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Footnotes provided by Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles with their general conference talks often are simple citations to the scriptural anchors of church doctrine, but they also can be additive.

For example, a footnote can offer a window into what a church leader is thinking about or reading, provide an interesting further explanation of a statement made in a talk or create additional clarity.

Here are six compelling examples from this month’s 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Peace is required, agreement is not

President Russell M. Nelson’s landmark conference essay on peacemaking included this paragraph:

“Brothers and Sisters, the pure love of Christ is the answer to the contention that ails us today. Charity propels us ‘to bear one another’s burdens’ rather than heap burdens upon each other. The pure love of Christ allows us ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things’ — especially in tense situations. Charity allows us to demonstrate how men and women of Christ speak and act — especially when under fire.”

Then he said, “Now, I am not talking about ‘peace at any price.’” That line was followed by this concise footnote:

“Being a peacemaker does not require us to agree with the ideas or beliefs of others.”

President Nelson’s plea for Latter-day Saints to be peacemakers without compromising doctrinal beliefs is consistent with what he and other senior church leaders have said when they talk around the world for years about religious freedom. Their position is that Latter-day Saints should build bridges of understanding wherever possible, building on commonalities.

Here’s what President Nelson said to reporters after meeting with Pope Francis in 2019:

“The differences in doctrine are real and they’re important, but they’re not nearly as important as the things we have in common — our concern for human suffering, the importance of religious liberty for all of society and the importance of building bridges of friendship instead of building walls of segregation.”

President Nelson’s yearlong call for unity

‘Thou art my dear child in whom I delight’

Some footnotes reveal tenderness.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve reached back to the 1500s to show how the way Heavenly Father spoke to Jesus Christ at his baptism can help everyone personalize how they can hear his voice speaking to them today.

In his talk, Elder Renlund said, “According to the New Testament gospel accounts in Mark and Luke, Heavenly Father spoke directly to Jesus at his baptism, saying, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.’ When we embark on the covenant path through baptism, I can imagine Heavenly Father saying a similar thing to each of us, ‘Thou art my dear child in whom I delight. Keep going.’”

In the footnote, he explained how he came to use the word delight, which is not used in the King James Version of the Bible’s accounts of Christ’s baptism. Elder Renlund quoted the passage three ways, the first two from the KJV:

  • “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
  • “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
  • “Thou arte my dear Son in whom I delyghte.” (William Tyndale’s translation)

He called Tyndale’s translation “even more vivid and intimate than the King James Version.”

Pointing to other resources

Four leaders pointed footnote readers to other resources in notable ways.

  • President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, spent nearly his entire talk quoting Jesus Christ from scripture. But first he said that Latter-day Saints believe “that the scriptural records of words spoken by ‘God or the ‘Lord’ are almost always the words of Jehovah, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ.” His footnote directed readers to learn about the church’s position from this landmark 1916 statement: “The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve.”
  • Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Twelve said “Jesus Christ is the strength of parents” and mentioned three resources for parents — 1. “For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices,” 2. FSY conferences and 3. Teachers, advisors and mentors. He added more in his footnote: “Two other resources worth mentioning: The digital version of this year’s ‘Come, Follow Me’ resource includes a new section titled ‘Preparing Your Children for a Lifetime on God’s Covenant Path.’ It suggests simple, home-centered ideas for helping children prepare for baptism and other covenants and ordinances. And the newly revised ‘Teaching in the Savior’s Way’ has a section titled ‘Home and Family’ that describes how the principles of Christlike teaching apply to the home (see pages 30–31).”
  • In the case of Elder David A. Bednar of the Twelve, he provided a resource in his footnotes that isn’t available anywhere online. He said in his talk that the tree in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon can be considered a representation of Jesus Christ. His footnote about that was more than half a page long, quoting a devotional he gave at the 2017 Mission Presidents Seminar. “One way of thinking about the fruit on the tree is as a symbol for the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement,” he said. Read all of footnote 18 here.
  • Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Twelve was talking about ministering to others when he said in his talk, “Our Savior is our perfect example.” His footnote encouraged readers to take a deeper dive into the actions of Christ: “The scriptures are replete with examples of how our Savior ministers. For example, amidst the pressing throng, he is present in the moment when the woman touches the hem of his garment and he feels healing flow to her (see Mark 5:24–34). Or, with ‘no leisure so much as to eat,’ (Mark 6:31), Jesus and his disciples are physically tired and seeking place to rest. Yet, seeing the multitude without a shepherd, our Savior heals, teaches, feeds them. He gathers basketfuls of loaves and fishes afterwards (see Mark 6:31–44).”
A few notes from the footnotes of Latter-day Saint leaders’ general conference talks
Apostolic asides: 29 brief insights from footnotes Latter-day Saint leaders added to conference talks

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About the church

More from apostles’ travels:

  • Elder Uchtdorf said in Jerusalem meetings: “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
  • Elder Ronald A. Rasband made his first visit to Armenia as an Apostle.
  • Elder Rasband also met with the deputy president of South Africa, Paul Mashatile.
  • Elder Gong met with NAACP and other Black leaders in San Francisco.

What a San Diego TV station said about the church’s new plans for the temple there.

See the rendering of the Montpelier Idaho Temple.

The groundbreaking was held for the Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Temple.

The open house for the newly renovated Columbus Ohio Temple begins this week.

Elder Bednar spoke about Latter-day Saint temples on the latest Church News podcast. The Church News also released this video with him, in which he talks about what world leaders and media wanted to know about the Washington D.C. Temple when he guided tours during last year’s public open house:

What I’m reading

Salt Lake City has hosted over 1,000 major sporting events since the 2002 Winter Games, which the church supported as a way to draw interest to Utah. Now, there are national players interested in building a Major League Baseball stadium down the street from Temple Square in what is being called the Power District on west North Temple Street. Here’s an inside look at what’s happening.

Here’s a compelling reflection from my colleague, Jacob Hess, on how to teach young people, solve societal problems and do scholarship. What if barriers to resolving aching societal problems are moral rather than scientific or technological? If so, should society take its cues from TikTok influencers or from moral teachers?

The 2023 NFL Draft begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. Here’s a fun look at how chaos ensued when one team failed to make its first-round selection on time during the 2003 draft.

Behind the scenes

Renderings depict what a new Major League Baseball stadium could look like on North Temple Street in west Salt Lake City.
Renderings released Wednesday, April 12, 2023, depict what a new Major League Baseball stadium could look like in the Power District located on North Temple in Salt Lake City, according to Big League Utah, a group described as a “broad community coalition led by the Miller family. It consists of Utah’s federal, state and local decision-makers, business and community leaders, former MLB baseball players and potential investors.” | Big League Utah