SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The 191st Semi-Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off on Saturday morning in Salt Lake City.

The Church President, Russell M. Nelson, welcomed visitors in-person and those streaming the conference from around the world, acknowledging the pandemic and health measures being taken this year. He thanked members for being vaccinated and wearing masks.

“Most of the seats remain empty, but the presence of some members of the Tabernacle Choir is a wonderful step forward,” says Nelson. “We welcome you all to this largely virtual conference, wherever you are.”

Broadcast from the Conference Center, the two-day conference was not open to the public and adhered to an online exclusive streaming format. This is the fourth virtual general conference since the COVID-19 pandemic era shuttered most large gathering events.

Church leaders continue to encourage health practices to curb COVID-19 infections among church members and followers of the faith.

The Conference is a major event for those following the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City. The conference is generally a major attraction with a high in-person attendance before the pandemic.

Attendees at the Conference Center on Saturday remained sparse and masked. Saturday morning’s session also marked the first in-person performance by the Tabernacle Choir in 18 months.

President Henry B. Eyring announced that all Tabernacle Choir members performing on Saturday were vaccinated against COVID-19 and recently tested before the performance. Most recently in mid-September, the Tabernacle Choir resumed rehearsals after a 19-month hiatus. Officials announced a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate would apply to all choice members.

The conference also gave construction updates to the Temple Square renovation that was announced back in 2019 along with new temples being built around the world.

ABC4 will update this story as the conference continues streaming throughout the day.