October 2013 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon

By | October 5, 2013

In this post I’ll try to do some real-time blogging about this session of Conference. See, also, my notes from the Saturday morning session. I’ll update this post throughout the session. I may not have notes here from all speakers, and not all comments may be from inside the Conference Center.

Feel free to leave comments if you desire. I’ll try to answer them as (and if) I can.

President Uchtdorf is conducting.

President Henry B. Eyring: Sustaining of Officers

Three members of the First Quorum of Seventy were released and granted emeritus status: Elder John B. Dickson, Elder Paul E. Koelliker, and Elder F. Michael Watson. Elder Kent D. Watson of the Second Quorum of Sevent was also released. Cesar H. Hooker and Craig T. Wright were released as Area Seventies.

Julio A. Angulo (Bogota, Columbia), Peter F. Evans (SLC), and Gennady N. Podvodov (Donetsk, Ukraine) were sustained as Area Seventies.

 President Boyd K. Packer: The Key to Spiritual Protection

President Packer did not speak from the pulpit. Instead, he spoke from his seat on the stand.

I like this:

The descriptions Paul and Moroni give of our day are so accurate that they cannot be dismissed. For many it may be quite disturbing, even discouraging. Nevertheless, when I think of the future, I am overwhelmed with feelings of positive optimism.

Paul’s descriptions are found in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13. Moroni’s description is found in Ether 8:24, 26.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson: The Moral Force of Women

In praising the effect that women can have in the world, Elder Christofferson stated this:

What I mean to say is that whether you are single or married, whether you have borne children or not, whether you are old, young, or in between, your moral authority is vital, and that perhaps we have begun to take it and you for granted. Certainly there are trends and forces at work that would weaken and even eliminate your influence to the great detriment of individuals, families, and society at large.

Elder Christofferson listed three threats to the moral authority of women:

  1. The devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career.
  2. Attitudes toward human sexuality in the areas of abortion (for “personal or social convenience”) and social approval of promiscuity without consequence.
  3. Attempts to, in the name of equality, erase all differences between the masculine and feminine.

Elder Timothy J. Dyches: Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?

I was struck by these words of Elder Dyches:

Do you remember when you were made whole or complete, when our faith and joy were full to the brim? Remember the moment you found your testimony or when God confirmed to you that you were His son or daughter and that He loved you very much?

Remember when the distance closed dramatically between Heaven and earth as you received your patriarchal blessing or as you sat within the walls of the Holy Temple while making sacred covenants wtih God? If that times seems lost, it can be found again.

The reason these words touched me is because of the many times we are told, in the scriptures, to “remember.” Remembrance is, I believe, a key to putting our minds and hearts in the proper “place” in order to hear the Spirit and be edified.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Like a Broken Vessel

The topic of Elder Holland’s talk was the battles that so many face with mental illness. He mentioned many, but focused on MDD (major depressive disorder). I found it touching that he revealed he had personally battled depression at one point in his life, and it left him empathetic and sympathetic with those who continue to battle.

When I was a bishop I spent many days, weeks, months, and years working with those who suffer from mental illness. I have great love and compassion for these special children of our Father, so Elder Holland’s remarks resonated with me.

How do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all never lose faith in your Father in Heaven who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening, “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discoraged, or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.”

For those facing the “darkest abyss,” it can be very difficult to remember the love of God when it (and the love of many around us) seems so very far away. But it doesn’t change the fact that the love is there.

I learned while bishop that I cannot fix everything. (Elder Holland addressed this.) “Don’t run faster than you have strength. Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and give ‘love unfeigned.'” I have always tried to do this, even though others may not always recognize the reality of such statements.

Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel” as the psalmist said, we must remember that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making thoe repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, non-judgmental, and kind.

Powerful advice, indeed.