Utah (ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will host their 191st Annual General Conference this upcoming weekend, Saturday, April 3, and Sunday, April 4.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Church will host its third conference in a row virtually from Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. 

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the origins of the Church’s general conference date back to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the early Saints who helped grow the restored Church.

The first general conference was held on June 9, 1830, shortly after the April 6, 1830, organization of the Church, only 27 members were in attendance, according to the church. 

Courtesy: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As members of the Church moved from New York to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, conferences continued to be held wherever Church members were gathered. 

According to Church history, the scattered members continued to meet in various locations until most settled in Nauvoo, Illinois. 

The conference is held semiannually. In the Spring on the first weekend of April and In the fall on the first weekend of October. 

General conference is the worldwide gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twice a year, during the first weekend of April and the first weekend of October, Church leaders from around the world share messages or sermons focused on the living Christ and His gospel. Viewers learn how to find peace, hope, and joy in Jesus Christ; how to strengthen families by following Jesus’s teachings; and how to receive personal guidance and inspiration from God. General conference is streamed and broadcast live in about 70 languages and is later translated into more than 100 languages. We invite everyone—of all faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds from everywhere in the world—to watch, listen, and participate,” as stated on the Church’s website.

During the western exodus of the Church, which began in February 1846, no general conference was held, the Church shares. 

The meetings continued and then started again in 1848 after pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. 

In 1850 the first full report of any conference address was published word-for-word in the Deseret News.  

The first conference in the Salt Lake Valley was held in an open-air bowery. Later on, the pioneers built an adobe tabernacle and then moved to the world-famous Tabernacle on Temple Square in 1867, the Church shares. 

Church general conferences continued in the Tabernacle until 2000 when the Conference Center near Temple Square was completed and was first used for conference. 

The Conference Center seats 21,000 people. “Beyond the immediate audience, the conference reaches across the earth through radio, television, satellite, and Internet connections and is translated into almost 100 different languages,” the Church shares. 

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, Church officials say two flu epidemics have affected the conference. One in 1919 postponed the conference from April to June, and in October 1957 meetings were canceled altogether, the Church shares. 

During World War II, wartime travel restrictions limited conference to Church leaders only. 

The first general conference radio broadcast was in 1923 and a television transmission began in 1949. 

Conference sessions were viewed on television beyond the Intermountain region in 1953, and satellite broadcasts began in 1975 with Internet availability starting in 1999, according to Church history records. 

In 1962 conference messages were first translated into different languages. 

Courtesy: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“According to data gathered in 2012 by the Church, more than 100,000 people attend conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Conference is viewed in 175 countries and territories, and it is translated into 94 languages. About 595,000 households in North America tune in on television for the Sunday morning session,” as stated on the Church’s website. 

The Spring 2021 General Conference broadcast will originate from the Conference Center Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, with only planned speakers and their spouses present in-person for the given sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also similar to 2020 conferences, music provided during the conference will be prerecorded from previous general conferences.

See 2021 General Conference Schedule below:

Saturday, April 3, 2021

  • Morning Session- 10:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon Session- 2:00 p.m.
  • Priesthood Session- 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

  • Morning Session- 10:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon Session- 2:00 p.m.