General Conference Report
April, May, June 2016
"Prepare Ye Remnant Saints" was the theme for this year’s General Conference held at the Gathering Place in Independence, Missouri, over the days of April 3-10, 2016. In many ways, it was an appropriate theme as the Saints came together in what was evidenced as a united spirit of oneness and fellowship. Throughout the week’s programs, business meetings, and worship services, the entirety of "oneness" could not help but be felt.
For the second year the conference week began with educational sessions designed to inform and instruct the Saints on the various activities and programs, of which little may be known or fully understood. Here is a brief recap of those sessions: Sister Barbara Sherer shared how the new Children’s Hymnal came into being and was developed; President James A. Vun Cannon shared the plans for the creation of an interactive Remnant Church video to be produced for the soon-to-be Visitor’s Center at the headquarters building; Apostle Terry Patience led a presentation on how to become an everyday missionary, specifically designed for the Saints at large; Presiding Bishop W. Kevin Romer gave an overview of the new Aaronic Moments presentations to be inserted in our Sunday services; Sister Jonna Patterson provided an outstanding overview of the Remnant Church Outreach Ministries and added several of her testimonies of how this program has impacted the lives of many families; Sister Ardyce Nordeen gave a class on how to become a writer for our Church publications; Bishop Romer provided an overview of the Church’s views on tithing and consecration; President Ralph Damon led an overview by many of our branch presidents on the successes taking place in our various branches; and President Vun Cannon closed the sessions with an informative display on the coming threat to Zion: specifically how outside forces of the world are confronting the ability to share the gospel throughout the world.
This year additional preaching opportunities were provided on the Monday and Tuesday nights of conference. Patriarch Fred Church and Seventy Ray Setter brought the spoken word. Although the official start of conference was still a day away many who had already gathered, along with the Saints of the Center Place, took the opportunity to sit under the ministry of these two men.
Wednesday evening was the formal start of conference week, and, once again, the Saints and their friends and many visitors were given the opportunity to enjoy a musical drama directed by Sister Ardyce Nordeen and written by Sister Cindy Patience. Sister Patience, Apostle Patience, and Sister Nordeen also wrote the music for the production. This year’s presentation was entitled "The House of the Lord" and gave the story of how the Kirtland Temple was brought into being by dedicated Saints so long ago. Many "actors," musicians, stage crew, and sound and video personnel worked together to make this a delightful evening. If you missed it, you are encouraged to go to the Church website and take the time to view it there. It will be worth your while. (See As Touching One Thingon pages 12 and 13).
As usual, the temporal and spiritual portions of the conference began on Thursday. With worship services in the mornings, time for quorum and order meetings provided, and worship services ending our days, we found that there was very little "down time" at the conference. But the Saints never lack at finding ways and time to fellowship, evidenced by the joy shown when together at work or at play.
The hightlight of Thursday’s business session was the presentation of the inspired document to the church and conference by President Frederick N. Larsen. The document contained the action upon several men of the Quorum of Twelve, specifically: the release of Apostle Donald L. Dunn due to extenuating health concerns; the release of Apostle Gary L. Argotsinger and his subsequent call to the Order of Patriarchs; and the call of Seventy S. Roger Tracy to the Quorum of Twelve. The document further identified Elder Andrew C. Romer to be ordained to the office of high priest and then to be set apart to the office of bishop.
The Church was further counseled that the Saints are of the chosen few to bring to pass the Kingdom in these last days, and were encouraged to "Read, study, and obey!" The Lord gave word that a more zealous outreach must be given to those who have not heard the Restoration gospel, even to the point of expanding and enhancing our electronic capabilities of ministry.
As the Lord’s closing counsel, the sacrament of marriage between one man and one woman was reinforced to the Church as the basic family unit, especially in the Zionic community. We were given guidance that we must be engaged in reviewing the Church’s policy on the values of marriage and the family. He then gave direction that our faith leads to the grace of God, and it is by our "holy works" that we demonstrate our faith. (See Section R-162 on pages 10 and 11).
At the close of Brother Larsen’s presentation of this document, the conference adjourned to their respective quorums and orders to begin the deliberation on those words which were received, with their decisions to be brought back to the conference chamber on Saturday’s morning business session.
Many activities were held during the conference period. The Women’s Council held an afternoon tea for the ladies of the Church with their special invited guest President Larsen. It was an enjoyable event and provided each lady in attendance the opportunity to take home a special tea cup to remind them of that joyful time together. (See Women’s Reception on page 14).
In conjunction with the document presented by President Larsen, President Damon gave a presentation during the membership meeting on Friday specifically directed toward the relationship of "Grace, Works, and Faith – The Ongoing Struggle for Understanding." (That presentation is being prepared for insertion in a future issue of The Hastening Times for the Saint’s study.) A second class by President Damon was focused on the "Status of Religion Today" and gave some broad statistics of how the need for organized religion, especially corporate church worship, has eroded within the last ten years, and also as compared to the various identified generations of people in our society today.
Sisters Allie Purvis and Emily Kreutner hosted the Young Families Ministry again this year, and, empowered by food from Chipotle, found time to mix together some fellowship and program planning for the coming year. This ministry is specifically designed to meet some of the needs of our young college students up through young families. We trust that it will be a successful example of outreach in the years ahead.
Sister Barbara Sherer hosted a presentation of some of the songs in our new Children’s Hymnal on Saturday afternoon with songs sung by many of our young children. Of course, the joy of each parent and grandparent was fully evident as their child sang and performed before the Saints. Sister Sherer had tremendous help and we can only say "Thank you" to each of them for their assistance. (See Sing Unto the Lord a New Song! on page 15).
On Saturday, the morning business session accepted the document presented by President Larsen as the "mind and will of God" to the Church, and it was designated to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section R-162. In actions on Friday and culminating on Saturday, several ordinations and setting-aparts were approved, those taking place in a special ordination service Saturday afternoon. Those so designated were: Elders Craig W. Nordeen and Joe R. Bryant to the office of High Priest; Elder Darrin L. Moore to the office of Seventy; Seventy S. Roger Tracy to the office of Apostle; Elder Andrew C. Romer to the office of High Priest and set apart as a Bishop; and High Priests Robert E. Ostrander, Corwyn L. Mercer, and Rodney A. Walsh set apart to serve on the Standing High Council; Elder Alexander J. Vun Cannon set apart as the President of the Elder’s Quorum and Elder Edwin M. Gates set apart as a Councilor to the President of the Elder’s Quorum.
Sunday’s services, the worship highlight of each of our General Conference weeks, found the Saints partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and then sitting under the ministry of the First Presidency with the theme, "This We Believe" as relating to the crucifixion, the resurrection, and His coming.
While it is never easy to say good-bye to friends and loved ones, at this conference it was especially difficult for many. Unity and love were expressed and felt by those who came together, touching on "one thing," and they found the Spirit of God richly in their midst. Thus, the feeling of loss when leaving each other. But next year brings another opportunity to further the work, to enhance the glory, and pave the way for the coming of the King. Join us! Come and be a part of the "work and the glory."