SALT LAKE CITY – With the gentle, peaceful strains of "I Need Thee Every Hour" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir still reverberating in the Conference Center, the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints closed Sunday afternoon with a blessing from the man church members consider to be their prophet.
"Now, as we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you," said President Thomas S. Monson, pointing his finger around the vast congregation to make clear he meant everyone. "May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began two days ago."
Those truths, President Monson said, provide "meaning and purpose and hope to our lives," and will see us through troubled times.
"Heavenly Father is mindful of the troubles we face," he said. "He loves each of us and desires to bless us and to help us."
The concluding conference session, the fifth general session of the weekend, also featured addresses by three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, including Elder L. Tom Perry, who spoke about the theme of deliverance that is found in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. "We can be delivered from the ways of evil and wickedness by turning to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures," Elder Perry said.
He also talked about what a blessing it is for Latter-day Saints to be able to draw spiritual strength and insight from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
"Neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon in and of themselves is sufficient," he said. "Both are necessary for us to teach and learn about the full and complete doctrine of Christ. The need for the other does not diminish either one of them. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are necessary for our salvation and exaltation."
Elder M. Russell Ballard, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said the church "is a mooring in this tempestuous sea, an anchor in the churning waters of change and division, and a beacon to those who value and seek righteousness."
Elder Ballard referred to the GPS technology associated with his cellphone, and expressed amazement at its ability to prevent him from getting lost. But, he said, "we have available to us a tool even more remarkable than the best GPS."
"The Lord uses this church as a tool in pulling his children throughout the world toward the protection of his gospel," Elder Ballard said, adding that "the gospel of truth and light attracts the honest in heart and the honorable of the earth who seek what is moral and good."
The final apostle to speak during the conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen, urged his listeners to pay attention to the things that have been taught during general conference.
"The messages we have heard during this conference are guideposts from the Lord on our journey of discipleship," Elder Andersen said. "As we have listened during the past two days, praying for spiritual guidance – and as we study and pray about these messages in the days ahead – the Lord blesses us with customized direction through the gift of the Holy Ghost. These feelings turn us even more toward God, repenting, obeying, believing and trusting."
Elder Andersen also offered comforting words of assurance to those who have prayed for a miracle that doesn't happen – at least, not yet.
"At times we thoughtfully wonder why the miracle we have so earnestly prayed for does not happen here and now," he said. "But as we trust the Savior, promised miracles will occur. Whether in this life or the next, all will be made right."
Four members of the Seventy also spoke during the Sunday afternoon session, including Elder O. Vincent Haleck, who said, "We are a people with a history of vision and the faith and courage to do. Look at where we have come and the blessings we have received. Believe that he can bless you with vision in your life and the courage to act."
Elder Larry Y. Wilson talked about the importance of leading by "principles of righteousness," noting that "our children are in our homes for a limited time. If we wait until they walk out the door to turn over to them the reins of their moral agency, we have waited too long. They will not suddenly develop the ability to make wise decisions if they have never been free to make any important decisions while in our homes."
Elder David F. Evans shared his brother-in-law's conversion story, and invited church members to act on their impulses to share the gospel "without delay."
"Talk to your friend or family member," he said. "Do it in a natural and normal way. Let them know of your love for them and for the Lord. Missionaries can help.
"As you act on the prompting and do it with love, watch as our Heavenly Father uses your willingness to act to bring about a miracle in your life and in the life of the person you care about."
And Elder Paul B. Pieper warned "secular voices are growing in volume and intensity. The world increasingly mocks and urges believers to abandon the sacred."
"That which is sacred to God becomes sacred to us only through the exercise of agency," he said. "Each must choose to accept and hold sacred that which God defines as sacred. He sends light and knowledge from heaven. He invites us to accept and treat it as sacred."
At the conclusion of the session, President Monson paused as he made his way out of the Conference Center. He turned and waved to the congregation. Thousands of hands shot into the air to return the wave – a shared moment of love and greeting between a prophet and his people.
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