10 ways general conference has changed in 40 years

10 ways general conference has changed in 40 years

The April 2016 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially began March 26 with the women’s session, the first of general conference. But 40 years ago, there was no such meeting — in fact, the general conferences of decades past are drastically different from today’s in many ways. Here are 10 ways general conference has changed in the last 40 years.

1. Two days instead of three

Though the Church’s first two-day general conference was in 1831 (just one year after the Church’s organization), the tradition of a three-day conference began later and continued through the decades. In 1977, general conference was changed from a three-day event to just two days.

2. The General Women’s Session exists

In the 1970s, there was no general conference session specifically for women (though some women leaders were invited to the Welfare Session, see below). Annual women’s meetings were held the Saturday before the general sessions beginning in 1986. Young Women meetings were added in 1994, and in 2014, all women over age eight were invited to attend the same general women’s session the Saturday prior to general sessions.

3. Only general authorities and officers speak

For about the last two decades, only general authorities and general officers of the Church have been invited to speak or pray in general conference. But in the 1970s and 80s (and even into the 90s), it wasn’t unusual for stake presidents, mission presidents and even football coaches (if BYU had a good year) to speak in general conference.

4. Women pray in conference now

Though both men and women who were not general authorities could speak in general conference (women not in leadership positions sometimes spoke in women’s meetings), only men gave the prayers until 2013, when Sister Jean A. Stevens became the first woman to give a public prayerin general conference.

5. Size of live audience

In the 1970s, general conference was broadcast over the radio and KSL television. Starting in 1975, sessions were broadcast via satellite to Church buildings outside Utah. Today, with online streaming available to anyone with an Internet connection, the size of the potential live audience is exponentially bigger.

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Jeremy Goff was born in Denver and raised in Orem, Utah. He served a mission in the Manchester New Hampshire Mission (’12-’14). He is passionate about many things: he blogs, loves food, family, politics, and religion. He travels for work and loves to visit temples and share the gospel along the way! Follow Jeremy’s journey on his blog www.mylifebygogogoff.com

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