Saturday, April 4, 2015

Summary Of 185th Annual LDS General Conference, Saturday Afternoon General Session: LDS Church Membership Now At 15,372,337

Update: Post updated April 6th to reflect the new report that there were seven dissenters who voted No, that all but one of them were at the Conference Center, and that four of them have now been identified by name.

The 185th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued on Saturday afternoon. This is generally the "housekeeping" session when changes in policies and leadership are announced. The Church announced five new General Authorities, a new Young Men general presidency, a new counselor in the Primary general presidency and 53 Area Seventies. You can read more details about the new auxiliary leaders HERE.

There was an attempt by at least seven dissidents to disrupt this portion of the Conference by deliberately casting dissenting votes against the sustaining of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve; the dissidents planned this in advance. According to KSTU Channel 13 and a later story by the Salt Lake Tribune, four of the dissidents were identified as Don Braegger, M'lisa D. Martinez Glyndwr, Micah Nickolaisen, and Laura Pennock. All but Pennock were at the Conference Center; Pennock was in the overflow venue at the Tabernacle. President Dieter Uchtdorf made a brief statement regarding those who opposed the proposals, saying “We invite those who oppose any of the proposals to contact their Stake Presidents. My dear brothers and sisters, we thank you for your faith and prayers in behalf of the leaders of the church.”

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Braegger said he filled a Mormon mission and served in an LDS bishopric and stake presidency, and his concerns are the perception that LDS history is rife with disturbing episodes, that the faith does not treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons fairly or offer wide enough roles for women. Separately, Pennock said she is also is unhappy with the excommunications of Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly and podcaster John Dehlin. It should be noted that Ordain Women has denied any connection with this AnyOpposed group.

LDS Living explained the voting procedure:

In the event that member concerns are raised in this manner, the Church Handbook 2, which applies to all Church meetings, explains the protocol for dealing with these issues:

“If a member in good standing gives a dissenting vote when someone is presented to be sustained, the presiding officer or another assigned priesthood officer confers with the dissenting member in private after the meeting. The officer determines whether the dissenting vote was based on knowledge that the person who was presented is guilty of conduct that should disqualify him or her from serving in the position” (19.3).

The annual demographic report, compiled as of December 31st, 2014, was issued. There are now 3,114 stakes, 406 missions, 561 districts, 29,621 wards, 85,147 missionaries, and three new temples (144 temples total). Membership of record is now 15,372,337, up by 290,309 from 15,082,028 members in December 2013 and 14,782,483 in December 2012. Read the complete statistical report HERE.

-- Salt Lake Tribune photo gallery of Conference.
-- KSL Channel 5 photo gallery of Conference.

Other Sessions:

-- Summary of General Women's Session
-- Summary of Saturday Morning General Session
-- Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session
-- Sunday Afternoon General Session

For the first time, the LDS Church provides immediate real-time summaries of the talks on their Conference At A Glance Page; nice innovation, but I also choose to provide my traditional summaries. Video and audio archives will be available on the designated General Conference page shortly after the Conference; written transcripts will be posted later in the week. LDSConf Twitter also used as a source. For the time being, I have posted short summaries of the highlights of each talk along with any pertinent personal impressions. Links posted below take you directly to the Deseret News account of the talk.

-- Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Bednar explained how fear can be dispelled through a correct knowledge of and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust and confidence in Christ and a ready reliance on His merits, mercy and grace lead to hope through His Atonement in the resurrection and eternal life. The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and quells the despair caused by sin; it also strengthens us to see, do and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. Elder Bednar also said that three principles are central to hushing fears in a contemporary world: Look to Christ, build upon the foundation of Christ, and press forward with faith in Christ. Elder Bednar also spoke of Godly fear, which he characterized as a righteous fear producing a deep feeling of reverence, respect and awe for the Lord Jesus Christ, obedience to His commandments, and anticipation of the final judgment and justice at His hand. Unlike worldly fear that creates alarm and anxiety, Godly fear is a source of peace, assurance and confidence.

-- Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve: Continuing the pro-family pushback, Elder Christofferson became the fourth speaker to address the sanctity of traditional marriage today. He identified marriage as being one of four things necessary to realize God’s plan of happiness, the others being the creation of earth as a dwelling place, the condition of mortality, and a redemption from the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Elder Christofferson pointed out that marriage is more than love; it creates a link in the chain of generations. It is marriage, not love, that joins two together before God and man. God ordained marriage as an essential step towards living with Him again. Because the plan is so simple, clear, and important, Satan uses every possible strategem to try to distort the truth of it. But those who, through no fault of their own, do not receive the blessings of marriage need not fear; the Atonement has anticipated, and in the end will compensate for, all loss.

-- Elder Wilford W. Andersen, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Anderson likened the Gospel to dancing and music, explaining that while the dance steps of the Gospel are the things we do; the music of the Gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. Our problem is that sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps, but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music. Elder Andersen suggested that to hear the "beautiful music" of the Gospel, we must keep their lives attuned to the correct spiritual frequency and to avoid the use of coercion; no power of the Priesthood is to be used except by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, by love unfeigned, and by kindness. To those who struggle to hear the music of the Gospel in their homes, keep practicing.

Note: Elder Andersen's talk resonated particularly strong with many people on LDSConf Twitter.

-- Elder Dale G. Redlund, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Redlund spoke of the need for Latter-day Saints to keep on trying to live the gospel, explaining that a saint is actually a sinner who keeps on trying. He explained that God cares a lot more about who we are, and who we are becoming, than about who we once were, so we should continue to strive to live the doctrine of Christ — exercising faith, repenting, making and renewing the covenant of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. Only Satan would have us believe that our sins are too great to be forgiven. Even more importantly, we must allow others room to keep on trying.

-- Elder Michael T. Ringwood, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Ringwood spoke of the need to be more anxious to serve than to have dominion. Such people are not motivated by the possibility of receiving titles or authority, but are disciples of Christ, going about doing good continually and are trying to please their Heavenly Father. One does not need a formal calling in the Church to serve the Lord.

-- Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Cook became the fifth speaker to deliver an explicit pro-family message during this Conference. He explained that the role of the family in God’s plan is to bring us happiness, to help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere and to prepare us for eternal life. Elder Cook also noted that traditions of religious observance in the home -- family prayer, scripture study, family home evening, priesthood blessings and Sabbath day observance -- need to be imbedded in the hearts of children. And in this effort, husbands and wives are equal partners; husbands and wives are equal, but their respective roles are different and complementary.

Elder Cook also rebutted accusations that more members are leaving the Church today, and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past, saying “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the Church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past. The increase in demonstrably measurable areas, such as endowed members with a current temple recommend, adult full-tithe payers and those serving missions, has been dramatic." The numbers cited earlier bear this out -- the LDS Church gained 290,309 new members in 2014.

LDS Peanut Gallery: Reaction from rank-and-file Mormons on the Web.

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: Most of the discussion was about the actions of the dissidents, although Elder Redlund's talk was lauded by the original poster.

-- LDS Freedom Forum: A designated thread for the entire Conference.

-- Millennial Star: Good set of faith-promoting summaries.


Anonymous said...

I"m trying to figure out the stats of how many have left the church, to see the numbers associated with Quentin Cook's statement. The closest calculation I could get is this:

2014 Total Membership = 15,372,337
Subtract 2014 New Children of Record = 116,409
Subtract 2014 Converts Baptized = 296,803
(Stats provided from )

Thus, the 2013 Total Membership should equal 14,959,125

The actual Total Membership for 2013 was listed at 15,082,028 (see )

Therefore, the number of people who officially left, were excommunicated, or died in 2014 is the 2013 Actual Total Membership (15,082,028) minus what the 2013 Total Membership should equal (14,959,125)

Number of people who officially left, were excommunicated, or died in 2014 equals 122,903.

I can't find any information regarding how many deaths occurred per year, so I can't separate the deaths from those who officially left or were excommunicated. Do you know where any of this information could be found?

Jack Mormon said...

Offhand, no, but I noticed that there's a discrepancy between the difference between 2015 and 2014 total membership and the combined total of converts and new children of record in 2014. The number of deaths could partially explain the discrepancy, along with the number who left the Church during the year.

Anonymous said...

The greater majority of 'members' are inactive. The actual figure of active members is more like 4 million. Stay with the majority right?!