SALT LAKE CITY — The old adage that "the family that prays together stays together" has a corollary at least twice a year: The family that prays together goes to conference together.
For the McClures of Idaho Falls, Idaho, the truism has been in effect for years.
Carrying forward the tradition Saturday morning, they were lined up three generations strong on the edge of a concrete planter on Temple Square, waiting for sessions of the LDS Church's 182nd Annual General Conference to begin.
"We're here every six months," said father Wayne McClure. "We wouldn't miss it."
Wayne headed a group that included his wife, Laurie; a son, Travis, and his wife, Elizabeth; daughters Brittney, 20, and Katelyn, 15; and another son, Nathan, 13. Sleeping peacefully in her stroller and not yet aware that she was being initiated into a family tradition was the third generation representative, Kennley, 8 weeks.
The age differences were relevant to their expectations of the conference. Brittney is expecting a mission call soon and hoped for spiritual reinforcement from church leaders before embarking on the experience.
Nathan, now elevated to the ranks of priesthood holders, was anticipating the evening priesthood meeting. "I go home and tell my mother all about it," he said.
The family's teens also had a friend who isn't LDS along as a guest, rounding out the group at nine.
Travis and Elizabeth look forward to the semiannual gatherings as a mini-vacation, a way to reconnect with his family as well as to refortify spiritual strengths.
He served a mission in Puebla, Mexico, from 2007-09 and, having moved on to the next stage in family life, is determined to make Kennley and any future children a part of this strong tradition. The young couple now lives in St. Anthony, Idaho.
Sitting in the pleasant Temple Square environs on a perfect spring day, Travis and Elizabeth were anticipating words of wisdom from their favorite speakers.
Wayne McClure could have missed out on the conference experience had it not been for the Boy Scout program sponsored by the Lewisville Idaho Ward when he was 12.
"Scouting got me (into the church)," he said.
His wife, on the other hand, has generations of LDS forebears going back to the pioneer era.
Possibly the most productive part of the conference experience may come on the way back to Idaho Falls, said Laurie McClure. The "debriefing" time is an opportunity to compare notes and discuss impressions of the messages they heard. The shared time every six months makes it easier for the parents to teach gospel principles, she said.
"Our family is super important," she said. "This time together strengthens us."
Her expectation that the McClures would find inspiration in this conference was answered early.
President Thomas S. Monson opened the Saturday morning session with a reminder that "We are here to learn." And he was followed by President Boyd K. Packer, whose whole focus was on the sanctity of family.