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HomeChurchOctober 2023 General Conference Recap – Sunday Morning Session

October 2023 General Conference Recap – Sunday Morning Session

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Are you looking for talk summaries, quotes, or a recap of the October 2023 General Conference? Here is our recap of the Sunday Morning Session.

President M. Russell Ballard

President M. Russell Ballard opened by sharing that his eyes aren’t what they used to be and that he struggles to see the teleprompter. He asked for patience as he did not speak from prepared remarks but instead shared a message and testimony extemporaneously.

President Ballard’s talk focused on the Prophet Joseph Smith, a consecrated life that had been on his mind over the last few months. He related the story of the First Vision.

“Thus began the Restoration of the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ as Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, spoke to the boy Joseph and opened up this dispensation of time we now live in.” President Ballard said.

“We thank the Lord for Joseph Smith and his courage to go into that grove of trees in 1820, near his home in Palmyra, New York.”

President Ballard shared heavenly truths we have because of the Restoration brought through Joseph Smith, including the Book of Mormon, and understanding of the purpose of life, and the nature of the Godhead.

“My testimony to you this morning is how abundantly blessed we are to know all that we know because we have Joseph Smith, the Prophet of this last dispensation of time,” he tenderly said. “Though my message this morning is simple, it’s deep, and that’s full of love for the Prophet Joseph Smith and for all of those, my brothers and sisters, who have and were willing to sustain him in his youth.”

President Ballard also paid tribute to those in Joseph’s family who sustained him, including Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith.

President Emily Belle Freeman

President Freeman shared an experience where she planned to walk a special trail in Israel called the “Jesus Trail.” Six weeks before the trip, she hurt her ankle. Determined, she went to Israel with crutches and a scooter.

“Maya, our guide, took one look at my cast and said, ‘I don’t think you can walk this trail in that condition.’

‘Maybe not,’ I replied, ‘but there’s nothing to prevent me from trying.’ She gave a slight nod, and we began. I love her for that, for believing I could walk the trail broken.”

President Freeman used this experience to illustrate that the Lord will walk with us, no matter our circumstances. “We must remember that the one who was bruised and broken for us will allow mortality to do its work in us, but He doesn’t ask us to face those challenges alone. No matter the heaviness of our story or the current course of our path, He will invite us to walk with Him.”

As we walk the covenant path, it’s easy to get caught up in actions and we can become discouraged. “Perhaps you hear those words and think of checkboxes; maybe all you see is a path of requirements. A closer look reveals something more compelling: a covenant is not only about a contract, although that is important. It’s about a relationship,” President Freeman said.

“Thirty-eight years. Twelve years. Immediately. As your trail will demand, so His succor will be. His is a mission of condescension. Jesus Christ will meet us where we are, as we are. This is the ‘why’ of the garden, the cross, and the tomb. The Savior was sent to help us overcome, but staying where we are won’t bring the deliverance we seek. Just as He didn’t leave Jacob there in the dirt, the Lord doesn’t intend to leave any of us where we are. His is also a mission of ascension; He will work within us to lift us up to where He is and, in the process, enable us to become as He is. Jesus Christ came to lift us; He wants to help us become. This is the ‘why’ of the temple. We must remember, it’s not the course alone that will exalt us; it’s the companion, our Savior. And this is the way of covenant relationship.”

President Freeman closed where own powerful testimony:

“I walk this path as a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, divinely known, and deeply trusted as a child of the covenant. I am eligible to receive promised blessings. I have chosen to walk with the Lord. I have been called to stand as a witness of Christ. When the path feels overwhelming, I am strengthened with enabling grace. Each time I cross the threshold of His house, I experience a deeper covenant relationship with Him. I am sanctified with His spirit, endowed with His power, and set apart to build His kingdom through a process of daily repentance and weekly partaking of the sacrament. I am learning to become steadfast and to go about doing good. I walk this path with Jesus Christ, looking forward to the promised day when He will come again. Then, I will be sealed His and lifted up as a holy daughter of God. This is why I walk the covenant path. This is why I cling to covenant promises. This is why I enter His covenant house. That is why I wear the holy garment, as a constant reminder, because I want to live in a committed covenant relationship with Him.”

Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella

Elder Parrella opened his talk by saying, “At baptism, one of the promises that we make is that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. My purpose today is to remind us that we can show God that we take the name of His Son upon ourselves by bearing testimony in word, in deed, and as often as we can, that Jesus is the Christ.”

Elder Parrella testified that we take upon the name of Christ when we “witness of Christ by sharing with others what we believe, feel, or know of Jesus Christ.”

He shared two recent experiences of members who show God that they take the name of Jesus Christ upon themselves by talking of Him in their everyday lives. The first experience was when his wife Elaine sat next to an older sister in a church meeting. The woman was not a member of the church. She had been visiting the church for over two years but had never joined. Elder Parrella asked why she kept attending.

“The woman lovingly replied, ‘I love to come here because you speak of Jesus Christ in your meetings.’ Clearly, members of the church in that unit in Spain taught and testified of Christ in their meetings.”

The second experience was from when Elder Parrella and his family attended a new ward in Utah.

“One of these meetings was a fast and testimony meeting. After reverently partaking of the sacrament, members stood up and bore heartfelt testimonies of the Savior, one after the other. The meeting was centered on Jesus Christ, and we could palpably feel the spirit. We were edified, and our faith was strengthened. If friends of the church honestly seek the truth, and have been at that meeting, they would have recognized that this is the Church of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Parrella also reiterated the importance of sharing the full name of the church in conversation and testimony.

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Elder Cook focused his remarks on the purpose of hard times and how we can remain close to Christ in these times.

“We live in a time when peaceable followers of Christ experience unique challenges,” he said. “Those who believe in, humbly worship, and testify of Jesus Christ have always experienced trials, tribulation, and adversities.”

He noted recent natural disasters as he addressed members around the world. “Whenever trials occur, we mourn and strive to bear one another’s burdens. We lament the things that will not be accomplished, the songs that will not be sung. Bad things happen to good people on this mortal journey. The devastating fires on Maui, Hawaii, southern Chile, and Canada are examples of horrendous events good people sometimes face.”

Part of overcoming requires us to fully embrace the invitation to become peaceable followers of Christ who understand God’s plan of salvation.

“Now, all of us are here in the second estate of our journey of progression toward a kingdom of glory as part of God’s great plan of salvation and exaltation,” Elder Cook taught. “We are blessed with agency and subject to the trials of mortality. This is the time allotted for us to prepare to meet God. We are blessed to know of Jesus Christ and His role in the plan. We have the privilege to become members of His restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As peaceable followers of Christ, we strive to live His commandments.”

Elder Cook continued, “For those of us in the Church striving to be peaceable followers of Christ, a brighter day awaits us as we focus on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Trials are a part of mortality and occur in everyone’s life throughout the world. This includes major conflicts between countries and individuals. Church leaders are frequently asked why a just God allows bad things to happen, especially to good people, and why those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service are not immune from such tragedies. We do not know all the answers; however, we do know important principles that allow us to face trials, tribulation, and adversities with faith and confidence in a bright future that awaits for each of us.”

“We can joyfully be peaceable followers of Christ. Our Father’s plan of happiness for His children includes not only a pre-mortal and mortal life but also a potential free eternal life, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and thoughtless perspective and understanding.”

He closed by emphasizing two principles. First, we are encouraged to praise the Lord with song and dancing. Second, to call on the Lord in times of distress that He may give us joy.

Elder Cook closed with his testimony, saying, “Striving always to be of good cheer helps avoid being cast down in spirit. The final line of a perceptive hymn conveys the ultimate answer in a beautiful fashion: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify that peaceable followers of Christ will find personal peace in this life and a glorious Heavenly reunion.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Elder Uchtdorf opened by discussing the “greatest short story ever told.” It was a story told by Jesus Christ. It is the parable of the Prodigal Son.

In his warm and familiar way, Elder Uchtdorf retold the story in his own words. In one particular section, he related how the prodigal son might be today.

“Had there been social media at that time, surely he would have filled pages with animated photos of laughing friends, #livingmybestlife, or #neverhappier, or #shouldhavedonethislong ago. But the party did not last. It rarely does.”

Elder Uchtdorf continued, “Extremely hungry now, abandoned and alone, the young man must have wondered how things could have gone so terribly, dreadfully wrong. It wasn’t just an empty stomach that troubled him; it was an empty soul. He had been so sure that giving in to his worldly desires would make him happy, that more laws were obstacles to that happiness. Now he knew better, oh, and how high the price he had to pay for that knowledge.”

Then, Elder Uchtdorf turned back to the Father who longed for his son.

“How many times have you looked down the very road his son had taken and relive the penetrating loss he had felt as his son walked away? How many prayers had he offered in the gospel and the deep night, pleading with God that his son would be safe, that he would discover truth, that he would return? And then one day, the father looked out on the lonely road, the road that leads home, and sees a distant figure walking towards him.”

Artwork from the Teachings of Jesus Christ Exhibit | Church History Museum

Elder Uchtdorf pivots now to the other son, the son who stayed. “He had witnessed firsthand the massive weight of grief on his father ever since his brother had left. He had tried to lift his father’s burden every day; he had worked to restore his father’s broken heart. And now, the reckless child is back, and people couldn’t stop lavishing attention on his rebellious brother. ‘All these years,’ he tells his father, ‘never once have I refused to do a single thing you asked, yet in all that time, you’ve never celebrated me.'”

The father lovingly replies, “‘My dear son, all that I have is yours. This is not about comparing rewards or celebrations; this is about healing. This is the moment we have been hoping for all these years. Your brother was dead and is alive again; he was lost but now he is found.'”

Ultimately Elder Uchtdorf teaches us that the parable “is about you and me, today.”

“Who among us has not departed from the path of holiness?” Elder Uchtdorf asked. “Who among us has not felt humbled, brokenhearted, and desperate for forgiveness and mercy? Will I be labeled forever, rejected, and avoided by my former friends? Is it better to just stay lost? How will God react if I try to return? This parable gives us the answer: our Heavenly Father will run to us, His heart overflowing with love and compassion.”

Elder Uchtdorf offered this personal invitation to anyone who felt lost or far from God, “Though choices may have taken you far away from the Savior and His church, the Master Healer stands at the road that leads home, welcoming you. And we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ, seek to follow His example and see and embrace you as our brothers and sisters.”

The way wouldn’t be easy, but through Jesus Christ, all can return home. Elder Uchtdorf closed by saying, “It is my prayer that each one of us may hear in this profound parable the Father’s voice calling us to enter the road that leads home, that we may have the courage to repent, receive forgiveness, and follow the path that leads back to our compassionate and merciful God.”

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell

Bishop Waddell began by relating the miraculous pioneer of Ephraim Hanks.

“Unaware of the handcart predicament, Hanks was returning to his home in Salt Lake following a trip when, during the night, he was awakened by a voice, a voice that said to him, ‘The handcart people are in trouble, and you are wanted. Will you go and help them?’ With that question ringing in his mind, he hurried back to Salt Lake City. Upon hearing President Heber C. Kimball calling for volunteers, Hanks set out the very next day on his own to the rescue.”

“Moving quickly, he overtook other rescuers en route, and upon reaching the Martin company, Hanks recalled, ‘The sight that met my gaze as I entered their camp can never be erased from my memory and was enough to touch the stoutest heart.’ Ephraim Hanks related that in scores of instances, when we administered to the sick and rebuked the diseases in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sufferers would rally at once; they were healed almost instantly. Ephraim Hanks will forever be a hero to those handcart pioneers.”

Bishop Waddell said that many individuals will impact our lives in similar ways. We all have heroes that influence us, including politicians, social media influencers, media figures, and more. If we are not careful, some of those who influence us can become as golden calves in the wilderness.

“The hero, our hero now and always, is Jesus Christ. Anything or anyone that distracts us from His teachings as found in the scriptures and through the words of living prophets can negatively impact our progress on the covenant path,” Bishop Waddell taught.

“In our complex world, it can be tempting to turn to society’s heroes in an effort to provide clarity to life when it may seem confusing or even overwhelming. We buy the clothes they sponsor, we embrace the politics their spouse supports, and we follow their suggestions as shared on social media. This might be fine for a temporary diversion, but we must be watchful that this form of hero worship does not become our golden calf. Choosing the right hero has eternal consequences.”

He then shared the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their willingness to stand firm in their faith.

Bishop Waddell ended with this testimony:

“For us, on our journey back to the presence of God, to our promised land, it’s not the politician, it’s not the musician, athlete, or vlogger that is the issue, but rather choosing to allow them to become the primary objects of our attention and focus in place of our Savior and Redeemer. We choose Him, Jesus Christ, when we choose to honor His day, whether we’re at home or traveling on vacation. We choose Him when we choose His words through the scriptures and the teachings of the living Prophets. We choose Him when we are peacemakers and refuse to be contentious, especially when we have differences of opinion. No leader has ever shown more courage, no humanitarian more kindness, no physician has cured more disease, and no artist has been more creative than Jesus Christ. In a world of heroes, with monuments and museums devoted to the exploits of mortal men and women, there is one who stands above all others.”

President Henry B. Eyring

President Eyring concluded the session with remarks centered on the Holy Ghost. He formed his talk as a letter to his descendants in the days ahead when he is not with them. “I want them to know what I have come to know that could help them,” he said.

“I have felt impressed to speak today of my personal experience of inviting the Holy Ghost, as nearly as I could, to be my constant companion. My prayer is that I may be able to encourage them,” he continued. “I would start them to think about and pray about Helaman’s sons, Nephi and Lehi, and the other servants of the Lord laboring with them. They faced fierce opposition. They were serving in a wicked place and had to deal with terrible deceptions. I take courage, and you could, from this one verse from the record of Helaman: ‘And in the seventy and ninth year, there began to be much strife, but it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi, and many of their brethren who knew concerning the true points of doctrine, having many revelations daily, therefore they did preach unto the people in so much that they did put an end to their strife in that same year.'”

President Eyring said, “This account encourages me, and it could encourage you. Helaman’s sons were taught and guided by a series of experiences with the Holy Ghost. This assures me that we can be taught and learn from the Spirit, line upon line, receiving what we need, and then when we are ready, we will receive more.”

What about those times when we are having a hard time feeling the Holy Ghost or feel distant from God? President Eyring shared this powerful advice:

“If you find yourself having difficulty in feeling the Holy Ghost, you might ponder whether there is anything for which you might repent and receive forgiveness. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus more nearly qualify for that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

“If you want to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you must want it for the right reasons. Your purposes must be the Lord’s purposes. If your motives are too selfish, you will find it difficult to receive and sense the promptings of the Spirit.

“The key for me, and for you, is to want what the Savior wants. Our motives need to be driven by the pure love of Christ. Our prayers need to be, ‘All I want is what you want. Thy will be done.'”

President Eyring then shared an experience of a pair of home teachers who were awoken in the middle of the night, feeling a young woman under their care was about to make an unwise choice. President Eyring had called them at the request of a mother who pleaded with him for help. In that phone call, President Eyring learned the Holy Ghost had preceded him in helping this lost daughter.

“A mother turned her loving concerns over to Heavenly Father and the Savior. The Holy Ghost had been sent to those home teachers because they were willing to serve the Lord,” he said.

President Eyring closed with his testimony.

“Your experiences will be unique, and the spirit will guide in the way to receive revelation for you and those you love and serve. I pray with all my heart that your confidence will grow. I bear witness that the Father lives. He hears your every prayer. Jesus Christ did pray to the Father to guide, comfort, and testify of truth to us.”

“As a witness of Jesus Christ, I know that He lives, and He leads His Church. You and I have the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, and to have those truths confirmed as we remember and love the Savior, repent, and ask for His love to be in our hearts. I pray that we may have that blessing and the companionship of the Holy Spirit this day and every day of our lives.”

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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