General Conference highlighted by challenges to serve

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The First Presidency sits and prepares just moments before the commencement of the general preisthod session .LDS church leaders admonished their members in many aspects of church service such as to refugees, in temples and in their families. (Gianluca Cuestas
The First Presidency prepares for the priesthood conference session. LDS Church leaders encouraged greater service and commitment during weekend conference sessions. (Gianluca Cuestas)

New temples, a new Primary presidency and challenges to help refugees and otherwise be service minded were highlights of the LDS Church’s April General Conference.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejoiced at the announcement made that four new temples will be added to the church’s worldwide presence.

New temples are planned in Harare, Zimbabwe; Quito, Ecuador; Belém, Brazil; and Lima, Peru, bringing the number of temples announced or under construction to 27.

The approximately 21,000 people in the LDS Conference Center waited in silence and excitement as church President Thomas S. Monson made the announcement.

“How grateful we are for the blessings we receive in these holy houses,” President Monson said.

With the new temples announced, leaders challenged church members to serve more in the temples across the world. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve said, “Ordinances performed in these temples enable individuals and families to return to the presence of our heavenly parents.” He explained that the church needed more temple workers now than ever before.

During the sustaining vote in the Saturday morning session, at least seven people audibly opposed the sustaining of the church leadership and general authorities, according to the website, anyopposed.org. A statement by the group says, “We encourage those who vote in opposition to stand and audibly state ‘opposed’ at the appropriate moment when opposing votes are called for, loud enough to be heard but not screaming.”

Soon after, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve challenged the faithful of the church to stand with their leaders. “The growing question of today is clear: are you standing with the leaders of the church in a darkening world so that you might spread the Light of Christ?” Elder Rasband said.

In addition to the new temples, the church also called a new Primary general presidency. The new presidency consists of President Joy D. Jones, first counselor Jean B. Bingham and second counselor Bonnie H. Cordon.

Church leaders extended a challenge throughout the weekend, as well as in the women’s session last week, to extend aid and charity to the growing number of refugees throughout the world.

Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of the Seventy said, “There are an estimated 60 million refugees in the world today.” He also pointed out that almost half of these are children.

“The Lord has instructed us that the stakes of Zion are to be ‘a defense’ and ‘a refuge from the storm.’ We have found refuge. Let us come out from our safe places and share with them, from our abundance, hope for a brighter future, faith in God and in our fellowman,” Elder Kearon said.

Following Kearon’s message, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency announced the final speakers of the session in a broken voice, holding back tears. Living much of his childhood as a refugee from WWII, President Uchtdorf emphasized the importance of remaining faithful and reaching out to God during the troubled times mentioned by several other church leaders.

“Acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father. God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin,” President Uchtdorf said.

Transcripts and video coverage of all the conference talks are available at conference.lds.org.

See a summary of The Daily Universe’s coverage of General Conference at universe.byu.edu.

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