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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Specific Schedule for General Conference Notes a Slight Change/Revised Thoughts About the Women's Session

Hello again, everyone! I should perhaps have remembered to lump the reason for this post in with the previous post in which I discussed some final observations about General Conference, but having forgotten to do so, it seemed wiser to do a new post instead.

As some of you might recall, in an earlier post I published this month, I had mentioned my theory that, since TV and radio stations carrying General Conference would need a similar amount of time Saturday evening to carry the Priesthood Session in April and the Women's Session in October, it made the most sense to me to  conjecture that the easiest course would be for the Church  to run both sessions from 6:00-7:45 PM.

In recognition of how we are often reminded that the Lord's ways and thoughts are higher than ours, the Church's official schedule for this weekend indicates that the Priesthood Session will run from 6:00-7:30 this Saturday night, which I assume will also extend to the Women's Session in October. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

But in that regard, I do have an interesting new theory. I had previously mentioned my original theory that the Women's Session would make October different from April perhaps only in that the members of the First Presidency not speaking in the Women's Session would merely have one less talk than they would in the April General Conference.

I now believe that it might make the most sense for the Women's Session to include one member from each auxiliary, as has been done, but that it will also include the president of the Church and one of his two counselors.

If that does occur, that would mean that the members of the Quorum of the Twelve would have a somewhat different speaking pattern in October than they do in April. As a sample of what that might look like, I present the following information:

The typical General Conference up to now has included 2 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking in both the Saturday and Sunday Morning Sessions of General Conference, with 4 more in the Saturday Afternoon, 3 on Sunday Afternoon, and 1 in the Priesthood Session.

So I could see two ways around that if it turns out that no apostles will speak in the Women's Session. The number of apostles speaking during either Saturday or Sunday Morning or Sunday Afternoon could increase by 1.

We have seen a few occasions where there have been three members of the Quorum of the Twelve speaking during the Saturday Morning Session (this happened as recently as last October), and we have had at least one occasion (in October 2007) when four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke during the Sunday Afternoon Session. To my knowledge, except in October 2004 or October 2015 (when two or three new apostles spoke for the first time), there have generally never been more than two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking during the Sunday Morning Session.

So, I can see President Nelson either having three Quorum members speak during the Saturday Morning Session next October or else having 4 Quorum members address us during the final session of General Conference. Of the two, the first option seems more likely.

And I am certainly not ruling out the possibility that perhaps I was right in my original thinking, and that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve might be asked to speak during the Women's Session alongside whichever member of the First Presidency is doing so. Of course, if that turns out to be the case, then perhaps President Nelson might ask his other counselor to speak in one of the spots that have been traditionally reserved for the Church president.

We saw that occur during the last three years of President Monson's presidency, when one of his two counselors would open the Saturday Morning Session, and where a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has given the final General Conference address. At this point, the only sure thing is that we cannot be sure exactly how October General Conferences might differ from typical patterns until one or two of them establish new patterns.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Some Final Observations Leading Into General Conference This Weekend

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post to pass along some final observations prior to this weekend's General Conference. First, as I noted a month or two ago when posting my altered predictions following President Monson's death and the reorganization of the First Presidency, the Solemn Assembly for the last three Church presidents (Hunter, Hinckley, and Monson) was held right off the bat during the Saturday Morning Session. I don't anticipate that changing, but will be more than happy to see it occur whenever it takes place.

Second, slightly connected to the first,as noted, from Presidents Kimball to Hinckley, the Solemn Assembly in which they were sustained was conducted by their First Counselors. The main reason that then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was asked to lead out for President Monson's Solemn Assembly appeared to be simply because President Eyring had injured his ankle prior to General Conference and was thus apparently not well enough to stand for that entire process.

With that in mind, it seems more likely than not that President Nelson will call on his apostolic seatmate, President Oaks, who now serves as his First Counselor, to lead out in that Solemn Assembly. Some may contend that, since President Eyring has comparatively been in the First Presidency longer, he might be tapped to lead the Solemn Assembly, but this will only be the third Solemn Assembly in which President Eyring has been an apostle, and, by comparison, this is the fourth Solemn Assembly in which President Oaks has been among the leading counsels of the Church. But the prevailing reason why I have felt confident enough to suggest President Oaks will lead this Solemn Assembly is the longtime relationship he has with our new Church president, which, to me, trumps any other consideration.

Moving on now, whenever the Solemn Assembly does occur, it will involve the announcement and sustaining of two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. While President Nelson is free to call any two worthy men the Lord inspires him to name, I would anticipate that, regardless of whether either or both were born outside the US, they will likely be between their early 50s or mid-60s, and will likely have at least 6 years of experience in general Church leadership.

And in whatever capacity these two newest apostles may currently be serving, their calls will, in turn, make other Church leadership changes necessary. With those vacancies filled, I would anticipate we will hear from 2 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during both the Saturday Morning and Sunday Afternoon Sessions, with 3 others speaking during Saturday Afternoon, 1 more in the Saturday evening Priesthood Session, and 2 veteran apostles along with the 2 new ones during the Sunday Morning Session.

Unless they are called to the Twelve, I have also offered my thoughts about the 2 members of the Presidency of the Seventy and the member of the Presiding Bishopric that will likely speak to us, along with several General Authority Seventies (particularly Elder Massimo De Feo, who, unless I have missed him doing so, has not yet given his first address since his April 2016 call to the Seventy). And it would not in any way surprise me if one or two of the speakers I have listed on my predictions for this General Conference were called to the Twelve and spoke in that capacity rather than their current callings. As those who have been regular readers might recall, in sharing my October 2015 General Conference predictions, I had Elder Ronald A. Rasband and then-Bishop Gary E. Stevenson both listed as speaking during the Priesthood Session. Their calls to the Twelve obviously meant that they both spoke in the Sunday  Morning Session rather than the night before. So I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that the new apostles may be among the speakers I have listed in my predictions for this weekend. It will be interesting to see.

I would also anticipate that several new General Authorities will be called as well. And I would likewise anticipate that we will only hear three addresses from general auxiliary presidency members. The only reason why we heard from four members of those presidencies last time is because the absence of President Monson and Elder Hales left additional time to fill. That will obviously not be a factor for our new Church president or any of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles this go-round, unless I am missing something.

And perhaps what most people are looking forward to the most is the prospect of new temple announcements. As I have noted in other recent posts on this blog, after the announcement of 5 new temples during the April 2017 General Conference, an Idaho news organization interviewed Elder Larry Y. Wilson, who serves as the Executive Director of the Church's Tefmple Department. During that interview, he had noted that the Church was considering a list of 80 potential future locations for an official announcement during the 15 years following the time that statement was made. That worked out to roughly 5 new temples per year between late April 2017 and late April 2032.

While I have not been able to officially confirm this, it seems safe to assume that the one and only reason that no new temples were announced last October was because President Monson's health did not allow him to ascertain the Lord's will on that subject, which meant he could not authorize such locations to be announced by either of his counselors.

Given the fact that it has been nearly a year since Elder Wilson referenced the 80 locations that were being considered for the 15 years following, that means there are just over 14 years remaining for that to occur. And while bearing in mind that it is likely that not all of those 80 locations may be selected as official during that time, if anywhere close to those 80 are announced between now and late April 2032, with 14 years in which such announcements might occur, that works out to roughly 5 or 6 per year, which in turn means 2-3 could be announced per General Conference between now and then, with a few here and there between each April, October, and subsequent April.

Before I go further on this subject, I do need to acknowledge the merits in the arguments some have offered to the effect that, in preparing for his first General Conference as Church president, filling the apostolic vacancies, and making any other necessary changes in Church leadership, there may not be any new temples announced this go-round.

That said, because President Nelson began right off the bat to indicate how much of a priority his administration will place on temple preparation, worthiness, and availability to Church members worldwide, it would surprise me a lot if no new temples were announced in this first General Conference, especially since President Nelson is more vigorous right now at 93 than President Monson may have been during the last 5-7 years of his life.

And, as noted previously, the length of time that passed between President Monson's February 3 ordination in 2008 and the first temple announcements of his presidency in late April of that same year is only slightly longer than the amount of time that will have passed between President Nelson's ordination on January 14 of this year and Easter Sunday (April 1), which would likely be when President Nelson would make such announcements.

So when we factor all of these elements into the equation, and add to that that although President Nelson has not yet served as Church president for a quarter of a year (he will reach the 3-month mark on April 14), there have already been four temple developments in his presidency (the closure of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, which was announced a mere 5 days after his ordination; the announcement of the open house and dedication dates for the temples in Concepcion Chile and Barranquilla Colombia almost one month ago today, and the more recent news on March 19 of the site location and artistic rendering for the Bangkok Thailand Temple and the news just three days ago that full-scale construction is anticipated to begin for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple next month), I feel reasonably safe in assuming that he will be announcing new temples this weekend.

The unknowns are how many such locations might be announced, and when that is likely to occur. I have previously offered my opinion that his first General Conference address as Church president will likely be given during the Priesthood Session on Saturday night, with his first General Conference address to the Church at large following the next morning. If that proves to be the case, then that address or an address to close out the conference may be the opportunity to do so. But since Presidents Hunter, Benson, and Kimball all gave their first General Conference addresses to the whole Church either just after or (in President Benson's case) well before thier respective Solemn Assemblies, anything is possible.

There has been a general pattern to the first General Conferences of a new Church president since 1995, but that does not mean that those patterns could not be varied. This conference will be different from any recent first General Conferences of previous Church presidents if only in view of the fact  that it has been a while (if it has ever occurred at all) since a Church president's first General Conference also saw the calling of more than one member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

I am sure there will be many wonderful surprises in store this weekend, and I will look forward to sharing them with you all as they occur. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Apology and Personal Update

Hello again, everyone! As this post title indicates, I have felt a need to share a personal update and to issue a general apology. I want to first explain some personal circumstances I have had to which I have previously alluded, but the details of which I have not shared here.

The best way I can describe things is to note that, in November, I had learned that my insurance would no longer cover one of my major medications, and the four months since then have involved my doctor approving a slight increase in another of my medications to compensate for this loss, only for my wife and I to find out that my insurance needed additional information from both my doctor and myself before they would cover the increase of the other medication.

So within the last four months, in addition to the general illnesses with which my wife and I are still struggling, I have had to spend a lot of time every week for at least three days per week doing everything of which I could think to get this situation figured out.

When not trying to settle that fiasco, I have continued to use my enthusiasm for Church and temple news to pass along the updates I have done within that same time. And I have also worked as I can on looking into increasing the number of views and comments on this blog and the amount I am able to earn from it. As part of that process, I have focused some efforts into increasing my blog's visibility in Google search results within the nations from which most of my page views come.

That brings me to my reason for wanting to apologize. I have been very gratified to see the number of views and comments increase on my blog during this time, in addition to seeing an increase, however slight, in my blog earnings as a result of my efforts to expand the reach of my blog.

But I am ashamed to realize that there have been a number of times within the last few months while all of this has been going on that my frustrations over the stress of this situation may have boiled over into my response to comments made here, and for that, I apologize to you all.

I am very much grateful to all who have been gracious enough to comment up to now, and I hope you will all continue to let me know your thoughts going forward. The conversations here make my day more often than not, and I appreciate the ongoing dialogue regarding those things about which I have "sounded off".

But I worry that I don't do as well as I should in showing the genuine appreciation I have for such insights, and I would like to commit here and now to doing that to a larger and more full extent going forward. Together with you, I hope to continue to celebrate all the wonderful Church and temple news that will occur for several years to come.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.