Saturday, April 5, 2014

Summary Of 184th Annual LDS General Conference, Saturday Evening Priesthood Session: Becoming Better "Priesthood Men"

Despite the Ordain Women sideshow, the Saturday Evening Priesthood Session of the 184th Annual LDS General Conference proceeded smoothly. From the counsel given to become better Priesthood men, and the repeated caution for us to show courage and stand for what is right at the risk of social unpopularity, it appears the brethren are trying to firm us up to become a "peculiar people" once again, as the "era of good feeling" towards us begins to wind down. Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave an outstanding talk on the issue of women and the Priesthood, reminding us that although women don't have Priesthood offices, they are not without Priesthood power.

Ordain Women Sideshow: As promised, the Ordain Women activists showed up to attempt to get tickets to enter the all-male Priesthood Session. Although as many as 500 were expected, in the end only 200+ were in evidence according to the Salt Lake Tribune and KSL Channel 5. KSTU Channel 13 claims 300 showed up. They were turned away, and it appears this will be the last time Ordain Women uses this tactic for the foreseeable future. For their part, Ordain Women claims 510 people showed up to support their effort.

Video and audio archives are now available HERE; written transcripts will follow by mid-week. Mormon Newsroom provides photo galleries of speakers and surroundings.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

-- Saturday Morning General Session
-- Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session
-- Sunday Afternoon General Session

Summaries of the talks are available through the Deseret News Conference Page. Clicking on the speaker's name will take you directly to the Deseret News story about the speech (after the jump):

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Oaks spoke about "Keys and authority of the priesthood" Although the ultimate Priesthood authority belongs to Jesus Christ, it is delegated to us in various portions. Elder Oaks noted that every act or ordinance performed in the Church is done under the direct or indirect authorization of one holding the keys for that function, and added that in controlling the exercise of priesthood authority, the function of priesthood keys both enlarges and limits. It enlarges by making it possible for priesthood authority and blessings to be available for all of God’s children, and it limits by directing who will be given that authority of the priesthood, who will hold its offices, and how its rights and powers will be conferred.

Elder Oaks also took the opportunity to address women and the Priesthood. Elder Oaks quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith to the effect that though women are not given the priesthood, that doesn’t mean they are not given authority. The authority given to the Relief Society is a divine authority. He further explained that although only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood, they are not "THE priesthood". He urged all those who exercise priesthood authority should forget about the rights of the priesthood and concentrate on the responsibilities.

-- Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Presidency of the Seventy: Elder Hallstrom spoke about the need to be Priesthood men. He said that the congregation was attending the priesthood meeting because who we are is not who we can become. In response to his own questions, “What is expected of a holder of the priesthood of God? What changes are required of us to become the manner of men we ought to be?", Elder Hallstrom declared “We need to be priesthood men!” He also declared "We need to serve", and "We need to be worthy", in order to be like Jesus Christ.

-- Brother Randall L. Ridd, Second Counselor, Young Men General Presidency: Brother Ridd made a pitch to the young Aaronic Priesthood holders as being "a choice generation". While this has been said to every successive generation of LDS youth in the past, it's more operative now because never before in history have individuals had so many choices, citing the Internet as a primary facilitator. But as more choices bring more opportunities, they mean more potential to do both good and evil. But Brother Ridd suggested that God sent this rising generation here at this time because He trusts them to successfully discern among the mind-boggling choices available. In clsoing, Brother Ridd warned, “My young brothers, if you are not proactive in educating your desires, the world will do it for you.” The latter is true because information, like power, abhors a vacuum. God doesn't want neutrality, and Satan won't respect neutrality.

-- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, First Presidency: Citing the example of Rip Van Winkle, President Uchtdorf asked the audience "Are you sleeping through the Restoration?" Joseph Smith merely started the Restoration process; the Restoration continues even to this day. President Uchtdorf cited three major reasons why it is easy to become a bit sleepy with regard to building the kingdom of God; selfishness, addictions, and competing priorities. In the final analysis, President Uchtdorf issued a call to awaken, saying that there is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families and as Christ’s Church to give only a half-hearted effort to this sacred work. He concluded by saying that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day, but an effort of once and for all.

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor, First Presidency: Noting that when we choose heroes, we begin to copy, consciously or unconsciously, what we admire most about them, President Eyring issued the call for Melchizedek Priesthood holders to become priesthood heroes to the youth. In fact, each one will become a model of a priesthood man whether he wants to be or not, since President Eyring believes you became a lighted candle when you accepted the priesthood. He said he has observed three common characteristics for priesthood holders who have been his heroes; a pattern of prayer, a habit of service, and a rock-hard decision to be honest. President Eyring seemed to emphasize the third characteristic most of all in his talk.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: How appropriate it is for the ranking Melchizedek Priesthood holder on the face of the earth to close out the Priesthood Session of Conference. President Monson admonished the audience to "Be strong and of a good courage." He noted that although our opportunities are almost limitless, we also face a multitude of challenges, some of them unique to our time. Because of these and other challenges, decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny. In order to make the corrections, courage is needed — the courage to say ‘No’ when we should, the courage to say ‘Yes’ when that is appropriate, the courage to do the right thing because it is right.

Other LDS sources discussing this session of Conference:

-- Millennial Star: Geoff B. strongly recommends Elder Oaks' talk
-- Times And Seasons: Dave Banack summarizes the talks succinctly, and seems quite taken with Elder Oaks' talk, characterizing it as a possible olive branch to Mormon feminists.
-- The Exponent: Slideshow of the Ordain Women activism.
-- Zelophehad's Daughters: Specifically discusses Elder Oaks' address from a mildly feminist perspective. One commenter suggested that to confer the Priesthood upon women would take more than a revelation; it would require establishing a new dispensation. Her reasoning is that although Joseph Smith received all the Priesthood keys of this dispensation in the Kirtland temple from Jesus Christ, there were some Priesthood keys which were not included; he specifically mentioned the key of Creation, the key of Resurrection, and the key of Ordaining Women to the Priesthood. Interesting.

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