President Samuelson gives insight into conference preparation

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    By Arne Karlsson

    As dandelions break through the cold soil, patches of fresh grass appear and birds can be heard singing in a nearby tree, many Latter-day Saints get ready for this years 175th Semi-Annual General Conference. But some have more preparing to do than others, and sacrifice days and weeks to get ready ? namely, the general authorities.

    They have more to do and organize in advent of conference than most other members.

    President Cecil O. Samuelson, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, shared some of his thoughts on general conference with The Daily Universe regarding the preparation that goes into conference.

    ?In general, these are wonderful days of instruction, edification and spiritual enlightenment, just as they should be for every church member,? Samuelson said. ?It is true that there are also some circumstances that apply uniquely to the general authorities and general officers.?

    Albeit they have the best seats in the Conference Center between President Hinckley and the choirs, those seats also bring the pressure to stay constantly alert ? a TV camera may swing in their direction without warning, Samuelson said.

    He also pointed out that preparing a talk requires much more effort than just listening to one.

    ?With respect to speaking assignments, general authorities and general officers are informed in which session they will speak, the speaker they will follow, and the amount of time they will be given for their messages? Samuelson said. ?No topics are assigned because it is assumed that speakers will take their counsel from the Holy Ghost.

    “It is fascinating how coordinated the messages often seem. It is a testimony of the reality of inspiration and revelation. In spite of this obvious help from Heaven, all work diligently, usually for three to four weeks in preparation,? he said.

    General conference is translated live into more than 50 languages, and the speakers are encouraged to submit, when possible, their text some days before conference so the translators can be as familiar with it as possible as they perform the translation. No practice is required, but those who wish to can rehearse their talks with the teleprompter in advance.

    Each conference is different, but there are typically some days of meetings and instructions for the various quorums and auxiliary presidencies as church leaders come together from all over the world.

    ?Often, assignments are given and special instruction or counsel is shared,? Samuelson said, ?Once a year, the Quorums of the Seventy and spouses have an evening social and dinner together before they all leave and return to their assignments.?

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