On April 1, The Church of Latter-day Saints hosted the first session of the April 2023 general conference.

It was announced that Elder Jeffery R. Holland was missing the conference due to COVID-19.

Gary E Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The first talk of the session was from Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The talk was entitled, “The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told.”

Elder Stevenson talked about how, several weeks ago, a letter from the First Presidency was read in each ward and branch of the Church. The letter announced that next Sunday — Easter Sunday — all wards and branches are to meet for sacrament meeting only, leaving additional time for worship at home as families to commemorate the important holiday.

“Our family celebrations at Easter, however, have been somewhat different,” Elder Stevenson said. “Our family has relied more on ‘going to Church’ to provide Easter’s meaningful, Christ-centered part. Then as a family, we gathered to share in other Easter-related traditions. I have loved watching our children and grandchildren hunt for Easter eggs and dig through their Easter baskets.”

Elder Stevenson commented on the change of heart he has experienced this Easter season.

“But the First Presidency letter was a wake-up call,” Elder Stevenson said. “Not only did they invite all of us to make sure our celebration of the most important event to ever happen on this earth — the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ — included the reverence and respect the Lord deserves, but they also gave us more time with our families and friends on Easter Sunday to do so.”

He invited those watching to look at the Book of Mormon in a new light and consider its profound witness to the reality of the Risen Christ and the richness and depth of the doctrine of Christ.

This book — the Book of Mormon, more than any book ever published on this earth, bears witness to the life, the ministry, the teachings, the Atonement and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“My dear brothers and sisters, studying regularly from this book about Jesus Christ will change your life,” Elder Stevenson said. “It will open your eyes to new possibilities. It will increase your hope and fill you with charity. Most of all, it will build and strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and bless you with a sure knowledge that He and our Father know you, love you and want you to find your way back Home.”

President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President

The second speaker of the session was President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President. The talk was called, “Arise, Come Forth unto Christ.”

In 2011, while serving with her husband as mission leader in Curitiba, Brazil, she got a phone call from her Father during a meeting. She was informed that he had been diagnosed with ALS. After talking about the diagnoses, his words to his daughter (Sister Cordon) turned spiritual; he said, “Never miss an opportunity to testify of Christ.” 

“My Father and I had talked often of these sacred opportunities,” President Cordon said. “Yet this plea felt more personal! It seemed he was saying, Bonnie, don’t let the world overtake you! Stay true to your covenants with the Savior. Seek to experience His blessings every day, and be able to testify through the Holy Ghost of His power and presence in your life!”

President Cordon explained that as we choose to seek Christ, the Spirit will witness Him in many different situations. These witnesses of the Spirit occur as we fast, pray, wait, and continue forward. Our closeness to Christ grows through frequently worshipping in the temple, repenting daily, studying scripture, attending church and seminary, pondering our patriarchal blessings, worthily receiving ordinances, and honoring sacred covenants. 

“I pray this witness will become a normal and natural experience for us now — that we will take every opportunity to testify joyfully: Jesus Christ lives,” President Cordon said. 

Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy

The third speaker was Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy Presidency.

Elder Cook described the story told in in the Book of Mormon of Zoram, the servant of Laban. When Nephi obtained the brass plates, Zoram was faced with the choice to follow Nephi and his brothers into the wilderness or possibly lose his life.

Zoram suffered many afflictions in his new life, yet he pressed forward with faith. Elder Cook explained that we have no indication that Zoram clung to his past or harbored resentment toward God or others. He was a true friend to Nephi, a prophet, and his seed dwelt in freedom and prosperity in the promised land. What had been a massive obstacle in Zoram’s path eventually led to rich blessings due to his faithfulness and willingness to keep going with faith.

“Do you know what I am grateful for,” Elder Cook said. “That I didn’t give up — or resist. If I had given in to my desperate desire to escape from those meetings, I would have missed an opportunity to increase my faith and receive a rich outpouring of love and support from Heavenly Father. I learned of His mercy, the miraculous enabling power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost. Despite my weakness, I learned I can serve and contribute when the Lord is by my side if I keep going — with faith.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The fourth talk was by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Gong talked about Ministering.

He explained that higher and holier ministering comes when we pray for the “pure love of Christ” and follow the Spirit. It also comes as Elders Quorum and Relief Society presidencies, under the bishop’s direction, oversee ministering efforts, including assigning ministering companionships.

“Please give our young men and young women needed opportunity to accompany and be mentored by experienced ministering brothers and sisters,” Elder Gong said. “And please let our young rising generation inspire ministering brother and sister companions.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The fifth speaker was Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Cook shared that God’s plan for safely gathering His children to heaven is not based on worldly success, economic status, education, race or gender. God’s plan is based on righteousness, keeping commandments, receiving sacred ordinances and honoring the covenants we make.

“The divinely inspired doctrine that we are all brothers and sisters and ‘all are alike unto God’ underlies this great work of gathering,” Elder Cook said. “This doctrine accords with those who deeply desire for people of diverse economic and racial statuses to experience better lives. We applaud and join in such efforts. Moreover, we desire all of God’s children to come unto Him and receive the eternal blessings He offers through His gospel.”

Our doctrine is clear, Elder Cook explained, that there will be a time and a season for all people to receive and respond to the gospel message. 

Elder Allen D Haynie of the Seventy

Elder Allen D. Haynie of the Seventy spoke next. 

“Knowing by the revelation that there is a living prophet on the earth changes everything,” Elder Haynie said. “It causes one to be uninterested in the debate about when a prophet is speaking as a prophet or whether one is ever justified in the selective rejection of prophetic counsel. Such revealed knowledge invites one to trust the counsel of a living prophet, even if we do not fully understand it. After all, a perfect and loving Father in Heaven has chosen the pattern of revealing the truth to His children through a prophet, someone who never sought such a sacred calling and who does not need our help to be aware of his imperfections. A prophet is someone God has personally prepared, called, corrected, inspired, rebuked, sanctified, and sustained. That is why we are never spiritually at risk in following prophetic counsel.”

He shared two realities associated with the latter days. The first reality is that Christ’s Church will be re-established on earth. The second reality is that things are going to get challenging.

“Unlike vintage comic books and classic cars, Brothers and Sisters, prophetic teachings do not become more valuable with age,” Elder Haynie said.

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency

President Herny B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, gave the final talk. The spoke about finding personal peace. 

“I have learned at least five truths from that teaching of the Savior,” President Eyring

His first point was that the gift of peace is given after we have the faith to keep His commandments. For those who are covenant members of the Lord’s Church, obedience is what we have promised to do.

The second principle included that the Holy Ghost will come and abide with us.

President Eyring’s third point was that the Savior promises that as we keep our covenants, we can feel the love of the Father and the Son for each other and us. 

Fourth, keeping the Lord’s commandments requires more than obedience. We must love God with all our heart, might, mind, and souls, President Eyring shared. 

His fifth principle included that the Lord loved us enough to pay the price of our sins so that we can, through our faith in Him and our repentance, have the gift of the peace that passeth all understanding in this life and with Him eternally.