First I must apologize for all those that clicked on this post, hoping for an erudite Hawkgrrrl post since she had previously done “What is the Point of….?” posts on God, BYU, Baby Blessings, and lots of others. She even touched on General Conference. But, sadly you are stuck with Bishop Bill drivel since my click-bait worked so well!
General Conferences are mandated in the Doctrine & Covenants
61 The several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint;
62 And said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time.D&C 20: 61-62
So there you have it, we have General Conferences to do whatever church business is necessary. But is there really any business conducted at General Conference that with modern communications, can’t be conducted during the year outside of Conference? It did NOT take a conference to do away with
Celestial Marriage Polygamy, give the priesthood to all worthy males (and let them and their wives go to the temple), call a new prophet on the death of his predecessor, and lots of other significant and monumental “church business”.
The word conference means to “confer” about a subject. And confer means to have discussions; exchange opinions. When was the last time that happened at a Mormon General Conference? Maybe in Joseph Smith’s time, but not in my lifetime (and I’m old)
Do we even need an in person audience? I guess the answer to this is no, since we are not doing it this weekend. With 16 million members, and a conference center that can hold 21,000 people, only 0.13% of the membership can even attend. But realistically, the majority of members will never attend a general conference. (I never have). I would say that less than 5% of the members will ever attend even once in their life.
We could postulate that maybe we’ll move to an online version of Conference in the future, but then it would make building the Conference Center look wasteful and foolish (and un-prophetic). So we’ll continue to have (when the world gets over this virus mess) 21,000 people crowd into the center for conference.
What is the purpose today? It is not to “confer”, and it is not to get the word to the members, as we did that yesterday and today via mass communication very well. Is it all for the visual/PR impact of seeing 21,000 people together? Is it so the Q15 can get adoration from the members (cue Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech)?
What about other meetings? I touched upon that in my post last week. Will the unintended consequences of not having any meetings for several months be that some members will realize they don’t need these meeting, anymore than they need to attend in person General Conference?
What do you think is the point of having an audience at general conference?