Friday, March 22, 2013

What is General Conference?

In the next few weeks, you will see an increase in social media from member of the LDS Church and members of the press talking about General Conference
What Is General Conference?
It is a semiannual meeting for members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) that meets every April and October.  When people speak of General Conference, they are talking about two day long meetings consisting of four main sessions of the Conference starting on Saturday morning and ending Sunday afternoon. Each of these four main sessions are two hours long starting with a two hour meeting in the morning followed by a lunch break and another two hour meeting afterwards. On Saturday night, a special two hour meeting is held specifically for male priesthood holders. 
For women, a special meeting is held for all young women on the on the Saturday a week prior to the April conference while women in the Relief Society have their meeting on the Saturday a week prior to the October conference. 
In total, there are of six two-hour sessions: four general sessions, one Priesthood session, and a session for either women or teenage girls. 
What Happens During General Conference? 
Each two hour session begins with a prayer offered by someone in the LDS Church leadership. Then there will be a series of sermons, known as "talks", given by members of the Church leadership with hymns sung during the selected breaks in the two hour session. At the end of that session, a closing prayer is given at the end of the session.  
Throughout the two hour session, a member of the Church leadership who will conduct the meeting which consists of introducing the people who will be giving the prayers and talks and which hymn will be sung. Almost always, a member of the First Presidency will conduct the meeting. Typically, the Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the first speaker of the first session on Saturday evening and last speaker of the fourth and final session on Sunday evening. 
After the first two hour session, a lunch break is given in which members of the Church will have dinner at home, or at a meeting house or at a restaurant. After the lunch break is over, the next two hour session begins again with the same format of prayer, talks and hymns. Hymns are usually sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. However, LDS missionaries who are living at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) and have not left to the areas where they will proselyte have frequently sung at General Conference. Sometimes, youth or young adults will sing as a choir.
Typically, during the second session of the General Conference, Members of the Church who are present at the Conference Center or watching it being broadcasted are asked to raise their hand to either support or oppose the Church Leadership. This begins with introducing the Prophet of the Church, followed by the counselors in the First Presidency, then the Members of the Quorum of the 12 and then other Church leaders. A vote is requested after each introduction. After this, an auditor will speak to give a short accounting of the Church's finances followed by another person who will explain give a statistical report of the Church such as many members are in the Church, how many church buildings there are and other important statistics. After that, the speeches and hymns begin.
Where Is General Conference Held?
Currently, General Conference is held at the LDS Conference Center where all sessions of the conferences are held. It is located in downtown Salt Lake City across from Temple Square.
When Does General Conference Begin?
General sessions commence at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Mountain Time) on Saturday and Sunday. Priesthood Sessions begin at 6 p.m. and are only viewed at local LDS Church meeting houses and are only available to male Priesthood holders. Sessions for either young women or Relief Society Women are also only viewed at local LDS Church meeting houses.
How Can I Attend General Conference?
You do not have to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Attend General Conference. Anyone can attend. The tickets are free of charge. If you plan on physically attending the General Conference, you can obtain tickets by your local ecclesiastical LDS Church leader known as a Bishop. You can also obtain tickets by writing to church headquarters. Standby tickets are also available by waiting in line at the the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square many hours before the Conference begins. You may not be able to make it into the LDS Conference Center itself but may be seated to watch it in overflow rooms on screens in various places such as Temple Square, including the Tabernacle, Assembly Hall and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Can I Watch It On Television Or The Internet?
You can also watch it on television, on the Internet, by radio or by watching at your local LDS meetinghouse. 
If you plan on watching it on television Check your local cable provider.You can also watch them on either Dish, DirecTV, and C-band in some markets on the BYU TV station. To be very specific, it is viewed live on BYU Television on the Dish Network, Channel 9403 and DirecTV, Channel 374. If you are in the United States and wants to get BYU Television, go to the BYUTV website. Also, BYU Television International also broadcasts General Conference on man Cable systems in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese. If you are in Latin American and want to watch General Conference on BYUTV, go to the BYUTV international website. Also,  The conference usually airs on the LDS-owned media outlets KSL-TV and KBYU-TV.
If you have other devices to watch television such as Roku, you can watch it on the Mormon Channel.
If you plan on watching it on the Internet, the LDS Church has a website where you can watch it online in multiple languages. 
You can also listen to it on the Church's own official radio station, Mormon Channel or at online on the Church's radio system and at KSL (AM) or KBYU (FM) which broadcasts the four general sessions of General Conference live. So, if you are on the road or don't have television or the Internet, check your local radio listings or find the Mormon Channel on your radio.
If you want to watch it online, you can watch it on the Church's official General Conference page in which you can watch it being streamed live in various languages including American Sign Language. You can also watch previous General Conferences either on the LDS Church's YouTube page or purchase them from the LDS Church. You can also watch it on Facebook at
You can also watch them at your local LDS Church meeting house which is broadcast by satellite around the world either simultaneously or time delayed to accommodate for differing time zones.
The cool thing about having a variety of options to watch or listen to these General Conferences is that the Mormon Church makes these meetings available to 83 countries, transmitting to over 7450 church facilities worldwide and airing over 20 television and 2177 cable stations. 
Can I Watch Or Listen To The Conference In My Langauge? 
The LDS Church has volunteer language professionals translate the talks into over 90 languages live during the Conference. For Church members, this means that 98% of church members can listen to general conference in their native language.
What Does The Inside and Outside of LDS General Conference Center Look Like?  
See below for some photos I found on the Internet. I have added captions to the photos to help explain what you are looking at.
Bird's eye view of the Conference Center
Inside the Conference Center
This what the Conference Center looks like during a session
Church leaders and Choir sits on the stage facing towards the audience
Any other Interesting Facts About General Conference? 
Yes. See the infographics below: 

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