16 Significant Events Remembered From General Conference

Every six months, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather together to listen to living prophets testify of the divinity of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  The sermons given, the music performed, and the spirit felt testify of the love that God has for all His children.

This weekend (April 5-6, 2014), we will again have the opportunity to participate with over 15 million Latter-day Saints in 197 countries and territories throughout the world.

In preparation for conference, we asked a number of people about the events they remembered most from General Conference meetings throughout the years. Based on their feedback, we have compiled a list of 16 significant events.  While this list is not exhaustive, it does highlight many occurrences that have directly shaped and touched our lives and the lives of our ancestors, and will continue to bless the lives of our descendants for generations to come. Indeed, these events have “turn(ed) the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).

We hope you will enjoy these pictures and videos and that they will touch your hearts as you remember “how great the covenants of the Lord […] unto the children of men; and […] his greatness, and his grace and mercy” (2 Nephi 9:53).

Please feel free to reflect and share your own wonderful memories from General Conference, either in the comments section below or via your preferred social networking medium.  By so doing, we know that all will benefit from “each life that touches ours for good” (Hymn 293).


1. Missionary age lowered, October 2012

President Thomas S. Monson announced that the Church was lowering the age requirement for those applying to serve full-time missions—from ages 19 to 18 for young men and from ages 21 to 19 for young women.




2. Rome, Italy temple announced, October 2008

President Thomas S. Monson announced that a temple would be constructed in Rome, Italy—at the heart of modern Christianity.




3. "Preach My Gospel" missionary handbook introduced, October 2004

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve introduced "Preach My Gospel," a comprehensive and far-reaching program designed to prepare and strengthen missionaries. The 230-page booklet addresses every aspect of missionary service and is considered the most complete, orchestrated effort in the history of the Church to unify the missionary effort. Elder Richard G. Scott spoke of the significance of the program.




4. Perpetual Education Fund, April 2001

A worldwide Perpetual Education Fund, based on principles similar to those underlying the Perpetual Emigration Fund of the 1800s, was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. This “bold initiative” was meant to help youth in developing areas "rise out of the poverty they and generations before them have known." To date, over 57,000 participants in over 55 countries have benefited from this initiative.




5. Dedication of the Conference Center, October 2000

The new 21,000-seat Conference Center, across the street north of Temple Square, was dedicated during General Conference by President Gordon B. Hinckley. President Gordon B. Hinckley shared a personal story about the new building’s pulpit.




6. Nauvoo Temple announced, April 1999

In his closing remarks at General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the surprise announcement that the historic Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt.




7. Construction of smaller temples, April 1998

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced in General Conference that the Church would construct an additional 30 smaller temples that would bring the total number of operating temples in the Church to 100 by the year 2000.




8. Revised title of The Book of Mormon, October 1982

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve and a member of the Scriptures Publication Committee announced that a subtitle was being added to The Book of Mormon: "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."




9. All worthy males can receive the priesthood, June 1978

In a letter dated June 8 and made public the following day, the First Presidency announced the revelation that worthy men of all races would be eligible to receive the priesthood. On September 30, members accepted the revelation by a sustaining vote at General Conference. The First Presidency's announcement is now Official Declaration - 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants.


Audio of the actual General Conference event. 



 

Commemorative video of the 30-year anniversary of the announcement.


10. Family Home Evening, October 1970


Monday was designated for family home evening throughout the Church; no other Church activity was to be scheduled during that time.


11. First Televised Conference Sessions, October 1949

Cameraman at work inside the Tabernacle, circa 1949.
For the first time, General Conference was broadcast publicly over KSL television in Salt Lake City, although since April 1948 it had been carried by closed-circuit television to other buildings on Temple Square. In October 1953: The semiannual conference of the Church was broadcast by television for the first time outside Utah’s Intermountain area.


12. Welfare Program permanently adopted, April 1949

Cannery workers in Zion Park Stake, 1940.
At a special welfare meeting held in conjunction with General Conference, the Welfare Program was declared a permanent program of the Church.


13. "Go Bring Them In," October 5, 1856

An artist’s depiction of handcart tragedies.
After being notified of the tragedies occurring to the Willie and Martin handcart companies, Brigham Young and other Church leaders called on Church members during General Conference to provide wagons, mules, supplies, and teamsters to help rescue those stranded across the plains.


14. Perpetual Emigration Fund, October 1849


A Perpetual Emigration Fund to assist the poor to immigrate to the Salt Lake Valley was established during General Conference. The initiative helped more than 30,000 early Church members journey to the Salt Lake Valley from Europe in the mid to late 1800s.


15. Kirtland Temple dedication, March 27, 1836

Kirtland Ohio Temple
The Kirtland Temple, the first temple built in this dispensation, was dedicated after being under construction for nearly three years.


16. First General Conference, April 6, 1830

An artist’s depiction of the first General Conference in this dispensation.
The first General Conference. Joseph Smith organized the church at the Peter Whitmer Sr. home in Fayette, N.Y., with six incorporators as required by law — Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer Jr., David Whitmer and Samuel H. Smith.




2 comments

  1. Your list of 16 begs for expansion. I would propose several additions for consideration: the reconstitution of the Quorums of Seventy; the addition of Joseph Smith's Vision of the Celestial Kingdom and Joseph F. Smith's Vision of the Redemption of the Dead to the standard works; temples in Palmyra and Winter Quarters; and the Proclamation to the World on the Family. Depending on your definition of "announcements at General Conference", one might also include Pres. Kimball's "When Will the World Be Converted" talk to leaders at the April 1974 Conference.

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  2. I think that the naming of area authorities as additional quorums of the seventy in April 1995 should have been included in this list.

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