Episode 156: October 2023 general conference — Leaders emphasize covenant keeping and invite all to ‘think celestial’

Church News podcast features October 2023 general conference speakers, temple announcements

Millions tuned in to the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2023.

During the conference, messages from the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders focused on faith in Jesus Christ, the happiness that comes from covenant keeping and the invitation to “think celestial.”

This special edition of the Church News podcast features highlights from every general conference talk, including the announcement by President Russell M. Nelson that the Church will build 20 new temples.

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President Russell M. Nelson: When you make choices, I invite you to take the long view — an eternal view. Put Jesus Christ first, because your eternal life is dependent upon your faith in Him and in His Atonement. It is also dependent upon your obedience to His laws. Obedience paves the way for a joyful life for you today and a grand, eternal reward tomorrow. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. His Church has been restored to bless all of God’s children.


Sarah Jane Weaver: This is Sarah Jane Weaver, executive editor of the Church News, welcoming you 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.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Millions tuned in to the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2023, hearing messages from the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders. This special edition of the Church News podcast features highlights from every general conference message, which included themes of the power of faith, covenants and personal revelation, and, of course, of enduring to the end. The conference also marked the continued hastening by the Lord of His work on earth, with the announcement that the Church plans to build new temples.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles opened the first session of conference on Saturday morning by expressing his love, admiration and gratitude for Latter-day Saints worldwide and describing examples of those who have pressed forward in the path of their duty.


Elder David A. Bednar: I am grateful for millions of Church members who today are coming unto the Savior and pressing forward on the covenant path in the last wagons of our contemporary wagon trains and who truly are no less serviceable. Your strong faith in Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and your unpretentious, consecrated lives inspire me to be a better man and disciple. I love you. I admire you. I thank you. And I commend you.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, then taught about spiritual preparation and what it means to “abide the day in Christ.”

Sister Amy A. Wright: Jesus Christ is the “hope in thine end” (Jeremiah 31:17). Nothing we have or have not done is beyond the reach of His infinite and eternal sacrifice. He is the reason why it is never the end of our story. Therefore, we “must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if [we] shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: [We] shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). Eternal life is eternal joy. Joy in this life, right now — not despite the challenges of our day but because of the Lord’s help to learn from and ultimately overcome them — and immeasurable joy in the life to come.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Robert M. Daines, sustained as a General Authority Seventy six months ago, talked about how to overcome spiritual face-blindness by recognizing the love of Jesus.

Elder Robert M. Daines: There’s a short verse in John that I love. It tells of a group of outsiders who make their way to a disciple with an important request: “Sir,” they say, “we would [like to] see Jesus” (John 12:21). That is what we all want. We want to see Jesus for who He is and to feel His love. This should be the reason for most of what we do in the Church and certainly in every sacrament meeting. If you’re ever wondering what kind of lesson to teach, what kind of meeting to plan, and whether to just give up on the deacons and play dodgeball, you might take this verse as your guide. Will this help people see and love Jesus Christ? If not, maybe try something else.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy said a decision to be lukewarm about the Church or leave it entirely can impact generations.

Elder Carlos A. Godoy: As we make current decisions, we should always be asking, “Where will this lead?” Will our current decisions lead us to joy now and in eternity, or will they lead us to sorrow and tears? Some may think, “We don’t need to attend church every Sunday,” or “We will pay tithing when things get better,” or “I will not support the Church leaders in this subject.” But they say, “We know the Church is true, and we will never leave the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Those with thoughts like this do not realize the negative impact this lukewarm type of membership will have on their lives and the lives of their posterity. The parents may remain active, but the risk of losing their children is high, in this life and in eternity.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the importance of the sealing power in the gathering of Israel.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson: The power to validate all priesthood ordinances and make them binding both on earth and in heaven — the sealing power — is crucial for gathering and preparing a covenant people on both sides of the veil. The validity that the sealing power gives to priesthood ordinances includes, of course, vicarious ordinances, performed in the place designated by the Lord: His temple. Here we see the majesty and sacredness of the sealing power. It makes individual salvation and family exaltation universally available to the children of God, wherever and whenever they may have lived on the earth. No other theology or philosophy or authority can match such an all-inclusive opportunity. The sealing power is a perfect manifestation of the justice, mercy and love of God.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Africa Central Area, talked about humanitarian work and compassion.

Elder Ian S. Ardern: Compassion is an attribute of Christ. It is born of love for others and knows no boundaries. Jesus, the Savior of the world, is the epitome of compassion. Despite our every effort, you and I won’t heal everyone, but each of us can be the one who can make a difference for good in the life of someone. It was just one lad, a mere boy, who offered the five loaves and the two fishes that feed the 5,000. We may ask of our offering, as Andrew the disciple did of the loaves and fishes, “What are they among so many?” (John 6:9). I assure you, it is sufficient to give or to do what you are able, and then to allow Christ to magnify your effort.


Sarah Jane Weaver: President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, was the final speaker during the Saturday morning session. He talked about God’s plan for His children and on the kingdoms of glory available to all of us.

President Dallin H. Oaks: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are frequently asked, “How is your church different from other Christian churches?” Among the answers we give are the fullness of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Foremost among that doctrine is the fact that our Heavenly Father loves all His children so much that He wants us all to live in a kingdom of glory forever. Moreover, He wants us to live with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, eternally. His plan gives us the teachings and the opportunity to make the choices that will assure us the destiny and the life we choose.


Sarah Jane Weaver: The Saturday afternoon session opened with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, detailing the blessings that come into individuals’ lives as they obey the law of tithing.

Elder Neil L. Andersen: All that we have and all that we are comes from God. As disciples of Christ, we willingly share with those around us. With all the Lord gives to us, He has asked us to return to Him and His kingdom on earth 10% of our increase. He has promised us that as we are honest in our tithes, He will “open ... the windows of heaven, and pour ... out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). He has promised us that He will protect us from evil. These promises are so certain, the Lord declares, “Prove me now herewith,” (verse 10), a phrase found nowhere else in the scriptures. The windows of heaven open in many ways. Some are temporal, but many are spiritual. Some are subtle and easy to overlook. Trust in the Lord’s timing; the blessings always come.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Andersen was followed by Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, who said it is a sacred responsibility for all of us to help children come to know deeply and specifically that Jesus is the Christ.

Brother Jan E. Newman: Recently, a good friend taught me something I hadn’t noticed before about the parable of the wise man who built his house upon a rock. According to the account in Luke, as the wise man laid the foundation for his house, he “digged deep” (Luke 6:48). It wasn’t a casual or simple endeavor; it took effort. To build our lives on the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, we need to dig deep. We remove anything that is sandy or superfluous in our lives. We keep digging until we find Him. And we teach our children to bind themselves to Him through sacred ordinances and covenants so that when the oppositional storms and floods come, as they surely will, they will have little effect upon them because of the rock upon which they are built.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Joaquin E. Costa, a General Authority Seventy, spoke about the need to have the power of Jesus Christ in each of our lives every day.

Elder Joaquin E. Costa: At times, having faith in Jesus Christ may seem like something impossible, almost unattainable. We may think that coming unto Christ requires a strength, power and perfection we don’t have, and we just can’t find the energy to do it all. But what I have learned from all these people is that faith in Jesus Christ is what gives us the energy to begin the journey. Sometimes we may think, “I need to fix my life before I come to Jesus.” But the truth is that we come to Jesus to fix our lives through Him. We don’t come to Jesus because we are perfect. We come to Him because we are flawed and in Him we can “be perfected” (Moroni 10:32).


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered four guiding principles to invite and recognize the promptings of the Spirit.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson: Latter-day Saints should be gifted, covenant-keeping people. Nonetheless, it remains for each of us to seek to exercise our spiritual gifts and then invite and learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit. Four guiding principles to assist us in this crucial spiritual endeavor are: Stand in holy places, stand with holy people, testify of holy truths, listen to the Spirit. Your ability to invite and recognize the promptings of the Spirit will develop a step at a time. Becoming more attuned to the language of the Spirit is like learning another language; it is a gradual process that requires diligent, patient effort.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, a General Authority Seventy, next addressed finding happiness through keeping covenants.

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi:Those who live the higher laws of Jesus Christ have access to His higher power. ... Keeping covenants actually makes life easier. Each person who makes covenants in baptismal fonts and in temples — and keeps them — has increased access to the power of Jesus Christ,” end of quote. My dear brothers and sisters, do you want to be happy? Stay on the covenant path. Your life will be easier, happier and filled with joy. Our Savior is inviting us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He is the living Christ. He carries our burdens and makes our life easier.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Alan T. Phillips, a General Authority Seventy who was offering his first general conference address, encouraged Latter-day Saints to know Heavenly Father and the Savior, Jesus Christ. God knows you and loves you, he said.

Elder Alan T. Phillips: Jesus Christ wants you to know and have a relationship with your Father in Heaven. If you are feeling lost, if you have questions or lack wisdom, if you are struggling with your circumstances or wrestling with spiritual dissonance, turn to Him. Pray to Him for comfort, love, answers and direction. Whatever the need and wherever you are, pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. For some, you may want to follow President Nelson’s invitation and ask if He is really there, if He knows you. Ask Him how He feels about you. And then listen. Dear brothers and sisters, know your Father in Heaven; He is perfect and loving. Know who Jesus Christ is; He is our Savior and Redeemer. Bind yourself and those you love to Him, and know who you are, know your true, divine identity. God’s plan of happiness is all about you. You are His precious child and of great worth. He knows and loves you.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles closed the Saturday afternoon session with an invitation for more Latter-day Saints to serve senior missions. He promised them that blessings would follow.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband: As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to serve as a missionary in the gathering of Israel and perhaps even serve again. We need you. We need you. We are grateful to you seniors for the lives you have led and the examples you have been in your homes, wards and stakes. I now invite you to take your know-how, coupled with your time-honored testimonies, and go on a mission. I pray that the next time I sit down to assign senior couples, there will be hundreds of you waiting anxiously for your call. I also promise that as you serve, you will feel the love of the Lord in your life. You will know Him. He will know you. And how great shall be your joy. Your dedicated service to Jesus Christ will inspire and bless your family, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Peace and love will be multiplied in their lives for years to come. I promise.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Gary B. Sabin, a General Authority Seventy, was the first speaker during the Saturday evening session, teaching five essential principles that can lead to happiness.

Elder Gary B. Sabin: The greatest happiness and blessing of mortality will be found in who we have become through God’s grace as we make and keep sacred covenants with Him. Our Savior will polish and refine us through the merits of His atoning sacrifice, and a set of those who willingly follow Him, “they shall be mine ... in that day when I [shall come to] make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). I promise you that if we build our lives upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, value our true identity as sons and daughters of God, remember the worth of a soul, maintain an eternal perspective and gratefully appreciate our many blessings — especially Christ’s invitation to come unto Him — we can find the true happiness we seek during this mortal adventure. Life will still have its challenges, but we will be able to better face each with a sense of purpose and peace because of the eternal truths we understand and live by.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Joni L. Koch, a General Authority Seventy, followed Elder Sabin Saturday evening, talking about developing humility.

Elder Joni L. Koch: During this conference, we have heard and will yet hear the unfailing counsel of our prophets and apostles. It’s a perfect occasion to develop humility and let our strong opinions be swallowed by an even stronger conviction that the Lord does speak through these chosen leaders. Above all, in developing humility, we must also understand and accept that we are not able to overcome our challenges or to achieve our full potential through our own efforts only. Motivational speakers, writers, coaches and influencers around the world, especially from digital platforms, will say that everything depends solely on us and our actions. The world believes in the “arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34). But through the restored gospel, we have learned that we greatly depend on Heavenly Father’s benevolence and the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).


Sarah Jane Weaver: Sustained in April as the first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister Tamara W. Runia invited all of us to view our family relationships through an eternal lens.

Sister Tamara W. Runia: In these last days, perhaps our greatest work will be with our loved ones — good people living in a wicked world. Our hope changes the way they see themselves and who they really are. And through this lens of love, they’ll see who they will become. But the adversary does not want us or our loved ones to return home together. And because we live on a planet that is bound by time and a finite number of years, he tries to perpetuate a very real sense of panic in us. It’s hard to see when you’re zoomed in that our direction matters more than our speed. Remember, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. Thankfully, the God we worship is not bound by time. He sees who our loved ones really are and who we really are. So He’s patient with us, hoping we’ll be patient with each other.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles concluded the Saturday evening session, encouraging all to eliminate thoughts and actions of prejudice and to value one another’s attributes and gifts.

Elder Ulisses Soares: As disciples of Christ, we are invited to increase our faith in, and love for, our spiritual brother and sisterhood by genuinely knitting our hearts together in unity and love, regardless of our differences, thereby increasing our ability to promote respect for the dignity of all the sons and daughters of God. My dear brothers and sisters, May we align our hearts and minds with the knowledge and testimony that we are all equal before God, that we are all fully endowed with the same eternal potential and inheritance. May we enjoy more the spiritual kinship that exists between us and value the different attributes and varied gifts we all have.

If we do so, I promise you that we will flow in our own way, as does the water of the Iguazu Falls, without losing our divine connection that identifies us as a peculiar people, the children of Christ and heirs of the kingdom of God. I testify to you that as we continue to flow this way during our mortal life, a new day will begin with a new light that will brighten our lives and illuminate wonderful opportunities to value more and be more fully blessed by the diversity created by God among His children. We will surely become instruments in His hands to promote respect and dignity among all His sons and daughters. God lives, Jesus is the Savior of the world, President Nelson is the Prophet of God in our day.


Sarah Jane Weaver: President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, opened the Sunday morning session bearing a tender and poignant testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President M. Russell Ballard: I have been thinking about just all of the marvelous things, brothers and sisters, that we know. And all the things that we have: the understanding of the purpose of life. Who we are. We know who God is. We know who the Savior is. Because we have Joseph, who went into a grove of trees as a boy, seeking relief and forgiveness for his sins. I think it is one of the most glorious and wonderful things that anybody in this world can know, that our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have revealed themselves in this Latter day and that Joseph has been raised up to restore the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. My beloved brothers and sisters, my testimony to you this morning is how abundantly blessed we are.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Young Women general President Emily Belle Freeman talked about joining a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ and walking with Him.

President Emily Belle Freeman: When I returned home from Israel, I listened more closely to the conversations around me regarding covenants. I noticed people asking, “Why should I walk a covenant path? Do I need to enter a house for making covenants? Why do I wear the holy garment? Should I invest in a covenant relationship with the Lord?” The answer to these good and important questions is simple: It depends on what degree of relationship you want to experience with Jesus Christ. Each of us will have to discover our own response to those deeply personal questions.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, a General Authority Seventy, spoke about being a witness of Jesus Christ in word and action.

Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella: As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the blessing and privilege to stand as witnesses of the Lord and His name everywhere we are. As we strive to live our lives in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ, our conduct will be a living testimony of our Redeemer and His name. Moreover, we witness of Christ in word by sharing with others what we believe, feel or know of Jesus Christ. When we humbly share our testimony of the Lord through our words and actions, the Holy Ghost confirms to those with real intent, open hearts and willing minds that Jesus is indeed the Christ.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged those striving to be “peaceable followers of Christ” (Moroni 7:3) to focus on Him amid trials, tribulations and adversities.

Elder Quentin L. Cook: I love the words of Mormon quoted by his son, Moroni, commending “the peaceable followers of Christ ... because of your peaceable walk with the children of men” (Moroni 7:3-4). For those of us in the Church striving to be peaceable followers of Christ, a brighter day awaits us as we focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Trials are a part of mortality and occur in everyone’s life throughout the world. This includes major conflicts between countries and individuals. Church leaders are frequently asked, “Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? And why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?” We do not know all the answers; however, we do know important principles that allow us to face trials, tribulation and adversities with faith and confidence in a bright future that awaits for each of us.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used the parable of the prodigal son to illustrate how God rejoices when one of His children comes home.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: May I take a moment now and speak to you individually. No matter what may have happened in your life, I echo and proclaim the words of my beloved friend and fellow Apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Quote, “It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s [atoning sacrifice] shines,” end of quote. Though choices may have taken you far away from the Savior and His Church, the Master Healer stands at the road that leads home, welcoming you. And we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ seek to follow His example and embrace you as our brothers and sisters, as your friends. We rejoice and celebrate with you. Your return will not diminish the blessings of others. For the Father’s bounty is infinite, and what is given to one does not in the slightest diminish the birthright of others.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, talked about the importance of keeping focus on the Savior and not being distracted by worldly heroes.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: In our complex world, it can be tempting to turn to society’s heroes in an effort to provide clarity to life when it may seem confusing or even overwhelming. We buy the clothes they sponsor, we embrace the politics they espouse and we follow their suggestions as shared on social media. This might be fine for a temporary diversion, but we must be watchful that this form of hero worship does not become our golden calf. Choosing the right hero has eternal consequences. Brothers and sisters, it is by choosing Jesus Christ, the King of kings, that we choose the kingdom of God. Any other choice is the equivalent of choosing the arm of flesh or a golden calf and will ultimately fail us.


Sarah Jane Weaver: As the final speaker in the Sunday morning session, President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke about how to qualify for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

President Henry B. Eyring: We need, and you will need, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Now, we desire it, yet we know from experience that it is not easy to achieve. We each think and say and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit. When that happens, as it will, we may feel disapproval from the Lord, and we may be tempted to feel we are alone. It is important to remember the sure promise we receive each week as we repent and partake of the sacrament, “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with them” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as a sweet evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Opening the Sunday afternoon session, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles underscored Jesus Christ as “the mark” (Jacob 4:14) to look to.

Elder Dale G. Renlund: We, too, can be prone to look beyond the mark. We need to guard against this tendency, lest we miss Jesus Christ in our lives and fail to recognize the many blessings He offers us. We need Him. We are counseled to “[rely] wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). He is our mark. If we incorrectly imagine that there is a need for something beyond what He offers, we deny or diminish the scope and power He can have in our lives. He has claimed the rights of mercy and extends that mercy to us. He is the ultimate source to whom we should look for a remission of our sins. He is our Advocate with the Father and champions what the Father has wanted all along: for us to return to Him as inheritors in His kingdom.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder John C. Pingree, a General Authority Seventy, spoke about the importance of eternal truth and how to identify it.

Elder John C. Pingree Jr.: As we seek eternal truth, the following two questions can help us recognize whether a concept comes from God or from another source: First, is the concept taught consistently in the scriptures and by living prophets? And second, is the concept confirmed by the witness of the Holy Ghost? God reveals doctrinal truths through prophets, and the Holy Ghost confirms those truths to us and helps us apply them. We must seek and be prepared to receive these spiritual impressions when they come. We are most receptive to the witness of the Spirit when we are humble, pray sincerely and study God’s words, and keep His commandments. Once the Holy Ghost confirms a specific truth to us, our understanding deepens as we put that principle into practice. Over time, as we consistently live the principle, we gain a sure knowledge of that truth.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Valeri V. Cordón, a General Authority Seventy, addressed the topic “divine parenting lessons.”

Elder Valeri V. Cordón: Parents, what do we need to model for our children? Discipleship. As parents, we can teach the importance of putting God first when we discuss the first commandment, but we model it when we set aside worldly distractions and keep the Sabbath day holy every week. We can teach the importance of temple covenants when we speak about the doctrine of celestial marriage, but we model it when we honor our covenants, treating our spouse with dignity. Faith in Jesus Christ should be the core of our children’s testimonies. And these testimonies must come to each child through individual revelation. To assist our children with the building of their testimonies, we encourage them to use their agency to choose what is right and prepare them for a lifetime of God’s covenant path.


Sarah Jane Weaver: In his remarks, Elder J. Kimo Esplin, a General Authority Seventy, detailed the blessings of the temple and how covenants bind Latter-day Saints to the Savior.

Elder J. Kimo Esplin: Temple covenants are gifts from our Heavenly Father to the faithful followers of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the temple, our Heavenly Father binds individuals and families to the Savior and to each other. Through temple blessings, the Savior heals individuals, families and nations, even those that once stood as bitter enemies. The resurrected Lord declared to a conflict-ridden society, “[To those who honor] my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (3 Nephi 25:2). I am grateful to witness the ongoing fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that “the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue and people” (Mosiah 3:20), including to those “upon the isles of the sea” (2 Nephi 29:7).


Sarah Jane Weaver: A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s message was on learning the gospel languages of warmth and reverence, service and sacrifice, and covenant belonging.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong: Today, let us speak of three languages of gospel love: the language of warmth and reverence, the language of service and sacrifice, and the language of covenant belonging. We live in a self-centered world. So much is “I choose me.” It is if we believe we know best our own self-interest and how to pursue it. But ultimately, it is not true. Jesus Christ personifies this powerful, ageless truth. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man [or woman] profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26). Jesus Christ offers a better way, relationships founded on divine covenant, stronger than the cords of death. Covenant belonging with God and each other can heal and sanctify our most cherished relationships. In truth, He knows us better and loves us more than we know or love ourselves. In truth, when we covenant all we are, we can become more than we are. God’s power and wisdom can bless us with every good gift in His time and way.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Christophe G. Giraud-Carrier, a General Authority Seventy, spoke about ministering to one another as fellow children of God.

Elder Christophe G. Giraud-Carrier: I have come to realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the great equalizer. As we truly embrace it, The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. This amazing truth freezes, and all labels and distinction that may otherwise afflict us and our relationships to each other are simply swallowed up in Christ. It soon becomes clear that we as well as others are no more strangers and foreigners, but “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). I recently heard the branch president of one of our multicultural language units refer to this, as Elder Gerrit W. Gong has done, as covenant belonging. What a beautiful concept. We belong to a group of people who all try to place the Savior and their covenants at the center of their lives and to live the gospel joyfully. Hence, rather than seeing each other through the distorted lens of mortality, the gospel raises our sights and allows us to see each other through the flawless, unchanging lens of our sacred covenants.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Our beloved Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, turned 99 years old just a few weeks ago. Detailing all he has learned in a century of living, he asked Latter-day Saints to “think celestial.”

President Russell M. Nelson: When you make choices, I invite you to take the long view — an eternal view. Put Jesus Christ first, because your eternal life is dependent upon your faith in Him and in His Atonement. It is also dependent upon your obedience to His laws. Obedience paves the way for a joyful life for you today and a grand, eternal reward tomorrow. When you are confronted with a dilemma, think celestial. When tested by temptation, think celestial. When life or loved ones let you down, think celestial. When someone dies prematurely, think celestial. When someone lingers with a devastating illness, think celestial.  When the pressures of life crowd in upon you, think celestial. As you recover from an accident or injury, as I am doing now, think celestial.

As you focus on thinking celestial, expect to encounter opposition. Decades ago, a professional colleague criticized me for having too much temple in me. And more than one supervisor penalized me because of my faith. I am convinced, however, that thinking celestial enhanced my career. As you think celestial, your heart will gradually change. You will want to pray more often and more sincerely. Please do not let your prayers sound like a shopping list. The Lord’s perspective transcends your mortal wisdom. His response to your prayers may surprise you and will help you to think celestial.


Sarah Jane Weaver: At the close of the October 2023 general conference, the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson announced plans to build 20 new temples, increasing the number of temples for the Church to 335 worldwide. Those 20 new temples also bring the number of temples announced by President Nelson in the almost six years he has served as President of the Church to 153.

We close this special general conference edition of the Church News podcast by turning again to President Nelson’s historic temple announcement, part of his invitation for all of us to “think celestial,” and to his testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and of the Savior’s restored Church on earth.


President Russell M. Nelson: The ordinances and covenants of the temple are of eternal significance. We continue to build more temples to make these sacred possibilities become a reality in each of your lives.

We are grateful to announce our plans to build a temple in each of the following 20 locations: Savai’i, Samoa; Cancún, Mexico; Piura, Peru; Huancayo, Peru; Viña del Mar, Chile; Goiânia, Brazil; João Pessoa, Brazil; Calabar, Nigeria; Cape Coast, Ghana; Luanda, Angola; Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Laoag, Philippines; Osaka, Japan; Kahului, Maui, Hawaii; Fairbanks, Alaska; Vancouver, Washington; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Roanoke, Virginia; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The Lord is directing us to build these temples to help think celestial. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. His Church has been restored to bless all of God’s children, I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News executive 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, rate and review this podcast so it can be accessible to more people. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests; 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 channels or with other news and updates on the Church on

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