Monday, April 6, 2020

April 2020 General Conference Highlights

During the October 2019 General Conference, President Nelson promised that this conference would be "different from any previous conference".

Well he wasn't whistling Dixie.

This conference was its usual amazing spiritual buffet of talks and insight, which I couldn't do justice to. So if you want to hear the talks themselves, click here.  What I'm going to focus on is what made this conference so monumental in and of itself.

The Effects of COVID-19

The entire world watched conference the same way I do: in jammies with a large chunk of cake in hand. Gathering is currently illegal (or frowned upon) in most of the world right now, so nobody could attend conference in person aside from the speakers. This made for an eerie effect as we saw the speakers sit alone in a large room with six feet between them. There was always a feeling of camaraderie to see the thousands of members crammed into the Conference Center, but here we just had to imagine the crowds at home. In jammies.

Another interesting effect was the music provided by the Choir at Temple Square, which of course for aforementioned reasons could not be live. Instead they chose to use clips from previous conferences. It was interesting to look back at the different conferences and remember where one was at the time, including the clip from 2000 where yours truly was still in junior high and had taken the bus up with a friend to see Conference.

200 Year Anniversary of the First Vision

The main focus of the conference was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the First Vision. The Prophet was shown at the Sacred Grove and the Smith Cabin giving beautiful insights on the early church and First Vision. It felt like the focus we needed right now, since it was something to celebrate in a time where so much is being postponed or mourned.

A New Proclamation

To commemorate the event, a new proclamation was published by the First Presidency. You can check it out here. But spoiler alert: It's powerful and beautiful, to nobody's surprise.

A New Symbol

Since the beginning of the church there hasn't been a symbol like other churches. Usually we use the missionary name tag with the full name of the church on it, or the image of Moroni, but none were official. Now we have one: The churches full name in a cornerstone with the statue of Christ at Temple Square standing over it beneath an arch. Full of symbolism, fully unique and fully us, it's a powerful new symbol of our faith.

Temple Announcements

Eight new temples were announced throughout the world. These were:

  • Bahía Blanca, Argentina
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Syracuse, Utah
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

The temples won't be open for some time. But when they are, the fact that these are in places around the world that were previously thought may never get temples makes this one of the most exciting temple announcements yet.

A Global Fast

The Prophet called for another global fast on Friday, April 10, 2020 for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. He has called for all members and non-members to participate in whatever way they can in order to petition the heavens for help. The word is already being spread.

When President Nelson first announced that this conference would be "different from any previous conference" we didn't really know what that meant. Imaginations ran wild as to what that meant, but the result was one that nobody could've thought of. Hope in the midst of a crisis, celebration in the midst of terror, this isn't the conference we expected but was the conference we desperately needed.


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