The 190th Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began virtually Saturday morning. For the second time, conference looked different than usual as the Church adhered to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
President Russell M. Nelson, prophet and current President of the Church, kicked off the session by delivering a positive message focused on how the work of the Lord “is steadily moving forward.” He also included that more people watched the April 2020 session of General Conference than ever before, and Church leaders hope to have an even bigger audience this weekend.
President Nelson delivered a message of hope to a world struggling from a global pandemic. Although temples have been closed, Nelson emphasized that by the end of 2020, the Church will have broken ground for 20 new temples. Eight groundbreaking ceremonies have already taken place in Richmond, Virginia; Alabang, Philippines; Layton, Utah; Auckland, New Zealand; Feather River California; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Orem, Utah and Brasilia, Brazil. Twelve others are scheduled to take place between now and Dec. 31.
He also shared that the Church has had a part in pandemic humanitarian aid for 895 projects in 150 different countries. “Unusual times can bring unusual rewards,” President Nelson said.
Elder David A. Bednar, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addressed the audience following President Nelson. He focused on the importance of being prepared both physically and spiritually. “Just as challenging times reveal inadequacies in temporal preparedness, so, too, the maladies of spiritual casualness and complacency inflict their most detrimental effects during difficult trials,” said Elder Bednar.
Among other speakers were Elder Scott. D Whiting of the Quorum of the Seventy, Sister Michelle Craig of the Young Women general presidency of the Church, Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The final speaker of the Saturday morning session was President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency. Oaks addressed a myriad of issues centered around peace, racism, current elections, and love. His message came during a year that has been covered in protests, violence, and social difficulties.
“We move toward loving our adversaries when we avoid anger and hostility toward those with whom we disagree. It also helps if we are willing to learn from them,” said Oaks. “As I have lived for many years in different places in this nation, the Lord has taught me that it is possible to obey and seek to improve our nation’s laws and also to love our adversaries and our enemies. While not easy, it is possible with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ.”