President Russell M. Nelson opened the weekend public sessions of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by emphasizing the Lord’s direction of the Church — even during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some lessons that I knew before have been written on my heart in new and instructive ways. The Lord directs the affairs of His Church; He has executed the hastening of His work — even during a global pandemic,” said President Nelson.
Now in his fourth year of leading the Church of Jesus Christ, President Nelson was the first speaker of the Saturday morning session of the April 2021 general conference.
“My dear brothers and sisters, the strength of the Church lies in the efforts and ever-growing testimonies of its members,” he said. “Testimonies are best cultivated in the home.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the session and welcomed viewers and listeners to the session, noting the conference was being broadcast and live-streamed across the globe.
For the Church’s third straight general conference during the COVID-19 pandemic, sessions were held according to local protocols, once again with social distancing and face masks. Besides those working still and video cameras, attendance for the session was limited to members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, those speaking and offering prayers, and their respective spouses.
Others speaking in the two-hour session included President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong; Primary General President Joy D. Jones; and Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency.
Elder Uchtdorf taught that “God is among us” and personally involved in the lives of His children and actively guiding them. “Open your hearts to our Savior and Redeemer, no matter your circumstances, trials, sufferings or mistakes,” he said. “You can know that He lives, that He loves you, and because of Him, you will never be alone.”
President Jones emphasized that simple yet essential conversations about the gospel can lead children to know what they believe and why they believe it. “Let’s not allow the convenience of electronic devices to keep us from teaching and listening to our children, and looking into their eyes,” she said.
Brother Newman focused on teaching in the Savior’s way. “To be truly life-changing, conversion to Jesus Christ must involve our whole soul and permeate every aspect of our lives,” he said.
Elder Stevenson taught that kindness is a fundamental, healing principle of the gospel. “The Lord expects [Latter-day Saints] to teach that inclusion is a positive means towards unity, and that exclusion leads to division,” he said.
Citing the Savior’s invitation to all to become like Him, Elder Gong asked Latter-day Saints to make Christ’s inn — His Church — a refuge for all from life’s storms. “We prepare for His promised Second Coming as each day we do unto the ‘least of these’ as we would unto Him. The ‘least of these’ is each of us.”
And in the session’s concluding address, President Eyring encouraged Church members to increase their desire to be worthy and ready for the increased opportunities for temple experiences that are coming. “The temple is a holy place where revelation comes to us easily if our hearts are open to it and we are worthy of it,” he said.
Music for the session were previously recorded selections from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and included “The Morning Breaks;” “Arise, O God, and Shine;” “Choose the Right;” “Teach Me to Walk in the Light,” and “This Spirit of God.” Listeners were invited to join in singing the intermediate hymn, “High on the Mountain Top.”