Episode 51: During general conference, Church leaders testify of Jesus Christ, urge members to strengthen their spiritual foundations

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe participated in the Church’s 191st Semiannual General Conference on Oct. 2-3. Standing at the Conference Center podium for the first time since the progression of the coronavirus pandemic, President Russell M. Nelson declared, “There has never been a time in history when knowledge of the Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul.”

This episode of the Church News podcast summarizes the historic conference with quotes from the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and women leaders of the Church. The podcast summarizes conference themes of loving God, seeking faith amid adversity, and building a stronger and more hopeful foundation in the gospel of Christ.

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Transcript

Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with leaders, members and others on the Church News team. We end each Church News podcast by giving our guests the last word and the opportunity to answer the very important question, “What do you know now?” We hope each of you will also be able to answer the same question and say, “I have just been listening to the Church News podcast and this is what I know now.” 

On Oct. 2-3, millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tuned into the 191st Semiannual General Conference. Standing at the Conference Center podium for the first time since the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Russell M. Nelson declared that “there has never been a time in history when knowledge of the Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul.”

This episode of the Church News podcast summarizes the historic conference with quotes from the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and women leaders. We will look back at conference themes of loving God, seeking faith amid adversity, and moving forward with hope. The conference, that ended with the announcement that the Church plans to build 13 new temples, began with a beautiful invitation from President Nelson “to hear pure truth, the pure doctrine of Christ and pure revelation.”

1:44

President Russell M. Nelson: There has never been a time in the history of the world where knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul. Imagine how quickly the devastating conflicts throughout the world and those in our individual lives would be resolved is we all chose to follow Jesus Christ and heed His teachings.

2:13

Sarah Jane Weaver: Following President Nelson in the Saturday morning session, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged listeners to come unto Christ completely and wholeheartedly.

2:25

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Now, when the love of God sets the tone for our own lives, our own relationships to each other and ultimately for our feelings for all mankind, then old distinctions, limiting labels and artificial divisions begin to pass away. And peace increases. If we love God enough to try to be fully faithful to Him, He will give us the ability, the capacity, the will and the way to love our neighbor and ourselves. Perhaps then, we will be able to say once again, there could not be a happier people among all the people who have been created by the hand of God.

Leaders sing during a congregational hymn during the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Leaders sing during a congregational hymn during the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

3:29

Sarah Jane Weaver: Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon spoke to all of us about our grand and eternal work and our eternal purpose.

3:36

President Bonnie H. Cordon: One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is to distract us with good and better causes, which in times of need, may blind and bind us away from the best cause, the very work that called us into this world. Our eternal purpose is to come unto Christ, and to actively join him in his great work. It’s as simple as President Nelson taught: “Anytime we do anything that helps anyone … make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.” When we do His work, together with Him, we come to know and love Him more.

4:22

Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged listeners to follow the Lord’s example of compassion for others.

4:31

Elder Ulisses Soares: The compassionate attitude of Jesus is rooted in charity, namely in His pure and perfect love, which is the essence of His atoning sacrifice. Compassion is a fundamental characteristic of those who strive for sanctification and this divine quality intertwines with other Christian traits, such as mourning with those who mourn and having empathy, mercy and kindness. The expression of compassion for others is, in fact, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a marked evidence of our spiritual and emotional closeness to the Savior.

05:21

Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the love of God. This is something he called both universal and personal.

05:32

Elder D. Todd Christofferson: Because God’s love is all-embracing, some speak of it as “unconditional,” and in their minds, they may project that thought to mean that God’s blessings are unconditional, and that salvation is unconditional. They are not. Some are wont to say, “the Savior loves me just as I am,” and that is certainly true. But He cannot take any of us into His kingdom just as we are, “for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence.” In acknowledging that God loves us perfectly, we each might ask, “How well do I love God?” “Can He rely on my love as I rely on His?” Would it not be a worthy aspiration to live so that God can love us not just in spite of our failings but also because of what we are becoming?

Attendees sing a congregational hymn during the Sunday morning session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Attendees sing a congregational hymn during the Sunday morning session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

6:32

Sarah Jane Weaver: Concluding the Saturday morning session, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, reminded all of us of the importance of going to Church.

6:43

President Dallin H. Oaks: Today, my message concerns such good and religious minded people who have stopped attending or participating in their churches. When I say “churches,” I include synagogues, mosques or other religious organizations. We are concerned that attendance in all of these is down significantly nationwide. If we cease valuing our churches for any reason, we threaten our personal spiritual life. And significant numbers separating themselves from God reduces His blessings to our nations.

Read more October 2021 general conference coverage

7:30

Sarah Jane Weaver: Kicking off the Saturday afternoon session, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles promised listeners that honoring covenants through ordinances will arm them with righteousness and the power of God.

7:44

Elder David A. Bednar: Covenant promises and blessings are possible only because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He invites us to look to Him, come unto Him, learn of Him and bind ourselves to Him through the covenants and ordinances of His restored gospel. I testify and promise that honoring covenants arms us with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. And I witness that the living Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior.

8:20

Sarah Jane Weaver: Speaking in general conference for the first time, as a member of the Primary general presidency, Sister Susan H. Porter taught listeners how feeling God’s love can change everything.

8:33

Sister Susan H. Porter: When you know and understand how completely you are loved as a child of God, it changes everything. It changes the way you feel about yourself when you make mistakes. It changes how you feel when difficult things happen. It changes your view of God’s commandments. It changes your view of others and of your capacity to make a difference.

9:01

Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared seven things of his soul.

9:07

Elder Ronald A. Rasband: I close with an invitation for each of you to consider the seven “things of my soul” I have shared today: Love God the Father, and Jesus Christ, our Savior; love your neighbor; love yourself; keep the commandments; always be worthy of a temple recommend; be joyful and cheerful; and follow God’s living prophet. 

Leaders are seated during the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Leaders are seated during the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

9:31

Sarah Jane Weaver: In a talk titled “Simply Beautiful, Beautifully Simple,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught all of us that the gospel is plain, precious and simple.

9:42

Elder Gary E. Stevenson: To receive eternal life, we must come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him. As we come unto Christ, and help others do the same, we participate in God’s work of salvation and exaltation, which focuses on divinely appointed responsibilities. These responsibilities are simple, inspirational, motivating and doable. Here they are living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel, uniting families for eternity. You might view them as I do: as a roadmap to return back to our loving Heavenly Father.  

10:30

Sarah Jane Weaver: Just one week before his 93rd birthday, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was the first speaker in the Saturday evening general session. He asked listeners what they could do to show they love the Lord first.

10:45

President M. Russell Ballard: Do you wonder what Jesus was referring to when He asked Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” Relating this question to ourselves in our day, the Lord may be asking us about how busy we are and about the many positive and negative influences competing for our attention and our time. He may be asking each of us if we love Him more than the things of this world. This may be a question about what we really value in life, who we follow, and how we view our relationships with family members and neighbors. Or, maybe He is asking what really brings us joy and happiness. 

11:40

Sarah Jane Weaver: Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, gave a report on the Church’s recent humanitarian efforts around the world and taught that the essence of the gospel is caring for those in need.

11:54

Sister Sharon Eubank: Brothers and sisters through your ministry, donations, time and love you have been the answer to so many prayers. And yet there is so much more to do. As baptized members of the Church, we are under covenant to care for those in need. Our individual efforts don’t necessarily require money or faraway locations, but they do require the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart to say to the Lord, as Elder Ballard just taught, “Here am I send me.”

12:22

Sarah Jane Weaver: President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, was the concluding speaker in the Saturday evening general session. He testified that faith in the Lord will provide personal direction and help Latter-day Saints bless others.

12:37

President Henry B. Eyring: As our faith in Jesus Christ will have led us to ask the Father for answers, that faith will also have brought the Savior’s softening touch enough for us to hear His direction and be determined and excited to obey. Then we will sing the words of the hymn with joy, even when the work is hard: “Sweet is the work, my God my King.”

13:11

Sarah Jane Weaver: Kicking off the Sunday morning session of general conference, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasize the need for daily introspection and restoration as a spiritual landmark.

13:23

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: We all drift from time to time. But we can get back on course. We can navigate our way through the darkness and trials of this life and find our way back to our loving Heavenly Father if we seek and accept the spiritual landmarks He has provided and praise personal revelation and strive for daily restoration. This is how we become true disciples of our beloved Savior Jesus Christ.

13:56

Sarah Jane Weaver: Also speaking for the first time in general conference, Primary [General] President Camille N. Johnson asked all of us to ponder the kind of personal narratives we are writing for our lives.

14:07

President Camille N. Johnson: Why do we want the Savior to be the author and the finisher of our stories? Because He knows our potential perfectly, He will take us to places we never imagined ourselves. He may make us a David or an Esther. He will stretch us and refine us to be more like Him. The things we will achieve as we act with more faith will increase our faith in Jesus Christ.

Church leaders and audience members in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City listen during the Sunday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 3, 2021.
Church leaders and audience members in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City listen during the Sunday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

14:32

Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to all of us about shunning contention and becoming like-minded with the Lord.

14:42

Elder Dale G. Renlund: My invitation is to be valiant in putting our love of God and discipleship of the Savior above all other considerations. Let’s uphold the covenant inherent in our discipleship — the covenant to be one. I testify that as we shun contention, and ‘become like-minded with the Lord in love, and united with Him in faith,’ his peace will be ours.

15:15

Sarah Jane Weaver: Recalling a recent visit to Liberty Jail in Missouri, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about finding personal peace even in challenging times.

15:26

Elder Quentin L. Cook:  Peace in the world is not promised or assured until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Universal peace was not part of the Savior’s initial mortal ministry. Universal peace does not exist today. However, personal peace can be achieved. Despite the anger, contention and division that blights and corrupts our world today, it has never been more important to seek personal peace.

15:57

Sarah Jane Weaver: President Russell M. Nelson, the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the concluding speaker during the Sunday morning session of general conference. Recording part of his address from the Salt Lake Temple renovation site, he asked Latter-day Saints to strengthen personal spiritual foundations.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tours the Salt Lake Temple renovation site in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tours the Salt Lake Temple renovation site in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

16:18

President Russell M. Nelson: My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. So I asked each of you: How firm is your foundation and what reinforcements to your testimony and understanding of the gospel are needed? The temple lies at the center of strengthening our faith and spiritual fortitude because the Savior and His doctrine are the very heart of the temple. Everything taught in the temple, through instruction and through the Spirit, increases our understanding of Jesus Christ. His essential ordinances bind us to Him through sacred priesthood covenants. Then as we keep our covenants, He endows us with His healing, strengthening power. And oh, how we will need His power in the days ahead.

Watch the video and see photos of President Nelson’s inspection of the Salt Lake Temple

17:51

Sarah Jane Weaver: Offering the first address in the concluding session of general conference, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about trust. He invited Latter-day Saints to build relationships to trust God, each other and themselves.

18:06

Elder Gerrit W. Gong: My message today is, whether we are coming home or going home, God is coming to meet us. In Him we can find faith and courage, wisdom and discernment to trust again. Likewise, He asks us to keep the light on for each other, to be more forgiving and less judgmental of ourselves and each other. So His Church can be a place where we feel at home, whether we’re coming for the first time or returning.

18:40

Sarah Jane Weaver: During his address, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized using the full and correct name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He declared the name of the Church is not negotiable.

18:54

President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, waves toward the congregation while exiting the Saturday evening session of the church’s 191st Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, waves toward the congregation while exiting the Saturday evening session of the church’s 191st Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Credit: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Elder Neil L. Andersen: The identity and destiny of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires that we be called by His name. I was recently in Kirtland, Ohio, where the Prophet Joseph Smith, with only a few members of the Church, prophesied this Church will fill North and South America, it will fill the world. The Lord described the work of this dispensation as a marvelous work and a wonder. He spoke of a covenant that would be fulfilled in the latter days, allowing all the earth to be blessed.

19:34

Sarah Jane Weaver: At the conclusion of the Church’s 191st Semiannual General Conference, President Nelson announced 13 new temples and the renovation of an additional temple. Sharing what he knows now with 16.6 million members receiving general conference proceedings in 98 languages, President Nelson emphasized the importance of listening to the whisperings of the Spirit. “We have been given our charge for the next six months,” he said. “Now, the question is, how will we be different because of what we have heard and felt.

20:06

President Russell M. Nelson: Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always. Nothing invites the Spirit more than fixing your focus on Jesus Christ. Talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, feast upon the words of Christ, and press forward with steadfastness in Christ. Make your Sabbath a delight as you worship Him, partake of the sacrament, and keep His day holy. As I emphasized this morning, please make time for the Lord in His holy house. Nothing will strengthen your spiritual foundation like temple service and temple worship.

We thank all who are working on our new temples. They are being built all over the world. Today I am pleased to announce our plans to build more temples at or near the following locations:

  • Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Tacloban City, Philippines
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Culiacán, México
  • Vitória, Brazil
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Santiago West, Chile
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cody, Wyoming
  • Rexburg North, Idaho
  • Heber Valley, Utah

And reconstruction of the Provo Utah Temple after the Orem Utah Temple is dedicated. I love you, dear brothers and sisters. The Lord knows you and loves you. He is your Savior and your Redeemer. He leads and guides His Church. He will lead and guide you in your personal life if you will make time for Him in your life — each and every day. May God be with you until we meet again, I pray in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.

Latter-day Saints from Liberia to Bolivia react to President Nelson’s announcement of 13 new temples during October 2021 general conference

23:08

Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on thechurchnews.com.