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There was renewed energy on Temple Square on Saturday, when thousands of people lined up at the Tabernacle for standby tickets to attend general conference at the Conference Center.

The standby line is back for the first time since October 2019, and it blessed the lives of about 3,000 people on Saturday.

“People have been in tears when they get tickets to the Conference Center,” said Sister Kathy Ruggiero, a missionary helping manage the line. “They’ve come from all over the world, and they’ve all gotten in today.”

Elder Greg Mason, who directed the standby line, said 1,048 people got standby tickets for the morning session and 1,247 obtained tickets to the afternoon session.

The people at the front of the line for the Saturday evening session were overjoyed.

Aleyda Irene Catalán Durán clutched her standby ticket to the Saturday evening session with relief. It had been a long journey. First, she took a six-hour bus ride from her home in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, to the airport in Ciudad. She arrived in Salt Lake City on Friday, but on Saturday, she took the wrong bus and got lost. Then swirling snow flurries caught her in the open. When she finally made it to the Conference Center, she didn’t know where to go to find a ticket.

That’s right, she came to conference without a ticket, and she didn’t know about the standby line, which was only announced midweek.

She was seventh in line at the Tabernacle before the evening session. Ahead of her were six men from the East Bay Second Ward elders’ quorum in the Provo Utah South Stake.

The quorum’s new president, Alex Palos, took the group fishing last weekend.

“We’re doing activities to strengthen the quorum,” he said.

The group was first in line at 2:45 p.m. They waited in the cold until the doors opened at 4:45 p.m. with a mixture of patience and impatience, joked Juan Casco, who smiled happily and bounced on his feet to stay warm.

“Conference is special because I want to receive revelation for my family and for me, too,” said another member of the group, Gustavo Galvez, who joined the church in 1997. “I want to hear the prophets in person.”

Galvez brought his 17-year-old son who recently moved to Provo from Michoacan, Mexico, and now attends Spanish Fork High School. Neither had attended conference in person before.

“It’s a beautiful experience for me to be here with my son and these brothers,” Galvez said. “I love this gospel.”

The first six people in the standby line for general conference tickets pose for a photo.
The first six people in the standby line for general conference tickets pose for a photo as the doors open at the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Saturday afternoon, April 6, 2024 in Salt Lake City. From left to right are Gustavo Galvez, Pedro Ajala, José Basilio, Gustavo Galvez, Juan Casco and Alex Palos of the East Bay 2nd Ward in Provo, Utah. | Tad Walch/Deseret News

The standby line begins 90 minutes before a session, said Mason, who is a wry, dynamic host. The doors to the Tabernacle open soon after.

“We take the standby line and make it a sitdown line inside the Tabernacle,” he said. “We wait for the Conference Center to tell us if there are empty seats, and then we give out tickets. That’s when the smiles start and the tears start flowing.”

Durán and the elders quorum group got their tickets 45 minutes before the evening session. Mason said he sent stragglers to the Conference Center as much as 30 minutes after the start of a session on Saturday.

He missed working the standby line, which first was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which conferences were broadcast-only. Then the extensive renovation of the Salt Lake Temple impacted Temple Square and parking in the area.

“It’s just a joy to be able to do this again,” Mason said. “Seriously, they do cry.”

Palos said the standby experience with his quorum members was fun.

“It’s been wonderful,” he said. “We feel very grateful.”

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About the church

During the leadership session of general conference on Thursday, the church announced the callings of 64 new Area Seventies and the release of 52.

What I’m reading

Behind the Scenes

See the galleries of photos taken by our photographers at conference on Saturday here.

One of the dearest is this example of brotherly love in the Quorum of the Twelve:

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles bends down to kiss Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, on the head as they exit following the Saturday morning session at the Conference Center.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bends down to kiss Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, on the head as they exit after the Saturday morning session at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News