The Sunday afternoon session of the 194th Annual General Conference began with a talk from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

He spoke about the revelation given in 1832 to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon regarding the kingdoms of glory, highlighting the distinguishing characteristics of each kingdom. He asked three questions regarding the topic of testimonies of Christ: What is the testimony of Jesus? What do we do about it? What does it mean to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus?

According to Elder Christofferson, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the witness of the Holy Spirit that He is the divine Son of God, the Messiah and Redeemer. He provided examples of the testimonies of prophets and apostles shared in the scriptures.

“Inheritors of the celestial kingdom ‘receive’ the testimony of Jesus in the fullest sense by being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost and overcoming by faith,” Elder Christofferson said.

He encouraged listeners to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ. He taught that individuals who inherit the celestial kingdom are those who are valiant in the testimony of Christ by diligently studying the gospel, standing as a witness of him, encouraging others to do likewise and pursuing personal holiness. Individuals who inherit the terrestrial kingdom are those who accept the testimony of Christ but do nothing about it. Finally, individuals who inherit the telestial kingdom are those who reject the testimony of Jesus Christ.

He reflected on a story about Elder John H. Groberg and how he and his family kept their eyes on eternity despite the hurtful behavior of fellow church members.

Elder Christofferson concluded by inviting members to be zealous in keeping commandments, don’t be offended by the “strictness of the word” and remember to retain the name of Christ on your hearts.

“My invitation is to act now to secure your place as one who is valiant in the testimony of Jesus,” Elder Christofferson said.

According to Elder Christofferson, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the witness of the Holy Spirit that He is the divine Son of God, the Messiah and Redeemer.

According to Elder Christofferson, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the witness of the Holy Spirit that He is the divine Son of God, the Messiah and Redeemer. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Following Elder Christofferson, Elder Taylor G. Godoy of the Seventy, spoke about the importance and impact of prayer.

He highlights the fact that many tend to turn away from the Lord in pursuit of personal abilities and preferences from the world. He warns that this can cause the real source of “succor and support” to fall into the background.

Due to an event that hospitalized Elder Godoy, he had an experience that changed the way he thought about prayer. The reflective sign read, “call, don’t fall.”

“Prayer is the means of communication with our heavenly Father that allows us to ‘call and don’t fall,'” Elder Godoy said.

He points out that we may not always receive answers to our prayers right away, but being confident in God’s answers and timing implies that we are accepting His will and not our own.

Elder Godoy reflected on the humorous experience he and his wife had regarding answers to prayer when they were getting civilly married.

“We need to remember that ‘calling’ is a matter of faith and action — faith to recognize that we have a Heavenly Father who answers our prayers according to His infinite wisdom, and then, an action consistent with that we asked for,” Elder Godoy said.

He invites members to consider the following: Always think of the Lord as your first option for help, then turn to God in sincere prayer call, don’t fall, take action, humble yourselves to accept the Lord’s will and keep moving forward while you wait for answers.

Following Elder Christofferson, Elder Taylor G. Godoy of the Seventy, spoke about the importance and impact of prayer.

Following Elder Christofferson, Elder Taylor G. Godoy of the Seventy, spoke about the importance and impact of prayer. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Elder Godoy concluded with the promise, “As we pray, we can feel the embrace of our Heavenly Father who sent his Only Begotten Son to relieve our burdens, because if we ‘call out to God’, I testify we will not fall.”

In the talk given by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he related the famous Golden Gate Bridge to the two great commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. He encouraged listeners to think of the two main towers of the bridge as the two great commandments.

According to Elder Stevenson, to love God with all our heart, soul and mind is to follow the commandments, consecrate our very nature and live virtuously. He gives an example from an experience he had with a sister in his ward and the love she had for God.

“The love of the Lord is not complete if we neglect our neighbors,” Elder Stevenson said.”Here Jesus bridges our heavenly upward gaze to the love of the Lord, with our earthly outward gaze, to love our fellowmen.”

Elder Stevenson referred to a quote given by President Russell M. Nelson that teaches that we should actively help others because it is key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Elder Stevenson states that these two commandments are interdependent, like both towers on the Golden Gate Bridge.

“May our hearts and minds be lifted upward, to love the Lord and turned outward, to love our neighbor,” Elder Stevenson said.

Elder Mathias Held of the Seventy spoke about opposition in all things. He began with a personal story about taking a wrong turn on the highway and related that to making decisions and living humbly and patiently with the consequences.

“Life is all about making choices,” Elder Held said. “Our Father in Heaven gave us the divine gift of agency precisely so that we could learn from our choices — from the right ones and also from the wrong ones.”

Elder Held highlighted several points in our lives where we may confront important choices and trials whether they be in our control or outside of it.

Elder Held reminded listeners that they are free to choose how to react to the consequences of their afflictions and choices. He invited them to adjust, learn, seek and choose when making decisions.

Attendants of all ages come and enjoy messages at General Conference

Attendants of all ages come and enjoy messages at General Conference Photo credit: Chester Chan

Regarding this, he reflected on his experiences when making important life decsions such as marriage, children and more. He contrasted the positive outcomes of these choices with the negative outcomes.

Elder Held also referred to the experiences of Lehi, Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. He reminds us that there must be opposition in all things, and, “where there is sunshine, shadows must be there too.”

“We can rest assured that our difficulties, sorrows, afflictions and pains do not define us; rather it is how we go about them that will help us grow and draw closer to God,” Elder Held said.

To conclude, Elder Held reminded listeners to trust God and to think “celestial.”

BYU-Idaho President and Sister Meredith were present at the final session of the April 2024 General Conference.

BYU-Idaho President and Sister Meredith were present at the final session of the April 2024 General Conference. Photo credit: Chester Chan

Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles followed Elder Held with his talk about temples worldwide.

He began by comparing the increased amount of young people serving in the temple today to years ago.

Elder Anderson reflected on the miracle of temples being constructed around the world, including 11 temples being constructed in the Philippines. He explained the need for temples everywhere.

“One reason is that amid the turmoil and temptations of the world, He has promised to strengthen and bless His covenant saints. His promises are being fulfilled,” Elder Anderson said.

He continued by explaining we are armed with the power of God through temples.

“In His Holy House, we take His name more completely upon us. When we are baptized, we profess our belief in Him and our willingness to keep His commandments. In the temple, we reaffirm and reverently resolve, through our covenants, to follow Him forever,” Elder Anderson said.

He reflected on his experience years ago, performing temple ordinances for a family while attending the temple in Atlanta, Georgia.

He reminded listeners that through the power of the Holy Ghost, they are filled with peace, joy and hope.

Elder Anderson concluded by promising that, “as you come worthily and prayerfully to His Holy House, you will be armed with His power, His name will be upon you, His angels will have charge over you, and you will grow up in the blessing of the Holy Ghost.”

Brother Mark L. Pace of the Sunday School General Presidency touched on the importance of the Book of Mormon.

“Reading the Savior’s teachings in the scriptures helps us transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith and centers of gospel learning. It invites the Spirit into our homes. The Holy Ghost fills our souls with joy and converts us into lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ,” Brother Pace said.

He continued by talking about people today living in the dispensation of the fullness of times and that the Book of Mormon allows us to avoid falling into personal apostasy. He quotes President Nelson saying that we are responsible for our individual spiritual growth. To do this, he invites us to study and create personal experiences with God. Elder Pace does this by taking examples from Nephi and his family.

Elder Pace shared his experience of growing up with parents who were intentional in teaching their children how to know gospel doctrine for themselves and how to have personal relationships with the Father and the Savior. Because of the example of his mother and her push for young Elder Pace to know things for himself, he grew a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon and came to know of its truthfulness.

“I promise, that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions — every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your questions and direction for your own life.”

To conclude the conference, President Russell M. Nelson, in a pre-recorded message, acknowledged that this year marks the 40-year anniversary he and President Dalin H. Oaks were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He also touched on the history and significance of the newly obtained Kirtland Ohio temple, and several sites in Nauvoo, Illinois. He references the Prophet Joseph Smith several times throughout the talk. President Nelson invited listeners to ponder the Lord’s promise that He will manifest himself to his people.

President Russell M. Nelson sitting in the stand as he presided over the Sunday afternoon session

President Russell M. Nelson sitting in the stand as he presided over the Sunday afternoon session Photo credit: Bailee Edwards-Kevin

President Nelson emphasized the significance of priesthood keys which were restored in the Kirtland temple in the 1830s.

“Priesthood keys constitute the authority and power of the presidency. Priesthood keys govern how the priesthood of God may be used to bring about the Lord’s purposes and bless all who accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. “The power of these priesthood keys is infinite and breathtaking.”

Without priesthood keys restored on the earth today, members could not be endowed with the power of God, access essential ordinances and covenants, and the Church would only serve as a significant teaching and humanitarian organization, President Nelson said.

President Nelson invited listeners to consider the following three statements:

— The gathering of Israel is evidence that God loves all of His children everywhere.

— The gospel of Abraham is further evidence that God loves all of His children everywhere. He invites all to come unto him — black and white, bond and free, male and female; all are alike unto God.

— The sealing power is supernal evidence of how much God loves all of His children everywhere and wants each of them to choose to return home to Him.

He continued by listing the attributes of temples referring to Joseph Smith and his dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland temple.

According to President Nelson, there are many promises included in regular temple worship.

“Time in the temple will help you to think celestial and to catch a vision of who you really are, who you can become, and the kind of life you can have forever. Regular temple worship will enhance the way you see yourself and how you fit into God’s magnificent plan,” President Nelson said.

He emphasized the importance of members’ needing to understand the spiritual privileges made possible by temples. He also promised that nothing will help you more to hold fast to the iron rod, protect against the adversary, bolster your testimony of Jesus Christ and comfort in times of trouble than will frequent temple worship.

To end the conference, President Nelson announced 15 new temples in the following locations: Utoroa, French Polynesia; Chihuahua, Mexico; Florianopolis, Brazil; Rosario, Argentina; Edinburgh, Scotland; Brisbane, Australia South area; Victoria, British Columbia; Yuma, Arizona; Houston, Texas South area; Des Moines, Iowa; Cincinnati, Ohio; Honolulu, Hawaii; West Jordan, Utah; Lehi Utah; and Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Some members expressing their emtions during the announcement of 15 more temples

Some members expressing their emtions during the announcement of 15 more temples Photo credit: Brogan Houston

This brings a total of 350 temples announced, under construction or in operation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Nelson has now announced 168 temples to be built in his 6+ years serving as president of the Church.