LDS Church to hold general conference remotely due to spread of COVID-19

A view before the afternoon session of the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held Saturday, April 6, 2019, at the church's Conference Center in Salt Lake City. This year’s conference, Saturday and Sunday, will not be open for public attendance due to concerns with COVID-19.

As the world continues to joust with the COVD-19 pandemic, economic hardships, social issues, political turmoil and other uncertainties, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will gather this weekend to find a spiritual boost from their leaders.

The 190th Semiannual General Conference is Oct. 3-4. Despite not having a live audience at the Conference Center, the church is using “technology to offer more viewing and listening options than ever before, ensuring the largest global general conference audience to date,” according to a church statement.

General sessions for all audiences will be held Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until 2 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. A women’s session for all women and young women ages 11 and older will begin Saturday evening at 6 p.m.

For the first time, at least in modern times, the First Presidency of the church — which includes President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — have announced some of the topics that will be discussed during the two-day, five-session conference.

“The First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other General Authorities and General Officers of the Church will focus on the Savior’s messages of love, understanding, acceptance, hope, connection, and inclusion,” according to a statement from the church.

“We will focus on Him by elevating our use of the name He revealed for His restored Church,” the First Presidency said. “We will recognize major events of the ongoing Restoration to celebrate our history and future. We will become even more ‘converted unto the Lord’ and invite all to come and find enduring joy on His covenant path.”

Over the past six months, which have been overshadowed with crisis, devastation, political unrest and more, the LDS Church has continued to move forward with pillars of perfecting the saints, including missionary work, genealogical research and helping their fellow man.

Since April’s unique and virtual conference, temples have closed, opened, held groundbreakings and dedications, and have started the phases of reopening again.

Family Search has also announced there are more than 8 billion searchable names now online, including 50 projects in process to help Black families find their ancestors during and before the Civil War in the U.S., in Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil and the Philippines.

Missionary Training Centers have been closed and missionaries have come home, been reassigned and returned to the field once again. For some elders, a new dress code will allow them to put in a light blue shirt in with their white shirts depending on the mission.

The Latter-day Saint Charities, under the direction of First Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency Sister Sharon Eubank has taken on the largest humanitarian project in the history of the church.

Eubank noted LDS Charities have always been prepared for a hurricane, fire, typhoon or earthquake, but it never expected to have to help the entire world at one time.

Members around the world have made more than 6 million face masks and other personal protective equipment that has been dispersed.

A bumper crop at church farms has allowed for semi-truck loads of food and supplies to be delivered and shipped around the globe not only for the pandemic but for other disasters such as the fires in California or the flooding from hurricanes in Louisiana and other areas of the south.

This summer, the Tabernacle Choir that had its tour canceled and has not sung together since March, celebrated its 110th anniversary of recording music with a special program.

These initiatives, programs and projects are just the tip of the growing ice berg of happenings in the church.

Like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said, these publicly-known efforts are simple a snowflake in a coming blizzard.

During a recent YouTube interview, Holland said he hadn’t had this much free time to study and contemplate the gospel in that past 40 years.

With all of that said, it is the focus of this weekend’s conference that has members of the church turning to Salt Lake City and preparing through prayer, fasting and service for the messages that will be given.

Preparation for church members is the key to a better conference. Jeffrey Meservy, a Church Education System institute director, said, “You’re going to get more out of General Conference the more you prepare.”

With the ongoing theme for saints to “Hear Him,” Nelson used his personal Facebook to encourage readers to participate in conference.

“Hear the words the Lord will speak to you through apostles and other church leaders during the worldwide conference,” Nelson said.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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