The special evening session, which is usually the Priesthood Session, of the April General Conference on Saturday was focused on the restoration of the priesthood and how it helps and functions in the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All church members participated in the session, however, not just the male members.
The current COVID-19 pandemic also was discussed by church President Russell M. Nelson, and how he knows the Lord knows the needs of the world at this time.
Nelson called for another day of fasting as part of Holy Week leading up to Easter.
“I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”
In other changes and to fortify the focus of the full name of the church, Nelson announced the worldwide organization would adopt a new logo and symbol. Added to the current logo of the name of the church is the image of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus statue standing in an arch.
Nelson indicated that the Christus and the arch represent Christ emerging from the tomb following his resurrection.
The rest of the evening was focused on various aspects of the priesthood and its functions and influences on various members of the church.
Elder Gerritt W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke on the comparison between Easter and the First vision and the words hosanna and hallelujah. Both reflect the return of Jesus Christ.
“The sacred events between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are the story of hosanna and hallelujah. Hosanna is our plea for God to save,” Gong said.
Gong added, “Hallelujah expresses our praise to the Lord for the hope of salvation and exaltation. In hosanna and hallelujah we recognize the living Jesus Christ as the heart of Easter and latter-day restoration.”
Two youth from the Provo area were invited to speak on how the priesthood can bless the youth of the church.
Laudy Ruth Kaouk, of the Slate Canyon 14th Ward (Spanish) in the Provo Utah Stake, spoke of how priesthood can help the youth.
“Regardless of your circumstances you can always have access to priesthood blessings,” Kaouk said. “Through family members, friends, ministering brothers, priesthood leaders, and a Heavenly Father that will never fail you, you can receive the blessings of the priesthood.”
Enzo S. Petelo, from the Meadow Wood Ward of the Provo Utah Edgemont Stake, also addressed how priesthood blesses the youth.
“We are given the opportunity to minister like angels, to preach the gospel on all the continents of the Earth, and to help souls come unto Christ,” Petelo said. “This service places us in joint labor with John the Baptist, Moroni, Joseph Smith, President Nelson and other diligent servants of the Lord.”
Sister June B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, spoke on men and women working with unity in the priesthood. She drew upon the example of Adam and Eve, and their difference in living in the garden and afterward as mortals.
“They had to labor for their food, some of the animals considered them food, and there were difficult challenges that could be overcome only as they counseled and prayed together,” Bingham said.
She said she imagined there were at least a few times they had differing opinions about how to approach those challenges.
“However, through the Fall, they had learned that it was essential to act in unity and love,” Bingham noted.
Bingham said that one of the first elements of Christ’s original church to be restored was the authority of the priesthood of God.
As the restoration continued to unfold, men and women began to realize anew the importance and potential of working as partners, she said.
Bingham added, “In October 2019, President Russell M. Nelson taught that women who are endowed in the temple have priesthood power in their lives and in their homes as they keep those sacred covenants they made with God.”
Nelson said “that the heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.”
Bingham said Nelson encouraged every sister to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help their family and others they love.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said, “I testify that the Lord saw far into the future and how he would lead us to help him accomplish his purpose in the last days.”
Eyring using the example of FamilySearch and how when one thing was accomplished another door was opened to search for answers, said, “The Lord saw it all coming. He planned for it, step-by-step, as he has done with other changes in his church. He has raised up and prepared faithful people who choose to do hard things well.”
Eyring continued: “He has always been lovingly patient in helping us learn line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. He is firm in the timing of his intentions, yet he ensures that sacrifice often brings continuing blessings that we did not foresee.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, second counselor in the First Presidency, continued with the priesthood theme by defining the keys of the priesthood.
“The power of the priesthood exists both in the church and in the family organization,” Oaks said. “But priesthood power and priesthood authority function differently in the church than they do in the family.
“The Melchizedek Priesthood keys of the kingdom were conferred by Peter, James and John, but that did not complete the restoration of priesthood keys. Some keys of the priesthood came later,” Oaks said.
Oaks compared the priesthood in the church to exercising the priesthood in the home.
“If fathers would magnify their priesthood in their own family, it would further the mission of the church as much as anything else they might do,” he said.
Nelson closed the special session speaking of the COVID-19 pandemic and that Christ knows and understands the needs of the world at this time.
He said he hoped that all those who can, will join in the special Good Friday fast.