In an address during the Sunday afternoon session that closed the April 2017 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said trusting in the words of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve “is vital to our spiritual growth and endurance.”
Elder Andersen talked about the process of preparing a general conference talk and said some talks may go through 12 to 15 drafts or might even take 25 years to prepare. Yet, with no assigned topics, “heaven beautifully coordinat(es) the subjects and themes of eternal truth each and every conference.”
“I promise you that as you hear the voice of the Lord to you in the teachings of this general conference, and then act on those promptings, you will feel heaven’s hand upon you, and your life and the lives of those around you will be blessed.”
With the first general conference since the passing of President Thomas S. Monson and Elder Robert D. Hales just days away and in honor of President Harold B. Lee and President Spencer W. Kimball’s shared birthday on March 28, we have collected quotes from the final general conference address given by each prophet or apostle who has died since Elder Richard L. Evans in November of 1971.
Editor’s note: The lds.org general conference archive goes back to 1971.
March 23, 1906 - Nov. 1, 1971
During the Friday afternoon session of the October 1971 general conference, Elder Richard L. Evans gave his address titled "Should the Commandments Be Rewritten?" Elder Evans explained that the commandments are an essential guide and the only way to receive true happiness.
"Essentially this is what the gospel is: counsel from a living Father who says to his children, 'You have limitless, everlasting possibilities. You also have your freedom. It's up to you how you use it. This is what you can become if you take my advice — and this is what will happen if you don’t. The choice is yours. We all make choices every day. We all have to live with the results of the choices we make. It’s just that plain."
Click here to read "Should the Commandments Be Rewritten?"
July 19, 1876 - July 2, 1972
During the priesthood session of the April 1972 general conference, President Joseph Fielding Smith addressed priesthood holders in his talk titled "Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside," reminding them of their general responsibilities. He also shared his testimony of the Lord's faithfulness to his people.
"The Lord is with his people. The cause of righteousness shall prevail. Our cause is just, and the Lord will guide and direct us and bring us off triumphant in the end.
"I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come."
Click here to read "Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside."
Photo: The first presidency in 1970. Left to right: President Harold B. Lee, President Joseph Fielding Smith and President N. Eldon Tanner.
March 28, 1899 - Dec. 26, 1973
During the priesthood session of the October 1973 general conference, President Harold B. Lee addressed priesthood holders in his "General Priesthood Address." He spoke about being chaste and the importance of temple covenants.
"Brethren, let us have our eyes fixed on the eternal value of things, with an eye single to the glory of God, and say each to himself, that 'from now on, God being my helper, I am not going to engage in any activity unless it helps me to move myself further toward that goal of eternal life, eventually to return back to the presence of my Heavenly Father.'"
Click here to read "President Harold B. Lee's General Priesthood Address."
Oct. 24, 1883 - Dec. 2, 1975
During the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1972 general conference, Elder Hugh B. Brown gave his address titled "A Missionary and His Message." In his talk, Elder Brown expressed his love for the gospel and shared a story about missionary work.
“From the center of my heart to the ends of my fingers and toes, I know that this is the work of God. I know that the gospel has been restored. I know that the men who are leading the church are inspired and directed by him who appointed them. I know the gospel will roll forth until it fills the whole earth, and I am looking forward to the time when all of us will be united on the other side and carry on the great work that we have so falteringly tried to do here on earth.”
Click here to read "A Missionary and His Message."
Photo: The Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall speaks to LDS Church President David O. McKay and counselor Hugh B. Brown inside the Tabernacle prior to President Kennedy's address on Sept. 26, 1963.
Dec. 11, 1896 - Aug. 19, 1978
During the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1977 general conference, Elder Delbert L. Stapley gave his address titled "The Blessings of Righteous Obedience." His talk focused on the importance of obedience and understanding the commandments. He also explained the purpose of hardships in this life.
“Sometime in the eternities to come, we will see that our trials were calculated to cause us to turn to our Heavenly Father for strength and support. Any affliction or suffering we are called upon to bear may be directed to give us experience, refinement and perfection.”
Click here to read "The Blessings of Righteous Obedience."
May 9, 1898 - Nov. 27, 1982
During the Sunday afternoon session of the October 1982 general conference, President Nathan Eldon Tanner gave his address titled "Let Us Do As We Have Been Counseled." President Tanner reminded members to be obedient to the counsel of the Lord. He also expressed his gratitude for general conference.
“I wish to thank the Lord that we can participate in this kind of service and go away from here determined to improve our lives and to be an influence for good in the world. And I bear testimony that this is the work of the Lord. I know it is true, and if we will live according to its teachings, we will have greater joy than we will find in any other way.”
Click here to read "Let Us Do As We Have Been Counseled."
Photo: At the Oakland California Temple dedication in 1964 are, from left, President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Hugh B. Brown, President David O. McKay and President N. Eldon Tanner.
Feb. 6, 1886 - Jan. 11, 1983
During the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1982 general conference, Elder LeGrand Richards gave his address titled "What the Gospel Teaches." Elder Richards bore testimony of the truths of the gospel, expressed his love for the church and invited members to obtain their own testimonies.
“I am proud to be a member of this great church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What an appropriate name for the true church of Christ to bear in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. I love the church because of what it teaches me.”
Click here to read "What the Gospel Teaches."
Photo: Elder LeGrand Richards, left, Elder Thomas S. Monson and David Lawrence McKay.
Nov. 7, 1900 - Jan. 11, 1984
During the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1983 general conference, Elder Mark E. Petersen gave his address titled "The Angel Moroni Came." Elder Petersen's talk focused on the significance of the Restoration.
"We declare that there is revelation today! There are apostles and prophets on earth now! They are inspired, and they do speak the word of God. Marvelous and repeated angelic visitations have taken place in modern times as God once again established his divine church on earth, following a long period of darkness.”
Click here to read "The Angel Moroni Came."
Photo: President Ezra Taft Benson, then-president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, smiles at a comment made by Elder Mark E. Petersen in April 1975.
July 29, 1915 - April 19, 1985
During the Saturday morning session of the April 1985 general conference, Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave his address titled "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane." During his talk, Elder McConkie, who would pass away less than two weeks later, discussed Christ's love and the Atonement.
“I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.
"But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way."
Click here to read "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane."
March 28, 1895 - Nov. 5, 1985
Due to health issues, during the Saturday morning session of the October 1982 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball's personal secretary, D. Arthur Haycock, read his address titled "The Lord Expects Righteousness." President Kimball's address focused on the changing times and the everlasting gospel. He also shared his witness of living prophets and apostles.
"My brothers and sisters, there seems to be a general state of wickedness in the world in these perilous yet crucially momentous days. But in the midst of all the turmoil about us, we can have an inner peace. We are richly blessed and have so much to be thankful for. As I meditate upon these things, I remember the words of the Lord, 'For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required' (Luke 12:48). The Lord expects of us righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return for the bounties of life he has so richly bestowed upon us."
Click here to read "The Lord Expects Righteousness."
Sept. 19, 1897 - May 20, 1988
During the Sunday morning session of the April 1983 general conference, President Marion G. Romney's son George J. Romney read his father's address titled "Unity." President Romney's talk explained the importance of working together as a "united people."
“The way to unity is for us to learn the will of the Lord and then to do it. Until this basic principle is understood and observed, there will be no unity and peace on the earth. The power of the church for good in the world depends upon the extent to which we, the members thereof, observe this principle.”
Click here to read "Unity."
May 6, 1915 - Feb. 25, 1994
During the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1992 general conference, Elder Marvin J. Ashton gave his address titled "A Yearning for Home." He invited members to focus on returning to their heavenly home.
“When we have a yearning and don’t know what it is for, perhaps it’s our soul longing for its heartland, longing to be no longer alienated from the Lord and the pursuit of something much higher, better and more fulfilling than anything this earth has to offer."
Click here to read "A Yearning for Home."
Photo: From left, then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder Marvin J. Ashton visit after a general conference session on April 12, 1980.
Aug. 4, 1899 - May 30, 1994
During the Saturday morning session of the October 1989 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson, who was the second counselor in the First Presidency at the time, read President Ezra Taft Benson's address titled "To the Elderly in the Church."
"God bless the elderly in the church. I love you with all my heart. I am one of you.
"You have so much to live for. May these golden years be your very best years as you fully live and love and serve. And God bless those who minister to your needs — your family, your friends and your fellow Church members and leaders."
Click here to read "To the Elderly in the Church."
Photo: President Spencer W. Kimball, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Ezra Taft Benson.
Nov. 14, 1907 - March 3, 1995
During the priesthood session of the October 1994 general conference, President Howard W. Hunter gave his address titled "Being a Righteous Husband and Father." President Hunter encouraged priesthood holders to uphold their responsibilities and work toward eternal salvation for the entire family.
"A man who holds the priesthood regards the family as ordained of God. Your leadership of the family is your most important and sacred responsibility. The family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life."
Click here to read "Being a Righteous Husband and Father."
July 6, 1926 - July 21, 2004
During the priesthood session of the April 2004 general conference, Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave his address titled "Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been." During his talk, Elder Maxwell invited the brethren to recall memories and count their blessings. He also spoke of using agency to follow God.
"Brethren, there are clusters of memories embedded in each of your lives. And these can help us to 'remember how merciful the Lord hath been' (Moro. 10:3). He certainly has been to me!
"Brethren, as you submit your wills to God, you are giving him the only thing you can actually give him that is really yours to give. Don’t wait too long to find the altar or to begin to place the gift of your wills upon it! No need to wait for a receipt; the Lord has his own special ways of acknowledging."
Click here to read "Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been."
Sept. 2, 1906 - July 31, 2004
During the Saturday morning session of the April 2004 general conference, Elder David B. Haight gave his address titled "How Great the Wisdom and the Love." Elder Haight testified of the gospel's truthfulness and expressed confidence in God's love for his children.
“I assure you that in those sleepless nights that I’ve had at times, when you attempt to solve all of your problems and to make new resolutions of things that need to be done, I have had those heavenly thoughts that lift us. God our Heavenly Father loves us, as we should love Him. He selected his son to come to earth and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ, for whom this church is named and which we bear witness to. ...
“The gospel is true. I know it; I’m a witness of it.”
Click here to read "How Great the Wisdom and the Love."
July 31, 1920 - Aug. 10, 2007
During the Sunday morning session of the April 2007 general conference, President James E. Faust gave his address titled "The Healing Power of Forgiveness." He reminded members that on their path to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being, forgiveness is essential.
“The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through his Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite or revenge. For all of us who forgive 'those who trespass against us,' even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.”
Click here to read "The Healing Power of Forgiveness."
June 23, 1910 - Jan. 27, 2008
During the Sunday morning session of the October 2007 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley gave his address titled "The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain." President Hinckley explained that the Lord's promise to help the church move forward was being fulfilled. He also shared his testimony of the Restoration and encouraged those listening to gain their own testimonies of Joseph Smith's First Vision.
"To you, this day, I affirm my witness of the calling of the Prophet Joseph, of his works, of the sealing of his testimony with his blood as a martyr to the eternal truth. Each of you can bear witness of the same thing. You and I are faced with the stark question of accepting the truth of the First Vision and that which followed it. On the question of its reality lies the very validity of this church. If it is the truth, and I testify that it is, then the work in which we are engaged is the most important work on the earth.”
Click here to read "The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain."
June 11, 1917 - Dec. 1, 2008
During the Saturday afternoon session of the October 2008 general conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave his address titled "Come What May, and Love It." Elder Wirthlin spoke about reactions to adversity and how those contribute to happiness and success.
“As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say, as did my mother, 'Come what may, and love it.'”
Click here to read "Come What May, and Love It."
Aug. 5, 1922 - May 30, 2015
During the Saturday morning session of the April 2015 general conference, Elder L. Tom Perry gave his address titled "Why Marriage and Family Matter — Everywhere in the World." Elder Perry reminded members that family is the key to eternal happiness.
“My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world. It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill.
"Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness."
Click here to read "Why Marriage and Family Matter — Everywhere in the World."
Sept. 10, 1924 - July 3, 2015
During the Saturday morning session of the April 2015 general conference, President Boyd K. Packer gave his address titled "The Plan of Happiness." During his talk, President Packer spoke of the Savior's Atonement and what it makes possible as it is applied.
“I bear witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He stands at the head of the Church. Through His Atonement and the power of the priesthood, families which are begun in mortality can be together through the eternities. The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, he has promised that he would atone. And when he atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity.”
Click here to read "The Plan of Happiness."
Nov. 7, 1928 - Sept. 22, 2015
During the Sunday afternoon session of the October 2014 general conference, Elder Richard G. Scott gave his address titled "Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority." In his talk, he invited members to exercise faith while experiencing challenges.
"I am not suggesting that all of life’s struggles will disappear as you do these things. We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing. Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges. I testify that as we actively come unto him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face. ..."
Click here to read "Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority."
Aug. 24, 1932 — Oct. 1, 2017
In the April 2017 Saturday afternoon session of general conference, Elder Robert D. Hales gave a talk titled “Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” He said the meaning of the word “disciple” is more than just a follower of Jesus Christ: Discipleship is a state of striving to be more like Him. Such disciples have the attributes of Christ “woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.”
“I testify that everyone can be a disciple of the Savior. Discipleship is not constrained by age, gender, ethnic origin, or calling. Through our individual discipleship, we, as Latter-day Saints, build up a collective strength to bless our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.”
Click here to read “Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Aug. 21, 1927 — Jan. 2, 2018
In the Sunday morning session of the April 2017 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson delivered an address called “The Power of the Book of Mormon.” He implored members to read the Book of Mormon every day and gain a firm testimony of its truthfulness.
“If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.”
Click here to read “The Power of the Book of Mormon.”