Each April and October, the LDS Church has a worldwide conference broadcast to buildings and homes throughout the world. At these conferences, the leaders of the church, men and women, address the body of the church with talks they have prepared after fasting and prayer to know what the Lord would have them address to the members of the church. Sometimes in a conference, themes will appear as multiple talks might address a certain subject, however, there are always a wide variety of topics discussed since the conference lasts 12 hours. The presentation begins with a General Young Women’s conference a week before the main general membership conference. On that Saturday night, the broadcast is directed only to the women. A week later, the general conference starts on Saturday morning and afternoon, each with a 2 hour session. That night there is a Priesthood session for only the men making a total of 6 hours that day. On Sunday, another morning and afternoon session are held of 2 hours each.
When I was a child growing up in Pennsylvania, I typically dreaded conference because we would drive to the chapel where they would haul out a radio and set it on a table by the pulpit and we would sit as silently as possible for each session we attended and listen to audio broadcasts of things I didn’t understand. As I got to be a teen, sometime in that time frame we got a satellite dish at our chapel and were able to watch conference broadcasts live on video. That was a big improvement and much more interesting. Today, living in Utah, I can just watch most of conference at home with my family. The church doesn’t broadcast the Saturday night women’s and men’s sessions on TV to provide an opportunity for those groups to get together and feel the companionship of their fellow saints while they gather for conference in a local chapel.
If you would like to browse a General Conference page, check one out here on the LDS church website.
If you would like to just see a “highlight” reel, the church prepared one here which I think is the first time. It’s about 18 minutes long and just shows short clips from talks in conference given by the men we sustain as prophets of God, that is those men called as Apostles of Jesus Christ, the longest serving of which is appointed as the President of the Church on earth and the Lord’s prophet just as a modern day Moses. Today, that man is Thomas S. Monson and I know him to be a prophet of God.
A few years ago in a cave in Jordan, 70 metal books were found that contains writings and hieroglyphs that date to the 1st century A.D. Not only is this a wonderful find for the world, but also negates one of the criticisms of the Book of Mormon where some scholars have said the book couldn’t be true because nobody was writing on metal plates anciently. Joseph Smith also claims to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient plates as delivered to him by the prophet Moroni who lived on this continent around 400 A.D. Moroni appeared to him and showed him where they were buried near Joseph’s home in Palmyra, New York, and Joseph translated them by the power of God into the Book of Mormon. Part of those plates were sealed and Joseph was instructed not to translate them yet.
These images come from the article linked to above at the Daily Mail. There is more about them and an image of the cave they were found in at the Daily Mail website.
I stumbled on some great little videos at http://www.mormonsmadesimple.com that explain basic things about the church and thought I’d post them here. This video shows what a typical church service is like in a Ward. We refer to 3 types of “units” in the church which are based on size and geography: Branches, Wards, and Stakes. (See Units on the Jargon page for an explanation)
Someone just forwarded me an interesting article from USA Today entitled, “Mormon president can do no wrong to religion’s members.” The author discusses how we have 15 men in the hierarchy of the church (3 in the First Presidency and then the Quorum of the 12 Apostles) that we regard and sustain as “prophets, seers, and revelators” and how some members hold them in such high esteem that they may believe them infallible. The church has never taught that these men were anything but imperfect men, chosen by God to this high calling. Jesus Christ is the only perfect person to walk the earth. What does “prophets, seers, and revelators” mean? A basic approach is to view this as a prophet is one who is called to be the spokesman for God right now. He gives us counsel concerning the will of the Lord that we need to hear in our day and age. A seer is one who is able to translate ancient languages through the power of God and know the past. A revelator is one who reveals the future as inspired by God to know it. The scriptures contain many examples of prophets. Just like Moses, Noah, and Isaiah, Mormons believe there were prophets among the people of the ancient Americas as recorded in the Book of Mormon. We also believe in modern day prophets because God loves all of his children and wants them to have his guidance. In the scheme of things, when in the history of earth has a prophet been more needed than in our day today? Why would God abandon us when he provided prophets in the past eras? He hasn’t abandoned us. You can listen to a prophet any time by going to this link to the LDS church’s General Conference page. Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet on earth today.