More than two dozen brightly decorated Christmas trees and a large green wreath adorned the stage of the Conference Center on Temple Square on Sunday, Dec. 5 — providing a majestic, seasonal backdrop for the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional.
Sunday’s devotional marked a return to its traditional venue after being held in the smaller Conference Center Theater last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Music was performed live by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
A limited audience of under 4,000 of family and invited guests were spread out throughout the 21,000-capacity Conference Center. The program remained closed to the public due to the pandemic. Thousands of Latter-day Saints, their families and friends participated virtually from their homes worldwide.
Speakers included President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; and Elder W. Mark Bassett, a General Authority Seventy.
Summaries of their messages are listed below:
- Sister Michelle D. Craig: “Less Conspicuous Gifts”
- Elder W. Mark Bassett: “Blessed are the Peacemakers”
- Elder Dale G. Renlund: “You Can Know It, Too”
- President Henry B. Eyring: “The Spirit of Christmas”
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional. Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, offered the invocation, and the benediction was given by Elder Brook P. Hales, a General Authority Seventy.
The Stockwell family from Riverton, Utah, said they were thrilled to see their father, Travis Stockwell, sing live in the Tabernacle Choir again.
“It was great to hear the music live again,” said Michelle Stockwell, Travis’s wife.
“We have missed it, and he’s missed it,” said Londyn Stockwell. “It was really nice to be back.”
Hollynd Stockwell remarked on the beautiful decorations, and how the trees seemed suspended in the air. The family said hearing the Christmas hymns put them in the right spirit for the season.
“It was glorious to be here,” said Harry Gammon, from American Fork, Utah, who attended the devotional with his wife, Verna. He said he was touched by the story Elder Renlund shared about Simeon meeting the baby Jesus.
Kristin Kunz from Salt Lake City described the feeling in the Conference Center Sunday night as “reverent, meek and peaceful.”
“The messages hit home really nicely,” she said. “I loved Elder Renlund’s talk about how we can all know for ourselves about Jesus Christ, and that message was really powerful to me. The music was beautiful as usual.”
Her mother, Susan Kunz, added: “I was thinking it’s been so long so we’ve been in the Conference Center. I’m always amazed at the state-of-the-art architecture of this building, inside, the acoustics and everything.”