Salt Lake City – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders met on Temple Square Thursday and Friday to receive instruction and to prepare for the upcoming 189th semi-annual General Conference.
A press release via the Church’s newsroom stated that meetings were held with instruction from the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presiding Bishopric and presidents of the women’s, youth and children’s organizations.
“This gathering included more than 300 leaders from every area of the world,” stated the press release.
During the meetings, the role of Area Seventies was reported as increasingly growing right along with the church.
“With the growth of the Church across the world, the need for Area Seventies has increased,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. “We love you. We trust you. We rely on you to extend our reach and to carry our teachings and direction to all the world. … You are to provide instruction and counsel consistent with the teachings of the living Apostles. … The ongoing establishment of the Seventy in Church governance is a powerful example of a ‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ a pattern of revelation.”
During the two-day meetings, the group discussed the ongoing gathering of Israel.
“Speaking on this topic with President Russell M. Nelson in the audience is like talking about ‘the Flood’ with Noah present,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook.
Cook then provided a doctrinal history of the House of Israel and the various signs of their latter days gathering.
“You wonderful leaders are gathered from across the world. Viewed through a broad, clear lens, we have the great privilege of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil from every continent, culture and religious background,” he said.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about Christ urging the original disciples to serve as missionaries throughout the world.
“We know that as we lift the vision of our leaders and members by providing simple, natural and normal patterns for ministering to all through missionary work, the gathering of Israel will accelerate around the world,” he said.
Such work of gathering Israel also includes Temple work at the 162 temples located throughout the world, stated the press release.
Elder David A. Bednar spoke about a new “Ordinances Ready" now a part of the Church’s Family Tree app.
“The ‘Ordinances Ready’ feature searches through your family tree and finds ancestors for whom temple ordinance work such as baptisms and confirmations, initiatories, endowments and sealings can be performed,” he said. “God has provided marvelous tools to accomplish His purposes. We simply need to use the tools. ‘Use’ is the key word. It means we must act. And as we do, miracles happen. God is opening doors in remarkable ways.”
The Leadership meeting also included a discussion about home-centered, Church supported learning. During the October 2018 conference, Church leaders announced the new focus on such learning.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted some of the difficulties and successes of the new program.
“For some, it feels more like a burden than a blessing,” he said. “But many, many wonderful things are happening and going very well. Members are having organized scripture study. Families are spending more time together.”
Relief Society General President Sister Jean B. Bingham stated the program could help families fortify their relationships and strengthen their testimonies.
“When consistently implemented, Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, changes lives through strengthened relationships and deepened testimonies. … As leaders, our responsibility is to help members catch the vision of the wonderful potential to bring families closer together, deepen testimonies of the gospel, and increase protection from harmful influences through gospel study in the home,” she said.
President Russell M Nelson ended the Thursday morning meeting by telling leaders that he was thankful for the teaching that had taken place.
“If you folks are not being persecuted on a daily basis, you are not doing your job very well. Fortify our people. The adversary is an incorrigible insomniac. He never sleeps,” he said.
Nelson added that it is vitally important that Church members strengthen their testimonies in an increasingly darkened world.
“The Book of Mormon comes to our rescue. Our members are standing like a rock in a moving river,” he said.
President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said they found the meeting motivating, challenging and wonderful.
“I have to do better. The members are going to need our help. We’ve been given incredible new resources,” Eyring said.
During Friday’s leadership meeting, the group discussed honoring the name of the Church. Last year President Nelson urged media as well as Church members to refer to the Church as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He noted that because it was Christ’s church, it should be referred to as such.
The group also discussed the new ministering programing and “the coming rollout” of the Church’s new children and youth development program announced last year.
Everyone is invited to watch the upcoming five sessions of conference to be held this weekend.
“The conference will include inspirational messages and music centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said the press release.
Various options for viewing or listening to the conference may be found at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.