For months now, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been hearing how unique and remarkable the 190th Annual General Conference of the church will be this weekend.

According to the church, there are two specific reasons.

“First, 2020 marks two centuries since Joseph Smith’s inaugural vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ — a foundational event for the beginnings of what the church calls the Restoration of Christ’s gospel,” a church statement said.

The other reason is because for the first time, the conference will be digital only. Each of the five sessions will be broadcast from a small auditorium on Temple Square with no attendees.

“The First Presidency will preside at and conduct those sessions, and only those who have been invited to speak or pray will attend. The music for the conference has been prerecorded,” according to the church statement.

Since the church’s last conference in October, many changes have happened in the LDS world.

Changes since October

Here are a few reminders of things that have happened since the church’s 2019 October Semi-annual General Conference:

  • A new policy was announced in October about witnessing of ordinances. All worthy members of the church 11 years of age and older can be official witnesses at live baptisms. Individuals who are temple worthy with recommends, including women and youth, can witness temple proxy baptisms. And, those who have regular temple recommends may be an official witness to temple sealings as well. (Prior to this change, only priesthood-holding male members could act as ordinance witnesses).
  • President Russell M. Nelson introduced modified temple recommend interview questions.
  • The church announced adjustments to temple ceremonial clothes. They would be made more simple, comfortable and cost-effective.
  • “The General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” was updated and went online, which is now available to anyone to read the policies and procedures of the church. The online platform will allow the handbook to be updated from time to time. The entire handbook will be updated again by 2021.
  • The iconic Salt Lake Temple closed Dec. 31 for a four-year renovation. Daniel Woodruff, church spokesman, said on Thursday, “Workers at the Salt Lake Temple project site are installing a crane on the temple’s south side to begin removal of some of the stones on the temple spires that were displaced during the recent earthquake in Salt Lake City. Workers will then remove additional stones from the east and west sides of the temple for preservation during the project. They will also temporarily remove the angel Moroni statue. Scaffolding will be constructed around the temple spires for better access for workers. This work is expected to last several weeks.”
  • In November, the church laid out its complete plan for the new Children and Youth initiative, including changes to the Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes, which began in January.
  • The church officially broke ties with the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Several changes were made to honor the correct name of the church. The church updated 300 web-based apps and changed 95% of its outward facing references.
  • The church’s Light the World Christmas humanitarian initiative, including the Giving Machines, garnered $6.3 million in donations.
  • The church underwent an extensive response to discuss how it uses tithes and offerings from church members, clarifying why the church would have up to $100 billion dollars in savings.
  • The church dealt with continuing issues with the LGBTQ communities and added new entries in the handbook on transgender issues.

These are just a few of the changes since October, not including the number of locations to which general authorities traveled, the number of temples under construction or renovation, the number of temples completed, or the numerous humanitarian projects the church carried out worldwide.

Watching conference

People around the world will have the opportunity to watch or listen live to the conference in 41 languages. Streams in 55 additional languages will be published as soon as possible afterward.

Three sessions will take place Saturday at 10 a.m., 2 and 6 p.m. Two more will be held Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. All start times are Mountain Daylight Time.

The program may be found through the following manners:

http://broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org will video stream the conference live in 41 languages. Closed captions will be available in English, Spanish and Portuguese by selecting the CC button on the media player.

The church’s YouTube channel will also stream live video in 12 languages: English (including closed-captioned), Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and American Sign Language.

The Latter-day Saints Channel app on iOS or Android device will stream audio of the conference. Audio is available in Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog and Tongan. Closed captions are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

http://BYUtv.org will live stream video and audio of the conference.

Low-bandwidth live audio streams will be available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Malagasy and Swahili.

Those interested can also check out the church’s Facebook page, news group, Instagram channel and Twitter feed, and use #GeneralConference to participate via social media.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire