The Conference Center in Salt Lake City welcomed in-person and online visitors for the Sunday afternoon session of the 193rd Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The session began at 2 p.m., with President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church, presiding, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducting with music performed by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
Nicole Hodson and Lainey Krage from San Diego traveled to Salt Lake City for conference with their ward’s Young Women and Young Men groups. They commented that conflict resolution, repentance and the companionship of Christ were guiding themes during the session.
“One of the big themes that I loved was the straightforwardness and clarity that we believe in Jesus Christ,” BYU student Joe Sheffield said of the message of this year’s General Conference.
The Teachings of Jesus Christ
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, began the session with a unique talk, consisting of a collection of quoted scripture passages. President Oaks taught that “the scriptural records of words spoken by ‘God’ or the ‘Lord’ are almost always the words of Jehovah, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ.”
He explained that many accounts in the scriptures tell us what Christ did during his ministry on Earth. However, President Oaks focused his talk on what Christ said, quoting scriptures of the Lord’s words in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.
President Oaks concluded with John 14:26, in which Christ explains how we should follow His teachings: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Remember What Matters Most
President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke next. President Ballard shared several things that “matter most” to us when we keep an eternal perspective.
Among these things, he taught that “a relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is most important.” Family relationships, following spiritual promptings, loving one another and bearing testimony of the Lord should also be of upmost important in our lives, according to President Ballard.
President Ballard bore his testimony through retelling experiences from his personal ministry, and in saying, “Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He lives.”
When asked what stood out to him the most from this session of conference, BYU student Hunter Auch mentioned President Ballard’s address. “He blended the gospel of Jesus Christ, the principles and concepts, with relationships and what relationships are most important in our lives,” Auch said.
Hosanna to the Most High God
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve focused his address on the importance of Palm Sunday and what Christ’s ministry means to us.
He began by sharing his experience while on a Church assignment in Takoradi, Ghana on Palm Sunday. Elder Rasband expressed his feelings when meeting with members of the Church in Ghana and how he “could see in their faces the glow of testimony and faith in Jesus Christ.”
“Palm Sunday was not just an event, another page in history with a date, time and place,” Elder Rasband said. “Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the events of the week that followed exemplify doctrine we can apply in our lives today.”
Elder Rasband highlighted the doctrine of Christ’s ministry, including instances where He taught of prophecy, the gift of the Holy Ghost, discipleship and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He used Christ’s Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate these teachings.
He invited those looking to cross items off their personal “bucket list” to “Fill your bucket with oil in the form of the living water of Jesus Christ, which is a representation of His life and teachings.”
The Imperfect Harvest
Elder Vern P. Stanfill of the Seventy spoke on the difference between perfectionism and becoming perfected in Christ.
Perfectionism, Elder Stanfill taught, causes unnecessary guilt and anxiety, often perpetuated by social media and our own harsh self-criticism. However, the standards of being perfected in Christ “are set by a kind and all-knowing Heavenly Father and clearly defined in the covenants we are invited to embrace,” Elder Stanfill said. “It relieves us of the burdens of guilt and inadequacy, always emphasizing who we are in the sight of God.”
Elder Stanfill continued by sharing the stories of when the Savior fed the five thousand and, shortly thereafter, appeared to His disciples to calm the storm, walking on water. These two acts asked those around Christ to have enormous amounts of faith.
“Often, we are placed in situations that will cause us to stretch,” Elder Stanfill said. “We may not feel up to the task.” However, he taught, we have the ability to humble ourselves and find strength through Christ.
“We must remember that whatever our best but imperfect offering is, the Savior can make it perfect,” Elder Stanfill said.
After the Fourth Day
Elder W. Mark Bassett of the Seventy began his talk by telling the story of Lazarus. Mary and Martha came to the Lord to ask him to heal their brother Lazarus, who had fallen ill. The Lord arrived four days later, after Lazarus had died. Mary and Martha thought all hope was lost, but Christ performed a miraculous act by raising Lazarus from the dead.
“Sometimes during our own challenges, we might feel like Christ is too late and our hope and faith might even feel challenged,” Elder Bassett said. “My witness and testimony is that as we move forward with faith in Jesus Christ, the fourth day will always come. He will always come to our aid or to raise our hopes back to life.”
Elder Bassett taught that we can overcome trials and doubts in our lives by following the counsel of prophets, repenting and obeying the commandments and making and keeping sacred covenants.
‘Do You Know Why I As a Christian Believe in Christ?’
Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, told of an experience he had sharing his testimony on his bus ride home to New Jersey from New York City. A woman seated next to him noticed what he was typing on his computer, and asked him to share why he believed in Christ.
Brother Corbitt shared that Christ loves us and created a plan for us to come to earth and ultimately return to Him and receive eternal life with our families. However, he taught, we will also face obstacles: physical death — “the separation of our bodies from our spirits” and spiritual death — “our separation from God because our sins, mistakes and flaws as mortals distance us from His holy presence.”
Brother Corbitt continued by sharing that we must follow the doctrine of Christ to overcome these obstacles and receive eternal life. The Church teaches that this includes “Faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism (into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”
The Book of Mormon teaches us to “love, share and invite as we gather Israel in all our communities and families,” Elder Corbitt added.
‘Abide in Me, and I in You; Therefore, Walk with Me’
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve preached the importance of discipleship and coming unto Christ. He began with the story of the ancient prophet Enoch, to whom the Lord counseled, “abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.”
Elder Bednar said the Lord has invited everyone to abide with the Lord.
“We begin to abide in the Lord by exercising our moral agency to take upon ourselves His yoke through the covenants and ordinances of the restored gospel.” We can abide in the Lord, Elder Bednar taught, through prayer, heeding the words of Christ, participating in the sacrament and serving others.
The Lord’s blessings extends, Elder Bednar shared, with Christ abiding in us. Elder Bednar explained that, in the Book of Mormon, Alma compared the “word” to a seed that we must plant and nourish.
“The seed we should strive to plant in our hearts is the word — even the life, mission, and doctrine of Jesus Christ,” Elder Bednar said. “And as the word is nourished by faith it can become a tree springing up in us unto everlasting life.” This, Elder Bednar taught, is how Christ abides in us.
The final part of this invitation from Christ — “Walk with Me” — comes when individuals keep the commandments and remember and honor sacred covenants, according to Elder Bednar.
The Answer is Always Jesus Christ
President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concluded the session, and the 193rd Annual General Conference. His remarks emphasized the resurrection of Jesus Christ, saying Easter is “the most important religious observance for followers of Jesus Christ.”
He invited members to study the account in 3 Nephi, where the Savior appears to the Nephites in the Americas. President Nelson taught that if we come unto Christ, we can be healed.
President Nelson also announced the plans for 15 new temples in the following locations:
- Retalhuleu, Guatemala
- Iquitos, Peru
- Teresina, Brazil
- Natal, Brazil
- Tuguegarao City, Philippines
- Iloilo, Philippines
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Hamburg, Germany
- Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
- San Jose, California
- Bakersfield, California
- Springfield, Missouri
- Winchester, Virginia
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
President Nelson ended with his testimony, sharing that, “following Him is the only way to enduring happiness.”
BYU student Ryan Skouson expressed his gratitude for temples, as the Retalhuleu, Guatemala temple will be in an area where he served his mission for the Church.