The 192nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ends Sunday with two more sessions.
President Russell M. Nelson, leader of the worldwide faith of 16.8 million members, delivered a major address Sunday morning. Dallin H. Oaks, his first counselor in the ruling First Presidency, was also scheduled to give a sermon on Sunday.
At the close of the conference, Nelson also traditionally gives brief remarks and announces new temples to be built.
Saturday’s speakers – appearing before 10,000 in-person attendees at a conference center allowed to return at half capacity in Salt Lake City and millions more watching and listening remotely around the world – focused on the importance young members, especially men, on missions, while discussing topics ranging from suicide prevention to survivors of abuse and the doctrine of the Church of the Heavenly Mother.
Leaders appointed new general presidencies for the women’s Relief Society and children’s Primary organizations. The church also released growth figures for 2021, showing membership grew by around 0.8% during the year.
Here are the latest updates from Sunday’s sessions, where The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square also performed:
Seventy Hugo E. Martinez: Self-reliance is a lifelong process
According to General Authority Seventy Hugo E. Martinez, adults can “be better on the path to self-reliance when they have learned the gospel of Jesus Christ and put into practice its doctrine and its principles since their childhood”.
Self-reliance is a gospel doctrine, the Puerto Rican native said, “a lifelong process, not an event.” It requires “growing in spiritual strength, physical and emotional health, pursuing education and employment, and being temporarily prepared.”
Martinez advised parents to “regularly apply the principles of the child and youth development program” – and to “participate in services and activities”.
“Is this task ever completed in our lifetime?” Martinez asked. “No, it’s a lifelong process of learning, growing and working.”
Apostle Ronald A. Rasband touts religious freedom
Apostle Ronald A. Rasband spoke passionately about what he called “another plague sweeping the world—attacks on your religious liberty and mine.”
These attacks aim “to remove religion and faith in God from the public square, schools, community norms and civic discourse,” Rasband said. “Opponents of religious freedom seek to impose restrictions on the expression of sincere beliefs. They even criticize and ridicule religious traditions. Such an attitude marginalizes people, devalues personal principles, fairness, respect, spirituality and peace of conscience.
In the early days of the Mormon Church, “opposition, persecution, and violence plagued our first latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, and his followers.”
In response, Smith posted 13 fundamental principles of the growing church, including this one: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the precepts of our own conscience, and grant to all men the same privilege; that they love how, where and what they can.
Her statement “is inclusive, liberating and respectful,” Rasband said. “This is the essence of religious freedom.”
The apostles explained four ways in which societies benefit from religious freedom:
• It helps believers to place “God at the center of our lives”.
• It promotes “expressions of belief, hope and peace”.
• It “inspires people to help others”.
• It acts as “a unifying and unifying force to shape values and morals”.
The good of religion, “its reach and the daily acts of love,” Rasband said, “that religion inspires, only multiply when we protect the freedom to express and act on fundamental beliefs.”
Seventy Michael T. Ringwood: Help Others Return to God
God sent Jesus Christ to lay down his life “for each one of us”.
“He did it because He loves us and has devised a plan for each of us to return home,” said General Authority Seventy Michael T. Ringwood. “….But it’s not a general, catch-all, random plan. It is personal, spoken by a loving Heavenly Father who knows our hearts, our names, and what He wants us to do.
And then everyone has others helping them, Ringwood said.
“No matter who you are or your current situation, someone… wants to return to our Heavenly Father with you,” he said. “I am grateful for those who never leave us, who continue to pour their souls into prayer for us, and who continue to teach us and help us qualify to return to our Heavenly Father. »
And why does this “customized plan for us” include helping others to come back to Him? Ringwood asked. Because “this is how we become like Jesus Christ”.
Apostle Gary E. Stevenson: To Love, Share, and Invite
Apostle Gary E. Stevenson urged all Latter-day Saints to act as missionaries “by simple and easily understood principles taught to each of us from childhood—to love, share, and invite.”
He went on to advise:
• “Each time we show Christ-like love for our neighbor, we are preaching the gospel, even if we don’t speak a single word. »
• He urged members to “just add to the list of things we already share” the things “that we love about the gospel of Jesus Christ. … When it comes to missionary work, God doesn’t need you to be his sheriff. He asks, however, that you be his portion.
• “There are hundreds of invitations we can extend to others,” he said. “By inviting others to learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we participate in the Savior’s call to participate in the work of His commission.
Amy A. Wright, Primary Leader: Christ Is the Healer
Jesus Christ will help believers “navigate successfully through the broken things in our lives, regardless of our age,” said Amy A. Wright, second counselor and soon-to-be first counselor in the Primary general presidency. “He can heal broken relationships with God, broken relationships with others, and broken parts of ourselves.”
Christ knows “everyone’s full story and exactly what we are suffering, as well as our capacities and vulnerabilities,” Wright said. “…He is the source of healing for all that is broken in our lives. As the great Mediator and Advocate with the Father, Christ sanctifies and restores broken relationships – especially our relationship with God. “
Wright spent many hours at a cancer treatment center “united in my suffering with many who longed for a cure. Some have lived; others did not,” she said in her sermon. “I have learned in a profound way that deliverance from our trials is different for each of us, and therefore our focus should be less on how we are delivered and more on the deliverer himself. We must always put the Focus on Jesus Christ Exercising faith in Christ means trusting not only in God’s will but also in His timing, for He knows exactly what we need and precisely when we need it.
Everyone has something in their life “that’s broken and needs to be fixed, fixed, or healed,” Wright said. “…I testify that there is nothing in your life that is broken that is beyond the healing, redemptive, and empowering power of Jesus Christ.”
Apostle D. Todd Christofferson: Trust God No Matter What
Apostle D. Todd Christofferson warned church members not to “assume judging God.” Think, for example, ‘I’m not happy, so God must be doing something wrong.’
Serving a mission is no guarantee of a “happy marriage and children.” Avoiding homework on the Sabbath does not guarantee good grades. Paying tithing is not a guarantee that “God will bless me with this job that I wanted,” Christofferson said. While it is “essential that we honor and obey” God’s laws, “not all blessings based on obedience to law are shaped, designed, and timed to our expectations.”
The apostle pointed out that the Almighty does not always intervene and relieve suffering or pain, even for the faithful.
“Ultimately, it is the blessing of a close and lasting relationship with the Father and the Son that we seek,” he said. “It makes all the difference and is forever worth the cost.”
The purification process, Christofferson continued, “will, of necessity, be heartbreaking and painful at times. … In the midst of this refiner’s fire, rather than get angry with God, get closer to God.