Twice a year, Latter-day Saints meet in general conference to receive instruction and counsel from our leaders. Each session of conference contains important messages for our spiritual benefit. The messages, while reprinted later in Church publications and elsewhere, are best received in person as delivered. A listener can gain much by hearing a speaker's emphasis and inflections, or finding comfort in the words of the Savior as given by the speakers. The sacred hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other choirs make each session special and worthwhile for those participating.
"Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord in nigh" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:11-12).
Conference gives us an opportunity to drink at the oasis of righteousness. What better way to quench our spiritual thirst than to savor the counsel of our leaders?
President Harold B. Lee, in an address at the April 1973 conference, said: "This great call has come now in the sermons of the brethren to aid those who are in need of aid, not just temporal aid but also spiritual aid. The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but . . . the healing of sick souls. . . . We are reaching out to all such, because they are precious in the sight of the Lord, and we want no one to feel that they are forgotten."
What better way to put aside our own difficulties than to receive encouragement from our leaders. The words of the Savior and of His servants certainly offer comfort in times of distress and worldly unrest. By choosing to attend or tune into conference, we can feel ourselves a part of a vibrant, worldwide church whose membership is growing each year.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, "What a wonderful thing it is to be part of this growing kingdom of our Lord. There are no political boundaries separating the hearts of the children of God regardless of where they may live. We are all of one great family" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 293).
Indeed, we are all family. We are brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter how near or how far we live from Church headquarters. Through modern means of television, radio and satellite, the Internet, videotapes or audio tapes, we are able to listen and partake of the conference sessions in our own languages. Each of us can be a part of the proceedings, lending our own testimonies to those of our leaders. By listening to those things we need to hear to buoy us for the next six months, we can recommit ourselves to helping to build up the kingdom of God each day.
President Brigham Young testified at the 1852 conference: "This kingdom will continue to increase and to grow, to spread and to prosper more and more. Every time its enemies undertake to overthrow it, it will become more extensive and powerful; instead of decreasing it will continue to increase; it will spread the more, become more wonderful and conspicuous to the nations, until it fills the whole earth" (as quoted by President Spencer W. Kimball in the April 1974 conference).
President Young's declaration rings true today. Living the principles of the gospel will do more to frustrate the forces of evil than all the peace conferences or political summits that world leaders may assemble. As we both individually and collectively build up the kingdom of God in our homes and within our families we, too, can cause great changes around us.
President Hinckley reminds us: "We are citizens in the greatest kingdom on earth a kingdom not directed by the wisdom of men but led by the Lord Jesus Christ. Its presence is real. Its destiny is certain. This is the kingdom of which the prophet Daniel spoke a stone, as it were, that should be cut out of the mountain without hands and roll forth and fill the earth.
"No mortal man created this kingdom. It came through revelation from its divine head. And since the 19th-century days of inception, it has gone forth like a rolling snowball gathering mass" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 292).
What better road map to the future do we need than those directions found in the messages of our leaders and delivered at conference time?