Twice a year, we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a two day event called General Conference. It’s history goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. Two months after the formation of the Church, it held it’s first General Conference at the Whitmer home. 30 members were in attendance, the entire Church at that time. So, now, in keeping with that tradition, the entire Church meets together in April and October to hear from the General Leadership of the Church. Though the ability of the entire Church to actually meet together is not possible. So modern technology has been employed to reach a worldwide audience.
First, the medium of paper was used to disseminate the business and messages of General Conference. than radio was the means of transmitting General Conference to the members of the Church on a worldwide basis. And now, television and the Internet are the preferred methods. In fact, with recorders and DVRs, you don’t even have to attend Conference during the weekend it is happening. Not that this is anything new, but many Church members now view Conference weekend as a weekend away from Church altogether. In some ways, it is good to vary the routine a bit anyway and have a different type of expereince with General Conference then our regular Sacrament and other meetings.
President David O McKay stated the modern objectives of General Conference in 1954:
(1) to inform the membership of general conditions of the Church- including whether it is progressing or retrogressing, and of its economic, ecclesiastic, and spiritual status;
(2) to commend true merit;
(3) to express gratitude for divine guidance;
(4) to give instruction in principles, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel;
(5) to proclaim the restoration, with divine authority to administer in all the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to declare, quoting the Apostle Peter, that there is none other name under heaven given among men than Jesus Christ whereby we may be saved (Acts 4:12);
(6) to admonish and inspire to continue in greater activity (Improvement Era (Dec. 1954), p. 872)
I enjoy General Conference now more than I used to as a new member. I understand more what it is about. I remember in the first few years after I joined the Church, sitting in the darkness of the chapel, wondering why they were talking about the same things we talked about every Sunday. And it seemed that every Conference, they basically said the same things again. But now, I understand better the messages I hear and how they apply to me. We get to hear from our Prophet, the Apostles and other General Church Leaders. Some talks are good, some not as good. Some are truly inspiring, some not so much. I love the music and I just enjoy the overall experience.
Of course, there is nothing like being there in person. But I also enjoy being able to sit in my home and through the modern technology of our time, watch with my family in comfortable clothes and comfortable surroundings. I like the time off. And I also like gathering with my brethren at the Chapel to watch Priesthood and they give us ice cream at the end, which ain’t a bad deal.
So what will you be doing tomorrow?