The April 2014 General Conference was inspiring and relevant, as all such conferences are. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are counseled to study the words of the prophets and find in that study ways to become better disciples.
But there are thousands more addresses in the archives of the Church from previous conferences, most readily available online. There are countless notable talks that are worth reviewing, but here are 10 classic addresses from general authorities and officers of the Church—some from General Conference and some from other devotionals and meetings—that are worth a second look.
By Bruce R. McConkie
When: April 1985 General Conference
Note: This talk is frequently referred to colloquially as “Bruce R. McConkie’s Final Testimony.”
Notable quotes: “And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.
“I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.
“But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”
By Ezra Taft Benson
When: April 1989 General Conference
Note: Ezra Taft Benson, who wrote the talk, asked that Gordon B. Hinckley read it in General Conference.
Notable quotes: “Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.”
“The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, ‘If you succeed, I am a failure.'”
By Jeffrey R. Holland
When: October 1999 General Conference
Note: Years later, the Church made a popular Mormon Message out of this address
Notable quotes: “Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. … My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us,especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and MorningStar, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened.’ It is the very Son of God Himself.
“No, it is not without a recognition of life’s tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us—as well as the sea—to ‘be still.’”
By Gordon B. Hinckley
When: September 1995 General Relief Society Meeting
Note: In this address, President Hinckley read the historic document “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
Notable quotes: “It is the home which produces the nursery stock of new generations. I hope that you mothers will realize that when all is said and done, you have no more compelling responsibility, nor any laden with greater rewards, than the nurture you give your children in an environment of security, peace, companionship, love and motivation to grow and do well.”
“With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the TwelveApostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. I now take the opportunity of reading to you [The Family: A Proclamation to the World”].”
By Boyd K. Packer
When: April 1977 General Conference
Note: In this talk, a young Boyd K. Packer taught about the atonement using the now-familiar parable of “The Mediator.”
Notable quotes: “Both [justice and mercy], it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also? There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended—but it takes someone else. …
Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us.The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.
But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator.”
By Gordon B. Hinckley
When: Nov. 12, 2000, special broadcast
Note: President Hinckley’s address to youth became a landmark address for a generation and inspired a popular book (that included three extra “be”s).
Notable quotes: “Tonight I am going to let your teachers give you the A’s that I hope you earn. I want to talk about some B’s. You get the A’s; I will give you the B’s.
- “Be grateful.
- “Be smart.
- “Be clean.
- “Be true.
- “Be humble.
- “Be prayerful.”
“O God, our Eternal Father …. Please help them to walk in paths of truth and righteousness and keep them from the evils of the world. Bless them that they shall be happy at times and serious at times, that they may enjoy life and drink of its fulness. Bless them that they may walk acceptably before Thee as Thy cherished sons and daughters.”
By Sheri L. Dew
When: Sept. 2001 General Relief Society Meeting
Note: Sheri Dew’s popular talk teaches of the importance of motherhood from an eternal perspective, regardless of whether a woman has physically borne children.
Notable quotes: “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is ‘as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.’”
“Recent horrifying events in the United States have underscored the fact that we live in a world of uncertainty. Never has there been a greater need for righteous mothers—mothers who bless their children with a sense of safety, security and confidence about the future, mothers who teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than the power of the adversary. Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, ‘I am just a mother,’ for mothers heal the souls of men.”
By Dennis E. Simmons
When: April 2004 General Conference
Note: Elder Simmons’ words emphasize a little-discussed aspect of faith—the faith to not have prayers answered the way we might hope.
Notable quotes: “The Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. He assures us that He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. But we must understand that great challenges make great men. We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings.”
“Our scriptures and our history are replete with accounts of God’s great men and women who believed that He would deliver them, but if not, they demonstrated that they would trust and be true. He has the power, but it’s our test.”
By Jeffrey R. Holland
When: Jan. 12, 1988 BYU devotional address
Note: Elder Holland gave this address on human intimacy before he was called to the Twelve.
Notable quotes: “In this latter sense, human intimacy is a sacrament, a very special kind of symbol. For our purpose here today, a sacrament could be any one of a number of gestures or acts or ordinances that unite us with God and his limitless powers. We are imperfect and mortal; he is perfect and immortal. But from time to time—indeed, as often as is possible and appropriate—we find ways and go to places and create circumstances where we can unite symbolically with him, and in so doing gain access to his power. Those special moments of union with God are sacramental moments—such as kneeling at a marriage altar, or blessing a newborn baby, or partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s supper. This latter ordinance is the one we in the Church have come to associate most traditionally with the word sacrament, though it is technically only one of many such moments when we formally take the hand of God and feel his divine power.”
By Bruce R. McConkie
When: June 1, 1980 BYU devotional address
Note: Elder McConkie’s list reminds Church members that we must always seek a correct understanding of doctrine.
Notable quotes: “Heresy one: There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths. …
“Heresy two concerns itself with the relationship between organic evolution and revealed religion and asks the question whether they can be harmonized. …
“Heresy three: There are those who say that temple marriage assures us of an eventual exaltation. Some have supposed that couples married in the temple who commit all manner of sin, and who then pay the penalty, will gain their exaltation eventually. …
“Heresy four: There are those who believe that the doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation. …
“Heresy five: There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were. …
“Heresy six: There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship. …
“Heresy seven: There are those who believe we must be perfect to gain salvation.”