First Presidency announces October 2020 general conference to be broadcast but closed again to public

Due to worldwide health concerns and restrictions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the October 2020 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will follow the pattern of the preceding April 2020 conference, with general sessions being broadcast but closed to the public.

In a June 4, 2020, letter addressed to leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, announced the plans four months ahead of the October 2020 general conference, scheduled for Oct. 3-4.

“While some areas of the world continue to experience the effects of a serious pandemic, other areas do not,” the First Presidency wrote. “As a worldwide organization, we have an obligation to be good citizens and to act with caution as it relates to such a unique setting as general conference, which traditionally brings thousands of visitors to Salt Lake City from around the globe. 

The Catalán family — Marlon Catalán, María Renee, Jose Eduardo, María Fernanda and Debora de Catalán of the San Lucas 2nd Ward, Antigua Guatemala Stake — sustain Church leaders during the Saturday afternoon session of the 190th Annual General Conference on April 4, 2020.
The Catalán family — Marlon Catalán, María Renee, Jose Eduardo, María Fernanda and Debora de Catalán of the San Lucas 2nd Ward, Antigua Guatemala Stake — sustain Church leaders during the Saturday afternoon session of the 190th Annual General Conference on April 4, 2020. Credit: Marlon E. Catalan

“Because of our concern for the health and safety of others, we have decided that the October 2020 general conference will follow the same pattern as the conference held in April of this year,” the First Presidency continued. “The general sessions will be broadcast as usual. However, the general sessions will not be open to the public.”

Additional details about October 2020 will be shared as they are finalized, concluded the First Presidency, adding “we pray that the Lord’s choicest blessing will attend you.”

On March 19, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made a similar announcement on the format change of April 2020 general conference, less than a month before its start.

The April 2020 sessions marked the only time in Church history a general conference has been shared with an exclusively remote congregation.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in the Saturday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference at Church headquarters on April 4, 2020.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in the Saturday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference at Church headquarters on April 4, 2020. Credit: Intellectual Reserves, Inc.

With the broadcasts originating in a small theater in the Church Office Building, the April 2020 general conference was the first in two decades where proceedings did not originate from the 21,000-seat Conference Center, the site of all general conferences since it opened in April 2000.

The First Presidency presided and conducted the sessions, with only those who had been invited to speak or pray attending. Also, the music for the conference had been pre-recorded.