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UPDATED: Utah temples announced; LDS faithful implored to put spiritual focus on words, actions

194th Annual General Conference — Sunday

By Ryan Aston - | Apr 7, 2024
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President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers remarks in a pre-recorded talk broadcast during the church's 194th Annual General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.
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Crowds make their way into the Conference Center for the afternoon session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, April 7, 2024.
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Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provides counsel to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the morning session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2024.
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The exterior of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center, photographed Sunday, April 7, 2024.
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President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, April 7, 2024.
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Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the afternoon session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

After having attending Saturday afternoon’s session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in person at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, President Russell M. Nelson attended virtually again Sunday, as he had done with Saturday’s other sessions.

During the Sunday afternoon session of general conference, Nelson announced that the church would be building 15 new temples around the globe — including two in the Beehive State, where the faith is headquartered. Nelson made the announcement during his pre-recorded closing remarks.

The new temples will be constructed in the following locations:

  • Lehi
  • West Jordan
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Houston, Texas (South Area)
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Chihuahua, Mexico
  • Maracaibo, Venezuela
  • Rosario, Argentina
  • Florianoplis, Brazil
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Utoroa, French Polynesia
  • Brisbane, Australia (South Area)

Nelson mentioned that at the time of his birth — September 1924 — there were only six functioning temples in the whole of the church: four in Utah as well as one each in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, and Laie, Hawaii.

He also spoke of the church’s recent purchase of the historic Kirtland Temple, as well as several other historically significant sites around Nauvoo, Illinois, from the Community of Christ.

The importance of the temple and its ordinances in the lives of church members was emphasized in his remarks.

“Nothing will help you more to hold fast to the iron rod than worshipping in the temple as regularly as your circumstances permit,” Nelson advised. “Nothing will protect you more as you encounter the world’s mists of darkness. Nothing will bolster your testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and his atonement or help you understand God’s magnificent plan more. Nothing will soothe your spirit more during times of pain. Nothing will open the heavens more. Nothing.”

With Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles conducting, the Sunday afternoon session opened with a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, also of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Christofferson described the “three heavenly kingdoms,” observing that the distinguishing characteristics of their inhabitants pertain to individuals’ testimony of Jesus Christ.

“My invitation is to act now to secure your place as one who is valiant in the testimony of Jesus,” he said. “As repentance may be needed, ‘do not procrastinate the day of your repentance,’ lest ‘in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.'”

Christofferson defined being valiant, in this sense, as nurturing one’s testimony, being open and public about it, heeding the word of God as delivered by his messengers, and encouraging others — in particular, one’s family — to be similarly valiant.

Elder Taylor G. Godoy of the Seventy was the second speaker of the afternoon session, and he relayed a story of his struggle, 30 years ago, to procure a document that was needed to proceed with civil marriage to his now-wife.

Concern about the ceremony not taking place prompted the couple to pray, and Godoy described a series of unlikely/fortunate events later having made it possible for them to get married. He implored members to pray when they face challenges, and also take action after having done so as “a sign that our faith is real.”

“In a world going through times of uncertainty, pain, disappointment and heartbreak, we might feel inclined to rely more on personal abilities and preferences, as well as the knowledge and security that comes from the world,” he added of facing such challenges. “This could cause us to put in the background the real source of succor and support that can counter the challenges of this mortal life.”

Godoy was followed by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He drew a comparison between Jesus’ two great commandments, which boil down to “love the Lord” and “love your neighbor,” to the two towers of a bridge.

“For any suspension bridge to do what it was built to do, its towers must function together in complete harmony. Likewise, our ability to follow Jesus Christ depends upon our strength and power to live the first and second commandments with balance and equal devotion to both,” he said.

Stevenson asked that the next time followers pass over a bridge or see a picture of one, they recall the two great commandments.

The fourth speaker of the session was Elder Mathias Held of the Seventy, who told the story of a time he had driven down the wrong road in an unfamiliar city and found himself unable to turn around for miles.

“While on this highway and desperately looking for a way out again, I blamed myself for not paying better attention to the navigation system,” Held said. “This experience caused me to think about how in our lives we sometimes make wrong decisions and how we must live with the consequences humbly and patiently until we are able to change our course again.”

He noted that life is all about choices and what we learn from them — both the good ones, as well as the bad.

“Suffering from the consequences of our own poor decisions can often be especially painful because we have only ourselves to blame. Nevertheless, we can always choose to receive comfort through the divine process of repentance, make wrong things right again, and in doing so learn some life-changing lessons,” Held added.

Speaking next was Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who stressed the importance of temples and the ways in which people are enriched by them.

“If we are able and have not already increased our attendance at the temple, let us regularly find more time to worship in the house of the Lord,” he said. “Let us pray for the temples that have been announced throughout the world, that properties can be purchased, that governments will approve plans, that talented workers will see their gifts magnified, and that the sacred dedications will bring the approval of heaven and the visit of angels.”

Sunday School General President Mark L. Pace preceded Nelson’s final remarks, and he shared his personal testimony that studying Scripture allows the Holy Ghost to deepen the conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

“We call it ‘study,’ and that’s good because it implies effort. But we don’t always need to learn some new fact. Sometimes, reading the Book of Mormon is just about feeling connected to God today — nourishing the soul, being strengthened spiritually before heading out to face the world, or finding healing after a rough day out in the world,” Pace said.

He added that the improvement of learning at home through the reading of Scripture leads to an improvement of the teaching that occurs at church on Sundays.


President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the church’s First Presidency, conducted the day’s first session for Pres. Nelson.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the first remarks of the session, speaking to the power of words in members’ lives.

“They are the bedrock of how we connect; they represent our beliefs, morals and perspectives. Sometimes we speak words, other times we listen. Words set a tone. They voice our thoughts, feelings and experiences, for good or bad,” Rasband said. “Unfortunately, words can be thoughtless, hasty and hurtful. Once said, we cannot take them back. They can wound, punish, cut down and even lead to destructive actions. They can weigh heavily on us.”

He further referenced words that are relayed online, or via text or social media, as taking on lives of their own, and admonished church members to take care with what they say. Rasband also implored followers to carefully consider the words of prophets and of God.

“Believing and heeding the word of God will draw us closer to him,” he said.

Primary General President Susan H. Porter followed Rasband and spoke directly to the church’s youth, characterizing the act of prayer as a gift and a way to receive guidance as they march toward adulthood and beyond.

“Do you like to receive gifts?” she asked. “I want to talk to you about a very special gift that Heavenly Father has given to you to help you. It is the gift of prayer. What a blessing prayer is. We can talk to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere.”

She specifically mentioned three ways that praying can yield blessings, advising the youth of the faith to “pray to know,” “pray to grow” and “pray to show,” and recounting her own experiences and those of others. One such experience was that of her own granddaughter, who prayed for a playmate during a lonely moment on a school playground.

“Share with Heavenly Father what is in your heart. As you sincerely ask for his help, you will receive his spirit to guide you,” Porter said.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the third talk and spoke of building/maintaining momentum in the spiritual sense. As a parable, he likened it to a kayaking excursion he had participated in, during which he entered the experience with a level of overconfidence. Ultimately, he overexerted himself and stalled out on the water, after which he struggled to get himself going again.

After receiving assistance, he was able to incorporate what he had learned to move forward and sustain his progress.

“By consistently paddling the kayak, I maintained momentum and forward progress, mitigating the effect of waves hitting me from the side. The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. We become vulnerable when we slow down, and especially when we stop,” he said. “If we maintain spiritual momentum by continually ‘rowing’ toward the savior, we are safer and more secure because our eternal life depends on our faith in him.”

Renlund noted that faith needs to be continually nourished on a daily basis. Additionally, he admonished that comparisons to others or the passing of judgment based on how much someone is struggling with what they’re facing can lead to “pernicious errors.”

The session continued with Elder Paul B. Pieper, of the General Authority Seventy, whose remarks were centered on having trust in God and the things that members are asked to do. He explained a game that his family occasionally plays where they do trust falls, and he referred to trust as being foundational in relationships.

“Our mortal life is a test. Challenges that stretch us beyond our own capacity come frequently,” Renlund said.

He compared the trials and tribulations that we face to trust exercises, adding that “God invites us to grow by trusting his spiritual tutoring through soul-stretching experiences. Therefore, we can be sure that whatever trust we may have demonstrated in God in the past, another trust-stretching experience lies yet ahead. God is focused on our growth and progress. He is the master teacher, the complete coach who is always stretching us to help us realize more of our divine potential.”

Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the fifth talk of the morning session. The 62-year-old, who was just called as an apostle in December, opened his remarks with what could be dubbed as the best joke of the session, poking fun at his new role by saying, “It has been said that behind every new apostle stands an astonished mother-in-law. I don’t know if that has actually been said, but in this case, it certainly could be. I suspect that the fact that my mother-in-law is no longer with us does nothing to reduce her astonishment.”

His remarks stressed that the intent of God’s plan is to bring people back to him, not to create barriers along the pathway.

“My friends, my fellow disciples on the road of mortal life, our Father’s beautiful plan, even his ‘fabulous’ plan is designed to bring you home, not to keep you out,” he said. “No one has built a roadblock and stationed someone there to turn you around and send you away. In fact, it is the exact opposite.”

Kearon was followed by Elder Brian K. Taylor of the General Authority Seventy, whose remarks continued the theme of recognizing the challenges, and even suffering, that people face during their mortal lives.

“Coming to trust in God’s divine purposes breathes hope into weary souls and kindles determination in seasons of anguish and heartache,” he said.

He referenced three principles to help followers keep themselves from succumbing to the trials they face: that “stronger faith comes by putting Jesus Christ first,” “brighter hope comes by envisioning eternal destiny” and “greater power comes by focusing on joy.”

The session’s closing speaker was President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, who dropped some temple statistics at the beginning of his remarks. He noted that, as of April 1, the church has 189 dedicated temples across the world, with 146 more in planning and construction.

Oaks opined that, in some circumstances, certain individual freedoms must take a back seat in the service of the greater good.

“A vocal minority oppose institutional authority and insist that persons should be free from any restrictions that limit their individual freedom,” he said. “Yet we know from millennia of experience that we give up some individual freedoms to gain the advantages of living in organized communities. Such relinquishment of individual freedoms are principally based on commitments or covenants, expressed or implied.”

From there, he spoke about covenants and their importance to God’s plan, and made reference to specific covenants that church members make. To that end, the wearing of garments was referenced.

“Persons who have been endowed in a holy temple are responsible to wear a temple garment, an article of clothing not visible because it is worn beneath outer clothing,” he said. “It reminds endowed members of the sacred covenants they have made and the blessings they have been promised in the holy temple.”


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