Semiannual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), reflecting the worldwide growth of the church from six members in upstate New York in 1830 to over 15 million today in 190 countries, nations and territories.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, referred to the General Women’s meeting held Saturday, September 27 as the opening session of the Church’s 184th Semiannual General Conference, which concluded Sunday, October 5. This first session of the conference featured a pre-recorded choir of Korean girls singing in their own language, a video message from Mormon girls and women around the world each speaking in native tongue, and a prayer by South African Dorah Mkhabela, member of the Church’s Young Women’s General Board. Women from Brazil, Japan and Peru are also serving on this governing board.
A week of meetings, seminars and open houses held in Salt Lake City and attended by worldwide leadership, culminated in five general conference sessions, viewed by the church membership worldwide in over 200 countries by television, satellite and internet. The majority, over 8.6 million members of the church, reside outside of the United States of America. The proceedings of the conference were translated into 94 non-English languages using 1500 translators and over 700 interpreters. This allowed people of the world to literally hear the gospel in their own language, an essential concept began in 1844 when the first official church missionaries preached in the Tahitian language in French Polynesia. Of the 83,000 missionaries currently serving around the world, many will return with superior language skills, supplying a robust pool of translators from which to draw.
For the first time in conference history, on Saturday and Sunday, three members of the Seventy, whose office is mentioned in the New Testament and are also known as “traveling ministers”, shared messages in their native language. Chi Hong Wong spoke in Cantonese, Eduardo Gavarret spoke in Spanish and Carlos Godoy in Portugese. Elder Jeffery R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated, “What a wonderful new element introduced into our General Conference format”. This trend will allow non-English speaking church leaders to fully express their thoughts, feelings and testimony in their native tongue without the limitation of expression based on their own limited command of the English language.
With encouragement from church leadership, social media provided real time sharing of conference messages. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter provided a worldwide flood of posts, with #LDSconf and #sharegoodness as two of the most popular trending worldwide.
Kathryn and Glen Barney of The Woodlands, Texas were watching the broadcast with family members. “It was a little distracting listening to one language in the background and then hearing the translation on top of it”, Kathryn said. Glen added, “I was on a social networking site and the comment was made – that is what the rest of the world has put up with for decades. Get over it.”