President Russell M. Nelson opened the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday morning by calling the church “a great global family.”

He closed the three Saturday sessions 10 hours later by saying, “We need each other.”

Church leaders filled the day with poignant references to the hope of Easter morning, declaring that Jesus Christ’s suffering and resurrection are a remedy and healing balm powerful enough to conquer all of the challenges in a world they described as divided by pandemic, genocide, racism, loneliness, abortion, contention, death and more.

They also emphasized that the church has a critical role in helping people feel a sense of belonging and said its members are needed to help fashion it into Christ’s inn of refuge, inclusion, kindness and civility, with room for all. Two leaders noted there are now more adult church members who are unmarried, widowed or divorced than married.

“We can accomplish so much more together than we can alone,” President Nelson said Saturday night. “God’s plan of happiness would be frustrated if his children remained isolated from one another.”

President Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the First Presidency, called the church’s belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and all people “the reassuring pillar of our faith. It adds meaning to our doctrine, motivation to our behavior and hope for our future.” He added that Christ’s atoning suffering was an act of love that “offered the ultimate good — the pure lamb without blemish — for the ultimate measure of evil — the sins of the entire world.”

President Russell M. Nelson waves to attendees at the Conference Center Theater before the Saturday afternoon session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 3, 2021. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church leaders welcomed an international broadcast audience to the conference on Saturday morning from the stage in the Conference Center Theater on a sunny spring day that reached a record-setting 78 degrees in Salt Lake City. They wore their now-familiar masks and sat at pandemic-appropriate distances from one another.

They spoke as a third surge of COVID-19 washed across Europe and after three recent shootings in the United States and the violent death of another U.S. Capitol officer in Washington, D.C. In addition to countering darkness, poverty, bullying and the common worldwide trials caused by COVID-19, they emphasized the need to be in holy places like the temple and make each home a similar sanctuary.

President Nelson said one lesson during the gathering restrictions imposed by the pandemic was that homes can be among the holiest places on earth. “Between now and the time the Lord comes again, we all need our homes to be places of serenity and security,” he added.

Saturday evening, he tweeted his conference message that “Present restrictions on gathering will eventually end. However, your commitment to make your home your primary sanctuary of faith should never end. As faith and holiness decrease in this fallen world, your need for holy places will increase.”

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President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, said members should prepare to return to temples, too.

“My hope for you and for all your beloved family is that you will grow in desire and determination to be worthy to go into the house of the Lord as often as your circumstances allow,” he said.

Leaders also counseled against self-inflicted wounds like perfectionism, and encouraged members to rejoice in repentance and the redemption of Christ.

191st Annual General Conference talk summaries and photo galleries
Latter-day Saint membership increased this much in 2020, according to new church statistical report

“It is a gospel of hope, of healing and of progress,” President Nelson said. “Thus, the gospel is a message of joy. Our spirits rejoice with every step forward we take.”

Referring to “this joyful Easter season,” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that, “because of Jesus Christ, our failures do not have to define us. They can refine us. … If we repent, mistakes do not disqualify us. They are part of our progress.”

General conference begins with an invitation

In his opening remarks, President Russell M. Nelson issued a specific invitation about how to listen to messages presented during the Easter weekend conference.

“As we listen to the messages that have been carefully prepared by our leaders under the direction of the Holy Ghost, I invite you to pray to identify the debris you should remove from your life so you can become more worthy,” he said.

Six other leaders spoke during Saturday’s morning session, the first of five sessions being streamed online and broadcast by TV networks in more than 70 countries, an increase from 31 a year ago. They taught about the Savior’s message, about sharing it and about kindness.

There is healing for suffering and unfairness

The brutal suffering, loneliness and unfairness of the world and the peace, belonging and healing salve of Jesus Christ highlighted the Easter weekend messages during the Saturday afternoon session. The session also included an expression of deep concern for the number of abortions in the world.

For the first time, conference featured a prerecorded message from a church leader in Africa. Elder Thierry K. Mutombo, a General Authority Seventy from the Democratic Republic of Congo, recorded his message from where he is serving in the church’s Africa Central Area presidency. 

President Joy D. Jones, general president of the Primary, speaks during the Saturday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 3, 2021. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A new Primary presidency

  • Saturday’s morning session featured an address from President Joy D. Jones. Primary not only refers to the church’s organization for children and their earliest spiritual learning, President Jones said. “To our Heavenly Father, children have never been secondary — they have always been ‘primary.’”
  • President Jones and her counselors, Sister Lisa L. Harkness and Sister Cristina B. Franco, were released during the Saturday afternoon session after five years of service. President Camille N. Johnson (president), Sister Susan H. Porter (first counselor) and Sister Amy Wright (second counselor) were sustained as the new Primary general presidency.
The Primary general presidency as of April 2021: Sister Camille N. Johnson, president, center, Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor, left, and Sister Amy Wright, second counselor. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

8 new general authorities

The eight new General Authority Seventies sustained during the Saturday afternoon session represent the United States, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines and Tonga. They are:

  • Elder Sean Douglas
  • Elder Michael A. Dunn
  • Elder Clark B. Gilbert
  • Elder Patricio M. Giuffra
  • Elder Alfred Kyungu
  • Elder Alvin F. Meredith III
  • Elder Carlos G. Revillo J.
  • Elder Vaiangina “Vai” Sikahema

Elder Sikahema, who played football for BYU and in the NFL, was called as an Area Seventy in 2019. Elder Gilbert, who served as president of BYU-Idaho and BYU-Pathway Worldwide, was called as an Area Seventy in 2019. Elder Dunn has been the managing director of BYU Broadcasting, including BYUtv, since 2017.

Membership growth

The worldwide membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was 16,663,663 as of Dec. 31, 2020, up from 16,565,036 at the end of 2019. The net increase of 98,627 church members was reflected in a statistical report issued during the Saturday afternoon session of the faith’s 191st Annual General Conference. Among the other statistics reported:

  • 31,126 congregations, up 186 year over year.
  • 3,463 stakes, up 27 from a year ago.
  • 405 missions, up six from 2019.
  • 537 districts, down five, replaced in part by the new stakes.
  • 65,440 new children of record, down from 102,102 in 2019.
  • 125,930 converts baptized, down from 248,835 a year earlier.
  • 51,819 young, full-time proselyting missionaries, down from 67,021 in 2019.
  • 130,527 church service missionaries, down from 31,333 the previous year.

Talk summaries and photo galleries

Read summaries from each of the talks given during Saturday’s three sessions, plus photos from inside the Conference Center Theater, outside Temple Square and from members around the world.