Full summary of Sunday’s LDS General Conference: Nelson urges members to be peacemakers, announces 15 new temples

Camille Johnson delivers her first conference talk as Relief Society general president; leaders make repeated references to Palm Sunday; apostle Ulisses Soares warns about the “flaming hostility” of social media.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

The final day of spring General Conference for the 17 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got underway on Palm Sunday.

President Russell M. Nelson, who didn’t address the conference Saturday, delivered a major address Sunday morning. The 98-year-old leader is the Utah-based faith’s oldest-ever prophet-president.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Other church authorities gave speeches as well to thousands in attendance at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions more watching online around the world. Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland was not on hand, however, after testing positive for COVID-19 in recent days.

Two women gave talks: President Bonnie Cordon, outgoing leader of the church’s worldwide Young Women organization (a new Young Women presidency, led by Emily Belle Freeman, will begin serving Aug. 1) and President Camille N. Johnson, delivering her first conference sermon as the head of the faith’s global Relief Society.

Read summaries of Saturday’s proceedings, along with the church’s abbreviated audit report and its new membership numbers.

Here are summaries of all the speeches and announcements from Sunday’s two sessions:

Sunday afternoon session

President Russell M. Nelson: 15 news temples to be built

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson, speaking at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023, announces 15 new temples to be built.

The faith’s president capped the conference by announcing 15 new temples, including the first in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.

The 15 locations are:

• Retalhuleu, Guatemala.

• Iquitos, Peru.

• Teresina, Brazil.

• Natal, Brazil.

• Tuguegarao City, Philippines.

• Iloilo, Philippines.

• Jakarta, Indonesia.

• Hamburg, Germany.

• Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

• San Jose, Calif.

• Bakersfield, Calif.

• Springfield, Mo.

• Winchester, Va.

• Charlotte, N.C.

• Harrisburg, Pa.

Nelson has now announced 133 temples since he became president. That’s 42% of the church’s 315 existing or planned temples.

For the third straight conference, no new temples were named for Utah, home to 28 existing or planned temples.

Apostle David A. Bednar: Walking with the Son of God

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle David A. Bednar speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2,2023.

Jesus Christ invites believers to follow him, not momentarily but forever, apostle David A. Bednar said.

Latter-day Saints need to be “firm and steadfast in our devotion to the Redeemer and his holy purposes,” Bednar said, “in times both good and bad.”

The apostle invited his listeners to “ask, seek, knock and learn for ourselves by the power of the Holy Ghost other meaningful ways we can make Christ the center of our lives in all that we do.”

The “seed we should strive to plant in our hearts is the word — even the life, mission and doctrine of Jesus Christ,” Bednar said. “And as the word is nourished by faith, it can become a tree springing up in us unto everlasting life.”

As believers press forward “in faith and walk in the meekness of the Lord’s spirit,” he said, “we are blessed with power, guidance, protection and peace.”

Seventy Ahmad S. Corbitt: Resist ‘activism’ toward the church or its leaders

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general president and a newly named general authority Seventy, speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April. 2, 2023.

Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the global Young Men presidency and a newly named general authority Seventy, cautioned parents, “If your child struggles with a gospel principle or prophetic teaching, please resist any type of evil speaking, or activism, toward the church or its leaders.”

Because, he added, “these lesser, secular approaches can be lethal to the long-term faithfulness of your child.”

Corbitt warned last fall that activism against the Utah-based church or its leaders can be “a tactic of Satan…to blind and mislead the young.”

Jesus Christ “had to suffer,” he said Sunday, “to redeem all humanity from physical death and to give eternal life with God and our families to all who would follow him.”

God has revealed the steps “we must take to follow Jesus and receive eternal life,” which include “faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”

Seventy W. Mark Bassett: Human role in divine intervention

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy W. Mark Bassett speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Everyone will “experience the heartache that accompanies the loss of someone we love,” said general authority Seventy W. Mark Bassett. “Our mortal journey might include personal illness or the debilitating illness of a loved one; depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges; financial hardship; betrayal; sin.”

Sometimes those experiences are accompanied “by feelings of hopelessness,” Bassett said. “...During our greatest worries, we…seek the Savior or ask the Father for his divine intervention.”

What is the human part, he asked, in any divine intervention?

“As we strive to act righteously by making and keeping sacred covenants and applying the doctrine of Christ in our lives, our faith will not only be sufficient,” the Seventy said, “...but with the Lord’s help we will be capable of moving stones that are in our path, arising from despair, and loosening ourselves of all that binds us.”

Seventy Vern P. Stanfill: Don’t obsess about perfection

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Vern P. Stanfill speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Although it is tempting, “even within the culture of the church, to obsess about perfection,” said general authority Seventy Vern P. Stanfill, individuals should not allow “social media, unrealistic expectations, and often our own self-criticism” to “create feelings of inadequacy — that we are not good enough, and never will be.”

He cautioned against misunderstanding “the invitation of the Savior to ‘be ye therefore perfect,’” and urged Latter-day Saints to remember that “perfectionism requires an impossible, self-inflicted standard” that “causes guilt, anxiety and can make us want to withdraw and isolate ourselves.”

However, he said, “becoming perfected in Christ … is the process — lovingly guided by the Holy Ghost — of becoming more like the Savior.”

Stanfill warned listeners against comparing themselves to others, which he said is “rarely productive, not uplifting, and sometimes downright depressing.”

“Either we will see ourselves as better than others and become judgmental and critical of them, or we will see ourselves as less than others, and become anxious, self-critical and discouraged.”

Apostle Ronald A. Rasband: A holy Palm Sunday

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Ronald A. Rasband speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

In the past, Palm Sunday, a day widely celebrated by millions of mainstream Christians, has never been part of the Latter-day Saint tradition. Nor has it been mentioned often over the pulpit at the church’s General Conference.

But this time, it was noted by nearly every Sunday speaker.

Apostle Ronald A. Rasband said Nelson had “admonished” Latter-day Saints and others in spring 2021 to make Palm Sunday “truly holy by remembering, not just the palms that were waved to honor the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, but by remembering the palms of his hands.”

Palm Sunday was “not just an event, another page in history with a date, time and place,” Rasband said. “Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the events of the week that followed exemplify doctrine we can apply in our lives today.”

Apostle M. Russell Ballard: Emphasize what matters most

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle M. Russell Ballard speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

“What matters most is what lasts longest,” said M. Russell Ballard, the acting president of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, quoting from words he said his children had engraved on the headstone of his late wife, Barbara.

“First, a relationship with our Heavenly Father and his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is most important,” he said. “This relationship matters most now and in eternity.

“Second, family relationships are among those things that matter most.”

The 94-year-old Ballard also pointed to “following the promptings of the Spirit” when it comes to “our efforts to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

And, he added, “being converted to the Lord, bearing testimony of him, and serving him are also among the things that matter most” because “faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of our testimonies.”

President Dallin H. Oaks: Words of Jesus

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Scriptures about Jesus Christ help Latter-day Saints “direct our lives,” said Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, as the opening speaker on Sunday afternoon.

“Most of the scriptures reporting Jesus’ mortal ministries are descriptions of what he did,” Oaks said. “My message today consists of a selection of the words of our Savior — what he said.”

The 90-year-old Oaks, whose conference sermons have often touched on headline-making topics from LGBTQ issues to political discord, spent his remaining time reading passages from the New Testament (including what members believe are the inspired additions of church founder Joseph Smith).

He read about righteousness, loving neighbors and enemies, repentance, forgiveness and many other familiar verses.

Sunday morning session

President Russell M. Nelson: ‘Peacemaking is a choice’

As the last speaker Sunday morning, President Russell M. Nelson passionately admonished his flock to put aside contention and become peacemakers.

“Civility and decency seem to have disappeared during this era of polarization and passionate disagreements. Vulgarity, faultfinding and evil speaking of others are all too common,” the 98-year-old Nelson said while seated on a chair (as he did at last October’s conference). “Too many pundits, politicians, entertainers and other influencers throw insults constantly. I am greatly concerned that so many people seem to believe that it is completely acceptable to condemn, malign and vilify anyone who does not agree with them. Many seem eager to damage another’s reputation with pathetic and pithy barbs.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

He noted that Jesus “made it possible for us to overcome all evil — including contention. Make no mistake about it: Contention is evil.”

Sometimes “contentious behavior” can even be seen “within our own ranks,” Nelson said. “We hear of those who belittle their spouses and children, of those who use angry outbursts to control others, and of those who punish family members with the ‘silent treatment.’”

How members treat one another “really matters,” he said. “How we speak to and about others at home, at church, at work and online really matters.”

Nelson beseeched members to “interact with others in a higher, holier way.”

He then offered a few examples:

“If a couple in your ward gets divorced, or a young missionary returns home early, or a teenager doubts his testimony, they do not need your judgment,” he warned. “They need to experience the pure love of Jesus Christ reflected in your words and actions. If a friend on social media has strong political or social views that violate everything you believe, an angry, cutting retort by you will not help. Building bridges of understanding will require much more of you, but that is exactly what your friend needs.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Charity defines a peacemaker, Nelson said. “Peacemaking is a choice. ...I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.”

The gospel net “is the largest net in the world,” he said. “...There is room for everyone. However, there is no room for prejudice, condemnation or contention of any kind.”

The president urged members to “lay aside bitterness … to cease insisting that it is your way or no way….Now is the time to bury your weapons of war.”

“If your verbal arsenal is filled with insults and accusations, now is the time to put them away,” Nelson said. “You will arise as a spiritually strong man or woman of Christ.”

And a church filled with such peacemakers, he said, could be “a light on the hill.”

Seventy Kevin R. Duncan: Rejoice for temples

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Kevin R. Duncan speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Temples are God’s “home on earth,” said general authority Seventy Kevin R. Duncan, and church members should “rejoice” that they exist.

He pointed to baptisms for the dead, priesthood authority, covenants and ordinances, “marriages that could last forever, the sealing of children to their parents within the family of God, and ultimately the blessing of returning home to the presence of God our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ” as blessings that come from the temple.

“It can become easy for us to take these glorious eternal truths for granted. They have become second nature to us,” Duncan said. But building temples “has been one of the highest priorities of all prophets since the prophet Joseph Smith.”

And, Duncan went on to say, “as each new temple is dedicated, the saving power of Jesus Christ expands throughout the world to counteract the efforts of the adversary and to redeem us as we come unto him. As temples and covenant keepers grow in number, the adversary grows weaker.”

Apostle Neil L. Andersen: Always remember Christ

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Neil L. Andersen speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Under Nelson’s leadership, Latter-day Saints are focusing more on Jesus Christ, apostle Neil L. Andersen said.

Nearly five years ago, the church president asked Latter-day Saints to stop using the “Mormon” nickname and use instead the full name of the church.

“Our minds caught hold upon this thought of Jesus Christ and we have spoken his name more earnestly,” Andersen said. “By reducing the time of our sacrament meeting, we gave increased focus to partaking of the Lord’s sacrament, and our ‘mind caught hold upon this thought’ of Jesus Christ, and our promise to take his name upon us, and always remember him.”

During the isolation of the worldwide pandemic, the church’s curriculum centered on the New Testament, Andersen said, which meant the teachings of the Savior “became more prominent in our homes.”

Meanwhile, with the announcement and completion of dozens of temples, “we are more frequently entering the House of the Lord and receiving his promised blessings,” he said. “We have caught hold upon the power and transcendent beauty of this thought of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.”

Andersen’s prayer at this Easter season is that Latter-day Saints will “more consciously shape, strengthen, and secure this preeminent thought of Jesus Christ in the chambers of our soul, allowing it to eagerly flow into our mind, guiding us in what we think and do, and continually bringing the sweet joy of the Savior’s love.”

Seventy Kazuhiko Yamashita: Not a life map

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Kazuhiko Yamashita speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

General authority Seventy Kazuhiko Yamashita discussed the Latter-day Saint practice of “patriarchal blessings,” messages from God to individual members.

This blessing “will likely include promises and inspired counsel to guide you throughout your life,” Yamashita told his global audience.

But it may not “map out your life or answer all your questions,” he said. “If it doesn’t mention an important life event, do not take that to mean you won’t have that opportunity. Likewise, there is no guarantee everything in your blessing will come to pass in this life.”

A patriarchal blessing is a “sacred gift,” the Seventy said. It is “eternal, and if you live worthy, promises that are not fulfilled in this life will be granted in the next.”

Apostle Ulisses Soares: Beware of ‘flaming hostility’ on social media

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Ulisses Soares speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Do not contend with one another, apostle Ulisses Soares urged church members — and he specifically warned against contention on social media.

“We often see people who engage in negative and even derogatory comments about the perceived characteristics, weaknesses and opinions of others,” he said, “mainly when such characteristics and opinions differ or contradict how they act and think. It is very common to see these people passing on such comments to others, who repeat what they heard without truly knowing all the circumstances surrounding a situation.

“Unfortunately, social media encourages this kind of behavior in the name of relative truths and transparency. Without restraint, digital conversation often leads people to personal attacks and heated disputes, creating disappointments, wounding hearts and spreading flaming hostility.”'

Soares went on to say that social media is “one of the adversary’s tactics ... to stir up enmity and hate in the hearts of God’s children. He rejoices when he sees people criticizing, ridiculing and slandering one another.”

Camille N. Johnson: ‘Jesus Christ is relief’

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Camille N. Johnson, head of the church's global Relief Society, speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Each Latter-day Saint is “carrying a metaphorical backpack,” President Camille N. Johnson said Sunday morning in her first conference speech as global head of the women’s Relief Society. “This metaphorical backpack is where we carry the burdens of living in a fallen world. Our burdens are like rocks in the backpack.”

The rocks include sin, poor decisions, misconduct and unkindness toward others, Johnson said. Humans carry some simply because they are “living in a fallen condition. These include the rocks of disease, pain, chronic illness, grief, disappointment, loneliness and the effects of natural disasters.”

Repentance “is what relieves us of the weight of the rocks of sin,” she said. “And by this exquisite gift [of Christ’s atonement], God’s mercy relieves us from the heavy and otherwise insurmountable demands of justice.”

Johnson, the second women to deliver a sermon this conference weekend, urged members to partner “with Jesus Christ in providing relief, both temporal and spiritual, to all of God’s children.”

Thus, they can become “a conduit” through which Christ provides relief.

Apostle D. Todd Christofferson: Be one

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle D. Todd Christofferson speaks at General Conference on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Latter-day Saints should “be of one heart and one mind,” apostle D. Todd Christofferson said, later adding that members are “too diverse, and at times too discordant, to be able to come together as one on any other basis or under any other name” than Jesus Christ.

Christofferson recounted a 19th-century dispute between general authority B.H. Roberts and members of the governing First Presidency. All of them eventually reconciled their differences.

“Unity does not mean simply agreeing that everyone should do his or her own thing or go his or her own way,” Christofferson said. “We cannot be one unless we all bend our efforts to the common cause. It means, in B.H. Roberts’ words, submitting to the authority of God.”

Christofferson also related that message to life in the 21st century.

“Unity does not require sameness, but it does require harmony,” the apostle said. “We can have our hearts knit together in love, be one in faith and doctrine, and still disagree on political matters, the athletic teams we support, our food preferences, and any number of such things. But we can never disagree or contend with anger.”