Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Morning Session, 179th Annual LDS General Conference: Discipleship, Service To Others, And The Easter Message

Note: Full transcripts of all Conference addresses now available in English HERE.

The Sunday morning general session of the 179th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just concluded, and the prevailing themes were discipleship, service to others, and even a message about the meaning of Easter. It is unusual for LDS leaders to dwell excessively upon Easter, since we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ year round. Yet we increasingly recognize that other Christians do like to single out Easter for special emphasis, and we now realize that it is not inappropriate to do so. This session also featured the first address by Elder Neil Andersen in his official capacity as a newly-called member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Messenger and Advocate provides the most detailed summaries once again, followed by Times and Seasons. Here are summaries published by the Deseret News, which are also listed on the Mormon Times website:

-- Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor to the First Presidency: Discipleship. President Uchtdorf said that the gospel is the way of discipleship. As we walk in that way, we can experience confidence and joy, even during times of peril, sorrow and uncertainty. He also explained that discipleship begins with nurturing of faith, which leads to repentance, baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost.
-- Elder Steven E. Snow, Presidency of the Seventy: Change. While most people do not seek or welcome dramatic change, it is an essential part of life's experiences. He suggests four ways to make change work for you. First, follow the prophets. Second, maintain an eternal perspective (mortality is but a pit stop on the highway to eternity). Third, have faith. And fourth, be of good cheer.
-- Sister Barbara Thompson, Second Counselor to the Relief Society Presidency: Service to others. Sister Thompson states that we must be 'fixed in our purpose' as we seek to increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen our families and homes, and serve the Lord and his children. Scriptures, Family Home Evening, and family prayer will strengthen families. We need to take every opportunity to strengthen families and support one another to stay on the right path. President Spencer W. Kimball said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other". This is consistent with the eternal principle of delegation of authority. 
-- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve: Easter. The Easter message is for all, especially those who are alone or feel alone. The journey of the Savior to the cross was the loneliest journey ever made and (brought) unending blessings for all in the human family. One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought us great company for our little version of that path. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone or unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are.
-- President Thomas S. Monson: Defeatism. The global economy is in a nosedive, the moral footings of society are slipping and the righteous are sometimes subjected to ridicule and persecution. Wars, natural disasters and personal challenges continue. But an attitude of defeat is not of the Lord, since the history of the restored church includes the experiences of many who have struggled and yet remained steadfast and of good cheer. This positive attitude is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. It will not remove our troubles from us but will enable us to face our challenges, to meet them head-on and to emerge victorious.

Messenger and Advocate reveals that newly-called apostle Neil Andersen also gave his initial address as an Apostle, although he's not listed by the mainstream media sources. First, he expressed his gratitude for the calling, but feels quite humbled by the responsibility, and asks forgiveness and patience for his human weaknesses. Pays tribute to the man he replaced, the late Elder Joseph Wirthlin.

Elder Andersen reminded the audience that the present age has been long anticipated in history of world. Revelations portend a great gathering, with the House of Lord established in tops of mountains. Although the restored Church would not be many in number, it would be in every land and nation. Proclaimed that our responsibilities are not trivial, that we are not here at this particular time merely by chance (many Mormons believe that many of the most valiant of the spirits in the pre-mortal existence were held back to be born during this critical juncture in history (contrary to previous tradition, these spirits have been born into EVERY racial community, although those of the African race were required to wait longer, until 1978, before they could have full membership in the Church).

Elder Andersen also reminded the audience that there are many people of wonderful faith in other religious denominations. God loves all His children; there's much we can learn from good people all around us. But we don’t shrink from what is unique to Church. Only in the LDS Church is the Priesthood restored, where the Book of Mormon stands alongside the Bible. Only in the LDS Church do we have Prophets from God, holding keys of binding authority. But we must not be superior or arrogant (we strive to strike a proper balance between denominationalism and syncretism).

See the following links for summarization of other sessions:

-- Saturday morning general session discussed HERE.
-- Saturday afternoon general session discussed HERE.
-- Saturday evening priesthood session discussed HERE.
-- Sunday afternoon general session discussed HERE.

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