Monday, April 7, 2014

Mormon Monday: What is General Conference?

This weekend, I was able to view the 184th semi-annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons). It was a spiritual feast. It is all available online, if you didn't have a chance to view it.

Here's a link:

However, as I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about this morning, I realized many people may not even know what General Conference is, and why we make such a big deal about it. Curious, I looked up the history of conference. Here's my source, if you want to read the original document.

On June 9, 1830, Joseph Smith called the original General Conference of the church to order. There were only 27 members present. These conferences were seen as essential, as it was an opportunity for the church to hear from God's holy prophet and to learn what the Lord had to say concerning the entire church.

As the early pioneers moved from state to state to escape persecution, they continued the tradition of having conference. However, it wasn't until 1840 that conference became a semi-annual event. There was even a conference held in Great Britian that year.

However, during the western exodus of the church, conference was temporarily paused. There were a few meetings held along the trail, but the official conference didn't begin again until 1848 in Salt Lake City. At first, the church members didn't have an official place for meeting. The first meeting in Salt Lake was actually held in a bowery! That didn't last long though. The saints quickly began work on the Tabernacle that still sits on temple square today. It 1867 it was completed and held its first General Conference meeting.

Meetings continued in other areas as well. There were times that General Conference wasn't help at all, as flu epidemics raged and world wars occurred. However, the tradition continued, despite opposition.

In the 1900's, technology began to make conference available to a wider and more distant audience. This was an incredible blessing. Today, members all over the world can hear the conference talks in their own language and in their own homes thanks to internet, television, and radio.

One of the greatest problems in Christ's time was the inability to regularly meet with the early Christian saints. The apostles spent most of their time traveling back and forth trying to get rid of false traditions and teachings. They were continually squashing wild-fires that the errors of men would create. This is originally what led to the removal of the true gospel on the Earth. Once the apostles had all been killed, men mingled Christ's teachings with their own opinions and ideas. This is why so many awful things were done by people professing to be followers of Christ in those days.

A restoration, not a revision, of the true gospel of Christ was necessary. We truly believe that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, visited Joseph Smith and ordained him to be a modern-day prophet. We believe that President Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet today.

If you knew that you could go and listen to Moses, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob and hear what God wanted to tell you today, would anything stop you from going there?

I testify that President Monson holds the same authority that these ancient men did. We go to conference to hear a prophet of God tell us what God wants us to do and how we can retain peace and hope in these turbulent times. Technology has made it so easy to listen to the prophet of the Lord if we will just open our ears and hear.

If you don't know that he is a prophet, ask the only person who can tell you: God, himself. Pray with all your enery, and tell God that if this man is a prophet, that you will follow his counsel and be joined with God's church. I promise that if you pray with real intent, and listen as President Monson speaks, that you will receive and answer.

I did, and I know this to be true. No amount of evidence in opposition of it could ever convince me otherwise, because I have learned by the Spirit that President Monson is a prophet of God. It was impressed very clearly upon me when I prayed about it, and I know I received an answer.

Hear the words of the prophet and follow his counsel. You will never regret it.

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