20 Memorable Events in General Conference History

Contributed By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer

  • 3 October 2014

President Thomas S. Monson announces on October 7, 2012, that men may choose to begin serving missions at age 18 and women at age 19.  Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Following is a list of 20 historic events relating to the Church’s general conferences:

1849—A Perpetual Emigrating Fund to assist the poor to immigrate to the Salt Lake Valley was established during general conference; it helped more than 30,000 early Church members journey to the Salt Lake Valley from Europe.

1856—After being notified of the tragedies occurring to the Willie and Martin handcart companies, Brigham Young and other Church leaders called on Church members during general conference to provide assistance to help rescue those stranded on the plains.

In general conference on October 5, 1856, President Brigham Young called upon men to go to the rescue of pioneers stranded in the snow in Wyoming. This painting by Clark Kelley Price portrays Ephraim Hanks en route to rescue stranded handcart companies.

The first televised general conference of the Church was in October of 1949. KSL employees John Powell and David Searle are shown with their cameras. Photo courtesy of Deseret News Archives.

Elder N. Eldon Tanner takes a sustaining vote after reading a letter by the First Presidency pertaining to the revelation on the priesthood in 1978.

Elder Boyd K. Packer gives a conference talk in 1982 entitled “Scriptures” wherein he discusses the new subtitle of the Book of Mormon, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

Reaction to the announcement made by President Thomas S. Monson October 7, 2012, that men may choose to begin serving missions at age 18 and women at age 19. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Women and girls as young as eight years old gather for the first general women's meeting at the Conference Center, March 29, 2014. On September 27, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf referred to the meeting as the first session of the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church.

1918—At the opening session of the 88th semiannual general conference, President Joseph F. Smith announced a new revelation he had received just a day earlier in the form of a vision about the redemption of the dead, which would later become section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

1949—The 119th semiannual general conference becomes the first televised general conference of the Church.

1970—Monday was designated for family home evening throughout the Church, and no other Church activity was to be scheduled on this evening.

1975—The First Quorum of the Seventy was organized.

1978—A letter on the revelation on the priesthood, read by Elder N. Eldon Tanner of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was accepted by a sustaining vote by Church members at the October general conference.

1980—The sesquicentennial of the Church’s founding in 1830 was observed with a general conference session telecast by satellite from Fayette, New York.

1982—A revised subtitle of the Book of Mormon was announced by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

1989—The Second Quorum of the Seventy was organized.

1997—The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy were organized.

1998—President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that the Church would begin to construct smaller temples in more remote areas of the Church.

1999—In his closing remarks at the April general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the surprise announcement that the historic Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt.

2000—The 21,000-seat Conference Center north of Temple Square was dedicated during October general conference by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

2001—The Perpetual Education Fund, a program to provide educational loans for worthy members in developing countries, was introduced by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

2004—The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve introduced Preach My Gospel, a 230-page study manual about missionary work. It is considered the most complete, orchestrated effort in the history of the Church to unify the missionary effort.

2008—President Thomas S. Monson announced that a temple would be constructed in Rome, Italy, near many important locations from modern Christianity.

2012—President Thomas S. Monson announced that the Church was lowering the age requirement for those applying to serve full-time missions. For young men, age eligibility changed from 19 to 18, and for young women the age changed from 21 to 19.

2012—For the first time, the Church offered the priesthood session of general conference over live broadcast television and in real time over the Internet.

2014—In March, the Church held a general women’s meeting including girls eight years and older that replaced the annual general Relief Society and general Young Women meetings. At the meeting in September, it was announced that the general women’s meeting was the first session of the semiannual general conference.

(Sources: ChurchofJesusChrist.org, mormonchannel.org, ldsliving.com)