Church leaders shared words of comfort, inspiration and guidance during the 192nd Annual General Conference this weekend.
This was the first conference with an in-person audience since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 10,000 people were in attendance for each of the five sessions.
President Russell M. Nelson addressed the Russia-Ukraine War, saying that even though individuals cannot end wars, they can still control their own behavior and choose to end conflicts “raging in your heart, your home and your life.”
Seventeen new temples were also announced across the world, including two in Brazil, two in Mexico and one in Peru.
President Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve emphasized eternal truths about marriage, family and gender.
General Authority Seventy Elder Jörg Klebingat also asked conferencegoers to stand up for the commandments of God, saying, “Let us be confident, not apologetic, valiant, not timid, faithful, not fearful as we hold up the Lord’s light in these last days.”
Elder Renlund warned members against praying to Heavenly Mother, worshiping her, or being led astray by ideas about her not backed up by revelation. Despite curiosity, people should wait for further revelation and trust in God’s timetable, he said.
“Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation,” Elder Renlund said.
President Oaks said the teachings of the Church apply eternal truths about marriage and family that may be hard to swallow but are essential to God’s loving plan.
“Fundamental to us is God’s revelation that exaltation can only be attained through faithfulness to the covenants of an eternal marriage between a man and a woman,” he said. “The mission of the Restored Church is to help all the children of God qualify for what God desires as their ultimate destiny.”
Several leaders focused on the importance of missionary work. President Nelson said the gospel has never been needed more than it is in today’s darkness. He also emphasized the Lord’s expectation that every worthy, able young man serve a mission.
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said missionaries will grow spiritually and come to know Jesus Christ through their service.
“I testify that my mission is where I came to know that my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ know and love me,” President Ballard said.
General Authority Seventy Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis said Christ can help struggling missionaries and will bless them for their efforts.
“He understands what a difficult mission is,” he said. “With His help, we can do hard things. He will be by our side, and He will bless us greatly as we humbly serve Him.”
Many speakers shared guidance for how people can gain what President Nelson called “spiritual momentum” as they move along their covenant path. They outlined steps to take to help people increase their faith, use their time wisely and keep their covenants.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve compared gospel ordinances and covenants to a compass that guides them along the path home to God. He encouraged members to “heed not” to evil influences that could lead them astray.
“As covenant-making and covenant-keeping disciples of Jesus Christ, we can be blessed to take ‘courage, for the Lord is on our side’ and pay no attention to evil influences and secular scoffing,” Elder Bednar said. “Press on. Hold fast. Heed not.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve compared staying on the covenant path to riding a bicycle.
“Keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Focus on your destination. And get pedaling. Staying balanced is all about moving forward,” he said. “If we want to find balance in life and if we want the Savior to lift us heavenward, then our commitment to Him and His gospel can’t be casual or occasional.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve added that conversion and change happen when people make a conscious commitment to adhere to God’s will, not their own will.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve warned against spiritual apathy. Complacency can make people take the gifts of the gospel for granted, he said. People are happier and see God’s hand in their lives more easily when they approach the gospel with wonder and enthusiasm.
Sister Rebecca L. Craven of the Young Women General Presidency similarly told conferencegoers to increase their faith by taking action, focusing on what matters most and avoiding distractions.
“Conversion won’t come while doing nothing. It comes through the power of the Holy Ghost as we intentionally make an effort to know by asking, seeking and knocking. It comes by doing,” she said. “Satan would love nothing more than for us to misplace our eternal values, leading us to waste precious time, talents, or spiritual strength on things that matter not.”
Much of the guidance focused on how people can survive more than they believe they can through Christ’s help and their trust in God.
Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy talked about the survival story of antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and spoke to those who feel like they are living through survival stories of their own.
He said people can survive more than they think they can because they have already been rescued by Jesus Christ.
“Jesus has overcome the abuses of this world to give you power to not only survive but one day, through Him, to overcome and even conquer — to completely rise above the pain, the misery, the anguish, and see them replaced by peace,” Elder Kearon said.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told leaders and parents to look for signs of depression and hopelessness among youth and asked young people to commit themselves more fully to the gift of life.
“To any of our youth out there who are struggling, whatever your concerns or difficulties, death by suicide is manifestly not the answer. It will not relieve the pain you are feeling or that you see yourself causing,” he said. “You can bear the struggles of this mortal life because we will help you bear them. You are stronger than you think. Help is available, from others and especially from God.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson talked about how people can rise about the pain of life when they come to understand how God’s blessings — and life’s hardships — work together.
“In the midst of this refiner’s fire, rather than get angry with God, get close to God,” he said. “In the end, it is the blessing of a close and abiding relationship with the Father and the Son that we seek. It makes all the difference and is everlastingly worth the cost.”
Community in Christ
Leaders also spoke about the importance of community and the impact people can have on each other.
General Authority Seventy Elder Michael T. Ringwood said the reason people are supposed to serve others and help each other get back to Heavenly Father is because it helps them become like Christ.
Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor of the Primary General Presidency, spoke on the great purpose each person has and how they can help others through hard times.
“Even though you may feel alone as the storms of life are raging, you can shine a light in the darkness of misunderstanding, confusion, and unbelief,” she said. “Your light of faith in Christ can be steady and sure, leading those around you to safety and peace.”