Saints gather in Salt Lake City, Church leaders address global church

President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen M. Oaks exit the stand following the Sunday morning session. President Oaks is the first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Emma Butler Price)

On the brisk morning of Sunday, April 7, members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and in their homes around the world to hear from modern day prophets, seers and revelators. 

Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the session. President Eyring said President Russell M. Nelson was viewing the session remotely from home. 

President Eyring addressed the congregation from a podium placed in front of his chair, rather than walking up to the stand each time he spoke.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the significance of words. 

“They are the bedrock of how we connect; they represent our beliefs, morals, and perspectives,” he said. 

The word of God surpasses all other expressions, Elder Rasband said. Believing and heeding the word of God will draw people closer to Him.

Elder Rasband said the words of prophets matter. They testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ, teach His Gospel and show His love for all of God’s children, he said.

Along with the word of God and words of the prophets, our words also hold profound significance, Elder Rasband said.

“Believe me, in our emoji-filled world, our words matter,” he said. 

Elder Rasband promised listeners that if they “feast upon the words of Christ” and the words of the prophet, and pay attention to their own words, which speak of who they are and what is important to them, that the powers of heaven would pour down. 

President Susan H. Porter

Primary General President Susan H. Porter directed her message specifically to the children of the Church. 

She testified of the power of prayer. She invited children and adults alike to “pray to know, pray to grow and pray to show.”

President Porter said all can come to personally know Heavenly Father through prayer, grow to be more like Jesus Christ and show the love of God to others by praying for them.

“Perhaps you are praying for blessings for your family and others you love. Don’t give up! Heavenly Father will show you what you can do,” she said. 

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sings an opening hymn. The choir sang at the Sunday morning session of General Conference. (Emma Butler Price)

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve addressed the global congregation on the importance of spiritual momentum. People become more spiritually vulnerable as they slow down, and especially when they stop “rowing” toward the Savior, he said. 

Making and keeping baptismal and temple covenants helps people maintain spiritual momentum, he said. 

“The momentum produced by living the doctrine of Christ not only powers the transformation of our divine nature into our eternal destiny, but it also motivates us to help others in appropriate ways,” he said. 

Elder Renlund emphasized that all children of God are struggling in their own way. Ministering to those who are struggling should be done with compassion, empathy and love, but never judgment, he said. 

“The Savior’s job is to heal, our job is to love … to love and minister in such a way that others are drawn to Jesus Christ.”

He invited listeners to live the doctrine of Christ intentionally and help others on their way. 

He testified that as people exercise faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, they will maintain spiritual momentum on the covenant path, and help others become disciples. 

Breken Deuell from Ogden returned from his full-time mission in Oklahoma the day before general conference. He said the message of maintaining spiritual momentum especially stood out to him as he strives to keep his mission habits.

“Keeping that spiritual momentum going, everything else will just fall into place. It might not be easy, but it’s going to be what I need,” he said.

Elder Paul B. Pieper

Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy spoke of the trust that Heavenly Father has in the divine potential of His children. This trust is an underlying principle of God’s plan, he said.

Elder Pieper explained that in life, people may have experiences which cause them to lose trust in others, and even trust in God. 

“If prior loss of trust is keeping you from trusting God … continue to learn more about Heavenly Father, His character, His attributes, and His purposes … Sometimes the best way to learn to trust God is simply by trusting Him,” he said. 

Heavenly Father is invested in the growth and progress of His children, Elder Pieper said. God is the master teacher and coach who will always stretch His children to help them realize more of their potential. 

“That will always include a future invitation to trust Him just a little bit more,” he said.

Regardless of past decisions and attitudes, anyone can choose to trust God today, Elder Pieper said.

Elder Patrick Kearon

The Church’s newest addition to the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Patrick Kearon, spoke of God’s redeeming plan of salvation. 

Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife, Sister Jennifer Kearon, exit the stand after the session. Elder Kearon is the newest addition to the Quorum of the Twelve. (Emma Butler Price)

“Everything about the Father’s plan for His children is designed to bring everyone home,” he said. 

The intent of God’s plan is the happiness, redemption and salvation of His children, Elder Kearon said. God doesn’t want to exclude any of His children — He wants His children to choose Him.

“He (Jesus Christ) will not refuse you or those you love when you bring to Him your broken hearts and contrite spirits,” he said. 

Elder Kearon said the Father’s plan is not about roadblocks. While there are commandments to keep and aspects of human nature to change, His grace is always within our reach, he said. 

Elder Brian K. Taylor

Elder Brian K. Taylor of the Seventy spoke of divine purposes, perspectives, principles and promises. 

Maintaining an eternal, divine point of view and “thinking celestial,” as President Nelson has invited, helps people find joy amidst the challenging and often devastating trials of mortal life, he said.

“I see in many of you this joy, which ‘defies mortal comprehension,’ even though your bitter cups have not yet been removed,” Elder Taylor said. 

Elder Taylor testified that the Savior’s promises are sure, and that Heavenly Father hears the tearful pleadings of His children. 

“I know He will strengthen you, as He has done for our family in times of great need,” he said.

President Dallin H. Oaks

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, concluded the Sunday morning session of conference by speaking on temples and the history of covenants in worship. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 189 dedicated temples worldwide, with 146 more in planning and construction, President Oaks said.

He described a covenant as a commitment to fulfill certain responsibilities. “Personal commitments are essential to the regulation of our individual lives and to the functioning of society,” he said. 

Covenants were foundational in the restoration of the gospel, President Oaks said. Some of the first principles God restored were the ordinances of baptism and the sacrament.

He spoke of temple covenants and said those who live faithful to those covenants are promised eternal life “wherein all things are theirs.” 

President Oaks said the Church of Jesus Christ is a church which emphasizes making covenants with God. 

“The ordinances and associated covenants of the temple are the essential requirements for exaltation in the celestial kingdom, which is eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God,” he said. 

He testified of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of covenants.

Deuell said the main theme he took from the Sunday morning session of conference is simple.

“Learn to love and trust God and His covenants,” he said.

Breken Deuell stands in front of the Conference Center with Martha Perez and Emma Robinson. Deuell, Perez and Robinson served together in the Oklahoma, Oklahoma City mission (Emma Butler Price)
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