News Story

Latter-day Saints Continue Long Tradition of Gathering for General Conference

Thousands of Latter-day Saints will gather Saturday and Sunday at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City to attend general conference. Hundreds of thousands more throughout Utah and surrounding states will watch proceedings live on television. Millions more around the world will watch on the Internet or by satellite broadcast in more than 6,000 Church buildings.

Presiding at the 178th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be President Thomas Spencer Monson, the 16th president of the Church, who was sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saturday morning’s session of the 178th Annual General Conference on April 5.

General conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are gatherings of leaders and members of the Church and anyone else wishing to hear messages of faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. Scriptural doctrines are taught, hymns are sung and prayers are given, all in effort to urge people to live more Christian lives.

Each semiannual conference is made up of five meetings held on the first Saturday and Sunday of April and October. Three meetings are held on Saturday and two on Sunday. The meetings run from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. There is an additional meeting Saturday evening for all men 12 years and older, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The first general conference was held in June 1830, two months after the Church was officially organized. Since the humble beginnings of the first general conference, attended by a small number of early members of the Church, now millions of Mormons and guests participate.

Brigham Young, the second president of the Church, organized the construction of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City in order to have a large meeting place for general conference. It was completed in 1867.

“After the Saints’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, general conference became a time of reunion and spiritual growth,” wrote Kenneth W. Godfrey in the February 1981 issue of the Church’s monthly magazine, the Ensign .

After 133 years of general conference in the Tabernacle, the construction of the much larger Conference Center, which seats 21,000 in its main auditorium, was completed in 2000 to better accommodate conference crowds. Overflow seating is available on Temple Square in locations such as the Tabernacle and Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

To enable people to view the meetings outside of the Conference Center and Temple Square, the Church broadcasts each session to over 6,000 satellite connections around the world in addition to live Internet streaming.

With the diversity of Latter-day Saints comes a diversity of languages. Hundreds of interpreters help to translate all of the sermons and prayers into 94 languages, including American Sign Language and closed captioning. In addition, transcripts of the sermons are published in multiple languages and distributed to Church members worldwide in the Church’s official magazines within a few weeks after the conference.

Godfrey adds: “Despite changes involving the transmission of general conference to the Saints, there has (nearly) always been such a meeting, and it has always been vitally important. ... Whether in the Tabernacle, in their own living rooms, or from reading the messages later, members [of the Church] feel the spirit of faith and testimony that moves outward to touch their lives from this moment of instruction, this time of strengthening called general conference.”

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