“President Packer,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as he started his address a few minutes later, “we’re all looking forward to the 98-year-old additions to that incredible poem.”
Elder Ballard went on to speak about the priesthood, which he called “a sacred and essential gift of God.”
The power of the priesthood, he said, “is different from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God’s name.”
“That authorization or ordination is given by the laying on of hands,” Elder Ballard explained. “The power of the priesthood comes only when those who exercise it are worthy and acting in accordance with God’s will.”
Elder Ballard said the priesthood is an important element of Heavenly Father’s plan for the eternal happiness of his children.
“In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood,” he said. “Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.
“In other words,” Elder Ballard continued, “in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father. The Christian virtues of love, humility and patience should be their focus as they seek the blessings of the priesthood in their lives and for their family.”
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency, reminded conferencegoers that the Savior Jesus Christ “invites us to be close to him,” and that we draw closest to Christ through our service to others.
“My promise to you who pray and serve the Lord cannot be that you will have every blessing you may wish for yourself and your family,” he said. “But I can promise you that the Savior will draw close to you and bless you and your family with what is best. You will have the comfort of his love and feel the answer of his drawing closer as you reach out your arms in giving service to others.”
“As you bind up the wounds of those in need and offer the cleanings of his Atonement to those who sorrow in sin, the Lord’s power will sustain you,” President Eyring continued. “His arms are outstretched with yours to succor and bless the children of our Heavenly Father.”
Also speaking during the Saturday morning session was Sister Elaine S. Dalton, general president of the church’s Young Women's organization, who took her theme from the proverb: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” She shared a touching story about working with her husband, who had contracted to install the carpeting in the Conference Center when it was built 13 years ago.
“My part was to vacuum,” she said. “And so I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed. After three days, my little vacuum burned up!”
While she was doing that vacuuming 13 years ago, “trying to act well my small part,” she said, “I didn’t realize that I would one day stand with my feet on the carpet under this pulpit.”
Sister Dalton spoke of the importance of virtue to the safety and dignity of women.
"What would the world be like if virtue were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value?" she said. "If immorality, pornography and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives and broken hearts? Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God's precious daughters? If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement, 'We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,' how would women be regarded and treated?"
Also speaking during the session was Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric, who urged listeners to build their lives on a sure foundation of faith, prayer, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end as “the appropriate building blocks that will anchor our lives to the Atonement of Christ,” and Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy, who reminded listeners about the importance of repenting and forgiving. “The Savior loves you,” Elder Cardon said. “He wants to forgive.”
Music for the session was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sister Jean A. Stevens, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency, offered the benediction to the session. As far as it is known, Sister Stevens is the first woman to offer an invocation or benediction during a general session of conference.
Women have been giving sermons in general conference sessions since 1984.
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