For the second time in six months, President Russell M. Nelson began the opening session of general conference on Saturday morning speaking to an empty auditorium on Temple Square.
But despite the continued disruption to conference tradition caused by the ongoing pandemic, the Church president’s message at the 190th Semiannual General Conference signaled the certainty of the gospel’s unstoppable progress.
The work of the Lord — including missionary and temple work — moves steadily forward.
“Amid social distancing, face masks and Zoom meetings, we have learned to do some things differently, and some even more effectively. Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.”
All hearing the words delivered during general conference, he promised, will be fortified during this difficult period. “I bless you to feel the Lord’s love for you — to feel encircled in the arms of His infinite love.”
Preparation and pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ can guide and strengthen individuals facing life’s difficulties, said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“The year 2020 has been marked, in part, by a global pandemic that has proved, examined and tried us in many ways. I pray that we as individuals and families are learning the valuable lessons that only challenging experiences can teach us.”
Becoming like Christ requires commitment, steady effort and the Lord’s grace, taught Eldert Scott D. Whiting, a General Authority Seventy.
“The commandment to be like Him is not intended to make you feel guilty, unworthy or unloved. You are good enough, you are loved, but that does not mean that you are yet complete. There is work to be done in this life and the next. Only with His divine help can we all progress toward becoming like Him.”
“With His help, we can discern what is most needful. We can begin to see the hand of the Lord working in and through the ordinary details of our lives — we will see deeply.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called righteousness and unity a remedy to strife and contention in society. The gospel celebrates diversity while also offering an oasis of unity.
“We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity.”
Elder Cook’s fellow Apostle, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, encouraged Latter-day Saints to be worthy to hold a temple recommend, even though temple work is still limited because of the pandemic.
“Whether you have access to a temple or not, you need a current temple recommend to stay firmly on the covenant path.”
President Nelson’s first counselor in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks, said followers of Christ must learn to adhere to His “well-known but rarely practiced” direction to “love your enemies.”
Understanding that everyone is a child of God, “gives us a divine vision of the worth of all others and the will and ability to rise above prejudice and racism.”
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the Saturday morning session. Prayers were offered by Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Juan A. Uceda, a General Authority Seventy.
Once again, prerecorded hymns were performed by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, including “Truth Eternal,” “Praise to the Lord, Almighty,” “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” “Come, Ye Children of the Lord,” “Have I Done Any Good?” and “Love One Another.”