#LDSConf Sat AM Session, Mar 31, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring will be conducting this meeting. President Russel M. Nelson presides.

President Eyring : We offer condolences to the family of Thomas S. Monson, who passed away earlier this year. The Music will be provided by the Tabernacle Choir

Choir: We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

Opening Prayer: Elder Mervyn B. Arnold

Solemn Assembly: President Eyring led the Solemn Assembly. Since the time John Taylor was sustained to succeed Brigham Young, each occasion of approving the new Prophet is expressed as a formal solemn assembly. You will be asked to stand and should vote only when asked to stand. If anyone casts a contrary vote, those individuals are asked to contact their respective Stake Presidents. Elder Gong and Elder Soares were announced as new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong is an American of Asian descent, previously of the Presidency of the Seventy and Asia Area President.

Elder Ulisses Soares is a native of Brazil, previously of the Presidency of the Seventy, counselor in the Africa Southeast Area, and President of the Brazil Area.

First voting is by the First Presidency. The voting was unanimous.

Next voting is by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The voting was unanimous.

General Authority Seventies and the Presiding Bishopric. The voting was unanimous.

Next all High Priests and Elders throughout the world.

Next all women of Relief Society (all women 18 and older).

Next all holders of the Aaronic Priesthoood.

Next all Young Women (12-17).

Finally the entire memership voted, including any not part of the prior sustaining actions. There were no vocal indications of disagreement during any stage of the Solemn Assembly.

Choir: We Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

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Elder M. Russell Ballard:

I urge you to record in your own journal what you felt as you participated in the Solemn Assembly. We miss President Monson. And we are grateful for President Nelson.

I have known President Nelson for more than sixty years. I witness that the hand of the Lord has been preparing him for this time. We warmly welcome Elder Gong and Elder Suarez.

Elder Ballard spoke of the mustard seed. Though small, it grows large. If we have the faith of a mustard seed, we will be able to move the mountains in our own lives.

Next Elder Ballard spoke of the Sabbath. If we do not find time to unplug, we may miss opportunities to hear the voice of Him who is God. There is nothing wrong with using technology, but must be wise in that use. Sacrament meeeting is only 70 minutes, a time when we can take the sacrament and renew our covenants, and reflect on Him and His example.

Next, regarding service. None should hesitate to serve, nor hesitate to run for public office. Many opportunites to serve are informal, without assignment. We should love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Service opens up a window for us to understand our Savior, who came to minister and give His life.

We must keep Christ as the center of our lives, at all times and in all places. We must teach our children and those around us, that they may know to whom they must look for salvation. All we do, we do in the name of the Savior. Let us remember that Christ is supreme, our advocate, our blessed redeemer, our true friend, and much, much more.

This is the gospel in its true sense, when we lift and strengthen those in true need. May we treasure our many precious gifts from God and be filled with love for our Heavenly Father’s children.

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Elder Brian K. Taylor:

I watched as the children in a recent meeting sang, “I am a Child of God.” I invite each of us to embrace the truth that we *are* children of God, the offspring of the King of Heaven.

Moses saw God face to face. Then Satan tempted Moses. But Moses rejected Satan, asserting that he, Moses, was a son of God.

Teach those you love their identity and purpose. This was life changing for my friend, Jen, who was involved in a traffic accident. In the accident, for which Jen was at fault, the other driver lost their life. Jen was deeply disturbed, unable to believe God could want her for His child. An inspired leader asked Jen to write “I am a Child of God” and speak it aloud ten times each day. For an extended period of days, Jen was unable to speak the words. But over the weeks and months, Jen was able to see that she was God’s precious child, despite the terrible damage she had caused.

In Gethsemane, Christ took upon himself our sins. His anguish was extreme, and He cried out, “Abba!” Father.

If we follow the example of Joseph Smith and truly seek to know God, we will know that God sanctifies our days, even when (for example) dinner is a burnt offering. God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and all are alike unto Him. When you are hurt and lonely, open the Book of Mormon. God will never abandon us. It is not in His nature to do so. God walks with us on the Covenant path. It is worth giving up all of our sins to know Him. I bear witness of the excellence of His character. Amen.

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Elder Larry Echo Hawk:

As the apostles went to the sepulcher, two angels apepared, asking, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

Eventually we all will be resurrected as Christ was. And we can also be reunited with God, if we will repent and accept the intercessionary sacrifice offered by Christ on our behalf.

One day we received a call. The sobbing voice on the other end could not stop crying. When she could finally speak, she said, “Tommy is dead.” My brother and his wife had been killed in a senseless criminal act. Anger towards the one at fault welled up within me. Tommy had been on a course to become a powerful advocate for Native Americans and their resources.

At the hearing, the parents of the one at fault wept. After a moment, members of my family walked over to the weeping parents and comforted them. There was recognition that both families had suffered immensely. These showed our family what forgiveness looked like. This helped me learn to have a forgiving heart. Only with the help of the Prince of Peace was my burden lifted. I know we will be together again as a family.

I am not suggesting that we condone criminal acts. Appropriate consequences are warranted. But as sons and daughters of God, we are to be forgiving even when it seems others may not deserve our forgiveness. The Apostle Paul counseled, put on bowels of mercy, meekness, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, as Christ, so do ye. The sinner must be willing to forgive others if he or she expects to obtain forgiveness.

Are there those in our lives who have harmed us? Do we harbor anger and resentment? I urge all to seek to feel forgiveness for the one who has wronged us, as well as forgiving ourselves.

May we follow the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ. In His anguish, he said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

As we forgive, I promise the Savior will strengthen us. Christ lives. I know Him and I love Him. I am grateful for His grace, which is sufficient to heal all things. Amen.

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Choir and Congregation: Press Forward Saints

Elder Gary E. Stevenson:

As I sought guidance for my address today, I saw comments talking about the Solemn Assembly, reminding us that many of the youth would not remember when President Monson was similarly sustained ten years ago.

The first prophet I remember was David O. McKay, who passed away when I was fourteen years old. As each prophet passes on, it is natural for us to feel sadness and loss. But I would like to describe the process associated with the calling and sustaining of a new prophet.

First is the passing of the prophet, as occurred on January 2, 2018. As President Kimball said, as one star fades into the distance, another rises. The people reverently attend at the grave and then turn their faces to the future. But there is never a loss of leadership. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles leads the Church when the previous prophet passes away.

The Apostles gather, and first sustain the decision to reorganize the First Presidency. Then the next prophet is selected and sustained. Finally, the prophet identifies their counselors. And this is considered and sustained by the gathered apostles.

At this point the First Presidency proceeds forward.

As President Monson was one of the most wonderful individuals to walk this earth, President Nelson is amazing and has been prepared for many years. He is full of energy and filled with love for everyone.

I am primarily familiar with President Nelson from our ecclesiastical interactions, but am also familiar with his amazing professional life. In his medical career, he was a pioneer in heart surgery. In 2015 I was present when President Nelson received an award for his cardio-vascular achievements. The man sitting next to me knew Dr. Nelson from when he’d been a student of Dr. Nelson in 1955. The learning environment for resident surgeons was often chaotic and competitive, even demeaning. But with Dr Nelson, the environment was peaceful and respectful. I have experienced that in my own tutelage under President Nelson. In any circumstance, our conduct and hearts can be consistent with our discipleship as followers of Christ.

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Elder Lynn G. Robbins:

Mistakes are a fact of life. Failures are but signal posts on the path to success.

I had a Physics teacher who would allow the students to retake their exams. Years later I asked why he had done this. He replied, “I wanted to be on the side of the students.”

If to err is human nature, how many times will it take us until our nature is no longer human, but divine. The Savior sacrificed to allow us as many chances as required to be saved. His grace is a divine source of strength, which allows us to be redeemed when our own best efforts are inevitably not enough.

Repentance is not his backup plan in case we fail. It is His plan because to live is to continually fail. Each week as we take the sacrament, we are forgiven anew.

How long will God forgive us? Peter thought seven was enough. In response the Savior said, “Seventy times seven,” essentially telling Peter not to even count. It isn’t as though we only have 490 chances before our repentance card expires. Rather, this was an indication of God’s limitless grace.

However, the sacrament is not license to sin. We are forgiven when we repent with real intent. This kind of repentence brings true growth.

Things that don’t change remain the same. And when we are through changing, we are through.

I am so grateful to my Savior, Amen.

Choir: Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

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Elder Neil L. Andersen:

A Solemn Assembly allows us to publicly manifest our willingness to sustain God’s prophet. The spirit in the Conference Center was amazing and satisfying. But the assembly was beyond the Conference Center, but wherever in the world we were. Our actions were not counted by our bishops, but by God.

“Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee… and ordained thee to be a prophet to the nations.”

President Nelson, at age 93, is in amazing health. For now we are trying to persuade him to stay off the ski slopes!

Jesus taught an important lesson about His servants. “He that receiveth you, receiveth me.” There are many logical reasons to follow President Nelson. Even those outside our Church acknowledge his brillance. He has lived for over nine decades, years of service and years of loving family. His most recent great-grandchild was born just this past Wednesday.

A prophet is a watchman on the tower, protecting us from spiritual dangers we may not see. If such a watchman doesn’t warn the wicked, their blood will be upon the watchman’s head.

My wife, Cathy, has known President Nelson for three decades. But when learning of President Monson’s passing and the expectation that President Nelson would become the prophet, she began reading all his past conference addresses. She prayed earnestly for a witness that this good man she already knows so well is God’s servant for this role in these days.

Beyond the intellect alone, we treasure the witness of the Holy Ghost. The mocking fireballs of annoyed disbelievers are always hurled when the prophet speaks. Even your personal views may not initially be in alignment with the prophet. Counsel with God. The surrender of our will to God’s will is not surrender at all, but a great victory. Years ago, President Nelson said that instead of putting question marks behind the counsel of the prophet, he puts exclamation points.

A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. He stands beside you and points the way to the Savior. Like Peter of Old, our prophet declares, Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.

In that final day when we face God, may we be able to say we listened to His prophet. Amen.

[While listening to the choir, my grand-daughter decided to climb the bookshelf, which isn’t fastened to the wall. It began to sway, and we demanded she get down. We, who have lived a few decades, can imagine what happens when a loaded bookshelf falls on a toddler. But the toddler thought we were being mean and arbitrary. I couldn’t help but reflect on the similarity between this vignette and the dynamics between the prophets and their critics.]

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Choir: My Savior Lives

Closing Prayer: Elder W. Mark Bassett

Presiding – President Russell M. Nelson
Conducting – President Henry B. Eyring
Choir – We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet
Opening Prayer – Elder Mervyn B. Arnold
Solemn Assembly – Elder Henry B. Eyring
Choir – We Listen to a Prophet’s Voice
Talk – Elder M. Russell Ballard – Keeping Christ at the Center of Our Lives
Talk – Elder Brian K. Taylor – You *are* a Child of God
Talk – Elder Larry Echo Hawk – A Forgiving Heart
Rest Hymn – Press Forward Saints
Talk – Elder Gary E. Stevenson – Sustaining God’s Prophet
Talk – Elder Lynn G. Robbins – Growth Requires Failure
Choir – Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
Talk – Elder Neil L. Andersen – Listening to the Prophet
Choir – My Savior Lives
Closing Prayer – Elder W. Mark Bassett

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

5 thoughts on “#LDSConf Sat AM Session, Mar 31, 2018

  1. Elder Taylor’s talk was fantastic. I’ll be suggesting it in the ol’ EQ when the call goes out for lesson-talks.

  2. Elder Gong is American-born.

    Our historical list of Apostles born outside the U.S. now include: John Taylor (England), George Q. Cannon (England), James Talmage (England), Charles Penrose (England), George Teasdale (England), John A. Widtsoe (Norway), Charles A. Callis (Ireland), Marion G. Romney (Mexico), Marriner W. Merrill (Canada), Anthon H. Lund (Denmark), Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Czechoslovakia/ Germany) and Ulisses Soares (Brazil).

    Of course, we should not that we have had two American-born Canadians (N.Eldon Tanner and Hugh B. Brown).

  3. I think you meant Quorum of the Twelve rather than First Presidency when referring to the calling of elders Gong and Soares. Elder Gong is named for Gerrit DeJong, after whom the concert hall at BYU is named. His parents lived with the DeJongs when they were BYU students. He is a first generation American. He is expert in international relations, and has published several books. What a great thing to have his expertise in the leadership, particularly since President Nelson has a strong relationship with the Chinese.

  4. Thanks, Pat, for the catch! I love live-blogging conference sessions, but was dealing with a screeching grand-daughter, a yelling autistic daughter, and a dog that is new to me and which wanted me to pet them (imposing his head between my hands and the keyboard).

    That’s why it’s nice to be able to come back afterwards and try to clean up the “live” part…

  5. Favorite catchy phrases this session:
    “bloated boxes of entertainment” (I may have misheard bloated. Was he referring to oversized TV screens?)
    “mocking fireballs of annoyed disbelievers.”

    Both by Elder Andersen.

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