warning: Religious Content
In April and October, our Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a world-wide General Conference. The Annual and Semi-Annual General Conferences originate in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City located across the street from the historic Mormon Tabernacle and Salt Lake Temple. It broadcasts via radio, television and internet. You can hear it and watch it almost everywhere. Those who don't have these kinds of facilities are sent a video tape or DVD of the Conference to be watched on another day. I-pod casts are available to download and listen to at our convenience and to refresh our memories of the wonderful days filled with great talks.
The original broadcast is filmed and broadcast live on the first Saturday and Sunday of April and October at 10 am, and 2 pm MST. I have friends in Switzerland who stay up late and watch it live in their local Church building or on the internet.
During this Conference the General Authorities, which consist of the Twelve Apostles, the quorum of the Seventies, the General Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women and Primary Presidencies, and Prophet, are among those scheduled to speak. Their topics vary. Scriptures are quoted, hope and light are given and everyone leaves refreshed, enlightened and inspired to live and improve lives. I look forward to these broadcasts each year because of these benefits.
During the broadcasts, the Mormon Tabernacle choir and sometimes other choirs favor us with wonderful music which sets the tone. As a young girl when I first investigated this Church, I was touched by the music, and the MTC always inspired me. It was my fondest dream to become a member of this choir. Alas the requirements have become so stringent and specialized that you almost have to be a voice major to even be given a chance to try out. Your knowledge of theory and ability to sight read music are tested in the process. I know several who once belonged to this amazing choir and some who have tried out and are now members. Plus you have to live within a 100 mile radius of Salt Lake. That right there disqualifies me, so I belong to the second BEST choir, Choral Arts Society of Utah. I drive the 300-mile round trip each week to practice for this choir, but that's another story.
At other times in the year, we are favored with two Stake Conferences and one Ward Conference. To clarify, a congregation is called a "Ward" or a "Branch". Put about 12 of these together and you have a "Stake." Our tiny community of 5,000 has 14 Wards and 3 Branches which make up two Stakes.The boundary line runs west all the way to the Nevada border and includes a tiny branch just this side of the border.
Sometimes during these Conferences we are lucky enough to get a General Authority scheduled to visit. This year our Stake didn't have a General Authority, but the other Stake in this Valley did. They had Dallin H. Oaks. He is a former lawyer and served for a time as the President of Brigham Young University when I attended there.
The other Stake's Conference and Elder Oaks' scheduled visit was publicized in the local weekly paper. I know that many people were planning on "Stake-hopping" in order to see this great man and hopefully shake his hand. I have been fortunate enough to meet him in person several times, so I thought I'd leave the seats open for others who have not. The Bishop checked and the same topics were covered in our Stake Conference last week as were in the other Stake Conference that was held this week.
This last Sunday my husband was attending the early-morning Bishopric meeting when the subject of the other Stake's Conference being held concurrently was raised. The Bishop made a comment that he was aware that there might be many defectors with the desire to hear this great man speak. They were puzzling over this phenomenon when someone in the group suggested that as a congregation we Latter-Day Saints just might be considered to be General Authority "Groupies". Everyone had an uncomfortable laugh, but then someone else suggested we could start making tiny GA Action Figures that are collectible with a copy of their biography on the back of the tiny cards. The Primary Children could collect them all!
The discussion went down-hill from there with someone else suggesting producing tiny Action Figure Temples to store them in. They all had a good laugh but eventually got back to the business at hand.
We did have sparse attendance in our Sunday meetings. But the messages we received were inspirational to hear. And I am glad I attended.
I love these conferences. I think it is wonderful to listen to these great men speak. They are full of wisdom, experience and knowledge that help us as people to strive to better our lives. The Conference talks are filled with love and concern for us. Our leaders do not preach of Hell, fire and brimstone. Instead, the talks always involve Christ and His love for us and our love for Him. Our lives as Christians should be filled emulating Christ. We should not only worship Him and our Heavenly Father, but we should be Their servants, helping out our fellow beings and loving our neighbors. As a congregation we refer to each other as Brothers and Sisters. I love feeling like all people are literally my brothers and sisters. We are all God's Children.
I feel so fortunate to be able to listen to these Conferences twice a year. There once was a time before all this amazing technology that we sometimes were lucky if we received a mere half hour of the whole proceeding on radio. And almost never on television. The internet was not heard of, at that time, and no one had a VHS or a DVD player. The Audio tapes were available, but only after many months. People would travel from all parts of the world to be in Salt Lake for these meetings. The buildings were packed, the lawns around the Tabernacle were filled with devoted people listening to the broadcast on well-placed speakers. If it was raining, they raised their umbrellas and continued to listen.
Now, I can turn on the television to KSL Channel 5 and listen to the whole thing uninterrupted and sans advertisements. I feel so spoiled. I can stay in my pajamas if I want to. My children in Colorado can hook up their personal lap top computers to the television and receive it streaming on the internet. It is a wonderful time to live.
Thank God for such blessings.
I hope you have a peaceful and happy weekend.