Thousands of Latter-day Saints from around the world gathered to hear the inspiring words of President Russell M. Nelson and other general authorities in the Sunday morning session of the 193rd Annual General Conference.
President Dallin H. Oaks conducted the meeting, with President Russell M. Nelson presiding.
Leaders shared messages of aligning with Christ, patriarchal blessings and becoming peacemakers. Audience member Emma Vernon said she thought the overall theme of the session was love, acceptance and forgiveness.
Attendee Heather Caten said, “It’s okay to listen to other people and to accept them for who they are and just love each other. I think that was the main focus.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve began the session by speaking about becoming one with Christ. He emphasized drawing upon His light and grace, loving one another and relying on Jesus Christ to become like Him.
Elder Christofferson said members should “put on Christ” by resolving and laying down differences, disagreements and disputes.
“We cannot be one unless we all bend our efforts to the common cause … submitting to the authority of God,” Elder Christofferson said.
Unity is essential to becoming one with Christ, Elder Christofferson said. It does not mean or require sameness but instead requires harmony.
“I say again that it is only in and through our individual loyalty to Jesus Christ that we can hope to be one — one within, one at home, one in the Church, eventually one in Zion, and above all, one with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,” Elder Christofferson said.
Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson followed Elder Christofferson’s remarks by speaking on finding relief in Jesus Christ.
“I testify that Jesus Christ is relief … we can partner with the Savior to help provide temporal and spiritual relief for those in need — and in the process find our own relief in Jesus Christ,” she said.
President Johnson compared an individual’s life to a backpack, with each burden representing a rock inside the backpack. Within, there are three different kinds of “rocks”: (1) an individual’s sin, (2) poor decisions and (3) life in a fallen condition such as illness, pain and disease.
She emphasized that Christ can help relieve the burden of such rocks, lightening the load. In contrast, she said many feel as though they must carry their burdens, or rocks, alone, but this is not so. She encouraged members to turn towards Christ and access His strength, both temporal and spiritual.
“Repentance, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is what relieves us of the weight of the rocks of sin,” President Johnson said.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve focused his remarks on the followers of Christ, saying members should strive to embody the attributes of Christ.
He began by recounting how in 1847, the Lord gave instructions of peace and unity to the pioneer Saints who were enduring their journey westward. Elder Soares said the scriptures further emphasize that those who practice righteousness are promised the peace they need to survive in today’s world.
“One of the most evident signs that we are drawing closer to the Savior and becoming more like Him is the loving, patient, and kind way with which we treat our fellow beings, whatever the circumstances,” Elder Soares said.
Elder Soares cautioned members to avoid the adversary’s tactics, as it can lead one down a path that can destroy one’s character. Individuals should lean on the teaching and words of the gospel, as He always tries to warn of such dangers, he said.
As members aim to develop Christlike attributes, they can become instruments in the Lord’s hands and uplift others around them, Elder Soares said.
“I promise you that as we pursue and develop these attributes, we will become more and more cordial and sensitive to the needs of our fellow beings and will experience joy, peace, and spiritual growth,” Elder Soares said.
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the Seventy spoke on the importance of patriarchal blessings, and when one should receive them.
Elder Yamashita said there is no maximum age to receive one and that members should receive theirs when they feel the time is right for them.
Elder Yamashita said there are two purposes for a patriarchal blessing: (1) it contains personal counsel from the Lord and (2) it declares one’s lineage in the house of Israel.
One should not worry if everything in their blessing does not come to fruition, as it will be fulfilled in the next life so long as they live worthily, he said.
“Preparation for your patriarchal blessing will help you increase your faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And when you receive your blessing and read and ponder it, you can focus on Them more often,” he said.
Elder Yamashita said he always feels encouragement from his blessing, as it has helped him to repent and stay humble throughout his life.
“The patriarchal blessing message really spoke to me. Just that it is, like, there for guidance for our entire lives,” audience member Allie Bair said of the talk.
Following Elder Yamashita, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on keeping Christ prevalent in one’s life.
“My prayer at this Easter season is that we will more consciously shape, strengthen, and secure this preeminent thought of Jesus Christ in the chambers of our soul, allowing it to eagerly flow into our mind, guiding us in what we think and do, and continually bringing the sweet joy of the Savior’s love,” Elder Andersen said.
God the Father and His son Jesus Christ are the guides to happiness and eternal life, Elder Andersen said.
Elder Andersen promised Heavenly guidance and power to those who trust in Him and keep His commandments. This power includes strength to covenants, peace in difficulties and joy to one’s blessings.
“Our love for Him does not shield us from sadness and sorrow in this mortal life, but it allows us to walk through the challenges with a strength far beyond our own.”
Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy relayed messages on the gifts that Heavenly Father has given to His children, such as priesthood authority, covenant and ordinances, eternal marriages and returning to His presence.
Elder Duncan promised members increased joy as they attend the temple more frequently.
“In this mortal life … we can have power over the enemy,” Elder Duncan said. “That power and strength come from Jesus Christ as we make and keep temple covenants.”
President Russell M. Nelson concluded the morning session with a message encouraging members to become “peacemakers.”
“The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire — no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers,” President Nelson said.
How individuals treat and speak to one another, is what really matters, he said. He encouraged members to interact with others in a “higher and holier way.”
He continued by emphasizing that contention is a choice — a choice that can drive away the Spirit. On the contrary, peacemaking is also a choice. He urged members to choose to be a peacemaker in their lives.
An attribute of peacemaking is charity which President Nelson said is a “principle characteristic of a true follower of Christ.”
“Brothers and sisters, the pure love of Christ is the answer to the contention that ails us today,” President Nelson said.
President Nelson encouraged members to become a light that “cannot be hid” and to resolve complex issues in an enlightened way.
“As you demonstrate the charity that true followers of Jesus Christ manifest, the Lord will magnify your efforts beyond your loftiest imagination,” President Nelson said.
President Nelson finished his remarks by testifying of Christ, saying He will help members become peacemakers.