SALT LAKE CITY -- President Thomas S. Monson, during a key general conference talk Sunday, urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be more obedient in keeping the commandments in order to find spiritual safety.
"The great test of this life is obedience," Monson told church members in an address Sunday that closed the first of two sessions of the Church's 183rd annual conference.
Monson, 85, shared a story of starting a fire as an 8-year-old boy, thinking to burn only a confined area. The fire quickly spread beyond his control, and outsiders came in and helped douse the blaze. He said his mistake helped him learn there are rules in place to protect people. Likewise, he said, obedience is the first rule of safety for church members.
"Obedience is a hallmark of prophets. It has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us that we, as well, are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God's commandments," Monson said.
The theme of obedience was also addressed by Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, who said secularism is becoming the social norm and is in direct conflict with practices instituted by God.
Perry said God establishes moral absolutes, which do not change.
"Sin will always be sin," Perry said.
A day after Jean A. Stevens gave the benediction in a general session, becoming the first woman ever to pray in general conference, another woman prayed on Sunday. Carole M. Stephens, a counselor in the church's Relief Society presidency, gave the invocation in the closing session of the conference.
One of 14 speakers in the two sessions Sunday was Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve, who used the Biblical text of 'come and see' as a basis of his address on missionary work. He invited members to tell others to come and see also, including through electronic communications.
"Let's make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life," Andersen urged.
On another electronic note, Rosemary M. Wixom, president of the church's primary, urged parents to connect with their children more personally. She said that is often facilitated by turning off electronic devices and talking and listening to each other.
In the afternoon session, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, told members that following the Savior is not a casual or occasional practice, but needs to be a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, urged members to be about the work of helping others, from assisting them in need to leading them toward Christ. He said that assistance translates into befriending the poor and the weak, alleviating suffering, righting wrongs, defending truth, strengthening the rising generation and achieving security and happiness at home.
Monson used his short closing remarks Sunday afternoon to urge members to be good citizens and neighbors in their communities, reaching out to people of all faiths.