On Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Conference Center, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held the Sunday morning session of the 193rd Annual General Conference. President Dallin H. Oaks presided over the meeting under the direction of President Russell M. Nelson.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson: ‘One in Christ’
To begin the conference, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a message focusing on unity within the Church. He explained that not long before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ prayed to Heavenly Father and asked Him that His apostles could be one, as He and His Father in Heaven had been.
“Becoming one is a recurring theme in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in God’s dealings with His children,” Christofferson said. “With respect to the City of Zion in Enoch’s day, it is said that, ‘they were of one heart and one mind.'”
He went on to explain that unity and oneness in the Church and in general begin with each individual’s actions. According to Christofferson, one of the best ways these individuals can start to be one is through the first two great commandments — loving Heavenly Father and His children.
“Unity with our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ grows as we heed the second commandment — inextricably connected to the first — to love others as ourselves,” Christofferson said. “And I suppose an even more perfect unity would obtain among us if we followed the Savior’s higher and holier expression of this second commandment — to love one another not only as we love ourselves but as He loved us.”
President Camille N. Johnson: ‘Jesus Christ is relief’
Following Christofferson’s remarks, President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society President, spoke, saying that Jesus Christ can be a source for refuge in trying times. She used examples of Christ’s earthly ministry when He healed those in need and provided physical and spiritual relief to those around Him. According to her, members of the Church may be a source of relief through Christ’s help.
“I testify that Jesus Christ is relief,” Johnson said. “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we may be relieved of the burden and consequences of sin and be succored in our infirmities. And because we love God and have covenanted to serve Him, we can partner with the Savior to help provide temporal and spiritual relief for those in need — and in the process find our own relief in Jesus Christ.”
Johnson continued her talk by demonstrating that those who keep and honor covenants they make with Heavenly Father will receive the physical and spiritual relief that the Lord offered during His earthly ministry. She defined relief as a heavy burden being made light and promised relief to those who would be faithful to their covenants.
“Brothers and sisters, I can’t go at it alone, and I don’t need to and I won’t,” Johnson said. “Choosing to be bound to my Savior, Jesus Christ, through the covenants I have made with God, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’ Covenant keepers are blessed with the Savior’s relief.”
Elder Ulisses Soares: ‘Followers of the Prince of Peace’
After Johnson’s remarks, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed Secret Prayer and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles followed. He spoke of one of Christ’s divine roles as the Prince of Peace and urged people to follow Him as a Prince of Peace as well as a Savior.
“As His followers, we are His peculiar people, called to proclaim His virtues, promoters of the peace so generously offered through Him and His atoning sacrifice,” Soares said. “This peace is a gift promised to all who turn their hearts to the Savior and live righteously; such peace gives us strength to enjoy mortal life and enables us to endure the painful trials of our journey.”
He went on to talk about how common it is for individuals to talk negatively of others, especially in social media. He also spoke of Christ’s earthly ministry and constant desire to uplift all those around Him. Soares claimed that He knows nobody is perfect, but striving to strengthen Christlike attributes like humility and love can help to be uplifting to others as Christ was.
“I promise you that as we pursue and develop these attributes, we will become more and more cordial and sensitive to the needs of our fellow beings and will experience joy, peace and spiritual growth,” Soares said. “Undoubtedly, the Lord will recognize our efforts and give us the gifts we need to be more tolerant and patient with one another’s differences, weaknesses and imperfections.”
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita: ‘When to receive your patriarchal blessing’
Following Elder Soares’ talk, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, a General Authority Seventy, spoke on the significance of patriarchal blessings and when the most appropriate time to receive one is. According to him, most Church members choose to receive them not long before serving a mission. As he explained, though, any baptized and worthy Church member may receive one at any time. he also discussed two main purposes for receiving a patriarchal blessing:
1. A patriarchal blessing contains personal counsel from the Lord.
2. A patriarchal blessing declares one’s lineage in the house of Israel.
“Your patriarchal blessing is a message from your Heavenly Father and will likely include promises and inspired counsel to guide you throughout your life,” Yamashita said. “A patriarchal blessing is not going to map out your life or answer all your questions.”
He continued mentioning some of the promises of patriarchal blessings from scriptures in the Old Testament and the Pearl of Great Price. According to these scriptures, members of the Church are also called children of the covenant, whose blessings are received when the laws and ordinances of the gospel are obeyed. He finished by sharing his testimony of patriarchal blessings.
“Brothers and sisters, I bare my witness that Heavenly Father and His Beloved and Only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, live,” Yamashita said. “They love us. Patriarchal blessings are sacred gifts from them.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen: ‘My mind caught hold upon this thought’
After Yamashita’s remarks, the congregation joined the choir in a hymn and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. He shared the story of Alma in the Book of Mormon whose mind caught hold upon the thought of Jesus Christ and exhorted Church members to do the same.
“Filling our mind with the power of Jesus Christ does not mean that He is the only thought we have,” Andersen said. “But it does mean that all our thoughts are circumscribed in His love, His life and teachings, and His atoning sacrifice and glorious resurrection.”
He continued by sharing the story of Matt and Sarah Johnson and their four daughters. Sarah would schedule Saturday appointments for her family to attend the temple and perform vicarious baptisms for previous family members. Sarah had been diagnosed with cancer in November and passed away the following month, but Matt continued to take his daughters to the temple. Their first visit to the temple after Sarah’s passing helped Matt to catch hold upon the thought of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation.
“In this Easter season, I witness the complete and absolute truth of the Savior’s incomparable atoning sacrifice and of His glorious resurrection,” Andersen sad. “As your mind has caught hold firmly and forever upon this thought, and as you focus your life more fully on the Savior, I promise you that you will feel His hope, His peace and His love.”
Elder Kevin R. Duncan: ‘A voice of gladness’
Following Andersen’s talk, Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy spoke. He talked about various blessings and ordinances of the Church such as the plan of salvation, priesthood authority and covenants. Duncan addressed that it can be easy for members of the Church to occasionally take these blessings for granted.
“As members of the Church today, it can become easy for us to take these glorious eternal truths for granted,” Duncan said. “They have come second nature to us. Sometimes it is helpful when we see them through the eyes of those who learn about them for the very first time.”
He demonstrated this through an experience in which he attended the rededication of the Tokyo Japan Temple. As many who were not of Latter-day Saint faith toured the newly refurbished temple, he overheard a man ask a member if he truly understood how profound their doctrine was. Duncan invited members of the Church to be like this man and strive to appreciate the greatness of the different doctrines of the gospel.
“Brothers and sisters, today on this Palm Sunday let us as disciples of Jesus Christ also praise our Holy God and rejoice in His goodness to us,” Duncan said. “What do we hear in the gospel which we have received? Truly a voice of gladness.”
President Russell M. Nelson: ‘Peacemakers needed’
President Nelson was the concluding speaker as he opened by sharing an experience during a surgical internship several years ago. One of the surgeons made a mistake, which caused another to lose his temper, throwing his scalpel into Intern Nelson’s forearm. He wondered what was more infectious — the scalpel or the behavior of the surgeon.
“Anger never persuades,” Nelson said. “Hostility builds no one. Contention never leads to inspired solutions. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others — especially when we have differences of opinion. One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.”
He went on to talk about how Jesus Christ spoke of peacemakers during His earthly ministry and encouraged members of the Church to be more Christlike in making peace. One way that he explained people can do this is by showing charity to those who may be going through a divorce or may have opposing political views.
“Brothers and sisters, the pure love of Christ is the answer to the contention that ails us today,” Nelson said. “Charity propels us ‘to bear one another’s burdens’ rather than heap burdens upon each other.”
In closing, he used his counselors, President Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, as examples of charity and the love of Christ. According to Nelson, charity is what makes a peacemaker and Oaks and Eyring have been those examples for him. He ended his talk by promising a blessing to those who would strive to be peacemakers in tense situations.
“Let us as a people become a true light on the hill — a light that ‘cannot be hid,'” Nelson said. “I bless you to make any adjustments that may be needed so that your behavior is ennobling, respectful and representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ. I bless you to replace belligerence with beseeching, animosity with understanding and contention with peace.”
The final session of general conference will begin at 2 p.m. and can be streamed online.