Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181th Annual General Conference, live from Panguitch, Utah! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
The first waffles are about to hit the iron, so let’s get this party started…
Good Morning! Sunday morning session currently being kicked off with Music and the Spoken Word, the 4255th performance of the 82-year-old broadcast. During this morning’s performance, Lloyd Newell’s comments included an excerpt from Harvard professor Clayton Christiansen’s talk to a graduating business school class, How Will You Measure Your Life?
The obligatory commentary on the Choir ladies’ outfits: This morning, it’s a teal blue (perhaps “turquoise” is preferable?) which rather clashes with the atmospheric electric blue behind the organ pipes.
First Presidency entering. 21,000 people standing.
Prelude Hymn: O Thou Rock of Our Salvation
Opening Hymn: Sabbath Day p. 148
Invocation: Gary E. Stevenson of the Seventy
Hymn: Hark All Ye Nations
President Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency: Waiting on the Road to Damascus
Is active discipleship becoming Pres. Uchtdorf’s pet theme, a la Elder Maxwell? He spoke about discipleship in April 2009 “The Way of the Disciple”.
Elder Uchtdorft is quoting Elder Holland who describes President Monson’s story in “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always on the Lord’s Errand“
This theme of “waiting on the road to Damascus” seems well coupled with Elder Holland’s Remember Lot’s Wife, as we find a balance between looking forward without nostalgia, and yet looking back to remember our spiritual conversions.”[Knowing of Christ] will come in the form of a puzzle – one piece at a time… Eventually, after enough pieces have been collected, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us after all….”
President Uchtdorf’s steps:
Hearken and Heed
“Some would rather pull a handcart across a thousand miles of prairie than bring up the subject of faith and religion to their friends and co-workers.”
Whoohoo! A shout out to social media makes me particularly happy [I’m one of the voices behind the Mormon.org Facebook posts.] Love the self-awareness of the aviation joke!
“The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example.” Is there an effort to assuage member guilt around being a “member missionary”? Be an example, use social media, serve… rather than hand out Books of Mormons?
Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy
Seventies are favoring themes of pain and adversity, see Elder Kent F Richards’s talk from yesterday morning, The Atonement Covers All Pain
[Child + disease = mention #3, on my watch at least]
Elder Johnson’s quotation from Orson F. Whitney is quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, (1972), 98
“In the midst of problems, it is nearly impossible to see that the coming blessings far outweigh the pain, humiliation or heartbreak we may be experiences at the time…. In comparison to the blessings and growth we ultimately receive, both in this life and in eternity, our afflictions truly are light.” An effective summary of single-minded Mormon optimism.
Elder Hales’ story is from “The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov, 2000, 6.
Second reference to Paul this morning: this from Romans 8: 35, 37
Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop
President McKay story from Clare Middlemiss, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, 189.
“The commitment of Church leaders to relieve human suffering was as certain as it was irrevocable….. One of the distinguishing characteristics of tehis inspired welfare plan is its emphasis on personal responsibility and self-reliance.”
The Relief Society president can “fly to the relief of the stranger; …pour in oil and wine to the wounded heart of the distressed; …[and] dry up the tears of the orphan and make the widow’s heart to rejoice.” From “Ladies’ Relief Society,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, April 1, 1842.
Bishop Burton calls those initiators “innovative giants”. The anniversary celebration of this program feels uncharacteristically but happily timely for a General Conference theme as we face the needs of Japan, Australia and other places currently in need of our global attention.
Congregational Hymn: Let Us All Press On
Sister Silvia H. Allred
Sister Allred quoted the same History of the Church excerpt as Bishop Burton: “They will pour in oil and wine to the wounded heart….”
…and followed this description of the Relief Society with an excerpt from the Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, March 1842, p. 7.
“Despite the rapidly changing world, welfare principles have not changed with the passion of time because they are divinely inspired, revealed truth.” Can we hope that talks like these are re-establishing the Relief Society as a visionary, global service organization rather than simply the keeper of mothers? Sister Julie Beck’s recent talks, like this one, seem to point to some revitalization of organizational rigor.
Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve
“Revelations are conveyed in a variety of ways, including, for example, dreams, visions, conversations with heavenly messengers, and inspiration. Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly.”
“The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30).”
“If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal.” Remarkably real and comforting counsel from an Apostle, and a departure from the more common but potentially damaging feelings that we are never aiming high enough.
Oops!! Headline: MoTab Cuts off President Eyring in Uncharacteristic Organizational Slip
Hymn: Have I Done Any Good?
The 84 widows! It wouldn’t be a Sunday morning session without them. Pres. Monson characteristically reaches back into his personal history to glean lessons for us all today.
Conference marks 3 years since he was sustained as President of the Church. Dedicating and rededicating temples have been some of his highlights.
There are currently 26 temples in construction or in pre-construction stages.
Stories from Brazil and Tahiti of sacrifice to attend temples that were far away. What stories will we be telling in 50 years when temples are so close that few have to sacrifice significance temporal comforts to attend? See here for a complete list of the 134 operating temples.
“Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and temple attendance.”
“Today most of us do not have to suffer great hardships in order to attend the temple. Eighty-five per cent of the membership of the Church now live within two hundred miles of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter.”
What are our sacrifices today? President Monson answers: “Your sacrifice could be setting aside the time in your busy lives to visit the temple regularly.” “Your sacrifice may be bringing your life into compliance with what is required to receive a recommend, perhaps by forsaking long-held habits which disqualify you.”
President Joseph F. Smith’s “mighty declaration” President Monson just quoted is from Conference Report of 1916.
Shout out to Rome! “The Rome temple uniquely is being built in one of the most historic locations in the world.”
Extemp: “I wanted them to feel the shovel. I wanted them to feel the soil as they turned it over! We had gotten what we wanted.”
Closing Hymn: The Spirit of God, starts with a solo man, then a duet.