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President Nelson, international leaders focus Easter morning session of general conference on the risen Christ

A performance of a children’s choir in South Korea is broadcast in the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
A performance of a children’s choir in South Korea is broadcast in the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Russell M. Nelson capped a uniquely international session — contributions were made by speakers and choirs from 13 countries — of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by declaring “Jesus Christ is our leader.”

Talks, prayers and music focused on the meaning of Easter and Jesus Christ and were provided by speakers and choirs from Australia, Brazil, Fiji, Hong Kong (China), Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, the United States, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

“President Nelson expressed a great desire to have speakers from throughout the world preach the gospel of Jesus Christ on Easter morning,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, who conducted the session.

“Truly the blessings of the gospel are for every race, language and people. The Church of Jesus Christ is a global church,” President Nelson said, noting that the leaders who spoke came from every one of the world’s populated continents.

He and other leaders said that Easter morning’s message is central to all Christianity and offers purpose, peace, healing and hope in the face of heartbreak and grief.

The Church Office Building and the Salt Lake Temple, which is under renovation, are pictured during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
The Church Office Building and the Salt Lake Temple, which is under renovation, are pictured during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“The atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed each of our lives forever,” President Nelson said. “Each of God’s children deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the healing, redeeming message of Jesus Christ. No other message is more vital to our happiness — now and forever. No other message is more filled with hope. No other message can eliminate contention in our society.”

He issued a call to listeners to start today to increase their faith and put it in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I marvel at your resilience and spiritual strength in the face of illness, loss and isolation,” President Nelson said. “I pray constantly that, through it all, you will feel the Lord’s unfailing love for you. If you have responded to your trials with a stronger discipleship, this past year will not have been in vain.”

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

He offered five suggestions for developing faith and trust in Jesus Christ, which he called the greatest power available in life, one that allows people to “turn challenges into unparalleled growth and opportunity”:

  • Study: Internalize the truth that the Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to you.
  • Believe: Choose to believe and stay faithful. Take your questions to the Lord and to faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery.
  • Act in faith.
  • Partake of sacred ordinances worthily.
  • Ask Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, for help.
Elder Michael John U. Teh, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 4, 2021.
Elder Michael John U. Teh, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Michael John U. Teh, a General Authority Seventy from the Philippines, asked listeners to recognize that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live and act on that belief.

“On this Easter Sunday, just as the Savior came forth from his stone grave, may we awake from our spiritual slumber and rise above the clouds of doubt, the clutches of fear, the intoxicating pride and the lull of complacency,” he said.

He encouraged church members to go beyond thinking of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in general terms and recognize its personal significance in their lives.

“As we are increasingly coming to know the Savior, scriptural passages and the words of the prophets become so intimately meaningful to us that they become our own words,” he said, adding, “We need to recognize that knowing the Savior is the most important pursuit of our lives. It should take priority over anything else.”

The message that Christ’s resurrection overcame death was shared by each of the nine speakers from nine different countries, including Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is from Brazil.

“On this radiant Easter morning,” Elder Soares said, “my heart rejoices upon remembering the most marvelous, the most majestic and the most immeasurable act that has occurred in all of human history — the atoning sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

An international choir performs “I Am a Child of God,” which was broadcast during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
An international choir performs “I Am a Child of God,” which was broadcast during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“The glorious message of Easter morning is central to all Christianity,” said Elder S. Mark Palmer, a General Authority Seventy from New Zealand. “Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and because of this, we too will live again after we die. This knowledge gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

That purpose includes the ability to repent and improve.

“Through Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice, we can experience a mighty change of mind and heart, bringing a fresh attitude, both toward God, and toward life in general,” Elder Soares said, adding that President Nelson has referred to Christ’s gift of repentance as “the key to happiness and peace of mind.”

“The gift of repentance is an expression of God’s kindness toward His children and is a demonstration of his incomparable power to help us overcome the sins we commit,” he said. “It is also an evidence of the patience and longsuffering our loving Father has for our mortal weakness and frailties.”

Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, who is from Nicaragua, acknowledged the pain of mourning the loss of dear loved ones.

Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 4, 2021.
Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“We can imagine how Jesus’ friends, who had followed him and ministered to him, felt upon witnessing his death. We know that they mourned and wept,” she said. Like each of the speakers, she shared the story of a loss, in her case an older brother when she was 9 years old.

“Through the current global pandemic, many of us have lost loved ones — either family members or friends,” she said. “We pray for those who are grieving such loss. ... President Nelson has said, ‘Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love.’”

The tragic death of Elder Palmer’s 17-month-old sister led his family to question the purpose of life and eventually to join the church. He is grateful to his parents for their “acts of faith in response to profound sorrow.”

“I invite all who feel sorrow, all who wrestle with doubt, all who wonder what happens after we die, to place your faith in Christ,” he said. “I promise that if you desire to believe, then act in faith, and follow the whisperings of the Spirit, you will find joy in this life and in the world to come.”

Elder Edward Dube, a General Authority Seventy from Zimbabwe, encouraged church members to press toward the mark of Jesus Christ, saying that includes serving him with love and gratitude in spite of great suffering.

“To press toward the mark is to faithfully continue on ‘the straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life’ with our Savior and Father in Heaven,” he said. “While the challenges of mortality will come to all of us in one way or another, let us focus on the goal of ‘our pressing toward the mark,’ which is the prize of the high calling of God.”

Elder Edward Dube, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
Elder Edward Dube, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Annual General Conference on April 4, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, a General Authority Seventy from Hong Kong, China, also spoke about building on the sure foundation of Christ.

“Although earth and hell may combine against us, they cannot prevail if we choose to let God prevail by establishing our lives upon his rock,” he said, adding “Our lives should be filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He counseled members to rely on Heavenly Father.

“He loves us all,” he said. “He knows our potential way better than we know ourselves. He knows not only the details of our lives. God knows the details of the details of the details of our lives.”

Two General Authority Seventies, Elder José A. Teixeira of Portugal and Elder Taniela B. Wakolo of Fiji, each stressed the importance of remembering that each person is a child of God.

Elder Teixeira counseled members also to remember to be prayerful, serve others and build their foundations on Jesus Christ for protection.

“One of the most important things we can do in this life is to recognize and remember the pathway back to our Heavenly Father and faithfully and joyfully persevere throughout the journey,” he said, adding, “Whatever you must leave behind to follow the path home will one day seem like no sacrifice at all.”

Elder Wakolo, who is serving in the Philippines, said God shares his love for his children in multiple ways.

“Our Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ show their love by making it possible for us to have eternal relationships with them and our family members, by calling modern day prophets to teach and minister to us and by chastening us to help us learn and grow,” he said.

The session used hymns previously recorded by choirs from around the world.

A choir from Mexico sang “Redeemer of Israel” in Spanish. A children’s choir from South Korea wore traditional clothing and sang “I Love to See the Temple” in Korean. Choirs of women and children from around the world sang “I am a Child of God” in various languages.

The session ended with a recording of a 2018 performance of “He is Risen” by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, which has not practiced or performed together since March 2020.

The prayers were provided by two General Authority Seventies, Elder Terence M. Vinson, an Australian released Saturday from the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela of Mexico.