Dressed in their Sunday best, faithful families and individuals come to Salt Lake City to attend the general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even if they can’t watch in the Conference Center.
Just one block away from the Conference Center, people sit on the grounds of Temple Square or in the open buildings to listen to conference from their devices.
“We wanted to try and get into the Conference Center,” said Jonathan Smith, a patron listening to conference in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. “We found out when we got here that we couldn’t get into the Conference Center through the standby line that used to exist. So we (thought) we should watch on the grounds at the very least, because the conference center and the temple grounds both have just this really good spirit about them.”
The Salt Lake Temple has been under construction since 2019, when President Russell M. Nelson announced plans for its renovation.
Because of the construction, large areas of Temple Square have been blocked off. The changes have altered the way visitors watch conference. In the past, the Tabernacle would host a broadcast for those who couldn’t watch the conference live. While conference is no longer broadcast in the building, this hasn’t stopped patrons from gathering in open buildings and on the grounds to watch conference on their own.
“I grew up in Utah, and I’ve come to the conference center multiple times … it’s my favorite way to experience conference and it’s always felt a little bit like Heaven to me,” said Kylie Pierce, another patron watching conference in the Assembly Hall. ”One time when I was younger, I came to experience the spring session of conference in Temple Square … there was something about it that just felt like Heaven. The sun was shining. There were so many beautiful flowers. I could hear (the) choir singing. Everybody was with their families and they were so happy, and we were going to listen to the word of God through his disciples.“
Seating at the Conference Center remains limited due to parking and accessibility concerns related to the construction areas on Temple Square. While visitors are not encouraged to gather on Temple Square to broadcast conference anymore, many still come to feel the Spirit on the grounds and enjoy self-guided tours of the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.
“Hearing the choir sing in the Conference Center, it just fills you,” Pierce said. “It fills you with such a powerful spirit. So I’ve committed to try and come almost every time, just because it just feels so much better than watching it at your house.”
Read some of the latest updates on the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple here.