 21,000 people in attendance – and I am knowing that millions more are watching and listening. I think of my pioneer ancestors who joined the church when there were only a few hundred Saints, and how amazed they would be to see this many members gathered together, singing the songs of zion and listening to prophets and apostles magnified voices. I am completely amazed that this is my musical mission calling in the church. What a humbling honor it has been – and continues to be, until the time comes for me to retire.
That photo above is a screen shot from the very first song that I ever sang in my very first General Conference in the Choir!
- The song I’m singing is the hymn “For the Beauty of The Earth“.
- I am very short so usually I am assigned to the front two rows, but since new members are ‘filled in’ wherever there is an absence I was way up there at the top standing on a little wooden box to look tall enough. 🙂
COME, JOIN ME!
General Conference Weekend is a chance to step away from all the stress, chaos and clamor of “the world”. We are reminded of what is truly important and good about life, and we have the opportunity to feel peace and recharge our spiritual batteries.
I hope you will join me on Saturday and Sunday, USA Mountain Time. I invite all of you to watch and feel the peaceful spirit and be inspired by the talks… and of course the beautiful music from the Choir. Whether you come in person, or watch from wherever you are in the world (or watch the tape delayed version if you can’t make it this weekend), I promise there is going to be a message that is meant just for you to hear.
And, I will also be singing, just for you!