The vast main hall of the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City will be empty again for its April 2021 general conference, the First Presidency announced Thursday morning, but that won’t preclude it from reaching a worldwide audience.
The April 3 and 4 conference will be a virtual-only one for the third consecutive time due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The previous two pandemic-era conferences last year drew the largest global audiences in conference history.
Each session of the conference again will be broadcast from the Conference Center Theater. The theater seats 850 people, but only the six to eight speakers and their spouses will attend a session with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and their spouses.
The main hall of the Conference Center holds 20,000 and traditionally is close to full for each of the five sessions of a general conference.
Music for the conference will be recordings from previous general conferences.
Church leaders first announced a virtual-only general conference on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.
The virtual-only nature of the April 2020 conference did not curb its impact. President Russell M. Nelson led the church in a Hosanna Shout for joy to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, announced eight new temples and organized a global fast for relief from the pandemic.
The broadcast for that conference originated from a theater in the Church Office Building. Viewership for the conference set a record, in part because it was broadcast on national television for the first time in more than two dozen countries, including New Zealand, Nigeria and the Philippines.
In June, church leaders announced the October 2020 would be virtual-only. The number of television stations carrying some or all of conference expanded to about 50 countries.
Pandemic health restrictions preclude filling the Conference Center. Also, governments around the world are enforcing travel restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
“As a worldwide organization, we have an obligation to be good citizens and to act with caution as it relates to such a unique setting as general conference, which traditionally brings thousands of visitors to Salt Lake City from around the globe,” the First Presidency said in June.
The April 2021 conference will be streamed live in English on DeseretNews.com, in more than 70 languages on broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and more than 30 languages on the Gospel Library app. Sessions will be broadcast on the Latter-day Saints Channel, radio, television, satellite and other digital channels. A detailed list is available at Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.