RELIGION

LIVE BLOG: Saturday April 2020 General Conference

Apr 4, 2020, 10:56 AM | Updated: Jul 1, 2022, 11:48 pm
Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt ...
Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time ever, the April 2020 General Conference sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were held virtually due to coronavirus concerns. Officials gathered in a small auditorium on the grounds of Temple Square to address Church members all over the world. Musical numbers were pre-recorded and sung by The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

Saturday Morning

President Russell M. Nelson addressed Church members first during the Saturday morning session. He said he was speaking in front of a visible congregation of fewer than 10 people. He addressed how the coronavirus has affected the way people do things all over the world, including how Church members attend their weekly services, serve missions, and conduct temple work.

“We pray that this conference will be memorable and unforgettable because of the messages you will hear, the unique announcements which will be made, and the experiences in which you will be invited to participate,” he said.

The President announced that at the conclusion of the Sunday morning session of General Conference, Church members would participate in a worldwide solemn assembly where he would lead everyone in a sacred Hosanna shout. The unified moment was to express”our gratitude to God the Father and His Beloved Son” in global unison.

He concluded his message by saying, “I know that God is mindful of us.”

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke next, followed by Elder James R. Rasband of the Quorum of the Seventy and Primary General President Joy D. Jones.

“I have often wondered why Joseph and Hyrum and their families had to suffer so much. It may be that they came to know God through their suffering in ways that could not have happened without it,” said President Ballard.

“Although the Savior has power to mend what we cannot fix, He commands us to do all we can to make restitution as part of our repentance,” said Elder Rasband.

“Women wear many hats, but it is impossible, and unnecessary, to wear them all at once. The Spirit helps us determine which work to focus on today,” Sister Jones added.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed Church members after they joined the choir in a musical number. Brother Douglas D. Holmes, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, followed his address.

“I promise, as we focus on these principles — relationships, revelation, agency, repentance and sacrifice — the gospel of Jesus Christ will sink deeper in all our hearts,” said Brother Holmes.

President Henry B. Eyring was the last speaker during the Saturday morning session.

“When I pray with faith, I have the Savior as my advocate with the Father and I can feel that my prayer reaches heaven. Answers come. Blessings are received. There is peace and joy even in hard times,” said President Eyring.

Saturday Afternoon

President Dallin H. Oaks announced the calls of nine new General Authority Seventies and 57 Area Seventies at the beginning of the Saturday afternoon session. Also called was a new Young Men General Presidency, composed of President Steven J. Lund and counselors Ahmad Corbitt and Brad R. Wilcox.

Church officials also released the 2019 statistical report. Six temples were dedicated and seven were rededicated during 2019, bringing the total number of temples in operation to 167.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then spoke about the process of translating the Book of Mormon.

“As we study the coming forth of this holy book of scripture in these latter days, we come to realize that the entire undertaking was miraculous – from the prophet Joseph receiving the gold plates from a holy angel to its translation by the “gift and power of God,” its preservation, and publication by the Hand of the Lord,” Elder Soares said.

Elder John A. McCune, a General Authority Seventy, followed. He spoke about finding joy through Christ in difficult or trying times.

“We understand clearly that not every trial we face will have a result we wish for. However, as we remain focused on Christ, we will feel peace and see God’s miracles, whatever they may be, in His time and in His way,” Elder McCune said.

Bishop Gerald Causse of the Presiding Bishopric was the third speaker of the Saturday afternoon session. He spoke about the statue of the Christus at the Paris France Temple, saying the original Christus statue was sculpted in 1820 — the same year as the First Vision.

“The statue stands in stark contrast to most of the artistic renderings of that period, which largely portray the suffering Christ on the cross,” Bishop Causse said. “Thorvaldsen’s work presents the living Christ, who gained victory over death and, with open arms, invites all to come unto Him. Only the prints of the nails in His hands and feet and the wound in His side testify of the indescribable agony He endured to save all mankind.”

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then spoke, talking about the goodness and greatness of God and the gifts we receive from God during our earthly lives.

“…each of us has received gifts that we could not provide for ourselves, gifts from our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, including redemption through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” Elder Renlund said. “We have received life in this world; we will receive physical life in the hereafter, and eternal salvation and exaltation — if we choose it — all because of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Every time we use, benefit from, or even think of these gifts, we ought to consider the sacrifice, generosity and compassion of the givers. Reverence for the givers does more than just make us grateful. Reflecting on their gifts can and should transform us.”

The next speaker was Elder Benjamin M. Z. Tai, General Authority Seventy. He spoke about the power of the Book of Mormon in being converted to Christ.

“The Savior has given us the Book of Mormon as a powerful tool to aid in conversion,” Elder Tai said. “The Book of Mormon provides spiritual nutrition, prescribes a plan of action, and connects us with the Holy Spirit. Written for us, it contains the word of God in plainness and tells us of our identity, purpose, and destiny. With the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ and teaches how we can know truth and become like Him.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the final speaker of the Saturday afternoon session. He spoke of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, its renovation and how its renew can inspire personal, spiritual renovations.

“As I contemplate the next four years of the life of this beautiful, noble, exalted, and awe-inspiring Salt Lake Temple, I envision it more as a time of renewal rather than a time of closure!” Elder Stevenson said. “In a similar way, we might ask ourselves, “How could this extensive renewal of the Salt Lake Temple inspire us to undergo our own spiritual — renewal, reconstruction, rebirth, revitalization, or restoration?”

Special Saturday Evening Session

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles opened the session.

He was followed by two youth speakers from Provo, Utah.

Sister Laudy R. Kaouk, a young woman from the Slate Canyon 14th Ward in the Provo Utah Stake, and Brother Enzo S. Petelo, a priest in the Meadow Wood Ward of the Provo Utah Edgemont Stake, spoke.

They were followed by Sister Jean B. Bingham, General President of the Relief Society.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency then spoke about the priesthood and its relationship to members of the Church.

President Russell M. Nelson concluded the special session, speaking about the First Vision, the Restoration of the Church and the Church’s name.

He announced a new symbol that will be used for official Church news and events and called for a second global fast for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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LIVE BLOG: Saturday April 2020 General Conference