Sunday, October 02, 2011

Highlights Of The LDS Church's 181st Semiannual General Conference; Five New Temples Announced

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just concluded its 181st Semiannual General Conference held in Salt Lake City on October 1-2, 2011, preceded by the General Relief Society Meeting on September 24th. A variety of Church leaders delivered inspirational and informational addresses intended to keep Church members informed and on the straight and narrow. In this post, I will reference the more important stories from the event, particularly those attracting mainstream media attention in Utah.

-- LDS Church News has photos and reports on each speaker's presentation through this portal

-- Video and audio archives of each talk available on the LDS Conference Page; written transcripts will follow later in the week.

(1). New Temples: During the Saturday Morning General Session, Church President Thomas S. Monson announced the planned construction of five new temples in Provo, Utah; Barranquilla, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Star Valley, Wyoming. The proposed Paris Temple had been previously announced by the Church in July after the media first broke the story. The proposed Provo Temple, which will arise from the ashes of the burned-down Provo Tabernacle, will be the second temple in that city. And the announcement of a temple in the Congo is remarkable, considering that some parts of that country remain ungovernable and outbreaks of mass rape and murder in the eastern part of the country still occur to this day. The announced temples bring the grand total of temples either in operation, under construction, or planned to 166.

President Monson also announced the creation of the General Patron Assistance Fund to provide financial assistance towards a one-time visit to the temple for those who otherwise would not be able to go. Those who want to contribute to this fund are instructed to write in the information on the normal contribution slip which is given to the bishop each month. KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:

President Monson announces six new temples and program for temple patrons |

(2). Call For More Missionaries: During the Saturday Evening Priesthood Session, Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve put out the call for more young men to clean up their act and aspire to missionary service. Elder Holland used military and athletic metaphors to get the attention of young Mormon men who need to clean up their behavior so they can serve a two-year mission because anything more subtle seldom seems to work. He added that the church needs young men already on the team to stay on it, and stop dribbling out of bounds just when we need them to get in the game and play their hearts out. He further stated that no missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things during a mission.

Elder Holland also pleaded for thousands more senior couples to serve missions of the Church, primarily because they bring a maturity to the work that no number of 19-year-olds, however good they are, can provide.

(3). The Name Of The Church: During the Sunday Morning General Session, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve emphatically declared that Jesus Christ is at the core of LDS faith, citing the church's formal name -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- as the most visible evidence. Elder Ballard also condemned the use of the term Mormon to describe former members of the church or those who practice polygamy, which the LDS Church abandoned in 1890, because it leads to confusion. "Let me state clearly that no polygamist group, including those calling themselves Fundamentalist Mormons or other derivatives of our name," Ballard said, "have any affiliation whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Of course, while some Internet sites such as use the term "Mormon", once the page is opened, the proper name of the Church appears on the page. Elder Ballard noted that the nickname "Mormon" has become acceptable when applied to the members rather than an institution (as in the "Hello, I am a Mormon" video campaign), but asked members to try to use the full and correct name of the Church. Church writing guidelines ask that media and bloggers use the full name of the church at least once during a post.

(4). Reaction From Attendees: KTVX Channel 4 interviewed a sample of those who attended the Sunday Morning session of conference:

"One thing I noticed is the prophet is really funny. The way he expresses his life and situations," said Cesar Casco who is from Mexico.

"Definitely listening to President Monson speak and just his personality and laughing," said Stephanie Ming from California.

"I just thought it was really cool to see his sense of humor," said Renna Ming also from California.

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