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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Report on the Priesthood Session

Hello again, everyone! The priesthood session of General Conference ended about an hour ago. It was conducted by President Henry B. Eyring as anticipated. Offering the invocation was Elder Kevin W. Pearson, and Elder Rafael E. Pino offered the benediction. Both of those brethren were also among the first General Authority Seventies called during the first General Conference over which President Monson presided.

Two years after their calls to the apostleship, the Church has begun calling on the first of our three newest apostles to speak in the Priesthood Session. Tonight we heard from Elder Dale G. Renlund. He was followed by two General Authority Seventies, David F. Evans (who is the second-to-last General Authority Seventy called in 2005 to give his third General Conference talk), and Elder Richard J. Maynes (just released from the Presidency of the Seventy and, with the release of Elder W. Craig Zwick, is the most senior General Authority Seventy).

Following an intermediate hymn. we heard from the two counselors in the First Presidency, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who gave a great talk about the importance of walking in the spiritual light we have. The session concluded with a great address by President Eyring, who testified that the call of any Church leader is directed by the Lord, who actively leads His Church through those called, set apart, and authorized to exercise such callings.

So where does that leave us for tomorrow's sessions? With Elder Hales and President Monson being absent from the conference. we have three apostles that have not yet spoken to us (Elders Ballard, Bednar, and Andersen). We could have one of them speak tomorrow morning and the other two that afternoon. Or two of them could speak in the morning, and the other one could be joined by President Nelson giving a second talk at the conclusion of the conference.

We have also not yet heard from a member of the Presidency of the Seventy and a member of the Presiding Bishopric, and according to the usual rotation of auxiliary speakers, our Sunday School General President, Tad R. Callister, is due to speak. Additionally, there is a possibility that we could hear from another female auxiliary leader.

President Eyring is due to speak in one of the two sessions as well (most likely the Sunday Morning Session, where he may represent President Monson in announcing any new temple locations). I imagine we will hear from at least 4 and possibly as many as 6 additional General Authority Seventies. And, given past precedent, there is a chance that President Nelson, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles may have been asked to speak a second time. If he has, then he may be the very last speaker in this General Conference.

Just wanted to share those additional thoughts on what might happen during the remainder of this General Conference. That does it for this update. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. For now, thank you for the privilege of your time, and may the Lord bless you all in all that you do.

Report on Saturday Afternoon Session

Hello again, everyone! The Saturday Afternoon session wrapped up about 45 minutes ago (it ended early). As predicted, President Uchtdorf conducted the session. The invocation was offered by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, and the benediction by Elder All F. Packer (son of President Boyd K. Packer), both of whom were among the first General Authority Seventies sustained in the first General Conference over which President Monson presided.

In addition to the sustaining of Church officers about which I have already posted, there were a couple of interesting things about this session: It featured 7 speakers rather than the 8 I predicted, and it featured Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, as one of the speakers. This surprised me because we just heard from his second counselor, Brother M. Joseph Brough, last April. The only other speaker that was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was Elder O. Vincent Haleck, General Authority Seventy. Elder Gary E. Stevenson was the first speaker from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Then, as already mentioned, Brother Owen spoke. We then heard from Elder Quentin L. Cook. The second half of that session was filled with addresses by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then the previously mentioned address by Elder Haleck. The session ended with a talk by Quorum President Russell M. Nelson, who, if I am correct, will be giving a second address at some point in this conference. Though I had originally said that that second  address would likely happen during the Sunday Morning Session, it now seems more likely that if he does speak a second time, it will be as the final speaker in the Sunday Afternoon Session.

If these first two sessions are any indication, the remainder of this General Conference will be full of surprises. And you can count on my continuing reports after the remaining three sessions. That does it for this General Conference update. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. For now, thank you for the privilege of your time, and may the Lord continue to bless you all in all that you do.

Blog Report: Changes in General Church Leadership

Hello again, everyone! I am back as promised with a report on the changes made in the general leadership of the Church. Most significant of all to me was that there were no vocal shouts of opposition to this sustaining. That was wonderful to witness. Regarding specifics, when President Nelson's name was presented as Quorum President, this is only the second time in which he was referred to with his full name, Russell Marion Nelson, as opposed to the time or two he has been sustained merely as Russell M. Nelson. For the rsome strange reason, President Eyring, when naming Elder Christofferson among the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave him the middle initial of "R," rather than the correct one "D."

Moving on from that, the releases of Elders Donald L. Hallstrom and Richard J. Maynes from the Presidency of the Seventy were mentioned, and Elders Juan A. Uceda and Patrick Kearon were sustained to that Presidency in their stead. Don't know if I mentioned this, but Elder Kearon has two middle names, Robert & David, though he has only ever previously been sustained by his first and last name. That was interesting to see.

Rounding out that sustaining vote, Elders Stanley G. Ellis, Larry R. Lawrence, and W. Craig Zwick were each granted emeritus status, as predicted. Another interesting development was that several area seventies were released, and one was sustained. It has been customary for the Church to announce the bulk of area seventy releases in the April General Conference, so to have so many released in October was interesting indeed to see.

As it always is, the sustaining of Church officers has been very interesting and unique to see. I am grateful for the inspiration that attends the calls and releases of these good men and women. That does it for this blog post. I will be back in about an hour with my report on the Saturday Afternoon Session, which has been very unique so far. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. Until I return with my next post, thank you for the privilege of your time, and may the Lord bless you all in all that you do. 

General Conference Update: How my predictions for the Saturday Morning Session panned out

Hello again, everyone! In my efforts to be more effective in reporting the events of this General Conference weekend, I wanted to pass along my report on the Saturday Morning Session. Prayers were offered by Elder Larry R. Lawrence, who, if I am correct, will be granted emeritus status during this General Conference, and Elder Massimo De Feo, whom I had predicted would speak in the morning session.

President Eyring conducted, as anticipated, and he acknowledged President Monson was watching from home. President Uchtdorf was the first speaker, giving a brief update on how President Monson was doing, then giving a wonderful address, as he always does. Following his remarks, we heard from Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, who, if I am correct, will be released as Young Women General President next April. I am not sure what that means in terms of whether or not we will hear from 2 of our female auxiliary leaders, but I am sure we will find out.

Elder Oaks, whom I had predicted would be the last apostle to speak during this General Conference, was the first one. Then we heard from Elder John C. Pingree Jr., who was sustained last April as a new General Authority Seventy. The session concluded with addresses from two other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. As always, Elder Hollland's remarks had a profound effect on me.

The fact that we had three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak during the Saturday Morning Session caught me somewhat off guard. We have typically had 2 members of that Quorum speak in the Saturday Morning Session, four during Saturday Afternoon, 1 during the Priesthood Session, 2 on Sunday Morning, and the final 3 during the Sunday Afternoon Session. With Elder Hales not being in attendance and therefore not speaking during this conference, we will hear from just the other 11 members of that Quorum, although, as noted in an earlier post on this blog, I anticipate that President Nelson may be asked to give a second address.

One thing was certain: even though I could not have anticipated how different this session of conference turned out to be, I felt the inspiration of the spirit of the Lord in every part of those proceedings. If the first session is any indication, we are going to be seeing a lot of unique and different things about this conference, and it will all be as wonderful as any previous General Conference has been, if not more so.

That does it for this General Conference update. I will be back again at some point after the Saturday Afternoon Session, though I may post in the middle of the session about those changes that will be announced in general Church leadership. Any comments are welcome and appreciated.

For now, thank you for the privilege of your time, and may the Lord bless you all in all that you do.

Memphis Tennessee Temple Closes for Renovation

Hello, everyone! On this General Conference Saturday where there have certainly already been many surprises, I just wanted to note that the Memphis Tennessee Temple closed today for renovation as expected. As previously noted, the renovation is anticipated to change the interior and exterior look of the temple, and it is unlikely that an expansion is part of those renovation plans. With that in mind, I still feel confident that a rough estimate of 18 months is appropriate, but that will depend on the extent of those renovation plans and what happens as the process unfolds. I have noted that closure on my temple construction progress report, but will not be posting an updated version of that report until later this weekend, when we know more about whether or not any new temples are going to be announced. Just wanted to pass that along. That does it for this brief update. Any comments continue to be welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time, and may the Lord bless us all as we continue to enjoy this General Conference weekend.