SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak both Saturday and Sunday during the faith's 185th Annual General Conference.
President Monson, 87, presided over the Saturday morning session but chose to alter his pattern of welcoming Latter-day Saints to conference with a short talk at the beginning.
"President Monson has chosen to reduce the number of talks he will deliver this conference," church spokesman Dale Jones said in a statement. "Over the years various formats have been used in general conference programs."
Hawkins confirmed President Monson will speak twice, once on Saturday and once on Sunday.
Elder Richard G. Scott, 86, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, did not attend the Saturday morning session.
"For health reasons," Jones said, "Elder Scott is watching general conference at home.”
The large volume of tweets about the Saturday morning session made the church's hashtag for the event, #ldsconf, second on the list of trending topics in the United States this morning.
By the end of the session, conference was 10th on the worldwide list of trending topics.
President Monson has served as an LDS apostle for 51 years. He was ordained as the faith's prophet and 16th president in February 2008.
President Monson chose not to meet on the Thursday night with U.S. President Barack Obama during the president's visit to Salt Lake City so President Monson could preserve his strength for the weekend.
"President Monson remembers fondly his visit to the White House to present President Obama with his personal family history in 2009," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Thursday. "Because of the need to preserve his strength for this weekend’s general conference, it was felt that the logistics of meeting away from Church offices, with the walking and the waiting periods associated with a presidential visit, would regrettably not be conducive to President Monson’s participation."
President Monson's counselors in the church's First Presidency met with Obama, who according to a news release expressed appreciation to President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf for the church’s leadership in seeking a balance between religious freedom and nondiscrimination and praised the faith's worldwide humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.