What is LDS General Conference? And why does The Tribune cover it?

Twice a year, Latter-day Saints flock to the Conference Center and readers look to our coverage.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Attendees listen to talks during the fall 2023 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City.

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Twice a year, the sidewalks around downtown’s Temple Square — and the webpages of sltrib.com — fill up for General Conference.

These gatherings, which traditionally take place the first weekends of April and October, are for members of Utah’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Tens of thousands of believers — and any others who wish to obtain a free ticket — attend in person at the Conference Center in the heart of Salt Lake City, and millions more tune in worldwide via TV, radio or the internet.

During the sessions — typically three on Saturday and two on Sunday — Latter-day Saints hear sermons, instructions and announcements from their top leaders.

Speakers include the church president and his two counselors in the governing First Presidency along with the 12 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These 15 men, whom the faithful revere as “prophets, seers and revelators,” serve for life.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dallin H. Oaks, left, Russell M. Nelson and Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency sit on the rostrum before General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City in April 2022.

Other male general authorities also deliver addresses as do a handful of churchwide women’s leaders.

The renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and other area choirs provide the music.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs at General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

Because the worldwide church of more than 17 million members is headquartered in Salt Lake City and the conference proceedings are of keen interest to our readers in Utah and, frankly, across the nation and the globe, The Salt Lake Tribune devotes significant resources to covering the faith and the event — before, during and after the meetings themselves. The stories frequently rank among the most read of the year.

Even secular schedules in Utah often are adjusted to avoid conflicting with the sessions. In the autumn, for instance, the University of Utah football team either plays on the road that weekend or stages a home game the Friday before the church gatherings start.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Emily Belle Freeman, leader of the church's global Young Women program, speaks at General Conference on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.

Conferences have been held since the church began in April 1830. The spring one is officially called an “annual” conference; the fall one is referred to as a “semiannual” conference.

These celebrations of sermons, songs, prayers and pronouncements are the highlight of the Latter-day Saint calendar and become the topic of Sunday speeches and lessons — in chapels and member homes — until the next conference rolls around in six months.