President Thomas S. Monson
President Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of two new temples, in Cedar City and Rio de Janeiro, and encouraged generous contributions to the General Missionary Fund in his Saturday morning address of the 183rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Monson introduced the new temples by first saying he dedicated the Calgary, Alberta Temple in Canada in October and the Tegucigalpa, Honduras temple in March and also rededicated the Boise Idaho Temple.
The missionary force of the Church, he said, is also growing. Right now, there are 65,634 missionaries serving with another 20,000 soon to enter the Missionary Training Center, and 6,000 who are working on completing their missionary papers.
“The response of our young people has been remarkable and inspiring,” President Monson said, referring to the missionary age change he announced in October.
This age change demands more resources, however.
“To help maintain the missionary force, and because many of our missionaries come from modest circumstances, we invite you … to contribute generously to the General Missionary Fund of the Church,” President Monson said.
President Boyd K. Packer
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, underlined several points in his Saturday morning General Conference talk, including peaceful aging through the atonement, the sanctity of the family and agency.
President Packer shared a poem he composed over the years, in which he covers the pains of growing older, including loss of memory and physical disability, as well as the joys of modern technology that “backed my polio away” and the blessings of a mature marriage.
“We’re meant for age, for with it,” he said, “comes a knowledge of the truth.”
This important knowledge, he said, was based on the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In his simple poem of 22 four-line stanzas, President Packer shares his testimony.
“I now can say with all certainty that I know and love the Lord I can testify with them of old. … I know He did (the atonement) for all for us; We have no greater Friend,” he said.
This testimony can be shared and strengthened best in the family, President Packer said. However, Latter-day Saints must protect the family to achieve this.
“We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual,” he said. “The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded.”
Latter-day Saints cans choose to support the family based on their agency, doing well to not fall into the “tolerance trap,” President Packer said. He characterized this, saying: “The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God’s law of chastity.”
Bishop Dean M. Davies
Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric spoke about sure foundations in the gospel during the Saturday morning General Conference session.
Bishop Davies knows what it means to be without a sure foundation. He was in San Francisco in 1989 during the Loma Prieta earthquake that left 12,000 people homeless. As he pondered that day, he said the event taught him that in order to withstand the calamities of life, we must be built on a sure foundation.
The key to having a sure foundation, he said, is understanding the plan of salvation.
“The plan lays out for us a clear picture and understanding of the beginning and the end, the essential steps, including ordinances, which are necessary for each of Father’s children to be able to return to His presence and dwell with him forever,” Bishop Dean said.
Bishop Dean also said there must be balance in application of gospel principles, such as prayer, scripture reading, pondering and renewing covenants. Partaking of the sacrament renews the influence of the Spirit in our lives, another key to having a sure foundation.
“The Spirit acts as a type of mortar, a welding link that not only sanctifies but also brings all things to our remembrance and testifies again and again of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Davies said.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton
Sister Elaine S. Dalton focused on the divine nature of young women and the necessity for good role models in their lives in her last conference talk as Young Women General President. She and her presidency were released during the Saturday afternoon conference session.
The strongest mentors, she said, are the parents of these young women.
“Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood. Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so if your example,” Sister Dalton said.
Although her own father died when she was a BYU student, Sister Dalton read a comforting Shakespeare line after hearing about her father’s death: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” These words let Sister Dalton know that she was a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father and her part in the world mattered.
Sister Dalton said each part, each person, matters. Along this vein, Sister Dalton renewed the young women’s call for a return to virtue, which is a part that each person if required to play as part of the plan of salvation.
“What would the world be like if virtue — a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards — were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value?” she asked. “If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement ‘We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,’ how would women be regarded and treated?”
Surely, she said, the world would be changed.
Elder Craig A. Cardon
The message by Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy is that Christ wants to forgive those who willingly repent.
“(A)fter doing all we can do, (Christ’s) compassion and grace are the means whereby ‘in process of time’ we overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement,” he said.
Elder Cardon explained how people can deal with the repeated slip-ups of ourselves or loved ones. He quoted Preach My Gospel to show how this is done.
“(W)e are counseled to ‘show confidence in the individual and not be judgmental… (treating) it as a temporary and understandable setback,'” he said.
He emphasized, quoting President Thomas S. Monson, that people can change, and although one may make the same mistake over and over, the savior wants to forgive all and does when willing hearts turn to him.
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked about the power of the priesthood and a new worldwide leadership training DVD on the same topic during the Saturday morning session of General Conference.
Elder Ballard recently participated in a worldwide leadership training program called “Strengthening the Family and the Church through the Priesthood.” It shows how all of God’s children, without regard for class of background or gender,can be partakers of the priesthood and its gifts. The videos of the presentation consist of many eight- to 12-minute videos explaining how the priesthood works. It is available through streaming or download from LDS.org.
The First Presidency has asked that wards and stakes in council meetings watch the DVD at least once. Elder Ballard testified that this will inspire not only priesthood holders but all who watch it. He encouraged members to view the presentation.
“The content will inspire and motivate members … especially those preparing for missions … Brothers and sisters, this leadership training is for every member of the Church,” he said.
Elder Ballard also focused on how the priesthood impacts the relationship between men, women. The purpose of all this, he said, is so God’s children can return to live with him.
“It is Heavenly Father’s great priesthood endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles.”
To illustrate the power of the priesthood to bring us back to God, Elder Ballard spoke of the galaxies and stars that are only visible through powerful telescopes. The vastness of space and depth of God’s creations in the universe, Elder Ballard said, came about through the priesthood.
“It is crucial for us to understand that Heavenly Father has provided a way for all of His sons and His daughters to have access to the blessings of and be strengthened by the power of the priesthood,” said Elder Ballard.
President Henry B. Eyring
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, talked about drawing closer to Jesus Christ in his Saturday morning address during General Conference.
President Eyring shared how, as a boy, he had special feelings during sacrament meeting. In his talk, he read a few New Testament scriptures about the resurrection of the Lord, saying that they increased his understanding of the sacrament. All members of the church, he said, are charged with the responsibility to bring the spirit into their lives similarly.
“We are under covenant both to lift up those in need and to be witnesses of the Savior as long as we live,” President Eyring said.
However, we cannot do it alone.
“We will only be able to do it without fail as we feel love for the Savior and His love for us,” President Eyring said.
Making and keeping covenants, President Eyring said, is exactly for that purpose. Additionally, as members serve the Lord by obeying him, members’ families are blessed.
“Every time I have been called in the Lord’s service to more or to leave my family,” he said, “I eventually came to see that the Lord was blessing my wife and my children. He prepared loving servants and opportunities to draw them closer to Him.”
When one’s family member has taken a turn off the path to the Lord, that can be painful, said Eyring. But he expressed faith that prayers on that person’s behalf can work miracles.
Just like the prayers of their parents brought back the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger, “your prayers and the prayers of those who exercise faith will bring the Lord’s servants to help your family members,” President Eyring said.
He closed with a promise to the faithful in the church: “My promise to you who pray and serve the Lord cannot be that you will have every blessing you may wish for yourself and your family. But I can promise you that the Savior will draw close to you and bless you and you family with that is best. You will have the comfort of His love and feel the answer of His drawing closer and you reach out your arms in giving service to others,” he said.