LDS General Conference: An Overview

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    By Brittany Leonard

    SALT LAKE CITY-While President Gordon B. Hinckley did not open the Saturday morning session of 176th semiannual General Conference or conduct any of the sessions, he addressed the congregation Sunday, Apr. 2, 2006, expressing gratitude for his service in the church even as he faces the “sunset of his life.”

    The conference, broadcast to millions of members around the world in over 85 languages, was also attended by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O”Connor and her husband on Sunday morning.

    President Hinckley assured members that while he has some residual health problems arising for his surgery earlier this year, he looks forward to speaking again in October and has not lost his sense of humor.

    “I trust you will not regard this as an obituary,” President Hinckley said, drawing chuckles from the audience members.

    The prophet shared some of his memoirs related to past presidents of the church and other notable world leaders and described artifacts collected in the 48 years he has labored since being sustained as a General Authority.

    He also mentioned how the opportunity to lift his voice around the world and bear his testimony has influenced millions, including his recent global challenge to read the Book of Mormon.

    Many other leaders also spoke of worldwide fellowship and stressed the universality of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the present day. Church statistics reported overall growth in the last year: 418 new wards, 36 new stakes, 993 more full-time missionaries serving and 243,000 new converts baptized.

    President James E. Faust, speaking of the restoration of all things, explained the global message of the church, applicable to everyone who wished to come unto Christ.

    “Our message is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father,” Faust said, quoting a message from the First Presidency released in 1978.

    He also mentioned how many religious leaders, such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the reformers received a portion of God”s light and that there is no reason for any member to feel superior in any toward others of God”s children.

    Elder Robert S. Wood of the Second Quorum of the Seventy advised against generalizing, stereotyping and demeaning those with dissenting opinions, stressing the important of love and peace in this world.

    “Wherever we live in the world, we have been molded as a people to be instruments of the Lord”s peace,” Wood said.

    Bishop H. David Burton summarized some of the efforts made by the LDS church in reaching out to bless people all over the world, members and non-members alike by describing humanitarian efforts.

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the gospel being available for “all men everywhere.”

    “Again and again the Book of Mormon teaches that the gospel of Jesus Christ is universal in its promise and effect-reaching out to all who ever live on the earth,” said Oaks.

    Both Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder David R. Stone of the Quorum of the Seventy explained how individuals can survive the demanding tides of culture and immorality by clinging to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The First Presidency announced 10 new General Authorities at the Saturday afternoon session.

    In the First Quorum of the Seventy are Elder David S. Baxter, Suffolk England; Elder Shayne M. Bowen, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Elder Daniel L. Johnson, Colonia Juarez, Mexico; Elder Marcus B. Nash, Lynnwood, Washington; and Elder Anthony D. Perkins, Taipei, Taiwan.

    In the Second Quorum of the Seventy are Elder Craig A. Cardon, Gilbert, Arizona; Elder Don R. Clarke, Buena Vista, Virginia; Elder Keith R. Edwards, Las Vegas, Nevada; Elder Stanley G. Ellis, Spring Texas, and Elder Larry W. Gibbons, Dallas, Texas.

    President Hinckley closed the conference by giving his love and blessing to church members worldwide, counseling them to show respect and love to one another.

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