'We are all in this together' Pres. Monson reminds Mormon faithful as conference concludes
"On this Sabbath morning, I express gratitude that in my Gethsemane and yours, we are not alone," Elder Hales said. "May we wait upon him by pressing forward in faith, that we may say in our prayers, 'Thy will be done,' and return to him with honor."
Following his talk, after the television spotlight faded and he relaxed back into his chair, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland — who sits on his left — reached over and gave Elder Hales' arm an affectionate squeeze. Then Elder Richard G. Scott — who sits on his right — leaned over and whispered to him as he patted his hand. At the close of the session President Monson paused and embraced Elder Hales as he made his way from the Conference Center podium.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency also spoke during the Sunday morning session. His was a "message of encouragement," urging members of the church "upward on the path to eternal life" by being more charitable, by being witnesses of God "at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in," and by enduring to the end.
He also spoke of the "Day of Service" activities that have taken place all around the church in response to his request during the last general conference, and he promised members that "as you serve others for (the Lord), he lets you feel his love. And in time, feelings of charity become part of your very nature."
Elder M. Russell Ballard also noted Elder Hales' presence in the Conference Center at the beginning of his talk about the name of the church. Building on a theme presented by President Boyd K. Packer during the last general conference, he talked about the nine words of the church's official name, and why each is important. He urged members of the church to use the full name of the church whenever possible, as opposed to identifying themselves as "Mormons."
The word Mormon, Elder Ballard said, "has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution. We do not need to stop using the name 'Mormon,' when appropriate, but we should continue to give emphasis to the full and correct name of the church itself."
Neither Elder Ballard nor Elder Hales were in attendance in the Conference Center during Sunday afternoon's final session, during which three apostles spoke. Elder Russell M. Nelson talked about the importance of making, keeping and honoring covenants made with God. "The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a 'covenant keeper,'" Elder Nelson said. "The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter."
Elder Oaks focused his conference address on the teachings of Jesus Christ, drawing almost exclusively from Bible scriptures to consider "what he himself taught about who he was and what he was sent to earth to do."
"There is no middle ground," Elder Oaks said. "We are followers of Jesus Christ. Our citizenship is in his church and his gospel, and we should not use a visa to visit Babylon or act like one of its citizens. We should honor his name, keep his commandments and 'seek not the things of this world but seek . . . first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness.'"
Other than President Monson's concluding remarks, Elder Quentin L. Cook was the final speaker of the 181st Semiannual General Conference. He spoke of the role of adversity in our lives. Responding to the question, "Why does God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people?" he used a number of experiences — including the stories of two LDS connections to the Titanic tragedy — to make the point that there are some things that must be "viewed through the wide and clear lens of the gospel instead of the limited lens of mere mortal existence."
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir provided music for three conference session: Saturday morning and both Sunday sessions. A Primary choir from the Pleasant View/North Ogden area in Utah provided music for the Saturday afternoon session. Music for the priesthood session Saturday night was provided by a Melchizedek priesthood choir from Pleasant Grove, Utah.
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