A crisp October morning greeted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around the world who were in Salt Lake City on Saturday for the 189th Semiannual General Conference of the church.
The highlight of the two regular Saturday sessions came when President Russell M. Nelson announced a change to the organization of the church’s Young Men and Young Women’s organization leadership.
Leaders announced ward bishops would directly oversee the Young Men’s organization and that the presidencies of those groups at the ward level would be discontinued. The announcement was followed by additional messages to the youth of the church in Saturday afternoon’s session.
Saturday afternoon session
New additional adjustments to the youth programs of the church including the organizational leadership of the Aaronic priesthood and Young Women were announced in Saturday afternoon’s session by Nelson and clarified in a following message by Elder Quentin L. Cook.
“The adjustments we now announce are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential,” Nelson said. “We want also to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and provide support to bishops and other adult leaders as they serve the rising generation.”
Cook added, “These adjustments will help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children. [The adjustments will also] place the power and duties of the Aaronic Priesthood at the center of every young man’s personal life and goals.”
The majority of the afternoon session was directed toward the youth and parents of the church discussing the importance of the youth of the church as a battalion to gather scattered Israel. It spoke of their potential and to teach them to have faith, to come follow Him in home-centered learning.
As part of the messages to youth, Elder Ronald A. Rasband gave thanks to the association the church has had with the Boy Scouts of America.
“Our association with the Boy Scouts of America, as it now concludes will always be an important legacy to me and the church,” Rasband said. “To the scouting organizations, to the scores of men and women who have served diligently as scout leaders, to the moms – real credit goes there; and to the young men who have participated in scouting, we say ‘thank you.’”
Elder L. Todd Budge of the Seventy reminded youth and members of the hope in Christ and to have a resilient trust in Him.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter,” Budge said.
Budge added, “as we choose to consistently and resiliently trust in Jesus Christ and His divine purposes in our lives, He will visit us with assurances, speak peace to our souls, and cause us to ‘hope for our deliverance in him.’”
In the closing statement of the session, Rasband said, “The Lord will establish your words and sanction your deeds as you strive with unwearied diligence to build up your lives, your families, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Saturday morning session
Coming unto Christ, becoming his true disciples and finding the joy in Him was the predominant theme from speakers during the morning session.
Talks were provided by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy and auxiliary organizations.
As the first — and often favored — speaker, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles welcomed the congregation to the event and encouraged members to find Christ in conference.
He asked the congregation to Come unto him — the “beating heart of the eternal gospel.”
Holland said a quest for faith and conviction is the members’ purpose in these conferences and, “by joining with us today you will realize that this search is a broadly shared endeavor.”
“Here on these grounds you see families of all sizes coming from every direction,” he said. “Old friends embrace in joyful reunion, a marvelous choir is warming up, and protesters shout from their favorite soapbox. Missionaries of an earlier day look for former companions, while recently-returned missionaries look for entirely new companions (if you know what I mean!).
“And photos? Heaven help us! With cellphones in every hand, we have morphed from ‘every member a missionary’ to ‘every member a photographer.’ In the midst of all of this delightful commotion, one could justifiably ask, ‘What does it all mean?’”
Holland answered, “To grasp the vision we are seeking, the healing that He promises, the significance we somehow know is here, we must cut through the commotion — as joyful as it is — and fix our attention on Him.”
Members were encouraged to become full followers and disciples of Christ. Elder Terrance M. Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy asked if members were “fair dinkum’”about the Gospel, referring to a phrase used in his native Australia, which means people being what they say they are.
He added that being halfhearted is not “fair dinkum’” and that God is not known for showering praise on the lukewarm.
Brother Stephen W. Owen, General Young Men’s President, directed his talk to the youth of the church about receiving revelation in a world full of noises, like social media. He encouraged young members to receive revelation through the new Youth and Children programs the church is starting in January and to utilize the home-centered learning with church support.
With the new program, while much of the learning is at home, the church offers the sacrament and other spiritual offerings to bolster the home.
Sister Michelle Craig, who also works with the youth of the church as the First Counselor in the Young Women’s General Presidency, encouraged members to make time in their life for Christ and to find ways to increase in spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
Elder Dale Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged the audience to develop attributes of Christ through covenant making.
“God invites us to cast our old ways completely out of reach and begin a new life in Christ,” Renlund said. “This happens as we develop faith in the Savior, which begins by hearing the testimony of those who have faith. Thereafter, faith deepens as we act in ways that anchor us more firmly to Him.”
Renlund continued, “It might be nice if increased faith were transmitted like the flu or the common cold. Then, a simple ‘spiritual sneeze’ would build faith in others. But it does not work that way. The only way faith grows if for an individual to act in faith.”
Renlund concluded, “You will become more like the Savior as you always remember Him, follow Him, and adore Him.”
Closing the morning session, President Dallin H. Oaks, of the First Presidency, said that it is important to discern church doctrine from individual revelation or comment and to always trust in the Lord.
Conference sessions will continue Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.