The weather was a bit dreary outside the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, but the inside felt bright during the two sessions of the 187th Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There was an audible gasp of excitement during the morning session, where church President Thomas S. Monson announced five new temples to be built in Saratoga Springs, Utah; Brasília, Brazil; Greater Manila, Philippines; Nairobi, Kenya; and Pocatello, Idaho.
Many speakers in both sessions encouraged members to act — to draw near to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Staying close to the Holy Ghost leads the faithful to be “sin-resistant,” as Primary General President Joy D. Jones explained Sunday morning, and gives them power and strength to act.
The morning session focused on the small and simple ways to get to the temple, and thus back to the Lord. Many of the Sunday morning session’s songs, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, were taken from the Children’s Primary Songbook, and touched on these simple truths.
After his announcement, President Monson reminded the faithful that only a strong testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ will protect them from the trouble and wickedness prevalent today.
“If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you,” he said. “If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will only carry you so far.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, continued this thought, encouraging members to be guided by the Holy Ghost. He asked members to see themselves as “spiritual first responders” — those that listen to the first promptings of the Spirit and bring immediate help from the Lord to others.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of the Presidency of the Seventy, said faithful members can expect miraculous help and comfort from on high by doing the small and simple steps of obedience. He said that even though daily scripture study, regular prayer, paying tithing and attending church may not seem to relate to members’ trials, they are.
“Over time, simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results. They transform our faith from a seedling into a dynamic power for good in our lives,” Clayton said.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, concluded the morning session, emphatically proclaiming that following the Lord in faith will conquer all the things of this day that cause us to fear.
“God is on our side. He loves us, and when we stumble, He wants us to rise up, try again, and become stronger,” he said. “I don’t believe God wants His children to be fearful or dwell on the evils in the world. ‘For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’”
The Saturday afternoon session continued the urge to act in faith. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, said teaching others of the gospel, or warning them as Jesus Christ did in his day, is an act of love.
“To warn is to care,” he said, explaining that a warning voice is not only civil, but also a joyful noise.
Elder Joaquin E. Costa, a General Authority Seventy, being a convert himself, encouraged those not of the LDS faith to take the missionaries seriously, and listen to them. He also pleaded with the world to read the Book of Mormon.
Referencing the story of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-27 in the Bible, Elder S. Mark Palmer, also a General Authority Seventy, encouraged members to “behold” others — to love them and see them as the Lord does — even when it is hard.
“Those hardest to love, need love the most,” he said.
Palmer added that God asks hard things of His people — asks them to act — because He loves them.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve, concluded the 187th Annual General Conference encouraging members to strengthen their foundation of faith, with the promise that it will give them the power to achieve those things the Lord needs of them.
“Faith is a principle of power,” he said. “What can faith accomplish? The list is almost endless.”
The next LDS General Conference will be in October.