“… the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.”
1. The Spirit of God like a fire is burning!
The latter-day glory begins to come forth;
The visions and blessings of old are returning,
And angels are coming to visit the earth
We’ll sing and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven,
Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!
Let glory to them in the highest be given,
Henceforth and forever, Amen and amen!
2. The Lord is extending the Saints’ understanding,
Restoring their judges and all as at first.
The knowledge and power of God are expanding;
The veil o’er the earth is beginning to burst.
3. We’ll call in our solemn assemblies in spirit,
To spread forth the kingdom of heaven abroad,
That we through our faith may begin to inherit
The visions and blessings and glories of God.
4. How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion
Shall lie down together without any ire,
And Ephraim be crowned with his blessing in Zion,
As Jesus descends with his chariot of fire!
1. Adam was a prophet, first one that we know.
In a place called Eden, he helped things to grow.
Adam served the Lord by following his ways.
We are his descendants in the latter days.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; don’t go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; he knows the way.
2. Enoch was a prophet; he taught what was good.
People in his city did just what they should.
When they were so righteous that there was no sin,
Heav’nly Father took them up to live with him.
3. Noah was a prophet called to preach the word,
Tried to cry repentance, but nobody heard.
They were busy sinning-Noah preached in vain.
They wished they had listened when they saw the rain.
*For All Family Members*
Read or summarize “An Ensign to the Nations” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (taken from April 2011 Conference). Testify of the importance of attending Conference and the blessings we receive from learning at the feet of the General Authorities.
If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance.
Before leaving Nauvoo in the winter of 1846, President Brigham Young had a dream in which he saw an angel standing on a cone-shaped hill somewhere in the West pointing to a valley below. When he entered the Salt Lake Valley some 18 months later, he saw just above the location where we are now gathered the same hillside prominence he had seen in vision.
As has often been told from this pulpit, Brother Brigham led a handful of leaders to the summit of that hill and proclaimed it Ensign Peak, a name filled with religious meaning for these modern Israelites. Twenty-five hundred years earlier the prophet Isaiah had declared that in the last days “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains,” and there “he shall set up an ensign for the nations.”
Seeing their moment in history as partial fulfillment of that prophecy, the Brethren wished to fly a banner of some kind to make the idea of “an ensign for the nations” literal. Elder Heber C. Kimball produced a yellow bandana. Brother Brigham tied it to a walking stick carried by Elder Willard Richards and then planted the makeshift flag, declaring the valley of the Great Salt Lake and the mountains surrounding it as that prophesied place from which the word of the Lord would go forth in the latter days.
Brothers and sisters, this general conference and the other annual and semiannual versions of it are the continuation of that early declaration to the world. I testify that the proceedings of the past two days are yet one more evidence that, as our hymn says, “Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled”—and surely the dual meaning of the word standard is intentional. It is not happenstance that one English publication of our general conference messages is in a magazine simply titled the Ensign.
As our conference comes to a close, I ask you to reflect in the days ahead not only on the messages you have heard but also on the unique phenomenon that general conference itself is—what we as Latter-day Saints believe such conferences to be and what we invite the world to hear and observe about them. We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people that God not only lives but also that He speaks, that for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard is, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, “the will of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”
Perhaps you already know (but if you don’t you should) that with rare exception, no man or woman who speaks here is assigned a topic. Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during the past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression. And just as Brigham Young saw an angel standing over this place, so do I see angels standing in it. My brethren and sisters among the general officers of the Church will be uneasy with that description, but that is how I see them—mortal messengers with angelic messages, men and women who have all the physical and financial and family difficulties you and I have but who with faith have consecrated their lives to the callings that have come to them and the duty to preach God’s word, not their own.
Consider the variety of the messages that you hear—all the more miraculous with no coordination except the direction of heaven. But why wouldn’t they be varied? Most of our congregation, seen or unseen, is made up of members of the Church. However, with marvelous new methods of communication, ever larger proportions of the audience for our conferences are not members of the Church—yet. So we must speak to those who know us very well and those who know us not at all. Within the Church alone we must speak to the children, the youth and young adults, the middle-aged, and the elderly. We must speak to families and parents and children at home even as we speak to those who are not married, without children, and perhaps very far from home. In the course of a general conference, we always stress the eternal verities of faith, hope, charity, and Christ crucified even as we speak forthrightly on very specific moral issues of the day. We are commanded in the scriptures to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation,” while at the same time we are to preach “good tidings [to] the meek … [and] bind up the brokenhearted.” Whatever form they take, these conference messages “proclaim liberty to the captives” and declare “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” In the wide variety of sermons given is the assumption that there will be something for everyone. In this regard, I guess President Harold B. Lee put it best years ago when he said that the gospel is “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable].”
We always want our teaching in general conference to be as generous and open-armed as Christ taught originally, remembering as we do the discipline that was always inherent in His messages. In the most famous sermon ever given, Jesus began by pronouncing wonderfully gentle blessings which every one of us want to claim—blessings promised to the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the meek. How edifying those Beatitudes are and how soothing they are to the soul. They are true. But in that same sermon the Savior went on, showing how increasingly strait the way of the peacemaker and the pure in heart would need to be. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill,” He observed. “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother … shall be in danger of the judgment.”
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Obviously as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets ever more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle of the sermon of which Elder Christofferson just spoke: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” What was gentle in the lowlands of initial loyalty becomes deeply strenuous and very demanding at the summit of true discipleship. Clearly anyone who thinks Jesus taught no-fault theology did not read the fine print in the contract! No, in matters of discipleship the Church is not a fast-food outlet; we can’t always have it “our way.” Some day every knee shall bow and everytongue confess that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation can only comeHis way.
In wanting to measure up to the stern as well as embrace the soothing in our general conference messages, please be reassured that when we speak on difficult subjects, we understand not everyone is viewing pornography or shirking marriage or having illicit sexual relationships. We know not everyone is violating the Sabbath or bearing false witness or abusing a spouse. We know that most in our audience are not guilty of such things, but we are under a solemn charge to issue warning calls to those who are—wherever they may be in the world. So if you are trying to do the best you can—if, for example, you keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a houseful of little bedlamites—then give yourself high marks and, when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking. If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.
Brothers and sisters, in general conference we offer our testimonies in conjunction with other testimonies that will come, because one way or another God will have His voice heard. “I sent you out to testify and warn the people,” the Lord has said to His prophets.
“[And] after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, … of thunderings, … lightnings, and … tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. …
“And angels shall … [cry] with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God.”
Now, these mortal angels who come to this pulpit have, each in his or her own way, sounded “the trump of God.” Every sermon given is always, by definition, both a testimony of love and a warning, even as nature herself will testify with love and a warning in the last days.
Now, in a moment President Thomas S. Monson will come to the pulpit to close this conference. May I say something personal about this beloved man, the senior Apostle and the prophet for the day in which we now live. Given the responsibilities I have referred to and all that you have heard in this conference, it is obvious that the lives of prophets are not easy, and President Monson’s life is not easy. He referred specifically to that last night in priesthood meeting. Called to the apostleship at age 36, his children were ages 12, 9, and 4, respectively. Sister Monson and those children have given their husband and father to the Church and its duties for more than 50 years. They have endured the illnesses and demands, the bumps and bruises of mortality which everyone faces, some of which undoubtedly yet lie ahead of them. But President Monson stays irrepressibly cheerful through it all. Nothing gets him down. He has remarkable faith and unusual stamina.
President, for this entire congregation, seen and unseen, I say we love and honor you. Your devotion is an example to us all. We thank you for your leadership. Fourteen others holding the apostolic office, plus others on this stand, those seated in the congregation, and legions gathered around the world love you, sustain you, and stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this work. We will lighten your load any way we can. You are one of those angelic messengers called from before the foundation of the world to wave the ensign of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world. You are doing so magnificently. Of that gospel being declared, the salvation it provides, and He who provides it, I so testify in the grand and glorious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Testify of the importance of attending Conference and the blessings we receive from learning at the feet of the General Authorities.
*For Younger Children*
You can help your children—whatever their age—learn from conference.
Gislene Woodbury of Idaho took a few notes during a sacrament meeting to make sure she remembered an impression she had received. She didn’t know that her eight-year-old daughter, Jessica, was watching her until Jessica asked why she wrote something down.
Sister Woodbury realized this was a great opportunity to teach her daughter about recognizing the Spirit and about responding to things she learned and felt. Jessica then asked her mother to teach her how to recognize the Spirit.
“I was surprised. I hadn’t expected my note taking to teach anybody but myself,” Sister Woodbury says. “But I reminded Jessica that general conference was coming up and that if she wanted to write down a few impressions she had during the sessions, we could talk afterwards about what we learned.”
Sister Woodbury said she really didn’t expect her daughter to understand or remember much from conference, particularly because Jessica played with her three-year-old sister during part of it. She also thought that maybe Jessica had forgotten about their conversation several weeks earlier. But Jessica surprised her mother again. When Sister Woodbury stood up at the end of general conference to walk into another room, Jessica said, “Mom, wait! Can we talk about conference?”
“I thought we would have a quick conversation for a couple of minutes and then be done,” Sister Woodbury said. “Instead, she pulled out a notebook and started to talk about several of the speakers. She told me about parts of their talks that stood out to her and asked me about things she heard but didn’t understand.
“The whole conference was special to me, but seeing my daughter have her own spiritual experiences made it even more special. I have learned that I need to embrace every opportunity to teach my children, especially when they show interest in learning.”
Parents can do much to enhance their children’s experience with the doctrine and principles taught at general conference. Several members share how they have helped their children prepare for, participate in, and learn from general conference.
For Kimberly Olsen of Utah and her family, conference preparation is both a spiritual and temporal matter. “The week before conference, I spend a little time every day talking to my five-year-old daughter about how exciting it will be to get to hear the prophet talk to us,” says Sister Olsen. She and her daughter also look for conference-related games and activities in issues of the Friend magazine.
The Olsens don’t stop there, however. They complete chores, homework, grocery shopping, and other standard weekend activities by Friday night. “We are able to devote the rest of the weekend to our family and conference,” says Sister Olsen. “It makes our experience fabulous.”
Clearing the family’s schedule is also important to Heather Ann Turner of Utah. Sister Turner remembers that as a missionary in Argentina, she had no choice but to completely clear her schedule in order to participate in general conference. “In two of the areas where I served, the entire ward got on a bus and traveled for two hours to get to a stake center where we could watch conference. These members’ dedication and devotion to the gospel was clear. They saved their money to be able to afford the trip. They took time off work. They packed up their families for two days. They did all of this to turn their hearts toward the prophet and participate in this great semiannual event. That was a powerful lesson to me.”
Now Sister Turner and her husband, Jeremiah, show their family that general conference is a top priority by talking about conference weeks in advance, writing it on the calendar, and working with their children to prepare spiritually.
The Turners also make conference memorable by developing family traditions that coincide with general conference. Their favorite is holding a family testimony meeting for family home evening on the Monday following conference. “This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the messages we heard over the weekend and to ponder their meanings for each of us personally,” Sister Turner says. “We learn from and strengthen one another with the added light we gain from general conference.”
The Turner family also suggests creating traditions by turning a favorite food the family enjoys into a special treat served at conference time, or participating between sessions in a family activity, such as playing games, watching old family videos, taking a walk, or talking about the session that just ended.
Kristin Keller of Texas also remembers special traditions her parents created for her and her siblings. These, she says, helped establish in her mind that conference was something to look forward to.
“When I was 12 or 13, I realized that there was a wide array of activities I could choose to do on Saturday instead of watching conference. Although Mom and Dad always set an example of participating in all of the sessions of conference, they didn’t mandate that we do the same. They did, however, provide incentives. For instance, we would have a family picnic in the backyard between sessions, or on the Monday after conference we’d go out for ice cream and talk about the talks that stood out to us the most.”
Sister Keller says that when she was a teenager, the incentives were what drew her to participate with her family, but over time, gleaning from all four sessions of conference became a habit. “I came to understand that general conference was more than just fun family time, although it was also that. It was an opportunity to learn from prophets and receive guidance for my life. I am grateful to have been taught those patterns early in my life.”
Participating in conference can be challenging for families with small children. When Matt and Stephanie Sorensen of Minnesota had three children under the age of four, they decided to watch general conference via satellite from their own home. Sister Sorensen knew that in order to view, hear, and enjoy the talks peacefully, she would need to make “substantial preparation.”
Like the Olsen and Turner families, the Sorensens talk about the importance of general conference ahead of time. “We pray individually and with our children that our hearts will be prepared for the messages of conference,” Sister Sorensen explains. “We try to convey that we are excited about general conference weekend and that we look forward to it.”
Sister Sorensen knows that it can be difficult for children to sit quietly through conference, but she and her husband have found age-appropriate activities that engage their children in conference.
• They remove the center spread with photos of General Authorities from the most recent conference edition of the Ensign and hang it near the television. Each time a new speaker appears on the screen, the children study the poster and try to find the speaker’s picture. They are rewarded with a sticker to place on the poster or in a notebook of their own. “They quickly learn to identify the First Presidency and others by name,” says Sister Sorensen.
• The Sorensens set out a bowl of small treats for each session. Next to the bowl, they place objects that represent key words for that session. Each time the children hear one of those words spoken from the pulpit, they can help themselves to one treat. Sister Sorensen notes: “It’s surprising to see how much young children can and do listen. Their enthusiasm is priceless as you hear them say, ‘Mommy, he said temples!’”
• For the sessions that fall during typical mealtimes, the Sorensens prepare a picnic basket and lay out a blanket in front of the television. Brother and Sister Sorensen tell their children that they are like the families in the Book of Mormon who sat on the ground and listened to their prophet, King Benjamin, teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We thank our children for allowing us to listen and praise them for their reverence and attentiveness. We bear testimony throughout the day of the things we have heard and felt and reiterate our love for living prophets and apostles.”
• Brother and Sister Sorensen make sure they spend time with their children before and after sessions. They let them have active or outdoor play “to get out all their wiggles.”
Sister Sorensen says that these things not only help her children participate, but they also help her and her husband to be able to watch and learn from all the sessions of general conference. “There is a great sense of spiritual safety as we gather our family around the Lord’s messengers,” she says. “The Spirit is present in our home, and it is truly a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that “‘all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children’” (3 Nephi 22:13).
Linda Beverley of England recalls growing up in Scotland in a time when she and other members listened to a radio broadcast of general conference while slides of the various speakers were projected onto a wall. She and her husband, Malcolm, are grateful that by the time they were married and had their six children, they could watch general conference by satellite broadcast.
To set general conference apart as a special event, Brother and Sister Beverley designated the family home evening following conference as “Quiz Night,” when each member of the family would ask three questions about the talks, the reports, or things they observed. It quickly became tradition, and even years later, as the Beverleys’ sons and daughters left home to serve missions and attend college, the children insisted on continuing to share Quiz Night questions via letters and e-mail.
“When our children were young, we wondered whether questions like ‘What color was the prophet’s tie?’ would really make a difference in their lives,” Sister Beverley admits. “However, Quiz Night established a pattern that has matured with the children.”
Sister Beverley notes that it takes longer to complete Quiz Night now because the family discusses at length their thoughts and feelings about the talks given. These conversations “give rise to greater insights than any of us could have achieved alone,” she adds. “Even though our family is now scattered throughout the world, we feel united, sure in the knowledge that like the sons of Mosiah, we are ‘still … brethren in the Lord; yea, and [we have] waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth’ (Alma 17:2). This simple tradition has helped our children learn to focus on the content and power of the talks and to realize the importance of general conference.”
Several years ago, Dave and Christine Heiner of Utah began using the most recent conference edition of the Ensign as their family home evening manual. As soon as the new issue became available, the Heiners purchased one copy for every member of their family and wrote each person’s name on the cover. Each Monday night they would read a talk together, paragraph by paragraph, pausing to ask and answer questions, to discuss thoughts, and to liken what they learned to their lives.
“We gave the children each a highlighter and taught them to highlight words, sentences, and paragraphs that felt important to them. To keep our younger children engaged, we let them use their highlighters in any way they wished. They colored the umbrellas, statues, General Authorities’ ties—whatever they felt needed a splash of color. We also discovered that photographs in the conference issues are wonderful vehicles for teaching children. One or two beautiful photographs usually accompany each conference sermon. Our family learned to find the ways the photographs enhanced the talks and taught the same principles.”
That tradition began many years ago. The Heiners’ children are married now and have families of their own. “They continue to treasure their conference copy of the Ensign, and their children have their own magazines with their names on the cover,” Sister Heiner says.
“My husband and I still use our conference Ensign on Monday nights. Prior to our family home evening, we choose a sermon and read, mark, and ponder it individually. Then we come together to discuss what we have learned. Our discussions inevitably cause the words of the prophets to sink deeper into our hearts and change us.”
Use some of these ideas to prepare your children for conference.
Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches or Peach and Blueberry Crumble
- 1 pint(s) honey-vanilla ice cream, softened
- 12 very thin oval (4″ by 2″ each) butter wafer cookies
- 1 pound(s) fresh cherries
- Working quickly, spread ice cream on 6 cookies, using 1/3 cup for each; top with remaining 6 cookies. Place ice cream sandwiches on cookie sheet in freezer to harden ice cream. Serve with bowl of cherries.Tip: When assembling the sandwiches, some ice cream will likely drip down and freeze onto the cookie sheet. If you line the pan with parchment, removing the sandwiches should be a cinch.
(Taken from Delish.com)
Peach and Blueberry Crumble
- 1/4 cup(s) hazelnuts (filberts)
- 2 1/2 pound(s) ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 pint(s) blueberries
- 1/2 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup(s) old-fashioned oats
- 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon(s) margarine or butter, cut up
- 2 tablespoon(s) canola oil
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread hazelnuts in 8″ by 8″ metal baking pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted, shaking pan occasionally. Remove pan from oven. Wrap hot hazelnuts in clean cloth towel; with hands, roll hazelnuts back and forth in towel until as much skin as possible rubs off. Cool nuts completely. Chop hazelnuts.
- Meanwhile, in shallow 2-quart ceramic or glass baking dish, toss peaches, blueberries, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon flour until evenly coated. Spread fruit mixture in an even layer in baking dish.
- In medium bowl, mix oats, cinnamon, remaining flour, and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Add margarine and oil. With fingertips, blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in hazelnuts. Sprinkle topping over fruit.
- Bake crumble 30 to 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbly at edges and topping is browned. Cover loosely with foil after 25 minutes if top is browning too quickly. Cool slightly on wire rack to serve warm, or serve at room temperature.
(Taken from Delish.com)
1- Create a hide and seek journal.
2- Children can play Following the Prophet Makes Me Happy puzzle
Extra: View and download Conference Activities for children.
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.