Twice a year members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come from all over the world to gather in Salt Lake City and recharge their faith.
General Conference took place over the weekend and Spokane resident MaryBeth Wagstaff said it left her feeling inspired and encouraged.
“It renews my faith and I learn many things and get uplifted. It's an amazing experience,” she said from Utah in a telephone interview. “It’s a way to stay connected with the general leaders of church and with the prophet and hear their counsel.”
On average more than 100,000 people attend the conference.
Wagstaff and her family have been to the conference several times and when they can’t make it in person watch it live from their church. Each year the conference meetings and talks are broadcast via satellite to over 7,400 church buildings in 102 countries, according information from the LDS Worldwide Newsroom.
At the conference LDS leaders, including President Thomas S. Monson, deliver spirit-inspired presentations. Typically, Wagstaff explained, speakers aren’t assigned topics, but discuss whatever is on their heart at the time. Talks usually cover basic gospel principles or address significant issues of the day.
This year the Wagstaff family was able to get a spot in the 21,000-seat conference center. In previous years they’ve watched the presentations in overflow areas.
“It’s a really neat feeling when you’re in the same room as prophet of the Lord,” she said. “They (the speakers) pray and receive inspiration on what topic they should speak on. This year we heard a lot about raising children and the importance of families. We walk away with a stronger testament of our savior Jesus Christ.”
All of the conference talks are available on the LDS website.
The next general conference will be held in October.
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.