General Conference changes

In a message sent to Church leadership, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced changes for future general conferences. The following letter is to be read in sacrament meetings throughout the world:

“In the spirit of reducing and simplifying the work of the Church and the demands made upon leaders and members, we are pleased to announce that the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve has decided to modify the general conference meeting schedule.

“Beginning in April 2018, the general women’s session will no longer be held on the Saturday preceding the other sessions of general conference. Rather, the general priesthood and general women’s sessions will each be held annually, with the general priesthood session being in April and the general women’s session being in October. These meetings will originate from the Conference Center on Saturday evening following the morning and afternoon sessions of the conference.

“The sesson times of general conference will not change.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “General Conference changes

  1. That’s a nice update to the current schedule.

    I miss some of the old stuff, like the Welfare Session. And if I’m older, I’m sure I could come up with other past practices surrounding General Conference that could cause me to wax rhapsodic. But in all, this seems to be a nice change.

    I would have liked the women to get April, but given that the reported dates when both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood were restored fall in the latter portion of spring, those historical precedents will make nice jumping off points for many a future April Sat eve session.

  2. That’s a diggable change. Why the preference, though, Meg? What makes you favor April?

  3. I am a Church employee, and we have recently been receiving instructions by the Brethren and given specific processes and guidelines to reduce and simplify our work, our product offerings, and the expectations we place on Church leaders and members. It is an exciting direction, and I’m happy to see the real effects it can have on each of us.

  4. Four years ago when internet streaming of the general priesthood meeting began, I wrote that “the singing won’t be the same.” It looks like it wasn’t.

    “I remember when I was a deacon, we had no cars, no trucks. We had wagons and buggies—we usually had a democrat. When we went to priesthood meeting, we had to travel about eight miles, and we never missed the general stake priesthood meeting which was held once a month. My father used to try to make those meetings pay both ways; for instance, he would have a team and wagon full of wheat, and I would have a team and wagon full of wheat following him for about eight miles, which would take us just a little better than two hours to get to our priesthood meeting. And we would go early enough so that we could pick up a load of coal to bring back after priesthood meeting. But we never missed priesthood meeting.”—N. Eldon Tanner, Conference Report, April 1964

  5. Seems likely the first step to giving women the priesthood so they can all attend priesthood on Sat night.

  6. Now that all sessions are televised both men and women have access to all the sessions of conference as soon as they are broadcast. As for extending priesthood to women, that’s done very nicely were appropriate, as in certain ordinance areas of the temple. As a worker in the Provo Temple baptistry I am profoundly glad that men are still responsible for certain functions. As can be seen in many Christian churches where pastors and priests are allowed to be of any sex (including the new amalgams) men become somewhat redundant and programs begin to drift as congregations dwindle.

  7. Disappointed. I never want to hear less frequently from the Lord’s authorized servants.

  8. I’ll miss the fall priesthood session. There is a camaraderie and spiritual brotherhood that is evident there.

  9. Let’s continue reducing and simplifying. Could I suggest two meetings that seem to have no purpose and no meaning? They are just another meeting without significance or need. Stake priesthood meeting and stake High Priest quorum meeting.

  10. My wry side commented: “April P/H session will not interfere w/ BYU football.”
    But, I think this is a good change.

  11. To build on Mondo Cool, the April P/H session does conflict with the Final Four. Again, not a problem for BYU sports, but for many others it presents a difficult choice . . .

  12. As someone that doesn’t live in UT, I like that our family could travel to Conference and have a chance to attend a women’s session that same weekend. Our family just went to the last conference and we all attended Saturday morning and my husband and older two boys attended Priesthood session. I lamented a little that my daughter and I would not really be able to attend the women’s session on a family trip like the men and boys do.
    I also think having it as part of the same weekend and at the same frequency as the men is a good step to showing the women are as important as the men.
    And I am a fan of “reduce and simplify” and am happy to see Julie’s comment that she is seeing this as a trend.
    Good direction.

  13. Out of curiosity, couldn’t we just have added a Sunday light session for the women’s conference and did it twice a year like the priesthood one was?

    I get the simplify bit, but when everyone of us examines our lives we all have more time than ever in human history. We just take that free time and fill it with work, leisure, etc. then suddenly we are out of time for an additional church meeting.

    If I don’t have time for an extra hour or two a yearn to hear the church leaders, do I also not have that time to read a message from the dead ones?

    I can’t come up with any logical reason this is going to be more efficient for us. We will not see home teaching go up. We will not see scriptures being read more. By what metric would this change demonstrate it’s a success to remove a meeting rather than add one more?

    In guess it’s easier on the authorities and cheaper. But that sounds like a step closer to a prophetic apostasy death spiral. Cut out church time, fill it with “cultural” distractions, feel overwhelmed from having too much rubbish in our lives, cut out church time, rinse and repeat.

  14. Dear Solitude,

    Whenever we perceive change, we can either find reasons the change may be beneficial or reasons the change may be negative.

    President Uchtdorf’s mentioned a couple of years ago that the Women’s Session was a General Conference Session. That was the first time it was considered in that light, and my recollection of that time is that President Uchtdorf’s “elevation” of the Women’s Session to General Conference status came as something of a surprise to others.

    I suppose they considered holding a Sunday Evening session to include a Women’s Session into Conference, but for those of us in the east, that would mean women would be out until 10pm on the night before a school/work day (to explore one crucial use case).

    I reiterate that this shift fully elevates the Women’s Session to parity with the Priesthood Session. It also frees the female leaders of the Church from the burden of having to prepare two separate addresses, a burden typically only borne by the First Presidency.

    For someone who appears to yearn for time to hear Church leaders, you seem quick to predict a prophetic apostasy death spiral.

    Perhaps you are not old enough to remember the shift to the consolidated schedule. One could have presumed that this, also, was part of a “prophetic apostasy death spiral” caused by a crass desire to save gas. But from discussions with Church leadership of that era, I happen to know that change resulted in much higher female attendance at Church, because the prior cultural norms led to many women remaining home to fix dinner rather than attend Sacrament Meeting. As to Relief Society, that was seen as an optional weekday activity in that prior age. Primary was also optional, though in my personal experience mothers made sure kids went to Primary if only to get an hour or two of respite.

    As for me and mine, we will not be filling that time with “cultural distractions.” And we are sufficiently adult to live lives of purpose and sanctification even when 0.07% of our waking hours have been released from the expectation of attending a Church meeting.

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