Thousands attended the Saturday afternoon session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the absence of President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks presided over and conducted the session.
A multicultural choir, made up of members of the Church from around Utah, performed “O Thou Rock of Our Salvation,” “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today” and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”
Ellie Berg, a BYU freshman from Oregon, attended conference in-person for the first time. She said she felt the messages shared during the Saturday afternoon session were meant especially for her.
“The themes that I felt were just that Christ is your strength and that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” she said.
The session began with the sustaining of Church leaders, led by President Henry B. Eyring.
Two new Area Seventies were also sustained.
Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke about the power of tithing. He encouraged members to share what God has given them with others.
“From the generous tithes and offerings you have consecrated to the Lord, last year more than a billion U.S. dollars were used to bless those in need,” he said.
Elder Anderson was followed by Elder Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency. Elder Newman encouraged parents and other adult leaders to strengthen the faith of the rising generation.
“We can ensure that the voice of the covenant people is not silent in the ears of the rising generation and that Jesus is not a Sunday-only topic,” he said.
Elder Joaquin E. Costa said he is inspired by the faith of the members he serves in his current role as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.
As he has observed their strength in difficult circumstances, he has learned “the source of that strength is faith in Jesus Christ as we seek to come unto Him each and every day.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve focused his remarks on spiritual gifts, especially the greatest spiritual gift – the companionship of the Holy Ghost, he said.
He shared four guiding principles to invite and recognize the Holy Ghost: (1) stand in holy places, (2) stand with holy people, (3) testify of holy truths and (4) listen to the Holy Spirit.
“The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest spiritual gifts that Latter-day Saints enjoy,” he said.
Elder Stevenson’s talk particularly resonated with BYU pre-med student and Wisconsin native Chifee Chang. He said he wanted to develop his own spiritual gifts after listening to the message.
The Saturday afternoon session was Chang’s first visit to the Conference Center, an experience which he described as “pretty cool.”
“You always see it on TV, but being in person is different,” he said. “All of us gathered together, you just feel it.”
Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy spoke about the joy that can come from gathering with other members and making covenants with God.
“My dear brothers and sisters, do you want to be happy? Stay on the covenant path,” Elder Choi said. “Your life will be easier, happier and filled with joy.”
Another member of the Seventy, Elder Alan T. Phillips, shared thoughts about a common identity as children of God. The former director of the BYU London Centre said understanding this identity will bring a sense of belonging and purpose.
Elder Phillips had specific counsel for younger members of the Church: “To my dear friends of the rising generation, Gen Z and Gen Alpha: please know faith requires work.”
There was also a specific directive for older members of the Church — to serve a senior mission.
This invitation was extended by the session’s final speaker, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve. When he was first called as an apostle in 2015, he said he witnessed an extreme shortage of senior missionary couples.
“We are grateful to you seniors, for the lives you have led and the examples you have been in your homes, wards and stakes,” he said. “I now invite you to take your ‘know-how,’ coupled with your ‘time-honored’ testimonies and go on a mission.”
Stephania Muro, a BYU student from Mexico, said she was touched by Elder Rasband’s talk. She has known and served with senior missionary couples and said she loves them.
Muro was also impressed with the number of references to President Russell M. Nelson’s talks. She kept a tally in the margin of her notebook, noting almost 20 mentions of his words.
There will be three more sessions of the Semiannual Conference. Talks from each session will be posted online in the coming week.