Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gather together twice a year for a Church-wide conference to hear from Church leaders. Over the last decade there have been a few changes made to the General Conference experience.
1. Provo City Center Temple announcement
One such announcement was the conversion of the Provo Tabernacle into the Provo City Center Temple. On Dec. 17, 2010 the Provo Tabernacle was gutted by fire, leaving only the outer walls standing.
During the Saturday morning session of the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced that the Church would rebuild the beloved Provo Tabernacle as a temple.
The groundbreaking of the temple occurred on May 12, 2012 and was conducted by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve. The temple will include three ordinance rooms and five sealing rooms. The Angel Moroni was raised onto the structure on March 31, 2014.
2. Mission age change
The Saturday morning session of the October 2012 General Conference is a conference that will long be remembered by today’s youth of the Church. The change in missionary age impacted tens of thousands of LDS youth.
During the session, President Thomas S. Monson made the announcement that all worthy and able young men may serve a mission at age 18 instead of age 19 and that worthy young women could serve at age 19 instead of age 21. This announcement caused the missionary force of the Church to expand from 58,500 in October 2012 to 88,000 by October 2014.
3. Priesthood Session broadcast
During the October 2013 General Conference, the General Priesthood session of was broadcast via BYUtv, Internet streaming (on LDS.org), YouTube and more. The Church did this in an effort to make the Priesthood Session more accessible to members around the world. The Church even encouraged members to use the hashtag #priesthood on Twitter.
4. Women’s Conference an official session of General Conference
Beginning in March 2014, the General Women’s Session officially became part of General Conference. With the inclusion of a women’s session of conference, there are now six sessions of General Conference.
Because it is held a week before the other sessions, the women’s session of conference has now supplanted the Saturday morning session as the opening session of conference. The session is open for women and girls from the age of 8 and onward.
5. Conference speakers speak in native languages
Beginning in October 2014, speakers at General Conferences were allowed to give their conference addresses in their native languages. Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, of the Quorum of the Seventy, was the first to give a talk in his native language of Cantonese.
7. Rome Italy Temple announced
During the October 2008 session of General Conference the building of the Rome, Italy Temple was announced. While there are more than 25,000 members of the Church in Italy, 88.6 percent of Italy’s population is Catholic.
The groundbreaking for the temple occurred Oct. 23, 2010. The Church plans to build a stake center, housing for patrons, a visitor’s center and a family history center on the surrounding land.
With another session of General Conference just days away, members of the Church look forward to the great messages they are sure to hear and also anticipate when the Church leaders make the next big announcement.