Young adults pack Conference Center, overflow seating with largest crowds since pandemic

May 16, 2022, 10:39 AM | Updated: 3:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands gathered at the Conference Center and overflow seating in Temple Square for a big event that hasn’t taken place with this many people in-person, since before the start of the pandemic.

Many of them took away more than just a message and connected with others sharing their age and beliefs.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited young adults between the ages of 18-30, and those in their last year of seminary, living within an hour and a half drive of the Conference Center to a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults.

Approximately 24,000 secured a seat between the Conference Center, and the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Many more who couldn’t make it in sat outside the Conference Center, watching the talk on their phone.

The sound of thousands of voices echoed with excitement across the Conference Center courtyard, with many showing up two hours or more early in hopes of making it inside for the event.

“I haven’t been in this atmosphere for a long time, so I was like, ‘Yes! We are back again.’ I was so happy,” said Ericson Weih, who lives in Sugar House and arrived two hours before the devotional began.

Naomi Gonzales said she drove down from Clearfield and found it “really awesome” to be surrounded by so many people with similar beliefs, and who care about the Church as much as she does.

“With people my age, I can relate to them more,” she said.

Inside the Conference Center, thousands of young adults eagerly listened to President Nelson and his wife. President Nelson shared a message centering on choosing what kind of life one wants to live forever and understanding fundamental truths to prepare for their future course—relayed in a way young adults could appreciate.

“These truths ought to prompt your ultimate sense of FOMO,” President Nelson said, as everyone laughed. The crowd chuckled again as he continued. “Or, ‘fear of missing out.'”

Gonzales shared how she loved hearing President Nelson describe important labels about who she is, including being a child of God, that she will now prioritize in her life.

“Everything he said was so perfect with what I needed,” she said.

“It pushes me to go back again, to come back to myself, go back to the principals– which is learning and improving all the time,” Weih said.

Gonzales and Weih also felt something else resonate during the event—finding connection and friendship with each other. The two met outside the Conference Center, after they couldn’t make it in. Weih saw Gonzales taking notes, and the two opened a conversation.

“To be honest, I didn’t really expect it. I just kind of expected to come and take notes,” Gonzales said. “But that was really awesome to have someone talk to me, and it was really nice– so thank you.”

She said it was good for her to step out of her comfort zone and meet new people her age, who share the same belief as she does.

“I want to experience more of these things, and especially as this gospel is centered around people,” Gonzales said. “What a good opportunity for me.”

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Young adults pack Conference Center, overflow seating with largest crowds since pandemic