Conference will include solemn assembly

President Howard W. Hunter will preside over the 164th Semiannual General Conference, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2, in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

A "solemn assembly" will be held on the opening day of the conference. During the solemn assembly, President Hunter and his counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, and all other General Authorities and general officers of the Church will be presented to the membership of the Church for a sustaining vote of support.A solemn assembly is regarded as a significant and sacred occasion for members of the Church. Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains that solemn assemblies are held in the Church today for three basic purposes:

To sustain general Church leaders. "After the death of a president of the Church, the Church holds a solemn assembly in the Salt Lake Tabernacle to approve and sustain its new First Presidency. Church members participate at the Tabernacle and in other places where the proceedings are broadcast."

To dedicate new or refurbished temples. "Church members attend dedicatory services, which are held in the temples themselves and in other nearby facilities."

To instruct and encourage Church members in their responsibilities. "Such solemn assemblies generally take place in temples or stake centers. Church members invited to these assemblies are usually priesthood leaders. Sometimes in such assemblies the sacrament is served, but traditionally the main function is for those assembled to receive counsel from the presiding Church authorities." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 3:1390-1391.)

The 164th Semiannual General Conference will be the 12th occasion on which a solemn assembly will have been held to sustain a new Church president after the death of a previous president. The first such assembly was Oct. 10, 1880, when President John Taylor was sustained; the last was April 6, 1986, when President Ezra Taft Benson was sustained as the 13th president of the Church.

President Hunter, the 14th president of the Church, his counselors, and all other General Authorities and general officers of the Church will be presented to the membership of the Church for a "sustaining" vote of support during this conference's solemn assembly.

In addition to those assembled on Temple Square, all members watching on television or listening to the radio, either at home or in gatherings for satellite broadcasts, are invited to participate in the sustaining procedure.

General conference sessions will be conducted at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., MDT, on Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2. A general priesthood meeting is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.

The First Presidency has announced that all conference sessions will be transmitted over the Church satellite network, which includes more than 3,000 downlinks in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the West Indies, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

A one-hour video documentary tribute to President Hunter will be broadcast over the satellite network between conference sessions both days.

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