Up to 100,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who descended upon Salt Lake City as well as millions more worldwide got their faith recharged at the 181st Annual General Conference of the church held on April 2nd and 3rd, preceded a week earlier by the General Young Women Meeting. A sudden spring snowstorm in the Salt Lake Valley did not dampen enthusiasm. The highlights: Three new temples were announced for Fort Collins, Colorado; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; and Meridian, Idaho; the Church has 134 temples in operation and 26 more either under construction or planned. LDS membership is now reported at 14,131,467. Detailed reports on LDS humanitarian and welfare services were provided; the Welfare Program is anchored by Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. The facility includes a cannery, milk and cheese processing facility; a landmark 16-million pound grain elevator that can been seen for miles; and a bakery, storehouse, thrift store and employment center, all of which are run mostly by volunteers serving church missions.
On the cultural front, there were at least three calls for LDS men to quit putting off marriage, primarily because the longer one waits, the more likely one becomes set in one's ways and the more difficult it can be to find a compatible spouse. The customary admonishments to observe the law of tithing and the Word of Wisdom were also extended, although towards the end of the conference, Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve reassured Church members that, despite the constant entreaties for improvement, he considered most Latter-day Saints to be genuinely worthy people and need not fear that they are constantly under a microscope.
-- Official audio and video archives (transcripts available by mid-week)
-- LDS Church News stories on all speeches
-- Church News Saturday photo gallery
-- Church News Sunday photo gallery
KSL news video of Day 1 embedded below:
KSL news video of Day 2 embedded below:
Speakers at the Conference continued the Church's efforts to counteract the pernicious influence of feminism infiltrating its way into LDS ranks. Silvia Allred, first counselor in the General Relief Society presidency, said that the church’s all-women organization is at the heart of the welfare program. Relief Society presidents visit homes to assess the needs for a bishop. Inspired visiting teachers watch over and care for sisters and families. Relief Society sisters provide meals, render compassionate service, and give constant support during times of trial.
During the Saturday morning general session, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve said "Women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family." He characterized the relationship between the priesthood and the Relief Society as "like a well-tuned orchestra and the resulting symphony inspires all of us". Elder Cook suggested two principles to keep in mind; first, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or to feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children; and second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home.
And at the Saturday night Priesthood session, President Thomas S. Monson sternly charged LDS husbands that "Your wife is your equal. In marriage, neither partner is superior nor inferior to the other. You walk side by side as a son and a daughter of God. She is not to be demeaned or insulted but should be respected and loved."
Many LDS feminists are obsessed with equality of status and fail to accept the fact that the Lord considers men and women of equal value. While many feminists think of men and women as little more than interchangeable parts, the Lord looks upon men and women as uniquely different and equally valued. Some LDS feminists think that if the Church confers Priesthood upon women, all problems will be solved and we'll live happily ever after. The Lord may indeed authorize Priesthood for women in the future, but He'll do it when He's ready and not because some feminist wants it just to make her feel better about herself.