Technology extends conference audience
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On the anniversary of the organization of the Church at Fayette, N.Y., April 6, 1830, the Church will open its 161st Annual General Conference in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
Under the direction of the First Presidency, the conference will include two general sessions on Saturday, April 6, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and a priesthood session at 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, and two general sessions on Sunday, April 7 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. The annual regional representative meeting was held Friday, April 5.President Ezra Taft Benson's counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, will take turns conducting conference sessions.
All conference sessions will be telecast throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to 3,000 Church meetinghouses equipped with satellite receivers. In addition, all sessions except the general priesthood session will be transmitted to more than 500 cable television systems in the United States. Satellite transmissions to Church units will be via Westar IV and cable systems via Galaxy III.
Church units and members whose homes have proper television satellite reception capabilities in North America and Hawaii may receive conference broadcasts in 16 languages: Cambodian, Cantonese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Navajo, Portuguese, Samoan, Spanish, Tongan and Vietnamese.
Portions of the conference will be provided to commercial television and radio stations in the United States on a public service basis.
"The Church has always been on the cutting edge in the use of technology," said John Kinnear, manager of general conference planning and satellite services for the Church's Audio Visual Department.
"The first television went on sale in 1946. The first general conference was televised in October 1949. The first satellite transmission was in 1962. The Tabernacle Choir broadcasted "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" from Mount Rushmore [S.D.T to Europe via satellite on July 23, 1962. Basically, with a downlink now at a chapel in the eastern United States, for example, the distance that Church members have to go to view general conference is as close as their local meetinghouse. They'll be participating with the saints in the Tabernacle. It's really an extended Tabernacle audience."
Conference addresses will be interpreted into 32 languages for the benefit of non-English-speaking Church leaders and members seated in the Tabernacle, Church Office Building, North Visitors Center auditorium and in meetinghouses in Salt Lake City.
From three to five translator-interpreters will be on hand for one or more sessions for each of the following languages: Cambodian, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Navajo, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Serbo-croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan and Vietnamese.
For the hearing-impaired, conference will be conveyed in sign language in the Church Office Building auditorium.
Jim Jewell, who is supervising this conference's language interpretations and who is a manager in the Church's Translation Department, said the majority of interpreters are Church service volunteers. He said non-English-speaking conference-goers benefit from the interpreters' services because "they can hear conference in their native language immediately. With the opportunity of understanding the messages, they can more fully capture the spirit of conference."
For Church units throughout the world that cannot receive satellite transmissions, videotapes of conference will be available to stakes, missions and districts through distribution centers. European languages will be available through the Friedrichdorf, Germany, Distribution Center. Oriental languages will be available in distribution centers in Hong Kong; Toyko, Japan; Taipei, Taiwan; and Seoul, Korea, for stakes, missions and districts.
Videotapes of conference sessions in Tongan, Tahitian, Samoan and/or English will be available also to stakes, missions and districts through distribution centers in Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, as well as other South Pacific islands.
The 325-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform during the Sunday conference sessions under the direction of Jerold D. Ottley and Donald Ripplinger with Robert Cundick and John Longhurst at the organ. The Mormon Youth Chorus is to provide music for the opening session Saturday morning, with Robert C. Bowden directing and Clay Christiansen at the organ.
Featured during the Saturday afternoon session is to be the Ricks College Combined Choirs directed by Kendell Nielsen and James Brague, with Clay Christiansen at the organ. The BYU Combined Men's Choirs is to perform for the general priesthood session, with Mack Wilberg and Ronald Staheli directing and Richard Elliott accompanying.
Church landscape architect Peter Lassig and the Temple Square grounds crew planted spring flowers specifically to add accents of color to the conference weekend.