Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jeffrey R. Holland on the blessings of General Conference

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (1940- ) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"I think it is safe to say that the prayer all the brethren and sisters have had as they have spoken this weekend is that general conference will have been as uplifting, and if needful as life-changing for each of us... who semi-annually respond to our LDS hymn, 'Come, listen to a prophet's voice, and hear the word of God' (Hymns, no. 21).
"In my own expression of testimony and gratitude for the messages and meaning of general conference, may I suggest three things these twice-yearly gatherings declare to all the world.
"First, they declare eagerly and unequivocally that there is again a living prophet on the earth speaking in the name of the Lord. And how we need such guidance! Our times are turbulent and difficult. We see wars internationally and distress domestically. Neighbors all around us face personal heartaches and family sorrows. Legions know fear and troubles of a hundred kinds....
"Secondly, each of these conferences marks a call to action not only in our own lives but also on behalf of others around us, those who are of our own family and faith and those who are not....
"Lastly, a general conference of the Church is a declaration to all the world that Jesus is the Christ....
"To all of you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded somewhere on the wintry plains of life and have wrecked your handcart in the process, this conference calls out Jehovah's unrelenting refrain, '[My] hand is stretched out still' (see Isaiah 5:25; 9:17, 21). 'I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them,' He said, '[and even if they] deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, ... if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts' (2 Nephi 28:32). His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still. His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears (see Moroni 7:46-47)."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Prophets in the Land Again," Ensign, November 2006, pp. 104-7
Click here to read the full talk

It's hard to over-state the importance and blessing of general conferences in the Church. I can only imagine the feeling of those assigned to speak in these settings, as they long for their words to be "uplifting, and if needful as life-changing for each of us" as possible. I appreciated Elder Holland's analysis of the power and importance of the meetings, and how they declare important truth to all the world:

But perhaps more important than what conference says to the whole world, is what is says to me, as a single individual, and to each and every person who listens with humility and sincerity. Particularly for those times when we feel hopeless, lost, or discouraged, Elder Holland testifies that general conference is one of the ways that God reaches His open hands out to us, inviting us into His embrace of comfort, peace, and guidance. If I am willing, general conference is so much more than a series of talks on familiar Gospel topics.

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