“Report of the 148th Annual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, May 1978, 1
“Hearken, O ye people of my church, … ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together.” (D&C 1:1.)
In the spirit of these thrilling opening lines of the Doctrine and Covenants are the inspired messages of the general conferences of the Church. This year’s April general conference, officially known as the 148th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, continued in the same spiritual tradition.
Presiding at all sessions was President Spencer W. Kimball who, in the first general session on Saturday morning, presented four new brethren to be sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He also announced a historic “two-fold emphasis” for genealogical work.
Members are asked to “write a personal history and participate in a family organization” and to “complete the four-generation program.” Research beyond that may be accomplished “if desired.” Associated with this renewed concentration on one’s four-generations of genealogy is a new “Church-wide program of extracting names from genealogical records.” (See page 4.)
Attending the conference were leaders from throughout the world, including 11 General Authority Area Supervisors living outside of the United States, 183 Regional Representatives, and 900 stake presidents invited to attend the conference.
Sessions were held Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2. Sermons were given by 32 of the present total of 66 General Authorities. The addition of four members to the First Quorum of Seventy increases that quorum’s membership to 47. The new General Authorities are Elder Ronald E. Poelman of California, Elder Derek A. Cuthbert of England, Elder Robert L. Backman and Elder Rex C. Reeve, Sr., of Salt Lake City. (See page 104 for biographical information.)
Conference sessions were held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, with additional seating in the Assembly Hall and nearby Salt Palace. Sessions were held on Saturday at 7:00 A.M. (welfare session), 10:00 A.M., 2:00 P.M., and 7:00 P.M. (general priesthood session); on Sunday at 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M.
Portions or all of conference were relayed to many parts of the world by electronic media: by television to 215 stations and 125 cable systems in the United States and Canada; by radio to 51 United States stations, 75 stations in Latin America, 44 stations in Australia, and one shortwave station serving Europe, Africa, and Latin America; by closed circuit audio to 331 chapels in the United States and Europe, 7 FM markets, and 68 chapels in Europe; and to 1,360 closed circuit locations for the general priesthood session.
In addition to the two days of general sessions, a seminar for Regional Representatives was held on Friday, March 31, in the Church Office Building, at which time President Kimball announced that “only two stake conferences each year” will be held in each stake, and that beginning in 1979 some area conferences will be held in the United States. Other significant instruction was also given by President Kimball concerning the Church and political and governmental matters, simplification, genealogy, and missionary work. (See page 100 for details.)—The Editors.