Another General Conference has come and gone. It is Wednesday already, and I haven’t written anything about it. Usually by now I would have written several silly “non-inspirational Conference observation” posts, as well as a more serious overview. I’ve been getting emails and FB messages wondering what’s going on. Basically, this year was just different for a couple of reasons.
First, we traveled to Salt Lake to attend. When you are going to and from the Conference Center, with family in tow, going out to eat, visiting family etc., there isn’t much time to sit down and write. Normally, I just have to turn off the TV and get cracking.
Second, after Conference was over, I looked at my notes and found that I had written down very few clever things to create a clever post – and I took lots of notes. Sure, there was a possessed fly, a yawning choir boy, and both Mormon and anti-Mormon protesters, but those were too easy of targets. I did not want to make any jokes about Elder Nielsen and energy drinks, because it seemed disrespectful (exclamation point.)
Basically, this year seemed to be more serious business to me, and I will touch on some of those things over the next few days. Sorry if I let you down.
Before the Saturday afternoon session began, I struck up a conversation with the couple seated next to me in the Conference Center. They were excited to be there. The wife told me that it was their very first time attending in person, and had ben looking forward to it for a long time.
If you are willing to strike up conversations, you can meet people from all over the world. I met a man on the Trax trolley from Honolulu – he gave me five extra tickets – I gave an extra one to a lovely girl from Brazil. So, out of curiosity, I asked the sister next to me where she was from.
She said, “Murray, Utah.” (For those who don’t know, Murray is about eight miles away from the Conference Center.) She went on to explain that she had always wanted to attend, but “just never did.”
It struck me as odd that people come from all over the world to attend General Conference, but people who live down the street have never been. I guess it is like those who live near the ocean, but never go to the beach, or someone who lives in NYC, but has never gone to the Statue of Liberty.
I do have something I would like you to consider: Attend. At least once.
Why? Because it is one of those things that everyone needs to experience. Sure, I understand the beauty of watching in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies, with food and traditions. All of that is great. Personally, I have come to rely on the “pause” and “rewind” buttons on the remote as I am watching conference, and feel somewhat lost without them.
Even with those good things, you need to attend at least ONCE in your life.
Here are my 10 reasons why:
1) The Music. Hearing the choirs in person is great. It moves you. But no matter how great the Tabernacle Choir is, it pales in comparison to 20,000 standing and singing together. Especially during the Priesthood sessions. You’ve never really heard men sing until you have stood with them and hear them belt out a hymn in Conference.
2. Belonging. There is something reassuring about seeing tens of thousands of people in one place, and knowing that those people share your faith and values. It reminds us that we are part of something really, really big – and getting bigger. I imagine this would be especially reaffirming to those who live in areas where there are not many members of the Church.
3) Sustaining. If you can, attend the Saturday Afternoon session when the sustaining votes are taken. It is a great feeling to raise your hand to sustain the prophets when they are sitting in front of you, in the same room. (A giant room, but the same room nonetheless.)
4) The Hush. 20,000 people can generate a lot of noise, even when trying to be reverent. But the moment that the prophet enters the room, everyone stands up, and the room becomes silent. It is remarkable how quiet it gets, and how instantly. I love this sign of respect.
5) The Example. I want my kids to know what I think is important in this life. I want them to see me stand in quiet respect. I want them to see me sustain the Brethren. I want them to see me taking notes and listening. I also want them to know that this is important enough for me to leave work, and spend the money it takes to do this once in a while – even if it means no Disneyland this year.
6) Build Family Memories. The FOMLs range from 11 to 25, and we are starting to spread out. Attending Conference together is something we can do. It is a bonding experience.
7) Admire the Beauty. The Conference Center is gorgeous, and immaculate. So is Temple Square, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and all the grounds in-between. The beauty of the gardens, fountains and buildings in admirable, and contributes to the peaceful feelings that permeate Conference Weekend,
8) Witness the Opposition. There are always protesters outside of Conference. They have their signs, and their voices. It is a good reminder to me, and a good thing for my kids to know, that there is opposition out there – right out there. This year was interesting in that it seemed that there were fewer anti-Mormon protesters at the Conference Center than usually, but they were offset by the increasing number of anti-Mormon protesters that belong to the Church.
9) Familiar Faces. I have never been to Conference without running into people I know – either people from home, or people I haven’t seen for ages. I have also met new friends, even during such a short trip.
10) Feel the Spirit. I feel the Spirit when I am watching at home. I feel him testify as to what is being taught. I also am taught things that aren’t being spoken. That is one of the beauties of Conference. I asked my EC what here favorite part of attending was, and she said it was the different Spirit that you feel when you are there in person. I agree. I don’t know if it is because there is a collective power that comes from so many like-minded people, or the presence of God’s chosen servants, or the sacrifice it takes so many to get there – but it is different, and palpable. And powerful.
We only attend Conference once every few years, and we rarely have tickets. We just show up and are provided for – I guess it is a test of faith.
If you have never attended, give it a try – at least once. Whether you live on the other side of the world, or just down the street, it is something you should experience.
April is coming soon, so get planning. Next time, I will be watching with my remote in hand, with my family gathered around the TV, with a great big drink next to me. Both methods are great, and both need to be experienced.
So that was YOU!? Kidding, we were on the opposite side of the room (according to your photo). This was my first General Conference, I too was amazed at the hush of the crowd and the wonderful spirit throughout the entire meeting. I agree with you, I live in West Jordan (not far from Murray) and have only experienced conference through the TV, this was much better. Hopefully I can convince my EC to battle the crowds and go again.
Conference is my favorite time of year! I was within 10 people of getting inside back in the 70’s… but even sitting on the grounds right outside was glorious! Now I love just sitting alone with my journal in hand… imagining the millions around the world doing the same thing… and tears spring to my eyes as I bow my head to pray, and join in song with the choir! There is something magical about watching it LIVE (as opposed to taping it) – the Spirit just jumps right through the airwaves, and it’s always as if the Prophet has read my journal, and planned the whole conference around MY needs! I’m sure everyone feels the same way… and that in itself is a miracle!
I don’t agree. I do agree that conference is awesome! However, My most amazing spiritual experiences, and the times when I have felt all that you are describing- were not during conference in SLC. Or in private meetings with important people. It was in my home. With my family near. I dont believe that the Lord would be exclusive with such a spiritual outpouring to any faithful Saint based on location.
Would you dare read this post to poor Saints in Africa? They may forever feel that they were somehow missing out. The Lord is no respecter of Persons, or Locations.
Actually, I would. I was involved in bringing friends from Africa to conference with his family so they could have the experience. Twice.
Here is what I said earlier (Maybe you missed it) “While I agree with you that the Spirit can be felt just a strongly – or stronger than at the Conference Center, that is only 1 of the 10 points I made in the post. So, I will agree with you to the tune of 10%.”
I said (maybe you missed it) Spiritual outpourings-All of those things were so powerful to you because of the spirit.. I also said Poor African Saints. Not African saints with Friends who have money. Again- The Lord is no respecter of Locations.
I agree, it’s an experience that everyone should have. When you live so close, you just take it for granted I guess. I spent 20 years in Utah County and only occasionally went to the see the lights at Temple Square at Christmastime. I always assumed I could go next year. Now that I’m thousands of miles away, I regret every year that I lived so close and didn’t take advantage of it. But as far as attending Conference goes, I remember there being very few tickets available for the many saints who live so close. The one time I went was with my friend’s parents who came from Canada and they had extra tickets.
so your youngest is 11…i guess you really aren’t mr. henneke…
I love going to Conference!
It was a year ago that my kids and I decided to attend Conference in person. We went to the Saturday morning session in April. I had no idea about how to get tickets, so I emailed my bishop and he told me to contact the Stake Executive Secretary. It was a lovely experience and I can’t believe I waited 40+ years to think of it.
My 8yo is a music maniac and when we stood to sing the congregational hymn, she was thrilled to be singing *with* the Tabernacle Choir. We are lucky to live only 8 hours away, so we left Friday after Seminary and drove home Sunday, with conference playing on the radio. The kids had a great time this Conference, pointing out where we were sitting when they showed it and recognizing speakers we saw in person last April. It was a very neat experience and I’m glad you are recommending it, Brother MMM!
How interesting! Because I commented to my husband the opposite sentiment – for me the Spirit is the same whether at home or sitting in the conference center. So I prefer being at home where I can get a drink if I need to. :P.
I certainly think if one can afford it one should attend conference at least once in one’s life – but if you can’t, for any reason, attend, not to worry! Conference is just as awesome when watched from home or the Stake Center.
And my goodness, it certainly was fabulous, wasn’t it? At one point it felt like The Lord sat right next to me, held my hand, and answered my “Why?? Why??”. I am so grateful.
While I agree with you that the Spirit can be felt just a strongly – or stronger than at the Conference Center, that is only 1 of the 10 points I made in the post. So, I will agree with you to the tune of 10%.
How do you get tickets to conference? I haven’t been since the olden days in the tabernacle when the roommates & I just woke up early and stood in line hoping to get in. Would be fun to go in the new fancy schmancy conference center sometime.
Well, I lived in Utah until I was 28 or so. I only went to one session of conference when I was a teen. It was the YW meeting. I got carsick on the way there and sat in that hot, tightly packed tabernacle on hard benches willing myself not to puke the entire time. Then we drove to a nearby restaurant and I promptly puked in the parking lot. I don’t remember a thing about that session of conference other than wanting to puke!
Someday I hope to go to a session minus all the puke and misery. ( :
Same feeling here…that was some serious stuff! Sign of the times! We hope to all go as a family when the first three youngins turn 8!
I have always wanted to take my family to Conference. I really don’t know how to go about getting tickets for it. I have family in California who were offered Conference tickets in their Stake and Ward but my Stake and Wards have never announced General Conference tickets available (I live in the Northwest). Do you just show up and hope to find people giving tickets away?
Very saddened to hear about how many “Mormons” were protesting. I have never understood people who think they know better than God…
If I’m not mistaken, all stakes and wards/branches in North America are offered tickets. Ask your stake clerk or ward clerk when the time comes closer to Conf. And yes, you can just go and wait in the stand by line as well. If you get there early enough on stand by you can get in.
Being from Virginia, I kind of wish Conference was in June and December (aka summer and winter break) that way we might get out there sometime. Husband and I and 4 kids drove out to Utah this summer for a family reunion and church history sites along the way- Conference would’ve been the cherry on top, but we did go in the Conference Center and we heard lots of “we went there!!”s this past weekend.
I love this so much. I have a goal that when my youngest turns 8, we will all go together.
Last year was the first time I’ve ever been to Conference in person, and it was so awe-inspiring! I’m one of those people whose waterworks just spill out when the Spirit touches them. So all Sunday morning I felt on the verge of tears as we spiritually feasted. And then when Pres. Eyring said “The choir and congregation will now stand and sing “We Thank Thee, Oh God, For a Prophet”, I thought – “Well, so much for composure!” I’ve never cried so much in public, before or since. SUCH a great experience! And next time I’ll be prepared with more tissues…….
This gave me the shivers. Especially love The Hush. You nailed it.
I’ve never been and now I have a goal to go! 🙂
Yes, indeed. There were Mormons, anti-Mormons, anti-anti Mormons, and Mormon anti-Mormons. It was a reminder to me that, while Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Church, it is also the epicenter and focus of the adversaries of the Church.
Our parents took us several times as kids. We squashed into the Tabernacle. It was excellent … seriously. When I lived in Utah, I did attend in the Conference Center, and it is everything you say. We took a trip to Temple Square the weekend before, as our kids are still to little to attend in person. But, it was still amazing. I love the spirit of Temple Square. I can’t wait to take my kids for Conference when they are a bit older.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I have attended general conference 2 different times and can relate to everything you said about it, from the special spirit felt while hearing the choir in person to the feeling of belonging and feeling blessed to be surrounded by like minded individuals.
I was in Utah for conference weekend too, but was unable to attend at the conference center due to family obligations. I agree that attending a meeting in person is always better than watching from a remote location or a rebroadcast.
On a side note I have a quick story about the priesthood session live broadcast this year. My BIL is deaf, has cerebral palsy, and some other delays. He went through a period of inactivity in the church and a large part of that was due to communication difficulties. He has returned to activity in the church and for one of the first times ever my FIL and all of his sons were able to attend the priesthood session together (at the stake center) In years past my FIL has had to interpret for my BIL, but this year, because of the live broadcast he was able to bring his ipad and watch the sign language version while sitting with his family. They all felt like it was a huge blessing and my BIL said the meeting was so much better than in years past. I am so grateful for living prophets who continue to bless my life.
Loved this. Love, love, love. So glad your family was blessed this way.
My husband took me to watch a session for our 3rd anniversary. We live in Denver so it was quite the trip (we drove). It was amazing and I’m looking forward to when all my girls are old enough we can go as a family. “The Hush” was amazing to me too!
I listened to the afternoon session on the way home from St George with a coworker. Kinda funny to see us both raising our arms to the square to sustain. All by ourselves. Actually, not funny. It was cool.
I’m, planning next year to come watch it with you. So……there;s that.