Wow! What a weekend for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The April 2020 General Conference lived up to expectations that it would be unforgettable. In the October 2019 General Conference, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced this conference would be unlike any other previous conference and that if people prepared for it, the conference would be unforgettable. He encouraged Latter-day Saints to immerse themselves in the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.
During this conference, he introduced a new symbol, introduced a New Proclamation to the World, announced eight new temples and invited the world to fast with members of the Church on Good Friday for relief from the COVID-19 coronavirus. That’s not to mention the change in holding the conference in an auditorium with only a handful of people present. Below, you’ll find more information about each of the announcements.
President Nelson introduced the new symbol during the Saturday evening session. He said this symbol is a continuation of the effort he felt inspired to introduce back in August 2018 to refocus the Church and its members on using the Church’s divinely revealed name. Over the months since that initial message, the Church’s brands, websites, applications, email addresses, and so much more have changed to reflect the Church’s name.
“We have gone to these extraordinary efforts because when we remove the Lord’s name from the name of His Church, we inadvertently remove Him as the central focus of our worship and our lives,” said President Nelson. “When we take the Savior’s name upon us at baptism, we commit to witness, by our words, thoughts, and actions, that Jesus is the Christ.”
The symbol emphasizes the name of Jesus Christ as reflected in the name of the Church, which is contained within a rectangular shape that represents a cornerstone. In the New Testament, Paul uses the metaphor of Christ as the chief cornerstone.
Above the name and cornerstone is Thorvaldsen’s marble statue, the Christus. Jesus stands under an arch as a reminder of His emergence from the tomb three days after His death.
“[The symbol] portrays the resurrected, living Lord reaching out to embrace all who will come unto Him,” President Nelson said. “This symbol should feel familiar to many, as we have long identified the restored gospel with the living, resurrected Christ.”
You’ll see the new symbol on Church materials and detailed guides of when to use it will be made available. The symbol was already in use at the end of the conference sessions after its announcement.
“The symbol will now be used as a visual identifier for official literature, news, and events of the Church,” the prophet continued. “It will remind all that this is the Savior’s Church and that all we do, as members of His Church, centers on Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
New Proclamation to the World
In the Sunday Morning session of conference, President Nelson presented “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.” The document outlines the core beliefs of members of the Church. During his introduction of the proclamation, the Church played a pre-recorded video of President Nelson reading the proclamation in the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York, where Joseph Smith received the First Vision.
President Nelson said as leaders of the Church contemplated how to commemorate 200 years since the First Vision, they decided that instead of building a physical monument they would create a “monument of words—words of solemn and sacred proclamation—written not to be carved in ‘tables of stone,’ but in words that could be etched in the ‘fleshy tables’ of all human hearts’ (2 Corinthians 3:3).”
Following the video, President Nelson led the online congregation in the Hosanna Shout. The Hosanna Shout has its roots in the Bible and goes back to the early days of the Church. It’s a way for Latter-day Saints to honor and praise God the Father and Jesus Christ.
During the final session of General Conference, President Nelson announced plans to build eight new temples throughout the world.
- Bahía Blanca, Argentina
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Benin City, Nigeria
- Syracuse, Utah
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
The temples in Dubai and Shanghai may come as somewhat of a surprise. The Dubai temple will be the first built in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates is an example of a religiously tolerant country in the Middle East. The temple will serve thousands of Latter-day Saints in the Middle East, northern Africa, eastern Europe and western Asia.
The Shanghai temple’s announcement also came with an explanation from President Nelson. “Context for the plan for Shanghai is very important. For more than two decades, temple worthy members in the People’s Republic of China have attended the Hong Kong China Temple. But in July 2019, that temple was closed for long planned and much needed renovation. In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple—in the People’s Republic of China—for them and their ancestors,” he said.
President Nelson continued, “In every country, this Church teaches its members to honor, obey and sustain the law. We teach the importance of the family, of being good parents, and exemplary citizens. Because we respect the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, the Church does not send proselyting missionaries there; nor will we do so now.”
He concluded, “Expatriate and Chinese congregations will continue to meet separately. The Church’s legal status there remains unchanged. In an initial phase of facility use, entry will be by appointment only. The Shanghai Temple will not be a temple for tourists from other countries.”
President Nelson also called on people of faith throughout the world to join Latter-day Saints on Good Friday, April 10, to fast for relief from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“For all whose health may permit, let us fast, pray, and unite our faith once again,” he said in his Saturday evening remarks. “Let us prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic.
“I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened and life normalized.”
This is the second fast he’s called for relief to the illness. He designated Sunday, March 29, as the first fast. He said, “Good Friday would be the perfect day to have our Heavenly Father and His Son hear us.”
For other announcements and information about General Conference or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, click here.