Over 14 million people belong to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, and about two million live in Utah alone, but many members gather from all parts of the world to hear their leaders speak during conference season.
Stephanie Roberson, a Southern Virginia University graduate from Harvey, La., made the trek to Salt Lake City for the Church’s 183rd Annual General Conference. She purchased an airplane ticket and took time off of work for the few days that conference runs.
“Watching/going to conference isn’t mandatory; we don’t even have to participate in real time! But it’s still important, right?” Roberson said. “I don’t have much to give, and the Lord isn’t asking for a lot. I would be spending that weekend watching conference anyway, why not prove to myself and my God that he has my attention? This is a small additional sacrifice of my time and finances for the gospel that I love.”
Roberson and many other faithful members believe that listening to or attending General Conference is personally beneficial. It’s not mandatory or done to prove a point; it is solely for one’s own rejuvenation.
Katie Libby, mother of two BYU students and resident of Rio Rancho, N.M., brought her family on a road trip to enjoy General Conference live.
“I am excited to attend a live session of General Conference,” Libby said. “It will be a great experience for the kids to see President (Thomas S.) Monson and our General Authorities in person. Their words will mean so much more because they will be able to listen without distraction, without pj’s and pillows and dozing on the couch!”
Members of the Libby family aren’t the only ones taking a road trip for a refreshing weekend of words of wisdom. Jennifer Rollender, a math education major who attends BYU-Idaho, traveled down with some friends.
“There is just something special about being in the same room as the living prophets,” Rollender said. “The way I see it, if you can go, why not travel?”
Aside from the counsel of the prophet, reuniting with family and friends makes for a great excuse to come to Utah.
“My friends are a huge part of this decision too,” Roberson said. “A weekend in the presence of living prophets, surrounded by some of the greatest people I know, all of us striving to become like the Savior — I imagine it will be something I reflect on for years to come.”
Rollender is making the most of her time in Salt Lake City as well. “Idaho doesn’t have any good malls, and I need to do some shopping!”