The Lord has declared to the saints of this dispensation, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

Thus we understand that when “the voice[s] of [His] servants” unify in General Conference, we should pay careful attention to what is said, and to what the Spirit says to us.

Elder Neil L. Anderson taught: “There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

Whenever I recognize themes or patterns recurring in a General Conference, I feel it is the voice of the Lord speaking directly to me. These topics are the areas the Lord wants me to study and apply until they become part of my character. I focus my entire spiritual walk around developing in these areas.

Conference themes can be identified by counting the instances of important words or phrases and ranking them by the frequency of their occurrence. I have conducted this type of analysis for October Conference, and would like to share my results and insights.

The 20 most discussed topics at General Conference by number of instances were: Christ (285 instances), God (272 instances), Jesus (259 instances), Lord (235 instances), faith (126 instances), church (122 instances), love (107 instances), people (104 instances), life (101 instances), Savior (85 instances), temple (82 instances), time (80 instances), day (73 instances), power (73 instances), Father (69 instances), good (68 instances), world (67 instances), gospel (66 instances), others (61 instances), and help (59 instances).

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

“Lord,” “Savior,” “Jesus,” “Christ”

Unsurprisingly, Jesus Christ–the centerpiece of our gospel message–was far and away the most discussed topic at General Conference. In fact, this analysis probably underestimates the number of times Jesus is mentioned, since at least some of the references to “God” are references to Jehovah, Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament and the premortal Christ. He is and remains at the heart of everything we think, say, and do in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In short, “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Here are some of the memorable references to “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Savior” from General Conference:

I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

Faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf. That can be difficult in our modern world when many have come to believe that the highest good in life is to avoid all suffering, that no one should ever anguish over anything. But that belief will never lead us to ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.‘” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Waiting on the Lord)

Since we have sustained President Nelson as our prophet, he has taught how … repentance invites the power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement into our lives.” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

Even with such a loving invitation from our Heavenly Father, Lucifer persuaded a third of the spirit children to follow him and reject the Father’s plan for our growth and eternal happiness. For Satan’s rebellion, he was cast out with his followers. Now he tries to cause as many as he can to turn away from God during this mortal life. Those of us who accepted the plan did so because of our faith in Jesus Christ, who offered to become our Savior and Redeemer.” (Henry B. Eyring, Tested, Proved, and Polished)

As the world speaks less of Jesus Christ, let us speak more of Him.” (Neil L. Andersen, We Talk of Christ)

Seeking Christ in every thought and following Him with all our heart requires that we align our mind and desires with His. The scriptures refer to this alignment as “stand[ing] fast in the Lord.” This course of action implies that we continually conduct our lives in harmony with the gospel of Christ and focus daily on everything that is good. Only then may we achieve ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding’ and which will ‘keep [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ The Savior Himself instructed the elders of the Church in February 1831, ‘Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.‘” (Ulisses Soares, Seek Christ in Every Thought)

They called Him ‘Master,’ and that He is. He is also ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning.‘” (Lisa L. Harkness, Peace, Be Still)

Certainly, we live in a time during which things are in commotion. Many people fear the future, and many hearts have turned away from their faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.” (M. Russell Ballard, Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always)

Few things build faith more than does regular immersion in the Book of Mormon. No other book testifies of Jesus Christ with such power and clarity. Its prophets, as inspired by the Lord, saw our day and selected the doctrine and truths that would help us most. The Book of Mormon is our latter-day survival guide.

Preparation is our key to embracing this dispensation and our future with faith.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

Every day, we are approaching closer to the glorious moment when the Savior Jesus Christ will come to earth again.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

As we come unto Jesus Christ by exercising faith in Him, repenting, and making and keeping covenants, our brokenness—whatever its cause—can be healed.” (Cristina B. Franco, The Healing Power of Jesus Christ)

Through Jesus Christ, we are given the strength to make lasting changes. As we humbly turn to Him, He will increase our capacity to change.” (Becky Craven, Keep the Change)

Through Jesus Christ, we can escape the deserved agonies of our moral failings and overcome the undeserved agonies of our mortal misfortunes.” (Matthew S. Holland, The Exquisite Gift of the Son).

The surest way to find joy in this life is to join Christ in helping others.” (Steven J. Lund, Finding Joy in Christ)

The truth of God refers to the core truths that underlie His plan of happiness for His children. These truths are that God lives; that He is the Heavenly Father of our spirits; that as a manifestation of His love, He has given us commandments that lead to a fulness of joy with Him; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Redeemer; that He suffered and died to atone for sins on condition of our repentance; that He rose from the dead, bringing to pass the Resurrection of all humankind; and that we will all stand before Him to be judged, that is, to account for our lives.” (D. Todd Christofferson, Sustainable Societies)

Only with the Savior’s divine help can we all progress toward becoming like Him.” (Scott D. Whiting, Becoming like Him)

The work of the Lord is steadily moving forward.” (Russell M. Nelson, Moving Forward).

God the Father

“God,” “the Father,” “Heavenly Father,” “Father in Heaven”

Our relationship with our Father in Heaven is critical for a thriving discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This conference provided us some important guidance for properly relating to our Father and appropriately prioritizing that relationship.

Here are some of the memorable references to “God” and “Father” from general conference:

If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

Only faith and the word of God that fill our inner soul are sufficient to sustain us—and to allow us to access His power.” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

To do justly means acting honorably. We act honorably with God by walking humbly with Him. We act honorably with others by loving mercy.” (Dale G. Renlund, Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God)

An important part of Heavenly Father’s plan is the opportunity to communicate with Him anytime we want.” (Milton Camargo, Ask, Seek, and Knock)

My hope is to give encouragement when life seems especially difficult and uncertain. For some of you, that time is now. If not, such a time will come. That is not a gloomy view. It is realistic—yet optimistic—because of God’s purpose in the Creation of this world. That purpose was to give His children the opportunity to prove themselves able and willing to choose the right when it is hard. In so doing, their natures would be changed and they could become more like Him. He knew that would require unshakable faith in Him.” (Henry B. Eyring, Tested, Proved, and Polished)

Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life?” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

Even this year, when access to our temples has been seriously limited, your endowment has given you constant access to God’s power as you have honored your covenants with Him.

Preparation is our key to embracing this dispensation and our future with faith.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

“The Prophet Joseph Smith was taught that ‘the works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.’” (Dallin H. Oaks, Be of Good Cheer)

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ‘Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with a divine birthright.‘” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion).

As we seek union of feeling, we will call down the power of God to make our efforts whole.” (Sharon Eubank, By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God)

God has prepared His children and His Church for this time.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

Alma’s imagery reflects the sobering reality that at some point the full, excruciating guilt of every sin we commit must be felt. Justice demands it, and God Himself cannot change it.” (Matthew S. Holland, The Exquisite Gift of the Son)

Our 2020 bicentennial proclamation begins with the profoundly inclusive promise that ‘God loves His children in every nation of the world.‘” (Gerrit W. Gong, All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues)

If enough of us and enough of our neighbors strive to guide our lives by the truth of God, the moral virtues needed in every society will abound.” (D. Todd Christofferson, Sustainable Societies)

Knowing that we are all children of God gives us a vision of the worth of others and the ability to rise above prejudice.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

Now is the time to prepare and prove ourselves willing and able to do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us.” (David A. Bednar, We Will Prove Them Herewith)

As we gather to hear the words the Lord has inspired His servants to deliver, I invite you to ponder a promise the Lord made. He declared that ‘whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning … and the wiles of the devil, and lead the [disciple] of Christ in a strait and narrow course.’ I pray that you will choose to lay hold upon the word of God as it is declared during this general conference. And I pray that you may feel the Lord’s perfect love for you.” (Russell M. Nelson, Moving Forward)

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

“Faith”

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith is our greatest asset for calling down the power of heaven, and we will need that power in the future more than we have in the past.

Here are some of the memorable references to “faith” from general conference:

Faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Waiting on the Lord)

Only faith and the word of God that fill our inner soul are sufficient to sustain us—and to allow us to access His power.” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

When we exercise patience, our faith increases. As our faith increases, so does our joy.” (Jeremy R. Jaggi, Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work, and Count It All Joy!)

Many of Jesus’s disciples were experienced fishermen and knew how to handle a boat in a storm. They were His trusted—indeed, His beloved—disciples. They had left jobs, personal interests, and family to follow Jesus. Their faith in Him was evident by their presence in the boat.” (Lisa L. Harkness, Peace, Be Still)

Certainly, we live in a time during which things are in commotion. Many people fear the future, and many hearts have turned away from their faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.” (M. Russell Ballard, Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always)

Preparation is our key to embracing this dispensation and our future with faith.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

Our unshakable faith in the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ guides our steps and gives us joy.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Be of Good Cheer)

[The culture of Christ] is a culture of faith and obedience. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of our culture, and obedience to His teachings and commandments is the outcome. These give rise to self-mastery.” (William K. Jackson, The Culture of Christ)

The Church of Jesus Christ

“church”

Christ’s restored church is the body which administers the gathering of Israel. In important ways, the Church is latter-day Israel. Here are some of the memorable references to “church” from general conference:

Let us not spin our wheels in the memories of yesterday. The gathering of Israel moves forward. The Lord Jesus Christ directs the affairs of His Church, and it will achieve its divine objectives.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

This premillennial gathering is an individual saga of expanding faith and spiritual courage for millions of people. And as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or ‘latter-day covenant Israel,’ we have been charged to assist the Lord with this pivotal work.” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

Our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has given this description of the part you play in preparation for the Savior’s coming: ‘It would be impossible to measure the influence that … women have, not only on families but also on the Lord’s Church, as wives, mothers, and grandmothers; as sisters and aunts; as teachers and leaders; and especially as exemplars and devout defenders of the faith.‘” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

I testify that Jesus Christ is our loving Savior, our Redeemer, the Master Healer, and our faithful friend. If we turn to Him, He will heal us and make us whole again. I testify this is His Church and He is preparing to return once again to reign with power and glory on this earth.” (Cristina B. Franco, The Healing Power of Jesus Christ)

God has prepared His children and His Church for this time.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

I invite you to do what Alma did: let your mind catch hold on the exquisite gift of the Son of God as revealed through His gospel in this, His true and living Church.” (Matthew S. Holland, The Exquisite Gift of the Son)

Charity and Love

“Charity” and “Love”

It struck me as I read over these quotations again that “love” was often mentioned in the context of intense trials and adversity during this conference. In fact, almost every reference to love was also a reference to challenges, difficulties, and suffering. As you read these references, look for a portrait of the complex relationship between love and trials emerge from General Conference.

Here are some of the memorable references to “charity” and “love” from general conference:

As we face challenges, we can rely upon the promise of the Lord taught by Paul: ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.'” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

We act honorably with others by loving mercy.” (Dale G. Renlund, Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God)

The world can also be harsh and heartbreaking. But as we open our hearts in prayer, we will feel the comfort that comes from our Father in Heaven and the assurance that He loves and values us.” (Milton Camargo, Ask, Seek, and Knock)

The Lord is aware of the challenges you face. He knows you, He loves you, and I promise, He will send angels to help you.” (Carlos A. Godoy, I Believe in Angels)

During a particularly difficult time when Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners in Liberty Jail did not have freedom in anything except for their thoughts, the Lord provided helpful counsel and a promise to them that are extended to all of us: ‘Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men [and women], and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; … The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth.‘” (Ulisses Soares, Seek Christ in Every Thought)

I think often of those of you who are suffering, worried, afraid, or feeling alone. I assure each one of you that the Lord knows you, that He is aware of your concern and anguish, and that He loves you—intimately, personally, deeply, and forever.” (M. Russell Ballard, Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always)

With heartfelt compassion and love, my heart goes out to the many women around the world whose loved ones have died. We weep with you. And we pray for you. We praise and pray for all who work tirelessly to safeguard the health of others.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

Two thousand years later we are also ‘troubled on every side,’ and we also need that same message not to despair but to be of good cheer. The Lord has special love and concern for His precious daughters. He knows of your wants, your needs, and your fears. The Lord is all powerful. Trust Him.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Be of Good Cheer)

It is not by accident that the Relief Society, the first Church organization specifically for Heavenly Father’s daughters, has as its motto ‘Charity Never Faileth.’ Charity is the pure love of Christ. And it is faith in Him and the full effects of His infinite Atonement that will qualify you, and those you love and serve, for the supernal gift to live in that sociality of a long-looked-for and promised Zion. There you will be sisters in Zion, loved in person by the Lord and those you have blessed.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

To heal brokenness by coming unto Him, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ. ‘Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power … and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. Because He has experienced all our pains, afflictions, and infirmities, He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties.’ As we come unto Him, ‘we can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is [hard and challenging] about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.’ He has counseled us, ‘Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.‘” (Cristina B. Franco, The Healing Power of Jesus Christ)

Joseph Smith told the sisters on that June day in 1842: ‘When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind. … The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls—[we feel that we want] to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. [My talk is intended for] all this Society—if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.'” (Sharon Eubank, By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God)

In a way, we are seeds. And for seeds to reach their potential, they must be buried before they can sprout. It is my witness that though at times we may feel buried by the trials of life or surrounded by emotional darkness, the love of God and the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will bring something unimaginable to spring forth.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

Charity, true Christlike caring, is the bedrock of this culture. We feel real concern for the needs of our fellowman, temporal and spiritual, and act on those feelings. This dispels prejudice and hatred.” (William K. Jackson, The Culture of Christ)

Our 2020 bicentennial proclamation begins with the profoundly inclusive promise that ‘God loves His children in every nation of the world.’ To each of us in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, God promises, covenants, and invites us to come partake of His abundant joy and goodness. God’s love for all people is affirmed throughout scripture. That love encompasses the Abrahamic covenant, gathering His scattered children, and His plan of happiness in our lives. In the household of faith there are to be no strangers, no foreigners, no rich and poor, no outside ‘others.’ As ‘fellowcitizens with the saints,’ we are invited to change the world for the better, from the inside out, one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time.” (Gerrit W. Gong, All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues)

The societies in these two examples [of Zion] were sustained by the blessings of heaven growing out of their exemplary devotion to the two great commandments: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ and ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ They were obedient to God in their personal lives, and they looked after one another’s physical and spiritual welfare. In the words of the Doctrine and Covenants, these were societies with ‘every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.‘” (D. Todd Christofferson, Sustainable Societies)

Here is one of our Savior’s teachings, probably well known but rarely practiced: ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ For generations, Jews had been taught to hate their enemies, and they were then suffering under the domination and cruelties of Roman occupation. Yet Jesus taught them, ‘Love your enemies’ and ‘do good to them that … despitefully use you.’ What revolutionary teachings for personal and political relationships! But that is still what our Savior commands. In the Book of Mormon we read, ‘For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.'” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

Loving our enemies and our adversaries is not easy. ‘Most of us have not reached that stage of … love and forgiveness,’ President Gordon B. Hinckley observed, adding, ‘It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of.’ But it must be essential, for it is part of the Savior’s two great commandments to “love the Lord thy God” and to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself.’ And it must be possible, for He also taught, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.’” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

The Savior’s teaching to love our enemies is based on the reality that all mortals are beloved children of God.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

“The doctrine of the Lord’s Church teaches us another eternal interest to guide us: the teachings of our Savior, who inspired the Constitution of the United States and the basic laws of many of our countries. Loyalty to established law instead of temporary ‘allies’ is the best way to love our adversaries and our enemies as we seek unity in diversity.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

Knowing that we are all children of God gives us a divine vision of the worth of all others and the will and ability to rise above prejudice and racism. As I have lived for many years in different places in this nation, the Lord has taught me that it is possible to obey and seek to improve our nation’s laws and also to love our adversaries and our enemies. While not easy, it is possible with the help of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He gave this command to love, and He promises His help as we seek to obey it. I testify that we are loved and will be helped by our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

At this 200-year hinge point in our Church history, let us commit ourselves as members of the Lord’s Church to live righteously and be united as never before. President Russell M. Nelson has asked us ‘to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect.’ This means loving each other and God and accepting everyone as brothers and sisters and truly being a Zion people.” (Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity)

As with all gifts the Father so willingly offers, seeing deeply requires us to ask Him—and then act. Ask to see others as He does—as His true sons and daughters with infinite and divine potential. Then act by loving, serving, and affirming their worth and potential as prompted. As this becomes the pattern of our lives, we will find ourselves becoming ‘true followers of … Jesus Christ.'” (Michelle D. Craig, Eyes to See)

People

“People”

This conference’s focus on “people” helps us navigate the tension between two important principles: (1) That we are to be a peculiar people, a Zion people, and different from the people around us in preparation for the Lord appearing in His glory. (2) At the same time, we are to be tolerant and loving of all people, including those who are different from us or even violently opposed to everything we believe and stand for.

Fostering unity is vital for the establishment of a Zion people. We should remember, however, that unity is best facilitated by personal and collective righteousness, not by tolerating or celebrating sin. While we are to tolerate and love the sinner, permitting sin in our homes and communities will destroy–rather than create–Zion unity.

Here are some of the memorable references to “people” from general conference:

All people will be saved from physical death by the grace of God, through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if we turn our hearts to God, salvation from spiritual death is available to all ‘through the Atonement of [Jesus] Christ … by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.‘” (Dale G. Renlund, Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God)

To do justly means acting honorably with God and with other people.” (Dale G. Renlund, Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God)

You are being nourished and comforted by a loving Savior, who knows how to succor you in whatever tests you face. Alma taught: ‘And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.‘” (Henry B. Eyring, Tested, Proved, and Polished)

I have seen people rise to great heights through proving faithful in terrible trials. Across the Church today are examples. People are driven to their knees by adversity. By their faithful endurance and effort, they become more like the Savior and our Heavenly Father.” (Henry B. Eyring, Tested, Proved, and Polished)

With those around us, let us be more open, more willing to talk of Christ. President Nelson said, ‘True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world.‘” (Neil L. Andersen, We Talk of Christ)

Today I expand my call for prayer to all people from every country around the world.” (M. Russell Ballard, Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always)

[Sisters] will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

We know that the Savior will come to a people who have been gathered and prepared to live as the people did in the city of Enoch. The people there were united in faith in Jesus Christ and had become so completely pure that they were taken up to heaven.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

Here is the Lord’s revealed description of what would happen to Enoch’s people and what will happen in this last dispensation of the fulness of times: ‘And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.‘” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

You sisters, your daughters, your granddaughters, and the women you have nurtured will be at the heart of creating that society of people who will join in glorious association with the Savior. You will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people who will dwell in peace in the New Jerusalem.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

The Book of Mormon gives an account of a Zion people. You remember that it was after they had been taught, loved, and blessed by the resurrected Savior that ‘there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.’ My experience has taught me that Heavenly Father’s daughters have a gift to allay contention and to promote righteousness with their love of God and with the love of God they engender in those they serve.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

I promise you that the Lord will lead you by the hand, through the Holy Ghost. He will go before your face as you help Him prepare His people to become His promised Zion.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

We may not yet be where we want to be, and we are not now where we will be. I believe the change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another. Why? Because we are building Zion—a people ‘of one heart and one mind.'” (Sharon Eubank, By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God)

“I offer this invitation: be part of a collective force that changes the world for good. Our covenantal assignment is to minister, to lift up the hands that hang down, to put struggling people on our backs or in our arms and carry them. It isn’t complicated to know what to do, but it often goes against our selfish interests, and we have to try.” (Sharon Eubank, By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God)

We are humbled by the quiet sacrifice and noble efforts of those who have risked their own safety to assist, heal, and support people in need. Our hearts are full of gratitude for your goodness and compassion. We pray mightily that God will open the windows of heaven and fill your lives with God’s eternal blessings.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

From the beginning of time, the Lord has provided direction to help His people prepare spiritually and temporally against the calamities and trials that He knows will come as part of this mortal experience. These calamities may be personal or general in nature, but the Lord’s guidance will provide protection and support to the extent that we heed and act upon His counsel.” (W. Christopher Waddell, There Was Bread)

God’s love for all people is affirmed throughout scripture. That love encompasses the Abrahamic covenant, gathering His scattered children, and His plan of happiness in our lives.” (Gerrit W. Gong, All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues)

When we are trying to understand and relate to people of a different culture, we should try getting to know them. In countless circumstances, strangers’ suspicion or even hostility give way to friendship or even love when personal contacts produce understanding and mutual respect.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

President Howard W. Hunter taught: ‘The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ, which is kind, meek, and lowly. It is without envy or pride. … It seeks nothing in return. … It has no place for bigotry, hatred, or violence. … It encourages diverse people to live together in Christian love regardless of religious belief, race, nationality, financial standing, education, or culture.’” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

“When people love God with all their hearts and righteously strive to become like Him, there is less strife and contention in society. There is more unity.” (Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity)

Unity is enhanced when people are treated with dignity and respect, even though they are different in outward characteristics. … This means loving each other and God and accepting everyone as brothers and sisters and truly being a Zion people.” (Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity)

Life

“Life”

This conference was uniquely focused on the challenge of living a fulfilled life, a meaningful life, a life in which we let God prevail. Here are some of the memorable references to “life” from General Conference:

Live each day so that you are more prepared to meet your Maker. That is why we have temples. The Lord’s ordinances and covenants prepare us for eternal life, the greatest of all of God’s blessings.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

Many have come to believe that the highest good in life is to avoid all suffering, that no one should ever anguish over anything. But that belief will never lead us to ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.‘” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Waiting on the Lord)

I…suggest that ‘one’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free.’ It simply will not work ‘to glide naively through life,’ saying as we sip another glass of lemonade, ‘Lord, give me all thy choicest virtues, but be certain not to give me grief, nor sorrow, nor pain, nor opposition. Please do not let anyone dislike me or betray me, and above all, do not ever let me feel forsaken by Thee or those I love. In fact, Lord, be careful to keep me from all the experiences that made Thee divine. And then, when the rough sledding by everyone else is over, please let me come and dwell with Thee, where I can boast about how similar our strengths and our characters are as I float along on my cloud of comfortable Christianity.’ My beloved brothers and sisters, Christianity is comforting, but it is often not comfortable. The path to holiness and happiness here and hereafter is a long and sometimes rocky one. It takes time and tenacity to walk it. But, of course, the reward for doing so is monumental.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Waiting on the Lord)

Am I doing enough? What else should I be doing? The action we take in response to these questions is central to our happiness in this life and in the eternities. The Savior does not want us to take salvation for granted. Even after we have made sacred covenants, there is a possibility that we may ‘fall from grace and depart from the living God.’ So we should ‘take heed and pray always’ to avoid falling ‘into temptation.’” (Dale G. Renlund, Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God)

Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life?” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

There are difficulties that weigh upon each of us, but always before us is He who humbly declared, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.'” (Neil L. Andersen, We Talk of Christ)

It is my witness that though at times we may feel buried by the trials of life or surrounded by emotional darkness, the love of God and the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will bring something unimaginable to spring forth.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

“The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that there is purpose in life. Our being here is not just some big cosmic accident or mistake! We are here for a reason.” (William K. Jackson, The Culture of Christ)

As we seek to become temporally prepared, we can face the trials of life with increased confidence.” (W. Christopher Waddell, There Was Bread)

Truly, for those with faithful hearts and eyes to see, the Lord’s tender mercies are manifest amidst life’s challenges. Faithfully met challenges and sacrifice do bring the blessings of heaven. In this mortality, we may lose or wait for some things for a time, but in the end we will find what matters most. That is His promise.” (Gerrit W. Gong, All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues)

The surest way to find joy in this life is to join Christ in helping others.” (Steven J. Lund, Finding Joy in Christ)

Baker speculated about the reasons for his father’s longevity but then added these thoughts: ‘While we may all want to know the secret to a long life, I often feel we’d be better off devoting more time to figuring out what makes a good life, whatever span we’re allotted.‘” (D. Todd Christofferson, Sustainable Societies)

Perhaps the most important things for us to see clearly are who God is and who we really are—sons and daughters of heavenly parents, with a ‘divine nature and eternal destiny.’ Ask God to reveal these truths to you, along with how He feels about you. The more you understand your true identity and purpose, soul deep, the more it will influence everything in your life.” (Michelle D. Craig, Eyes to See)

I invite each of us to ‘consider [our] ways’ and ‘examine [ourselves], whether [we] be in the faith; [and] prove [our] own selves.’ What have we learned during these recent months of lifestyle adjustments and restrictions? What do we need to improve in our lives spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually? Now is the time to prepare and prove ourselves willing and able to do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us.” (David A. Bednar, We Will Prove Them Herewith)

Temple

“Temple”

This conference emphasized the temple’s role in binding us together as communities, in granting us access to vital power from heaven, in blessing and strengthening families, and in preparing for eternal life. Here are some of the memorable references to “temple” from General Conference:

We had to close temples for a time, and some construction projects were briefly delayed, but now they are all moving forward. In the calendar year 2020, we will have broken ground for 20 new temples!” (Russell M. Nelson, Moving Forward)

That is why we have temples. The Lord’s ordinances and covenants prepare us for eternal life, the greatest of all of God’s blessings. As you know, the COVID pandemic required a temporary closure of our temples. Then we commenced a carefully coordinated, phased reopening. With phase 2 now in place in many temples, thousands of couples have been sealed and thousands have received their own endowments just in the past few months. We look forward to the day when all worthy members of the Church can again serve their ancestors and worship in a holy temple. Now I am pleased to announce plans for the construction of six new temples to be built in the following locations: Tarawa, Kiribati; Port Vila, Vanuatu; Lindon, Utah; Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala; São Paulo East, Brazil; and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. As we build and maintain these temples, we pray that each of you will build and maintain yourself so you can be worthy to enter the holy temple.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

Since we have sustained President Nelson as our prophet, he has taught about the principle of power—specifically, God’s power—and how we can access it. He has taught how we can draw upon God’s power as we minister to others, how repentance invites the power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement into our lives, and how priesthood—the power and authority of God—blesses all who make and keep covenants with Him. President Nelson has testified that God’s power flows to all who are endowed in the temple as they keep their covenants.” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

The temple—the house of the Lord—is a place of security unlike any other. There, you sisters are endowed with priesthood power through the sacred priesthood covenants you make. There, your families are sealed for eternity. Even this year, when access to our temples has been seriously limited, your endowment has given you constant access to God’s power as you have honored your covenants with Him.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

The ordinances of the temple unite us in special ways and allow us to be one in every eternally significant way.” (Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity)

Time

“time”

This conference was uniquely focused on the unusual, challenging times we live in. The brethren apparently wanted us to know that they are aware of our challenges. Throughout conference, they attempted to speak directly to those challenges.

Here are some of the memorable references to “time” from General Conference:

Faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Waiting on the Lord).

Filling our heart and even our soul with the word of God and the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ is crucial to drawing upon the power of God to help us in these challenging times. Without getting the word of God and faith in Jesus Christ deep into our hearts, our testimonies and faith may fail, and we may lose access to the power God wants to give us. Superficial faith is insufficient. Only faith and the word of God that fill our inner soul are sufficient to sustain us—and to allow us to access His power.” (Kelly R. Johnson, Enduring Power)

Times of affliction and disappointment do not change the watchful eye of the Lord as He favorably looks upon us, blessing us.” (Gary E. Stevenson, Highly Favored of the Lord)

My hope is to give encouragement when life seems especially difficult and uncertain. For some of you, that time is now. If not, such a time will come.” (Henry B. Eyring, Tested, Proved, and Polished)

As we invest time in learning about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, we are drawn to [Him].” (President Nelson, as quoted by Neil L. Andersen, We Talk of Christ)

Even in turbulent times, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is gritty and resilient. It helps us sift through unimportant distractions. It encourages us to keep moving along the covenant path. Faith pushes through discouragement and allows us to face the future with resolve and squared shoulders. It prompts us to ask for rescue and relief as we pray to the Father in the name of His Son. And when prayerful pleas seem to go unanswered, our persistent faith in Jesus Christ produces patience, humility, and the ability to reverently utter the words ‘Thy will be done.'” (Lisa L. Harkness, Peace, Be Still)

“Certainly, we live in a time during which things are in commotion. Many people fear the future, and many hearts have turned away from their faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. News reports are filled with accounts of violence. Moral denigration is published online. Cemeteries, churches, mosques, synagogues, and religious shrines have been vandalized. A global pandemic has reached virtually every corner of the earth: millions of people have been infected; over a million have died. School graduations, church worship services, marriages, missionary service, and a host of other important life events have been disrupted. Additionally, countless people have been left alone and isolated. Economic upheavals have caused challenges for so many, especially for the most vulnerable of our Heavenly Father’s children. We have seen people passionately exercising their right to peaceful protest, and we have seen angry mobs riot. At the same time, we continue to see conflicts all around the world. I think often of those of you who are suffering, worried, afraid, or feeling alone. I assure each one of you that the Lord knows you, that He is aware of your concern and anguish, and that He loves you—intimately, personally, deeply, and forever. (M. Russell Ballard, Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always)

For decades, the Lord’s prophets have urged us to store food, water, and financial reserves for a time of need. The current pandemic has reinforced the wisdom of that counsel. I urge you to take steps to be temporally prepared. But I am even more concerned about your spiritual and emotional preparation.” (Russell M. Nelson, Embrace the Future with Faith)

My beloved sisters, I am blessed to speak during this wonderful time in the world’s history. Every day, we are approaching closer to the glorious moment when the Savior Jesus Christ will come to earth again. We know something of the terrible events that will precede His coming, yet our hearts swell with joy and confidence also knowing of the glorious promises that will be fulfilled before He returns. As the beloved daughters of Heavenly Father, and as the daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ in His kingdom, you will play a crucial part in the grand times ahead. We know that the Savior will come to a people who have been gathered and prepared to live as the people did in the city of Enoch. The people there were united in faith in Jesus Christ and had become so completely pure that they were taken up to heaven.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

God has prepared His children and His Church for this time.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

We live in a time of anger and hatred in political relationships and policies. We felt it this summer when some went beyond peaceful protests and engaged in destructive behavior. We feel it in some current campaigns for public offices. Unfortunately, some of this has even spilled over into political statements and unkind references in our Church meetings. In a democratic government we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Love Your Enemies)

Now is the time to prepare and prove ourselves willing and able to do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us.” (David A. Bednar, We Will Prove Them Herewith)

Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.” (Russell M. Nelson, Moving Forward)

Honorable Mention: The Gathering of Israel

“Gathering of Israel”, “Gathering Israel,” and “Gather Israel”

“Gathering” was not one of the top 20 topics identified. However, my friend Hannah Seariac wanted to know how many times the gathering of Israel was referenced this conference as compared to the last one.

In answer to Hannah’s question, I identified seven explicit references to the gathering of Israel in October conference. There were no such references in April. President Nelson mentioned the gathering of Israel once in October 2019, and there were seven references in April 2019.

(In answer to Hannah’s other question, I identified six quotations from the Psalms throughout the conference. The Psalms are usually quoted about 3.1 times per conference, on average.)

Here are the references from October 2020 to the gathering of Israel:

We live in a glorious age, foreseen by prophets for centuries. This is the dispensation when no spiritual blessing will be withheld from the righteous. Despite the world’s commotion, the Lord would have us look forward to the future ‘with joyful anticipation.’ Let us not spin our wheels in the memories of yesterday. The gathering of Israel moves forward.” (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal)

For the more than 36 years I’ve been an Apostle, the doctrine of the gathering of Israel has captured my attention. … I have studied the gathering, prayed about it, feasted upon every related scripture, and asked the Lord to increase my understanding.” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

With the Hebraic definition of Israel in mind, we find that the gathering of Israel takes on added meaning. The Lord is gathering those who are willing to let God prevail in their lives. The Lord is gathering those who will choose to let God be the most important influence in their lives.” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.” (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail)

[Sisters] will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people.” (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion)

The Work of Gathering Israel Goes Forward.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable)

Our members and new converts often come from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. If we are to follow President Nelson’s admonition to gather scattered Israel, we will find we are as different as the Jews and Gentiles were in Paul’s time. Yet we can be united in our love of and faith in Jesus Christ.” (Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity)

You can follow Ezra on Twitter @DezNatKingCole.

2 thoughts on “General Conference Topical Analysis: October 2020

    1. Here are the results for “gather israel,” “gathering israel,” “gathering scattered israel,” “gathering of israel,” “establish zion,” “establishment of zion,” “establishing zion,” and “establishing of zion”:

      “… to resolve. I have wondered what I might say to conclude this conference that would send you forth with the optimism about the future that I know the Lord wants you to feel.
      We live in a glorious age, foreseen by prophets for centuries. This is the dispensation when no spiritual blessing will be withheld from the righteous.1 Despite the world’s commotion,2 the Lord would have us look forward to the future “with joyful anticipation.”3 Let us not spin our wheels in the memories of yesterday. The gathering of Israel moves forward. The Lord Jesus Christ directs the affairs of His Church, and it w…”
      (Russell M. Nelson, A New Normal. General Conference, October 2020)

      “…tter-day Saints, or “latter-day covenant Israel,”12 we have been charged to assist the Lord with this pivotal work.13
      When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.
      Not long ago, the wife of one of our grandsons was struggling spiritually. I will cal…”
      (Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail. General Conference, October 2020)

      “You will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people.
      My beloved sisters, I am blessed to speak…”
      (Henry B. Eyring, Sisters in Zion. General Conference, October 2020)

      “…Come, Follow Me was provided as a home-centered, Church-supported tool to strengthen individuals and families.
      We began a higher and holier way of ministering to all.
      The use of technology in sharing the gospel and doing the Lord’s work has spread throughout the Church.
      Even these general conference sessions would not be possible without the wonderful tools of technology.
      Brothers and sisters, with Christ at the helm, things will not only be all right; they will be unimaginable.
      The Work of Gathering Israel Goes Forward
      At first it may have seemed that a worldwide pandemic would be a road…”
      (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, God Will Do Something Unimaginable. General Conference, October 2020)

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