This conference marks the 48th year since President Monson was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
"It seems impossible that so many years have come and gone since then," he said. "When we're busy time seems to pass far too quickly."
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles seemed to also be mindful of the passage of time when he led into his counsel to young members of the church during the opening conference session with John Ciardi's poem, "About Crows":
The old crow is getting slow;
the young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know,
the old crow knows a lot.
At knowing things, the old crow is still
the young crow's master.
What does the old crow not know?
How to go faster.
The young crow flies above, below, and rings
around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
— Where to go!
"You young crows need not fly aimlessly to and fro, unsure of the path ahead," President Packer said. "There are those who know the way." He promised young people if they will follow the counsel of church leaders, "you will be watched over and protected, and you yourself will know by the promptings of the Holy Ghost which way to go."
A wide variety of gospel themes and subjects were explored by 20 different speakers during the three Saturday conference sessions. For example, during the morning session President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, assured listeners of how much their Heavenly Father loves them, and how much they matter to him. And Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the power of the scriptures in our lives, and shared some examples of scriptures from all four of the church's Standard Works that were meaningful to him.
During the afternoon session four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke of the increased attention the church has been receiving lately, and presented four things that Latter-day Saints can do to advance public understanding of the church. Elder David A. Bednar testified of the spirit of Elijah and urged all members of the church — especially the youth of the church — to participate in the "vital work of salvation and exaltation." Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught about the doctrine of repentance, calling it "the key to happiness here and hereafter." And Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke about children and families, and the happiness each will bring in this life and in the eternities.
Another apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, spoke during the Saturday evening priesthood session. He was, in his words, "a one-man recruiting station" for "men young and old" to join the battle between good and evil as full-time missionaries because thousands more missionaries are needed. He was joined during priesthood meeting, as always, by all three members of the First Presidency. President Uchtdorf spoke about the church welfare program, indicating that providing in the Lord's way "is central to our doctrine; it is the essence of our religion" and "cannot be neglected or set aside." President Henry B. Eyring shared a number of experiences that illustrated how the process of preparation continues throughout the life of a Latter-day Saint priesthood holder and how God is "calling and preparing you to his service and the service of others."
President Monson concluded the day of conference sessions with a priesthood meeting sermon in which he taught that "as holders of the priesthood of God it is essential that we are able to face — with courage— whatever challenges come our way." He reminded his listeners that living church standards often places them at odds with the rest of the world, and urged them to develop the spiritual strength required to be able to stand alone against the world.
"With all my heart and soul I pray that every man who holds the priesthood will honor that priesthood and be true to the trust which was conveyed when it was conferred," President Monson said. "May each of us who holds the priesthood of God know when he believes. May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven."
The 181st Semiannual General Conference of the church will conclude Sunday with sessions at 10 a.m and 2 p.m. at the Conference Center.
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