Saturday Morning Session

President Uchtdorf conducted the Saturday morning session, featuring talks by President Boyd K Packer, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Elder Paul E. Colliger, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Eyring, with brief introductory remarks by President Monson.

Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Parenthetical comments and discussion notes at the end of the post in italics are my own editorial comments.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: High on the Mountain Top

Invocation: Elder John B. Dixon

President Monson opened the session with brief remarks welcoming members and addressing the purpose of general conference.

  • “We are here to learn.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: You Can Make the Pathway Bright

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Twelve, again speaking from a chair, on poverty, children and the responsibility of parents:

  • Told a series of touching stories of child beggars in Japan, Cuzco and Salt Lake City — the one in Cuzco trying to steal the sacrament bread from a meeting.
  • “The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.”
  • “We must be careful to make the church family friendly.”

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, second counselor in the primary general presidency, on teaching children to understand:

  • “Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children to understand a doctrine is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment.”
  • “As our children learn to understand gospel doctrines, they become more self-reliant and responsible. They become part of the solution to our family challenges and make a positive contribution to the environment of our home.”

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, of the first quorum of the seventy, on the plan of salvation:

  • Tells story of David O. McKay visit to Hawaii when Elder Hallstrom was 5.
  • “Sometimes we use the terms ‘gospel’ and ‘Church’ interchangeably, but they are not the same. They are, however, exquisitely interconnected and we need both.”
  • “Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less-active in the gospel. Let me stress — activity in the Church is a highly-desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed. By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but, they are of greater eternal importance. …”
  • “It is possible to be active in the church, and less-active in the gospel.” and “Some think that activity in the Church is the most important thing. Therein lies a danger…it is insufficient.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: How Firm a Foundation

Elder Paul E. Koelliker, of the first quorum of the seventy, on helping others to listen to the spirit and learn to love:

  • “Awakening the desire to know enables our spiritual capacities to hear the voice of heaven.”
  • “The Father’s plan designated the pattern of the family organization to help us learn, apply and understand the power of love.”
  • “It is when we yield to His will and live His pattern that His Spirit is felt.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the twelve, on the atonement, the mortal sacrifices we are asked to make:

  • “Christians killed by other Christians are the most tragic martyrs of the Christian faith.”
  • In speaking about Temple service, Oaks suggests that such service should be understandable to other Christians, just as serving in a monastery is understandable to the rest of us.
  • “I also see unselfish Latter-day Saints adopting children, including those with special needs, and seeking to provide foster children the hope and opportunities denied them by earlier circumstances. I see you caring for family members and neighbors who suffer from birth defects, mental and physical ailments, and the effects of advancing years.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Love is Spoken Here

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the first presidency, on challenges and the faith required to meet them:

  • Tells story of having sought a challenge from the Lord and being blessed with that challenge.
  • Forgiveness leads not just to happiness, but hope.
  • “One of the keys to an enduring faith is judging correctly the curing time required. The curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. Getting older does not do it alone. It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength.”
  • Tells of President Kimball speaking at his mother’s funeral and suggesting that her trails were because she needed a little polishing. — “If a woman like that needs a little polishing, what does that mean for me?”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Redeemer of Israel

Benediction: Elder Wilford W. Andersen




8 comments for “Saturday Morning Session

  1. March 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Elder Oaks kindly acknowledged Christian service by other denominations at several points in his talk. The data he was drawing on for the statement about LDS time devoted to charitable service are referenced in the following Newsroom article (hat tip: Kristine in the BCC thread):

  2. jax
    March 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    My favorite talk of the morning was Elder Packer’s. Hit upon several VERY important points of family life.

    Does that link of yours Dave point to the study he mentioned where average LDS people are more charitable with time and money than the upper 20% of other christians? I thought that that was an interesting claim and wondered how they asked those questions and gathered the data.

  3. david packard
    March 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Elder Hallstrom’s talk was very reminiscent of Elder Poleman’s 1984 important talk. Even though certain members of the church thought Poleman’s talk went a little overboard back then (it famously had to be edited and actually re-performed), it hardly seems controversial today. I love the concept of one’s own personal responsibility to make church activity translate into gospel activity. Proper emphasis was retained on church activity, but it was basically stated that it’s a means to an end (and not an end in and of itself).

    I liked this: “It is possible to be active in the church, and less-active in the gospel.” Is it also possible that the reverse is true? Hmmm. I don’t believe it to be as a general rule, but it seems to certainly be possible in some instances. At any rate, the overall idea is, I think, a healthy one for active members (who are the ones listening to conference, etc.) to hear and think about.

  4. March 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    “Is it also possible that the reverse is true?”

    David, I do think that is a question worth asking.

  5. Researcher
    March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I started to answer jax’s question earlier but then got distracted with afternoon conference which included some beautiful talks and music and the interesting sight of David Archuleta in the choir. So, back to the UPenn research study…

    It was a multi-page anonymous study distributed at church with the approval of the Church and was filled out at church or returned later. It was very detailed as to family structure, income, and donations and volunteer hours inside and outside the church. In fact, it was so detailed that I was rather uncomfortable filling it out, and my husband was so uncomfortable revealing so much personal information — although anonymous — that he didn’t fill it out.

    The questions were very detailed as to time per week per activity, so it’s unlikely that church members would have over-estimated church service.

    In my case, I went through each of my church callings at the time and entered the time I spent in planning meetings, teaching, activities, and preparation (member of a young women presidency) and in performance and practice (ward organist). Then they asked about community involvement and I considered each volunteer effort, one by one.

    The survey was taken about a year ago (so I hope I remember the details correctly) and addressed the activities of the prior year, 2010.

  6. Cameron
    March 31, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    @ #3 and #4

    President Faust actually made remarks along those lines about 10 years ago, and told a story about an inactive couple that wasn’t ‘inactive’ in the Gospel, they just needed friendship to come back to church.

  7. April 1, 2012 at 1:14 am

    david packard, I still remember Elder Poleman’s original talk — and how much I liked it! I guess the idea of having church on the couch in sweats EVERY week is just really appealing to me. ;)

    P.S. So this session featured the first token female talk of the conference. Who will be the second???

  8. david packard
    April 1, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Alison, I also find that while watching conference, being so close to the Kitchen (okay…IN the kitchen most of the time) to be really appealing!

    On this concept of keeping gospel separate from church, I can see why the church institution doesn’t normally emphasize this. Organizations that don’t make sure that its members take care of the organization itself will eventually go extinct, and will be replaced with ones that do. However, with talks from E.Hallstorm (and Pres. Faust, and E.Poleman) we members have some nice remarks here to help us cry out from time to time when our wards and stakes become too self-serving, and don’t seem to be delivering the “product” (gospel) it was designed to deliver.

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