homepage logo

UPDATED: LDS conference speakers focus on deeper relationship with God; new leaders announced

194th Annual General Conference — Saturday

By Curtis Booker and Carlene Coombs - Daily Herald | Apr 6, 2024
1 / 9
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, clasping hands, are pictured during the church's 194th annual general conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
2 / 9
Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, delivers a talk during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
3 / 9
A snowy exterior of the Church Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
4 / 9
A family from Utah watches the morning session of general conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
5 / 9
President Russell M. Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency converse during the afternoon session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
6 / 9
Conferencegoers gather at the conclusion of the morning session of general conference in the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
7 / 9
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the afternoon session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
8 / 9
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend general conference during the evening session at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
9 / 9
Elder Dale G. Renlund conducts the evening session of general conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Saturday’s opening session of 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened with President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency announcing 11 new General Authority Seventies and a new Sunday School General Presidency.

Eight current General Authority Seventies will be released and receive emeritus status on Aug. 1.

Here are the new General Authority Seventies:

  • David L. Buckner
  • Gregorio E. Casillas
  • Aroldo B. Cavalcante
  • I. Raymond Egbo
  • D. Martin Goury
  • Karl D. Hirst
  • Christopher H. Kim
  • Sandino Roman
  • Steven D. Shumway
  • Michael B. Strong
  • Sergio R. Vargas

The new Sunday School General Presidency taking effect Aug. 1 is as follows:

  • Paul V. Johnson (president)
  • Chad H. Webb (first counselor)
  • Gabriel W. Reid (second counselor)

Similar to October’s semiannual conference, Russell M Nelson, president of the church, was not in attendance. Oaks revealed that Nelson would be viewing conference from home.

On Thursday, Nelson took to social media with a message for church members stating that they may see some senior leaders in the church deliver talks remotely or while sitting down, or they may require assistance getting to and from their seats in the conference center.

A selection from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square titled “Did You Think to Pray?” appeared to be a common theme among many speakers during the morning session.

President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared personal revelations since giving his last conference talk, most notably the passing of his wife, Patricia, who died last July.

“She was a complete daughter of God, an exemplary woman of Christ. I was the most fortunate of men to spend 60 years of my life with her. Should I prove worthy, our sealing means I can spend eternity with her,” Holland said.

He also spoke about his own health journey. Holland was hospitalized shortly after attending his wife’s funeral. Despite the complications, he described his determination to return to his ministry with more urgency, more consecration, more focus on the savior and more faith in God’s word.

“My beloved sisters and brothers, since that experience, I have tried to take up my cross more earnestly, with more resolve to find where I can raise an apostolic voice of both warmth and warning in the morning, during the day and into the night,” Holland said.

The first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, Sister J. Anette Dennis, explained how books can teach by using symbols, sharing a personal story of her own children’s education about the principles of the gospel.

“I knew this was sinking in one day when my younger son was in his early teens. He had started a new book and just wanted to enjoy the story, but his mind kept trying to find the deeper meaning in everything he was reading. He was frustrated, but I was smiling inside,” Dennis said.

She also discussed the blessing of being invited into a covenant relationship with God and how individual lives can become a symbol of that covenant.

“Our Father wants a deeper relationship with all his sons and daughters, but it is our choice. As we choose to draw nearer to him through a covenant relationship, it allows him to draw nearer to us and more fully bless us,” she said.

Elder Alexander Dushku of the Seventy echoed much of Dennis’ message but also encouraged members to appreciate the rays of spiritual light that come from bearing our testimonies.

“But we must be wary of a spiritual trap. Sometimes, faithful church members become discouraged and even drift away because they haven’t had overwhelming spiritual experiences — because they haven’t experienced their own pillar of light,” he said. “President Spencer W. Kimball warned, ‘always expecting the spectacular, many will miss entirely the constant flow of revealed communication.'”

The morning session ended with prerecorded remarks from President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency. He spoke of having faith that all will be well because of temple covenants.

“Frequent participation in the ordinances of the temple can create a pattern of devotion to the Lord. When you keep your temple covenants and remember them, you invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost to both strengthen and purify you,” Eyring said.

His wife, Kathleen Johnson Eyring, passed away at age 82 last October surrounded by family in Bountiful.


The afternoon session was conducted by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was asked to take on the task by President Nelson — who, unlike the morning session, attended in person but did not speak during the two-hour meeting.

In the morning session, Oaks mentioned that members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles will be conducting select sessions of the general conference. According to the church, historically, there have been a few instances — typically due to health- or age-related limitations of the First Presidency — when others have conducted sessions of general conference.

A combined choir from Brigham Young University-Idaho set the tone for the afternoon meeting with the selection “All Glory, Laud and Honor.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed what it means to “be still” and trust the Lord in times of challenging circumstances. “I believe the Lord’s admonition to ‘be still’ entails much more than simply not talking or not moving. Perhaps his intent is for us to remember and rely upon him and his power ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that (we) may be in.’ Thus, ‘be still’ may be a way of reminding us to focus upon the savior unfailingly as the ultimate source of the spiritual stillness of the soul that strengthens us to do and overcome hard things,” he said.

Bednar also spoke about the Sabbath as a sacred time to set apart from the world’s distractions to remember and worship the Lord. “A central feature of our Sabbath worship is to ‘go to the house of prayer and offer up (our) sacraments upon (the Lord’s) holy day,” he said.

Building off of Bednar, Elder Massimo De Feo of the Seventy spoke about trusting in faith amid his own challenges. He referenced his own personal journey in needing eyesight injections. De Feo explained that doctors told him that he’ll need intravitreal injections directly in the eye for the rest of his life.

While this was an uncomfortable wake-up call, he committed to keep a clear spiritual vision. De Feo said that led him to ponder about a blind man called Bartimaeus, described in the gospel of Mark.

“It is interesting that this blind man, who didn’t have physical sight, recognized Jesus. He saw spiritually what he couldn’t see physically, while many others could see Jesus physically, but were totally blind spiritually,” he said.

Despite the limited circumstances, faith led Bartimaeus to go beyond his limitations, according to the Scripture.

“In this confusing and confused world, we must stay faithful to what we know, faithful to our covenants, faithful in keeping the commandments, and reaffirm our beliefs, even stronger, like this man did,” De Feo said.

De Feo was followed by messages from Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave final remarks for the afternoon session. He discussed being united by love and faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement.

“Oneness with Christ and our Heavenly Father can be obtained through the savior’s atonement,” he said.

“The Lord’s saving mercy is not dependent on lineage, education, economic status or race. It is based on being one with Christ and his commandments,” Cook added.

He encouraged members of the church to never lose sight of eternal principles, prioritizing them over material and occupational success. “We would be wise to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to ‘Think Celestial,'” he said.

“The most significant choices can be made by almost everyone regardless of talents, abilities, opportunities or economic circumstances. An emphasis on putting family choices first is essential,” Cook said.


The Saturday evening session of general conference brought messages on finding joy, marriage and the priesthood.

The session was conducted by Elder Dale G. Renlund, with President Nelson once again viewing from his home.

Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Quorum of the Seventy was the first speaker of Saturday’s evening session and discussed the power of the priesthood and how it can lead to miracles.

“I testify that miracles and ministrations are continually occurring in our lives, often as a direct result of priesthood power,” he said. “Some priesthood blessings are fulfilled immediately, in ways we can see and understand. Others are unfolding gradually and will not be fully realized in this life.”

Bowen counseled that through church responsibilities, both men and women can “participate in priesthood work,” which he called a work of miracles that blesses all God’s children.

Elder Steven R. Bangerter, also a member of the Seventy, directed his remarks toward the youth of the church.

Bangerter said youth should seek to understand God’s purpose for them as they continue through life.

“In a day when questions abound, when so many seek to know their true identity, the fact that God knows and has blessed each one of us individually before we were ever born on this earth with essential characteristics of premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose brings sweet peace and assurance to our mind and heart,” he said.

He also instructed youth to fill their life with things like “wholesome recreation” and reading Scripture.

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, the second counselor of the Young Women’s Presidency, also began her remarks by saying she would be speaking to the youth of the church.

Spannaus shared the Bible story of David and Goliath and spoke of six “stones” to guide members’ lives — love for God, faith, knowledge of “true identity,” repentance, access to God’s power and testimony.

“Dear friends, Christ is eager to accompany us on the journey of our lives,” she said. “I promise you, as you hold onto the iron rod, you will walk hand in hand with Jesus Christ.”

She also directed youth to meet with their peers and other church members to identify what other strengths, or stones, they need to navigate the world.

Elder Matthew L. Carpenter of the Seventy discussed the importance of marriage, specifically temple marriage through the church.

Carpenter promised that members who pursue faithful marriage will be blessed and also provided encouraging words from members who remain single.

“Those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and keep that covenant can become perfected and eventually receive the fulness of the glory of the Father, regardless of circumstances beyond their control,” he said.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the session’s final speaker and spoke about finding true, higher joy.

On finding joy, Uchtdorf began with a disclaimer, acknowledging those who experience mental health issues, and said the answer isn’t simply “true to be happier.”

“My purpose today is not to diminish or trivialize mental health issues,” he said. “If you face such challenges, I mourn with and stand beside you. For some people, finding joy may include seeking help from trained mental health professionals who devote their lives to practicing their very important art.”

Uchtodorf said he finds joy and happiness in following the teachings of Jesus Christ.

“It is the nature of all earthly things to grow old, decay, wear out or become stale,” Uchtodorf said. “But godly joy is eternal because God is eternal. Jesus Christ came to lift us out of the temporal and replace corruption with incorruption. Only he has that power, and only his joy is perpetual.”

He also invited members to spend time drawing near to God, seeking everyday moments of peace, joy and hope, and working to bring joy to others.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)