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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, October 1, 2021

What Happens When Families Watch General Conference Together?

            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.

Technology 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. 

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