General conference highlights

Written by: 
Alex Maldonado

Besides three new apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund, being sustained during 185th Semi-annual General Conference, speakers also talked about the influence of women in the church, “ponderizing” upon the scriptures, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, the commandments, Christ’s Atonement and advice about finding a marriage partner.

After watching President Thomas S. Monson get noticeably weaker as he spoke during the Sunday Morning Session, people expressed concerns about his health. When asked about President Monson’s health, Tony Matthews, a junior majoring in history from Idaho, urged people to pray for him.

Each newly-called apostle spoke the next day during the Sunday Morning Session. Michal Eastman, a sophomore studying international business from Utah, said, “I don’t know these men who have been called as prophets personally, but I know how they were called.”

Speaking for the first time as apostles, Elder Rasband quoted Christ’s words from the New Testament: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Elder Stevenson’s key message was “the Lord will qualify those who he calls.” He said this advice given to him by President Monson when he was first called as an apostle. Elder Renlund spoke about how the Lord has called people to do what he needs them to do, but it needs to be done in the Lord’s way.

Devin G. Durrant, 1st counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency, took the place of BYU-Hawaii President John S. Tanner who was released at the conference. The majority of Durrant’s talk revolved around his invitation to “ponderize” a new scripture every week. Ponderizing is choosing a scripture to read and reflect on throughout the day. He promised if people fill their minds with scriptures and good thoughts, there won’t be room for bad thoughts.

The Saturday Morning Session had an overlying theme of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Elder M. Russell Ballard said observing the Sabbath Day is “a doctrine that we should cling to,” and “the recent emphasis of keeping the Sabbath a delight is a direct result of inspiration from the Lord through the leaders of the church.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke in the Saturday Afternoon Session about Christ’s Atonement saying the Savior “experienced and suffered the fullness of all mortal challenges.” Elder Oaks explained, “He therefore knows our struggles, our heartaches, our temptations, and our suffering, for He willingly experienced them all as an essential part of His Atonement. And because of this, His Atonement empowers Him to succor us — to give us the strength to bear it all.”

Sunday had a recurring topic of keeping the commandments. Talks were given back-to-back by Elder Von G. Keetch and Sister Carole M. Stephens about the subject. Elder Keetch related a story
about a group of surfers and a school of sharks while Sister Stephens told about her rebellious granddaughter not wearing a seatbelt. President Monson also talked about keeping the commandments during his Priesthood Session address and how repentance helps people to better keep the commandments.

Among other key conference topics were marriage and parenting. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about the divine nature of a mother’s love, and President Russell M. Nelson said faithful, loving and courageous women make a difference in their families and the church. President Nelson said, “The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants, and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God.”

Elder Robert D. Hales talked about how people need to be the kind of person they want to marry. “I loved when Elder Hales said that we don’t marry perfection, but potential,” said Adrian Hernandez, a freshman studying business from Texas.

For a full recap of all the General Conference sessions, refer to lds.org.

Uploaded Oct. 9, 2015