General Conference is a gathering of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), held biannually every April and October at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. During each conference, church members gather in a series of two-hour sessions to listen to the faith's leaders. It consists of five general sessions. From April 2018 to April 2021, the priesthood session was held during the April conference, with a General Women's Session (for females 11 years and older) held during October's conference. The Saturday evening session was changed to a general session in October 2021. The conference also generally includes training sessions for general and area leaders. Although each general conference originates from Salt Lake City, the conference is considered an international event for the church. The sessions are broadcast worldwide in over 90 languages, primarily through local and international media outlets, and over the Internet.
|Location(s)||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Inaugurated||9 June 1830|
|Organized by||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|
History and structure edit
In the LDS Church, general conference is a series of semiannual meetings where general authorities and other church leaders preach sermons and give guidance to church members. Changes to church leadership are also proposed and sustained through the principle of common consent. General conferences are held on the weekends of the first Sundays in April and October. The April conference is known as the Annual General Conference, with the October conference referred to as the Semiannual General Conference. The April conference includes a financial audit report not included in the October meeting. Both conferences are identified by the number of years since the church was founded in April 1830; thus, the April 2020 sessions constituted the 190th Annual General Conference, and the October 2020 sessions constituted the 190th Semiannual General Conference.
Since October 1848, all of the conferences have been held in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the exception of the April 1877 conference, which was held in St. George, Utah. Conferences were held in a bowery in Salt Lake City from 1848 to 1852, in the Old Salt Lake Tabernacle from 1852 to 1867, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle from October 1867 to October 1999, and in the Conference Center since that time. Historically, sessions were held over three days, with the annual conference always including April 6, the anniversary of the church's organization. This made conference participation difficult for those with work and school commitments when April 6 fell on a weekday. In April 1977, during Spencer W. Kimball's presidency, changes were made to reduce the conference to the first Sunday of April and October and the preceding Saturday.
Historically, beginning in 1994, a women's general meeting was held on Saturday a week prior to the general sessions of the October conference, with a general meeting for young women held at a similar time before the April conference. In November 2013, church leadership announced that beginning in 2014 these meetings for women would be replaced by a semiannual General Women's Meeting for those eight years of age and older. In October 2014, the First Presidency announced that it "has decided that the General Women's Meeting will be designated as the General Women's Session of general conference."
Since April 2018, the conference has consisted of four general sessions, held at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM MT on both Saturday and Sunday. Another general session targeted to specific groups is held on Saturday evening. In October 2017, the First Presidency had announced that, beginning in April 2018, the Priesthood Session for all holders of the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods would occur during the April conference, with a General Women's Session for all women and girls ages 11 or older held during October's conference. These sessions occur during the Saturday evening time previously used for the Priesthood Session.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the April 2020, October 2020, and April 2021 General Conferences were held behind closed doors in a small auditorium on Temple Square, with only those speaking and members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in attendance. Music was reused from previous performances of the Tabernacle Choir. The October 2021 General Conference was returned to the Conference Center, but at only five percent capacity. Seating for the 2022 conferences were limited, due to construction work around Temple Square.
The proceedings of a general conference are traditionally been conducted in English, although for a short time, beginning in October 2014, speakers delivering sermons had the option of speaking in their native language. The proceedings are translated and broadcast in over 90 different languages worldwide.
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A member of the church's First Presidency normally conducts each conference session, with the church president presiding. (On occasions in the past, when part or all of the First Presidency have been absent, the First Presidency designates someone to conduct the conference, typically the most senior apostle not in the First Presidency.) The conducting official introduces the various speakers, which over the course of the sessions will generally include all members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a selection of other leaders in the church. Almost every general authority of the church is present, though outside the First Presidency and Twelve only a few speak. Non–general authority speakers may include male and female officers of auxiliary organizations. Most area seventies travel to Utah to attend at least one general conference per year.
During one general session (usually Saturday afternoon), all the general authorities and general officers of the church are presented for the formal sustaining vote by the membership, and it is usually at this time that any changes among the general church leadership are announced. Normally, the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are mentioned by name; those in other positions are mentioned by name only if they are released from a previous position or called to a new one. The person conducting asks all of those who are in favor of sustaining the current leadership or the calling of a new leader to raise their hand in a "vote." He then asks that any who are opposed raise their hand. Dissenting votes are rare and the customary declaration at the end of the voting is that the voting has been unanimous.
At the first General Conference after the death of a church president and the calling of his successor, the session at which the sustaining vote takes place is called a solemn assembly. At a solemn assembly, groups of Latter-day Saints are asked to stand in succession and sustain the new president of the church. Typically, the order is: First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Quorums of Seventy, Melchizedek priesthood holders, Aaronic priesthood holders, Relief Society members, members of the Young Women organization, and then all members together. Then the names of all other general authorities are read, and a sustaining and opposing vote is called for.
Frequently, significant announcements are made at a General Conference, which may include the announcement of locations for new temples, adjustments to organizations, or changes in practice or policy.
Music is an important part of the conference in setting the appropriate spiritual mood. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by tabernacle organists, generally provides the majority of the music, with the exception of the Saturday afternoon, priesthood sessions, and general women's sessions. At the Saturday afternoon session and the priesthood session guest ensembles include regional choirs, institute choirs, an MTC choir, and the BYU Choirs. The hymns are usually selected from the normal repertoire of LDS hymns and their various arrangements, with an occasional piece from traditional sacred choral repertoire. Usually, the congregation is invited to stand and join in with one hymn halfway through each session.
Members of the church regard and sustain the president of the church, the counselors in the First Presidency, and members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles as "prophets, seers, and revelators", and are counseled to pay close attention to what they teach throughout the year. However, the sermons given at general conference are held in particularly high esteem and they are considered the will of God to the church members at the current time. The sermons (called "talks") are published in Liahona, an official church magazine, the month following a General Conference. They are also translated and printed in non-English versions of Liahona. Church members are encouraged to read and study the talks, discuss them at home and at church, and quote from them while giving lessons and sermons at church.
The events of the conferences are televised both locally and internationally through various platforms to increase their exposure and availability. Sessions are broadcast on screens in various buildings on Temple Square, including the Tabernacle, Assembly Hall and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The conference sessions are also broadcast via satellite to church meetinghouses throughout the world, either simultaneously or time delayed to accommodate differing time zones and languages. The conferences have also aired through webcasts, and since 2010, the complete sermons have been posted on the church's YouTube channel. The sessions are translated and broadcast in over 100 different languages worldwide.
Live coverage of the conferences are also shown on local television and radio stations with ties to the Church. These include Utah's NBC affiliate KSL-TV and ABC News Radio affiliate KSL (AM)/FM (owned by Bonneville International, a commercial broadcasting arm of the church), KBYU-FM and KBYU-TV (public broadcasters owned by Brigham Young University), Latter-day Saints Channel (the church-owned radio network, which also has additional HD Radio coverage in Bonneville markets), KIXR 1400 K-Star, KUTN Star 96.7, KMGR 99.1 Classy FM, BYU Television (national cable and satellite, and over KBYU-DT2), and BYU Radio.
See also edit
- "April 2021 General Conference".
- In consideration of restrictions related to COVID-19, the church originally indicated that the April 2020 leadership sessions would be postponed until October. The planned leadership sessions in October were also subsequently postponed.
- After the death of Joseph Smith, general conferences were held under the direction of Brigham Young in October 1844 (Nauvoo, Illinois); April 1845 (Nauvoo); October 1845 (Nauvoo); December 1847 (Kanesville, Iowa); and April 1848 (Kanesville). For the dates and locations of conferences prior to Smith's death, see General conference (Latter Day Saints).
- "Report of the 147th Annual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", Ensign: 1, May 1977
- If the first day of April or October is a Sunday, the Saturday sessions have sometimes been held on March 31 and September 30.
- "Church News: First Presidency Announces New General Women's Meeting", churchofjesuschrist.org, LDS Church, November 4, 2013
- Stack (30 October 2014). "About-face: Mormon women's meeting now part of General Conference". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- Walch, Tad (30 October 2014). "LDS Church confirms women's meeting now part of general conference". Deseret News. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- "April 2021 General Conference".
- "General Conference Sessions Consolidated". www.mormonnewsroom.org. 2017-10-27. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
- Additional Adjustments to the April 2020 General Conference, Newsroom, churchofjesuschrist.org, 19 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- October 2020 General Conference Will Be Virtual Only: Sessions will follow the same pattern as the conference held in April of this year, Newsroom, churchofjesuschrist.org, 4 June 2020. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
- See this announcement for details.
- "Summary of the Saturday Morning Session of the October 2021 General Conference". Retrieved 1 April 2023.
- The parameters for General Conference were confirmed here.
- First Presidency invites all to participate in October 2022 general conference, Church News, 2 September 2022. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
- Woodruff, Daniel (2015-10-04). "LDS church: No conference talks in native languages this time". KUTV. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
- Walch, Tad (September 8, 2014). "LDS conference talks may be given in native languages". Deseret News.
- "General Conference Interpretation Fact Sheet". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 28 September 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- Monson, Thomas S. (May 1995), "The Solemn Assembly Sustaining of Church Officers", Ensign, LDS Church
- "New Tabernacle organist named", LDS Church News, Deseret News, April 14, 2007
- "Longtime dream to sing with choir", LDS Church News, Deseret News, March 27, 2004
- Benson, Ezra Taft (May 1988), "Come unto Christ, and Be Perfected in Him", Ensign: 84
- Olsen, Bruce L. (January 2000). "Out of Obscurity and Out of Darkness". Ensign.
- "General Conference Interpretation Fact Sheet". Mormon Newsroom. 28 September 2010.
Approximately 800 people work together to interpret and translate general conference. About 600 work at the Conference Center, while another 200 work at locations around the world. Many of these individuals are volunteers.
- "Latter-day Saints in PH to Watch General Conference Through Nationwide Rebroadcast". churchofjesuschrist.org. 2020-04-05.
- Armstrong, Richard N. (Fall 1997), "Researching Mormonism: General Conference as Artifactual Gold Mine", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 30 (3): 151–68, archived from the original on 2011-08-08, retrieved 2019-12-25.
- Burnett, M. Dallas (1992), "Conferences: General Conference", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 307–8, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140.
- Elliott, Dorice Williams (Spring 1989), "The Mormon Conference Talk as Patriarchal Discourse", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 22 (1): 70–78, archived from the original on 2011-08-08, retrieved 2019-12-25.
- Godfrey, Kenneth W. (February 1981), "150 Years of General Conference", Ensign: 66–71.
- Godfrey, Kenneth W. (2000), "General Conference", in Arnold K. Garr; Donald Q. Cannon; Richard O. Cowan (eds.), Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, ISBN 1-57345-822-8.
- Jarvis, Joseph Boyer (1958), Preaching in the General Conference of the Mormon Church, 1870-1900, Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, OCLC 71796328.
- Lowe, Jay R. (1972), A Study of the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1901, Ph.D. dissertation, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, OCLC 367545362.
- Peterson, Paul H. (2002), "Accommodating the Saints at General Conference", BYU Studies, 41 (2): 5–39.
- Rees, Bridget (September–October 2004), "Conference in General", LDS Living, 3 (5): 36–37, 39–43.
- Shepherd, Gordon; Shepherd, Gary (1984), A Kingdom Transformed: Themes in the Development of Mormonism, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0-87480-233-4.
- Shepherd, Gordon; Shepherd, Gary (June 1984), "Mormon Commitment Rhetoric", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 23 (2): 129–39, doi:10.2307/1386104, JSTOR 1386104.
- Shepherd, Gordon; Shepherd, Gary (September 1984), "Mormonism in Secular Society: Changing Patterns in Official Ecclesiastical Rhetoric", Review of Religious Research, Religious Research Association, 26 (1): 28–42, doi:10.2307/3511040, JSTOR 3511040.
- Shepherd, Gordon; Shepherd, Gary (Summer 1986), "Modes of Leader Rhetoric in the Institutional Development of Mormonism", Sociological Analysis, Association for the Sociology of Religion, 47 (2): 125–36, doi:10.2307/3711457, JSTOR 3711457.
- Warner, Cecelia (April 1984), "General Conference: Whence and Whither?", Sunstone Review, 4: 2–5.
- Zobell, Albert L. Jr. (April 1950), "The Call to Conference", Improvement Era, 53 (4): 326–29.