Coverage of the April 2018 General Conference Saturday Morning Session

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 31 March 2018

For the first time in 10 years, members sustained a new First Presidency of the Church. Two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were also announced and sustained—Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.

Talk summaries

For the first time in 10 years, a general conference congregation met in solemn assembly to sustain a new First Presidency of the Church. The business of the opening session of the 188th Annual General Conference also included the sustaining of the two newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.

“As we each sustained President [Russell M.] Nelson by our uplifted hands, we stood as witnesses before God and acknowledged that he is President [Thomas S.] Monson’s rightful successor,” President M. Russell Ballard said in his opening address, adding that he has known the “new prophet-president” for more than 60 years and has served with him in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 33.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson said that when he envisions someone with a Christlike heart, he pictures President Nelson. “He is the embodiment of a Christlike heart and an example to us all. From him, we learn that in any circumstance we find ourselves, our conduct and hearts can be in accordance with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen also shared his witness of the sustaining of a new prophet. While there are many logical reasons to follow President Nelson—his brilliance, wisdom, good judgment, and life experiences—it is his calling from the Lord that designates him as “a watchman on the tower” for the world today.

“A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior,” he said. “A prophet’s greatest responsibility and most precious gift to us is his sure witness, his certain knowledge that Jesus is the Christ.”

President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the session and the solemn assembly.

Music for the session was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, under the direction of Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, with Andrew Unsworth and Clay Christiansen playing the Conference Center organ.

Speakers included President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Brian K. Taylor, General Authority Seventy; Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk, General Authority Seventy; Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Mervyn B. Arnold, General Authority Seventy, gave the invocation, and Elder W. Mark Bassett, General Authority Seventy, gave the benediction.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, President Russell M. Nelson, and President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, left to right, raise their hands to sustain President Nelson as President of the Church during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Elder Ulisses Soares, left, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong walk to their new seats after being called as new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Members of the Church rise to sustain President Russell M. Nelson during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Members of the Seventy rise to sustain leaders of the Church during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, including new Apostles Elder Ulisses Soares, left, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong, second from left, sustain President Russell M. Nelson as leader of the Church during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, walk past members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to take their seats at the start of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson walks to his seat at the start of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles takes his seat before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sits next to two empty chairs, awaiting the calling of two new Apostles, at the start of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson, center, and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, sit at the beginning of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, all of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, chat at the start of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Members of the choir sing at the start of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares walk to their new seats after being called as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly, part of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Conference goers rise and sing with the choir during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Conference goers rise and sing with the choir during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Conference goers rise and sing with the choir during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson hugs Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, while President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, hugs Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the conclusion of the Saturday morning session on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson, right, and his counselors, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, prepare to leave at the end of the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

People walk at the Main Street Plaza before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

People walk at the Main Street Plaza before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Sisters Lavanya Botcha and Ming Ge He walk toward the Main Street Plaza before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers line up before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers line up before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

People cross North Temple Street before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder Garrit W. Gong (front) and Elder Ulisses Soares walk to take their places with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the First Presidency sustain Russell M. Nelson as the 17th President of the Church during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, right, and Elder Ulisses Soares take their seats with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Young women sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Audience members in the Conference Center sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the First Presidency stand before taking their seats for the Saturday morning session of 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Guei Marcel holds his ticket for the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the First Presidency sit at the beginning of the Church’s 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the Melchizedek Priesthood sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the Aaronic Priesthood sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church during a solemn assembly in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers stand and sing during the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers line up before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers hold up their hands in search of tickets before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Conference goers line up before the Saturday morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.