As another General Conference weekend approaches, we decided to take a look back at how this special church gathering has changed over the decades. Here are ten fun facts you may not have known!
ONE. The first conference of the Church was held on June 9, 1830, with only 27 members present. It took place barely two months after the official organization of the Church. Today, millions of members around the world participate in General Conference in person and through other viewing mediums.
TWO. Conferences of the Church were typically held approximately every three months during Joseph Smith’s time, as based on the revelation given in Doctrine and Covenants 20:61-62:
The several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint; And said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time.
THREE. The semiannual conference schedule was adopted in 1840. Today, the conference held in April is called the Annual General Conference, with the October conference being labeled as the Semi-Annual General Conference.
FOUR. Since the semiannual schedule had been implemented, the April conference was always held on April 6, to honor the day the Church was formally organized. The conference was a three-day event. As the years progressed, it became clear that many couldn’t attend the April 6 date as it often fell on a weekday. In 1977, leaders decided to reduce the conference to the first weekend in April, regardless of the date.
FIVE. After the pioneers arrived in Utah, the first conference in Salt Lake City was held in an open-air bowery.
SIX. The Tabernacle on Temple Square was built in 1867 and used for General Conference until 2000 when the Conference Center was completed.
SEVEN. The first radio broadcast of General Conference occurred in 1923. The first television transmission of General Conference was in 1949. Today, millions around the world listen or view to General Conference via television, radio, satellite, and internet broadcasts.
EIGHT. In 1962, General Conference was translated into a different language for the first time. Thanks to modern technology and a global reach, General Conference is now available in more than 80 languages.
NINE. The first women’s general meeting was held in 1994. In October, the Relief Society met a week before General Conference and in April the Young Women. This pattern continued for many years until November 2013 when all girls and women over the age of 8 met together in a combined women’s meeting. In October 2014, this general meeting was officially designated as a session of General Conference.
TEN. Since the inauguration of a general priesthood session, the meeting of boys and men was only available through the Church’s satellite broadcast system. This all changed in 2012 when it was broadcasted live over television and internet for the first time.