Sunday October 1, 2017 was the final day of the 187th Semi-annual General Conference of the LDS Church. Conference Sunday is always my “church service marathon” day. It truly is one of the longest days twice per year for me. I was up and going for over 20 hours this time.
A General Conference is always a spiritual feast – a refreshing oasis as we travel through the parched desert of life. The messages in this Conference were inspiring, the music was amazing, the Spirit of God was felt strongly, and sweet.
What a joy General Conference is!
But, there was also sadness in this Conference, as we received word on Sunday afternoon that one of our beloved apostles, Elder Robert C. Hales, passed away at 12:15 PM.
Elder Hales has struggled with his health for many years and had been in the hospital since last week. His death on Sunday afternoon added an extra tenderness to our final session of Conference.
I’ve already blogged about Elder Holland’s Perfect Talk, but I don’t have time or space right now to share all of the marvelous messages we enjoyed in this Conference!
I do want to share the powerful ending.
The concluding speaker was apostle Neil L. Andersen, and his remarks were obviously changed from the original talk he had prepared. His message had certainly been updated within the past three hours since Elder Hales death.
Elder Andersen referred to hand written notes. He referenced quotes from talks that we had heard during the Conference – and even quotes from speakers just prior to his talk. He highlighted some of the significant messages during the conference that he felt we should especially study and implement. From my view, the teleprompter was blank during Elder Anderson’s remarks. This is highly unusual for General Conference – since speakers generally submit their talks several days prior for the teleprompter and translation booths to prepare (Fun Fact: Did you know Conference is now translated into 94 different languages?).
So, when Elder Andersen stood and spoke to us with this heart-felt extemporaneous message – it was quite electrifying!
There were two empty chairs during this Conference. President Thomas S. Monson (viewing from home due to illness and frailty), and Elder Hales.
Elder Andersen ensured both of them spoke to us during this Conference.
First, Elder Andersen shared a brief quote from the talk that Elder Hales prepared for this Conference, but would never give.
Elder Hales lived and died with 100% faith. He has sealed his testimony of faith with his life, and is now standing in the presence of God. God bless you Elder Hales! May we all strive to follow your example.
Second, Elder Andersen allowed President Monson to conclude the conference by invoking his words of a prior prophetic blessing:
“As I leave this Conference, I invoke a blessing upon you. May the messages and the spirit of this Conference find expression in all you do. In your homes, in your work, in your meetings, and in all your comings and goings.
I love you. I pray for you. May God bless you. May his promised peace be with you now and always.”
Elder Hales and President Monson have inspired and blessed our lives during this unforgettable General Conference. There is so much to do now to learn and grow from this Conference! We will be studying the talks. We will be pondering the insights we received. We will be acting upon our ideas and promptings …. until the next Conference arrives in 6 months!