After a one-conference hiatus, the LDS Church returned Saturday to what increasingly is becoming routine at the faith's twice yearly assemblies: announcing new temples.
Church President Thomas S. Monson opened the faith's 179th Semiannual General Conference by revealing plans to build Utah's 14th LDS temple -- this one in Brigham City -- and four more throughout the world, bringing the global total of operating and planned temples to 151.
"We continue to build temples," Monson told the 20,000 assembled at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions more watching across the globe via satellite, television and the Internet. "We desire that as many members as possible have the opportunity to attend the temple without having to travel inordinate distances."
Besides the Brigham City temple, Monson said the church will build temples in Concepción, Chile; Fortaleza, Brazil; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Sapporo, Japan.
Monson noted that 83 percent of the faith's 14 million members now live within 200 miles of a temple and predicted that the percentage of Latter-day Saints living near their church's most sacred and significant edifices will continue to climb as "we construct new temples around the world."
Ted Lyon, LDS temple president in Santiago, Chile, was delighted by the news of a new temple in that country.
"We were part of the excited shouting (in fact, we missed hearing the locations of the other three new temples because of our loud joy)," Lyon wrote in an e-mail. "In the past 11 months we have really seen a huge increase in the number of people participating in the temple. ... And Concepción was no surprise -- it's the second largest city, and provides closer access for all of southern Chile."
Nathan Hanna, a Brigham Young University student from Blackfoot, Idaho, said, "It's cool that there are so many [temples] now I don't know where they all are."
Other speakers Saturday discussed ways of listening to and understanding the Holy Spirit, becoming more dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ, the cycle of sin and repentance and bearing one another's burdens.
Believed to be the first time, Boyd K. Packer, senior apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve and next in line to become church president, gave his conference sermon -- on prayer -- while seated.
During the all-male priesthood session, Monson warned the men and boys to avoid anger caused by disappointment, misunderstanding or differences of opinion.
The oath and covenant of the priesthood calls Mormon men to a higher standard, he said. "May we ever be exemplary in our homes and faithful in keeping all of the commandments, that we may harbor no animosity toward any man but rather be peacemakers."
In the same session, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said the best antidotes to the current financial crisis and natural disasters are work and learning.
"Whenever our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer, Uchtdorf said, "no matter how eloquent the oration."
He told the older men in the audience that there is no retirement from priesthood responsibilities.
"There may be those who, after many years of church service, believe they are entitled to a period of rest while others pull the weight," Uchtdorf said. "To put it bluntly, brethren, this sort of thinking is not worthy of a disciple of Christ."
Moreover, he said, for Mormons, "education is not merely a good idea; it's a commandment."
In an earlier speech Saturday, Uchtdorf said church members often are seen as "honest, helpful, and hardworking ... [or as] clean-cut missionaries, loving families, and friendly neighbors who don't smoke or drink."
That's all fine, he said, but he hopes that in the future Mormons increasingly will be known as "a people who love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and who love our neighbors as ourselves."
When Latter-day Saints understand and practice these two great commandments "in our families, in our wards and branches, in our nations and in our daily lives," Uchtdorf said, "we will begin to understand what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus the Christ."
David Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, urged members to live their beliefs, especially in their homes.
"Hypocrisy in our lives is most readily discerned and causes the greatest destruction within our homes. And children often are the most alert and sensitive when it comes to recognizing hypocrisy," Bednar said. "Public statements of love when the private actions of love are absent at home is hypocrisy and weakens the foundation of a great work."
Gordon Treadway, visiting Salt Lake City from Sacramento, Calif., said Bednar's discussion of hypocrisy should "hit home for every Latter-day Saint. We all fall short, but we should keep striving and be consistent."
Several speakers discussed the importance of listening for divine messages and inspiration. In that vein, Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, warned against the dangers and addictiveness of pornography.
"The onslaught of pornography, in all of its vicious, corroding, destructive forms, has caused grief, suffering, heartache and destroyed marriages. It is one of the most damning influences on earth," Scott said. "Whether it be through the printed page, movies, television, obscene lyrics, vulgarities on the telephone or on a flickering personal computer screen, pornography is overpoweringly addictive and severely damaging. ... How can a man, particularly a priesthood bearer, not think of the emotional and spiritual damage caused to women, especially to his wife, from such abhorrent activity?"
Scott urged members -- young and old -- "ensnarled in pornography" to pray for help and seek counsel from church leaders to overcome it.
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks examined the difficult choices parents face when their children do not heed LDS teachings.
"Following the example of an all-wise and loving God who has given commandments for the benefit of his children, wise parents condition some parental gifts on obedience," Oaks said. "If an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored?"
The apostle said he had seen both responses, neither of which is appropriate. Indeed, gay activists recently have criticized Mormon parents who cut off communication with their gay children.
LDS teachings "require continued loving concern," Oaks said, "which surely requires continued loving associations."
More than 80 percent of Mormons live within 200 miles of a temple.
Brigham City's temple will be the 14th in Utah.
There are 130 operating LDS temples in the world, with plans for another 21, bringing the global total to 151.
In 1995, when Gordon B. Hinckley became president, the church had 47 operating temples.
There are four LDS temples in the Salt Lake Valley, with plans for a fifth somewhere in the "southwest" part of the valley.
South Jordan, with the 1981 Jordan River Temple and the newly opened Oquirrh Mountain Temple, is the world's only city with two Mormon temples.
South America has 14 LDS temples, with another three planned.
The Fortaleza temple will be Brazil's seventh (the nation has more than 1 million Mormons).
The Concepción temple will be Chile's second.
Sapporo's temple will be Japan's third and the sixth in Asia.
Fort Lauderdale's temple will be the ninth in the southeastern U.S.
Source: LDS Church
The LDS Church's 179th Semiannual General Conference wraps up today with sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.