Full summary of Sunday’s LDS General Conference: Nelson names temples; Oaks reaffirms wearing of garments; Kearon points to a welcoming God

Colleagues say be careful what you tweet and don’t be judgmental.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks in a recorded message at General Conference on Sunday afternoon, April 7, 2024.

As he did last fall, President Russell M. Nelson delivered his one and only address this General Conference weekend in a recorded message Sunday.

Unlike then, though, the 99-year-old leader was present in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City when it aired.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson reaches out to the audience at General Conference on Sunday afternoon, April 7, 2024.

Nelson, who will turn 100 in September and has become the faith’s oldest-ever prophet-president, also attended the Saturday afternoon session in person.

On Sunday morning, his second counselor in the governing First Presidency, 90-year-old Henry B. Eyring, conducted from his chair. Apostle Quentin L. Cook steered the afternoon session, with Nelson seated behind him on the rostrum.

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

Sunday afternoon

President Russell Nelson: Why more temples

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks in a recorded message at General Conference on Sunday afternoon, April 7, 2024.

In a recorded message, President Russell M. Nelson, who was present in the Conference Center, delivered his only speech of the two-day conference.

He pointed to the church’s recent purchase of the Kirtland Temple from Community of Christ and the significance of the events that took place there.

It was in the walls of the historic Ohio edifice that, Latter-day Saints believe, Jesus along with the biblical Prophets Elias, Elijah and Moses appeared in 1836 to the faith’s founder Joseph Smith and bestowed on him three pivotal “priesthood keys.”

They included, Nelson explained, the keys of the gathering of Israel, the keys of the gospel of Abraham and the keys of the sealing power.

“The significance of these keys being returned to the Earth by three heavenly messengers under the direction of the Lord cannot be overstated,” Nelson said, explaining that priesthood keys represent the “authority and power of presidency” and “govern how the priesthood of God may be used.”

Without them, he continued, the church would represent a “significant teaching and humanitarian organization, but not much more.”

With them, he added, Smith and his successors were “authorized” to “gather Israel on both sides of the veil, to bless all covenant children with the blessings of Abraham, to place a ratifying seal on priesthood ordinances and covenants and to seal families eternally.”

Nelson said these keys are what “distinguish” the church “from any other organization on Earth.”

In short: “Many other organizations can and do make your life better here in mortality,” he said. “But no other organization can and will influence your life after death.”

Nelson concluded by announcing plans to build 15 new temples in the following locales:

• Uturoa, French Polynesia.

• Chihuahua, Mexico.

• Florianópolis, Brazil.

• Rosario, Argentina.

• Edinburgh, Scotland.

• Brisbane, Australia south area.

• Victoria, British Columbia.

• Yuma, Arizona.

• Houston, south area.

• Des Moines, Iowa.

• Cincinnati.

• Honolulu.

• West Jordan.

• Lehi.

• Maracaibo, Venezuela.

It had been two years since a new temple was announced for Utah, home to the faith’s global headquarters. Plans for adding such edifices in Lehi and West Jordan boost the state’s total of existing and planned Latter-day Saint temples to 30.

Nelson has now announced 168, or 48%, of the church’s worldwide tally of 350 planned or existing temples — by far the most of any of the faith’s prophet-presidents.

Sunday school leader Mark Pace: Reading the scriptures

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Mark L. Pace, general president of the Sunday school, speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Reading the faith’s unique scripture, the Book of Mormon, is not always about learning something new, said Mark L. Pace, Sunday school general president. Sometimes it’s “just about feeling connected to God today — nourishing the soul, being strengthened spiritually before heading out to face the world, or finding healing after a rough day out in the world.”

Latter-day Saints study the scriptures “so the Holy Ghost, the great teacher, can deepen our conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ,” Pace said, “and help us become more like them.”

He urged members to read the Book of Mormon this year, and hoped that it will be “a joy and a blessing for each of us…and will draw us ever nearer to the Savior.”

Apostle Neil Andersen: Temples and the fulfillment of latter-day prophecy

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Neil L. Andersen speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

In an address focused on temple building and worship, apostle Neil L. Andersen jubilantly declared, “there are miracles happening!”

Those miracles, Andersen said, include the spread of temples that now “dot” the globe as well as the enthusiasm of young people for the sacred buildings believed by members of the faith to represent an intersection between heaven and Earth.

As an example, he cited the hundreds of youths who turned out to support the construction of a temple in the Heber Valley, a controversial project opposed by some in the community.

“One young man,” he said, “speaking to government leaders in an open forum, courageously explained, ‘I am hoping to be married in this temple. [The temple will help] me to keep myself clean and pure.’”

Andersen called on his listeners to increase their visits to the temple and to pray for those temples the church has announced — “that properties can be purchased, that governments will approve plans, that talented workers will see their gifts magnified, and that the sacred dedications will bring the approval of heaven and the visit of angels.”

Seventy Mathias Held: Seeing both sides

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Mathias Held speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Life is all about making choices, said general authority Seventy Mathias Held. God gave humans “the divine gift of agency precisely so that we could learn from our choices — from the right ones and also from the wrong ones.”

Opposites don’t exist “apart from each other,” Held said. “They can even complement each other. We would not be able to identify joy unless we had also experienced sorrow at some point. Feeling hungry at times helps us to be especially grateful when we do have enough to eat again.”

Such opposites are like “the two sides of one same coin. Both sides are always present,” said the Colombian church leader. “...Let us constantly make a very conscious effort to see both sides of every coin allotted to us in our lives.”

Apostle Gary Stevenson: The laws to love God and others are ‘interdependent’

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Gary E. Stevenson speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Apostle Gary E. Stevenson began his Sunday afternoon sermon by rhapsodizing about suspension bridges, and in particular the Golden Gate Bridge with its “colossal, majestic, weight-bearing twin towers soaring above the ocean.”

The commandments to love God and love one’s neighbor are like those two towers, he explained, before offering examples of how to adhere to each.

“We love the Father and the Son,” he said, “through the payment of tithes, keeping the Sabbath day holy, living a virtuous and chaste life and being obedient.”

But these steps alone are not enough.

“Love of the Lord is not complete if we neglect our neighbors,” he continued. “This outward love includes all of God’s children without regard to gender, social class, race, sexuality, income, age or ethnicity.”

These laws to love God and others are, he concluded, “interdependent.”

A balance, Stevenson said, must be reached.

“Some are so focused on keeping the commandments that they show little tolerance of those they see as less righteous. Some find it difficult to love those who are choosing to live their lives outside of the covenant or even away from any religious participation,” the apostle said. “Alternatively, there are those who emphasize the importance of loving others without acknowledgment that we are all accountable to God. Some refuse entirely the notion that there is such a thing as absolute truth, or right and wrong, and that the only thing required of us is complete tolerance and acceptance of the choices of others. Either of these imbalances could cause your spiritual bridge to tip or even fall.”

Seventy Taylor Godoy: Prayer— a ‘sign of our hope’

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Taylor G. Godoy speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Prayer is the means of communication with God, general authority Seventy Taylor G. Godoy taught, that allows members to “call and don’t fall” — or reach out to deity, who will hold them up.

“However, there are circumstances in which we might think that the call has not been heard because we do not receive an immediate response or one according to our expectations,” the Peruvian leader said. “This sometimes leads to anxiety, sadness and disappointment.”

They need to remember that praying or “calling” is “a matter of faith and action — faith to recognize that we have a Heavenly Father who answers our prayers according to his infinite wisdom, and then action consistent with what we asked for,” Godoy said. It can be a “sign of our hope; but taking action after praying is a sign that our faith is real, faith that is tested in moments of pain, fear or disappointment.”

Apostle D. Todd Christofferson: What it means to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle D. Todd Christofferson speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Speaking in his characteristic tutorial tone, apostle D. Todd Christofferson focused his attention on what differentiates the souls who will live with God in the highest kingdom of glory from those who are left to pass eternity in a second- or third-rate heaven.

The answer, he said, citing an 1832 vision reported by the faith’s founder Joseph Smith, comes down to one’s willingness to accept and remain valiant in a testimony of Jesus Christ.

“Being valiant in the testimony of Jesus surely includes nurturing and strengthening that testimony,” Christofferson said. “True disciples do not ignore the seemingly small things that sustain and strengthen their testimony of Jesus, such as prayer, study of the scriptures, Sabbath observance and partaking of the sacrament, ministering, serving and worship in the House of the Lord.”

To illustrate this point, he told the story of members of a Hawaiian Latter-day Saint family whose branch president, or lay leader of a small congregation, publicly embarrassed them during a worship service.

Rather than take revenge or refuse to come back to church, the family members, led by the devout father, determined they would remain true to the church and the covenants they had made in the process of joining it.

“‘I love all of you and I want us to be together, forever, as a family,’ Christofferson quoted the father as saying. “And the only way that can be is for all of us to be good members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and be sealed by the holy priesthood in the temple.’”

Generations later, more than 100 “call their father, grandfather and great-grandfather blessed because he kept his eyes on eternity.”

Christofferson then concluded: “My invitation is to act now to secure your place as one who is valiant in the testimony of Jesus.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Missionaries at General Conference in downtown Salt Lake City's Conference Center on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Sunday morning

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Dallin H. Oaks speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

President Dallin H. Oaks: Wear temple garments ‘continuously’

Covenants are essential to many organizations such as the military, firefighters and religious traditions, and clothing symbolizing those commitments is not “magic,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, “just a needed reminder of the special responsibilities the wearers have assumed.”

Devout Latter-day Saints don “a temple garment” to be worn under their clothes.

It “reminds endowed members of the sacred covenants they have made and the blessings they have been promised in the holy temple,” Oaks said. “To achieve those holy purposes, we are instructed to wear temple garments continuously, with the only exceptions being those obviously necessary.”

This echoed the sentiments expressed in a recent speech by a Latter-day Saint general authority, who condemned members, especially women, who wear garments only on Sunday or to the temple, and the rest of the week can be seen in “yoga pants.”

Covenants “do not take a day off,” Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, said in Sunday morning’s concluding sermon, so “to remove one’s garments can be understood as a disclaimer of the responsibilities and blessings to which they relate.”

On the other hand, those who wear their garments “faithfully and keep their temple covenants,” Oaks said, “affirm their role as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Such temple rituals and covenant keeping “are the essential requirements for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom,” he declared, “which is eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

Seventy Brian K. Taylor: Finding hope when miracles fail to materialize

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Brian K. Taylor speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

God is a god of miracles, but not always in the hoped-for time frame or manner, general authority Seventy Brian K. Taylor sermonized Sunday morning.

Pointing to the example of a couple who took courage in their faith after their son perished in a fire, Taylor outlined three principles for “coming to trust in God’s divine purposes.”

• Stronger faith comes by putting Jesus Christ first.

• Brighter hope comes by envisioning our eternal destiny.

• Greater power comes by focusing on joy.

In the process of trying to rescue her 12-year-old son, the boy’s mother severely burned her hands. Speaking soon after in church, however, Taylor said the woman explained that her “unbearable grief was replaced by surpassing peace with this thought: ‘My hands are not the hands that save. Those hands belong to the Savior. Instead of looking at my scars as a reminder of what I was not able to do, I remember the scars my Savior bears.’”

Apostle Patrick Kearon: God removes ‘roadblocks,’ welcomes everyone home

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Aposlte Patrick Kearon speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

God does not put “roadblocks” in the way of believers, Patrick Kearon said in his first General Conference speech as an apostle. “He is in relentless pursuit of you. He wants all of his children to choose to return to him, and he employs every possible measure to bring you back.”

The purpose of mortality, the British church leader said, is to “have the stretching and refining experiences of mortality, the chance to use our God-given moral agency to choose him, to learn and grow, to make mistakes, to repent, to love God and our neighbor, and to one day return home to him.”

Jesus Christ came to “this fallen world to live the full range of the human experience, to provide an example for the rest of his children to follow, and to atone and redeem,” said Kearon, who was named an apostle in December in the wake of M. Russell Ballard’s death. His “great atoning gift removes every roadblock of physical and spiritual death that would separate us from our eternal home.”

God’s plan of happiness “is your happiness, right here, right now, and in the eternities,” he said. “It is not to prevent your happiness and cause you instead worry and fear.”

He wants believers “to live on a higher plane of moral conduct,” and calls them “to personal progression, to transformative faith in Christ, to a mighty change of heart,” Kearon said. “God wants for us a radical reorientation of our selfish and prideful impulses.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Patrick Kearon speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Those who are “prone to worry that you will never measure up, or that the loving reach of Christ’s infinite Atonement mercifully covers everyone else, but not you,” he said, “then you are misunderstanding. ‘Infinite’ means infinite. ‘Infinite’ covers you, and those you love.”

Kearon conceded that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice itself is “beyond our mortal capacity to comprehend. But, and this is an important ‘but,’ we do understand, can comprehend the holy, saving intent of his atoning sacrifice.

God does not “put up roadblocks and barriers; he removes them,” Kearon said. “He does not keep you out, he welcomes you in.”

Seventy Paul Pieper: In God we must trust

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General authority Seventy Paul B. Pieper speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Speaking on the topic of trusting God, general authority Seventy Paul B. Pieper recounted a time in his life when he and his family followed a prompting to uproot their lives and head east.

Hardship and setbacks followed and Pieper began to doubt the decision.

“We had trusted in the Lord and things were supposed to work out,” he said. “I had fallen backward, and it now appeared that no one was going to catch me.”

In a moment of prayer, words entered his mind: “‘Don’t ask why; ask what I want you to learn.’”

Confused and a bit dismayed, Pieper nonetheless tried to move forward and watched “with amazement” as, in the following weeks, “the Lord miraculously unfolded his plan to bless our family.”

Pieper concluded: “Good teachers and coaches know that intellectual growth and physical strength can happen only when minds and muscles are stretched. …Therefore, we can be sure that whatever trust we may have demonstrated in God in the past, another trust-stretching experience lies yet ahead.”

Apostle Dale Renlund: ‘Rowing toward the Savior’

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Dale G. Renlund speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Believers become “vulnerable when we slow down” in following spiritual principles, apostle Dale G. Renlund said, “and especially when we stop.”

Maintaining “spiritual momentum by continually ‘rowing’ toward the Savior,” Renlund said, “we are safer and more secure because our eternal life depends on our faith in him.”

Faith in Jesus Christ “needs to be nourished daily,” he said. “It is nourished as we pray daily, study the scriptures daily, reflect on the goodness of God daily, repent daily, and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost daily.”

The important part of this spiritual routine, Renlund emphasized, “is that we do not give up.”

As members minister to others, “we do not need to ask unhelpful questions or state the obvious,” he said. “Most people who are struggling know that they are struggling. We should not be judgmental; our judgment is neither helpful nor welcome, and it is most often ill-informed.”

In addition, comparing “ourselves to others can lead us to make pernicious errors, especially if we conclude that we are more righteous than those who are struggling,” the church leader said. “After all, we are all struggling in our own way. None of us earns salvation. We never can….We do need all our compassion, empathy and love as we interact with those around us.”

Primary President Susan Porter: Prayer is a gift

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General Primary President Susan H. Porter, who leads the faith's global children's organization, speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Speaking directly to Latter-day Saint children, President Susan H. Porter, leader of the faith’s worldwide Primary organization, called on her little listeners to be diligent in their prayers.

She invited them to:

1. Pray to know that Heavenly Father is real and loves his children.

2. Pray to grow to become more like Heavenly Father.

3. Pray to show Heavenly Father’s love to others.

Porter, the third woman to speak at this conference so far, shared her own experience with prayer growing up with a father who was not a member of the church.

“For my whole life,” she said, “I prayed that my father would become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Despite her efforts, he died at age 86 having never been baptized.

Five days after his death, Porter said, she “received a sacred feeling of joy,” and she understood that her father “wanted to receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ!”

She explained: “I had started praying for this blessing when I was in Primary, and I received it when I was a grandmother.”

Apostle Ronald Rasband: God’s words matter

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Ronald A. Rasband speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Words are “the bedrock of how we connect,” apostle Ronald A. Rasband said in Sunday’s first sermon. “They represent our beliefs, morals and perspectives. Sometimes we speak words; other times we listen. Words set a tone. They voice our thoughts, feelings and experiences, for good or bad.”

The words of prophets matter, he said, [because] prophets testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Most importantly, the “word of God,” Rasband said, “surpasses all other expressions.”

Latter-day Saints’ “own words” also matter, he added. “Believe me, in our emoji-filled world, our words matter. Our words can be supportive or angry, joyful or mean, compassionate or tossed aside. In the heat of the moment, words can sting and sink painfully deep into the soul — and stay there.”

Likewise, words “on the internet, texting, social media or tweets, take on a life of their own,” Rasband cautioned. “So be careful what you say and how you say it. In our families, especially with husbands, wives and children, our words can bring us together or drive a wedge between us.”

He promised the faithful that if they “’feast upon the words of Christ’ that lead to salvation, our prophet’s words that guide and encourage us, and our own words that speak of who we are and what we hold dear, the powers of heaven will pour down upon us.”