Families who watch General Conference together can be stronger, and strong families strengthen their communities and nations. General Conference is a biannual gathering of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints every April and October in Salt Lake City, Utah. Each conference consists of five sessions lasting two hours each: Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening, Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon.
The two morning sessions and the two
afternoon sessions have been for all Church members for as long as I can
remember. The Saturday evening session was originally a meeting for men and
boys aged twelve and over. A change took place in 2018 when the April Saturday
evening session was for the priesthood, and the October Saturday evening
session became a women’s meeting for all females aged 8 years and older.
Another change will take place tomorrow night when the Saturday evening session
becomes a fifth meeting for all members.
When my children were young, we
drove over to the meetinghouse to watch the conference sessions. The meetings
start at 10:00, 2:00, and 6:00 in Salt Lake City. This means that they start at
8:00, 12:00, and 4:00 in Anchorage. The children mumbled and grumbled at times,
but they were good about going with me. When they became old enough to stay at
home alone, they went with me to at least one session and stayed home if they
chose for the others.
changed how I watch conference. I no longer drive over to the meetinghouse
because I can watch it over the internet in my home.
My children living in Utah watch it on
television with their families. My youngest daughter purchased special tray
tables for their children. The children sit on the couch with the tray table in
front of them. There is room for snacks and space for coloring or writing.
A classmate shared her family tradition of
serving chili to the family on a blanket in front of the computer. Other
families have their own traditions.
I will start a new tradition this year and follow a suggestion given by Elder David A. Bednar to follow this pattern: listen for doctrine and principles being taught, invitations to act, and blessings promised. In a recent interview, Elder Bednar explained how “identifying and applying the pattern of the three connected elements can bless individuals as they prepare for, listen to and study messages from Apostles and Prophets given during general conference.”
The basic pattern is to identify the
fundamental doctrine or principle that is being taught, find invitations to act
related to that doctrine or principle, and then also recognize the promised
blessings that will come as we act in accordance with that invitation.
When families watch General Conference together, parents can help the children to identify the doctrine or principle, recognize the invitation, and listen for the promised blessing. By helping children to appreciate and enjoy watching General Conference together, parents can strengthen their family as well as their community and nation.