What Does It Mean When A Mormon Goes To ‘Conference’?
Here in the Charlotte, NC area there are hundreds of churches dotted on every corner. Some are HUGE castle-like buildings not unlike the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. I think many of these mega churches in the Carolinas broadcast at least a weekly church meeting.
We don’t go to our regular meetings on Sunday those weekends, instead there are four 2 hour blocks of broadcasted conference sessions. We just call it ‘Conference’. And we make a weekend out of it.
2 sessions are on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. It’s broadcast via BYU-TV (which is often carried by cable) and via satellite around the world, translated into more than 170 languages. Plus it’s very easy to watch on your computer with an internet connection. So most people stay home and watch conference with their family. But the sessions are also shown at church buildings as well if you want to see it in a church.
There used to be a joke about Mormon Church buildings:
How do you tell an LDS meeting house from other churches?
Easy, just look for the satellite dish!
Conference is a way for the leadership of the church to speak to the world-wide church members all at once. We especially love hearing from our Living Prophet—President Thomas S. Monson. But most of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency all speak as well. And the conference talks are also made avaliable in several forms (written and video) via the church’s website: LDS.org.
Elder Robert D. Hales was one of my favorite speakers at the recent October 2013 conference. He spoke about… conference. Which seemed strange to me at first? But as I listened I kept nodding my head. And thinking, yes, that’s how it works for me too.
He started out by saying this:
“We study out in our minds what we need and desire from Heavenly Father, and we pray to understand and apply that which we are taught. As the time for conference arrives, we sacrifice other activities, “lay[ing] aside the things of this world, [to] seek for the things of a better.”5 Then we gather our families to hear the word of the Lord, as King Benjamin’s people did.6
“In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us. One member testified: “As I listened to your address, I was astounded. … Your talk was personal revelation directly from the Lord to my family. I have never experienced such a strong manifestation of the Spirit in my life as those minutes when the Holy Ghost spoke directly to me.”
“Another said, “I have never before felt so profoundly that a talk was being given to me.”
“This is possible because the Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand.7 When I take notes at conference, I do not always write down exactly what the speaker is saying; I note the personalized direction the Spirit is giving me.
“What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel.8 That is why we make an effort to experience conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood.”
I find it very true… Elder Hales points out when we listen to conference with our ears and then HEAR with our heart we will be given specific answers to our specific questions.
Then he goes on to say this about the church in the near future:
“In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected. For example, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given long before we experienced the challenges now facing the family. “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” was prepared in advance of when we will need it most.
“We may not know all the reasons why the prophets and conference speakers address us with certain topics in conference, but the Lord does.”
I’ve been wondering and praying about exactly this thought. I can’t help but see that the church (and selfishly worry about myself and my family) recently has been so visual in the news and current events. Between Mitt Romney running for President of the United States and the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon”… I keep waiting for some sort of social bomb to drop on the church.
And I’m comforted that ‘the Lord (knows)’ about my fears and my life and simply knows me.
I’m confident in my faith and specifically my personal testimony that the bi-annual televised ‘Conference’ is truly a manifestation of God’s power and witness and wisdom on the Earth.
How very comforting to know the Lord is directing his servants who then direct his Church on the Earth. Conference weekend is literally hearing the words of God.
Have other questions about Mormons?
Check out the FAQ page of Mormon.org, or ask me!
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