The 179th Annual General Conference of the Church convened Saturday morning, April 4, with President Thomas S. Monson presiding, conducting and offering welcoming remarks.
Within the first few moments of the conference's opening, President Monson announced that Elder Neil L. Andersen had been called to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after the passing of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin last December. President Monson presented Elder Andersen's name for the members' sustaining vote. After the voting was completed, President Monson announced that Elder Andersen's name would be included in the reading of the names of the officers of the Church during the Saturday afternoon session of conference.
Elder Charles Didier of the First Quorum of the Seventy offered the invocation; Elder William W. Parmley of the Second Quorum of the Seventy gave the benediction.
Music for Saturday morning's session of conference was by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with its music director, Mack Wilberg, and Ed Thompson conducting, and Clay Christiansen and Andrew Unsworth as organists.
Following are quotes from the addresses given during the Saturday morning session of conference:
President Thomas S. Monson
Now, my brothers and sisters, we are anxious to listen to the messages which will be presented to us during the next two days, that we might be taught and inspired and have a renewed determination to live the Gospel and serve the Lord. Those who will address us have sought heaven's help and direction as they have prepared their messages. They have been impressed concerning that which they will share with us.
To those of you who are new in the Church, we welcome you. To those of you who are struggling with challenges, or with disappointments, or with losses, we pray for you. Our Heavenly Father loves each of us and is mindful of our needs. May we be filled with His Spirit as we listen to that which will be presented. Such is my prayer this morning as we open this great conference.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency
My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity. The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of their infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then, our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and thus be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life.
It is clear that for us to have that gift and to be given that trust we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do. We are prepared for so great a trust by passing through trying and testing experiences in mortality. That education can come only as we are subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.
In this education we experience misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin, and the joy of forgiveness. That forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear, and which we can only faintly comprehend.
Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man and it can never be satisfied. It is insatiable as an appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger, and what we should be seeking for, is what God alone can provide His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance His love brings, which brings us eternal joy.
We must want, more than anything else, to do our Heavenly Father's will and providently provide for ourselves and others. We must say, as did King Lamoni, "I will give away all my sins to know thee" (Alma 22:18). Then we can go to Him with steadfast determination and promise Him, "I will do whatever it takes." Through prayer, fasting, obedience to the commandments, priesthood blessings, and His Atoning Sacrifice, we will feel His love and power in our lives. We will receive His spiritual guidance and strength through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Only through our Lord's Atonement can we obtain a mighty change of heart (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:14) and experience a mighty change in our addictive behavior.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can, and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth His hand to you saying, "Here am I."
I testify that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found the priesthood authority to administer the ordinances by which we can enter into binding covenants with our Heavenly Father in the name of His Holy Son. I testify that God will keep His promises to you as you honor your covenants with Him: He will bless you in "good measure, pressed down, ... shaken together, and running over" (Luke 6:38). He will strengthen and finish your faith. He will, by His Holy Spirit, fill you with godly power. I pray that you will always have His Spirit to be with you to guide you and deliver you from want, anxiety, and distress. I pray that through your covenants, you may become a powerful instrument for good in the hands of Him who is our Lord and Redeemer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Allan F. Packer, First Quorum of the Seventy
These are the days when prophecies are being fulfilled. We live in the dispensation of the fullness of times, which is the time to prepare for the Savior's return. It is also the time to work out our own salvation.
When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know, and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings.
Sister Margaret S. Lifferth, first counselor in Primary general presidency
The last chapter of John tells of an especially tender exchange between Peter and the resurrected Christ. Three times the Savior asks, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" And each time when Peter assures the Savior of his love, Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my lambs; Feed my sheep."
There is great need in today's world to nourish the souls of our children and youth with "living water" and the "bread of life." Like Peter, we too love the Lord, so today's parents and leaders work diligently to instill in each heart a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. We teach in our homes, in missionary settings and in the chapels and classrooms of our churches. We prepare and invite the Spirit to be with us. But to truly be able to feed His lambs and nourish His sheep with testimony and the Spirit, we must also cultivate in our homes and classrooms, respect for each other and reverence for God.
Brother Michael A. Neider, second counselor in Young Men general presidency
My young brothers and sisters, you are powerful tools in the Savior's hands and He can use you to bring the blessings of the gospel to others. Bishops, do not overlook the strength and skill of your Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Young Women class presidencies. The Lord needs them in this important work. There are hearts they can reach and work perhaps only they can do. Give them assignments! Open doors for their leadership and the ministering of angels as promised in Doctrine and Covenants 13.