The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its semi-annual general conference. There are four general sessions of conference twice each year and plus a priesthood session in the spring and a women’s session in the fall. I had the privilege of watching three sessions of conference today and marveled at the miracle.
My family lived about three hours out of Salt Lake City, and we never attended general conference. We knew that it was happening because our bishop and a few other people from the ward attended. However, we continued our regular schedule of Sunday school in the morning and sacrament meeting in the evening. We usually listened to a few sessions over the radio.
I was a young adult before I attended general conference. At least, I sort of attended it. My friends and I drove to Salt Lake City, but we did not have tickets to enter the Tabernacle. Therefore, we sat on the grass and listened to the speakers from outside the building. The next time that I went to general conference was less than ten years ago. I happened to be in Utah, so I drove up to the conference center and waited to see if I could get one of the no-show tickets. I watched one session and found the experience to be fascinating.
For many years I took my children and drove over to the meetinghouse to watch general conference. I think that we received it a week late (just as we got our news and television programs) and watched it on video. Some years later we watched as it came over the telephone wires and then as it came by satellite. I continued to go to the meetinghouse after many people were watching it on the BYU channel. Now I watch it over the Internet.
I am torn between watching it at home or driving over to the meetinghouse. I do not have the same feelings at home as I did at the meetinghouse, but I find it much more comfortable and convenient to watch at home. I get distracted at home by things that I need to do, so my mind is sometimes divided between what I am doing and what I am watching. I am grateful that I can go back and listen to talks again or read them in the Ensign or by using technology.
Some big changes happened today. There is no longer a Young Men’s presidency on the ward level, and the Bishopric will work more closely with the young men. The Young Women have a new theme, but there are no longer Beehives, Mia Maids, and Laurels. The words of the new Young Women Theme are powers and are as follow.
I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents,
with a divine nature and eternal destiny.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become
like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation
and minister to others in His holy name.
I will stand as a witness of God at all times
and in all things and in all places.
As I strive for exaltation, I cherish the gift of
repentance and seek to improve each day. With
faith, I will strengthen my home and family,
make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the
ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.
President Russell M. Nelson announced the building of eight new temples in the women’s session. This is the first time that announcements of new temples have been made to the women. They are planned for following places: Freetown, Sierra Leone; Orem, Utah; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Bentonville, Arkansas; Bacolod, Philippines; McAllen, Texas; Coban, Guatemala, and Taylorsville, Utah. This announcement brings the total number of operating temples (166) and temples announced or under construction (51) to 217 worldwide.
President Nelson spoke twice today, once in the afternoon session and once in the women’s session. To the general membership, the Prophet said the following:
Great power lies in learning who you really are. Please take time to think prayerfully about these facts:
· You are an elect son or daughter of God.
· You are created in His image.
· You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching endures within you!
Learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness.
I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!
To the sisters – adult women, young women, and girls 8 years old and over – the Prophet gave this counsel:
My dear sisters, I hope you understand that the heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing form their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood. I pray that truth will register upon each of your hearts because I believe it will change your life. Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.
I am grateful that President Nelson is uses Facebook and shares his thoughts there. Tomorrow I will watch two more sessions of conference – for a total of ten hours this weekend. Then I will wait anxiously – like millions of other members of the Church – for the next general conference for another spiritual feast. I am grateful for the prophets, apostles, and other leaders who help us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that they are called of God for this very purpose.