Thoughts On General Conference
by David R. Van Fleet
The April 2014 General Conference was a great blessing for many; less so for some. We are glad for those for whom it was a blessing, and wish we could offer encouragement to any who might have been disappointed. For me this conference was one of the most uplifting ones that I have attended – for genera and specific reasons. In general, the peaceful preludes, the humble prayers and testimonies, and the fellowship were notable. One specific blessing was seeing Bob and Karen Ostrander, Sam Dyer, Jr., and Don and Cindy Kite recognized for their service, which was very moving.
For those who might have been disappointed, it should be noted that discussing the business of the church frequently generates the strongest passons. Recovering from unkind words may be more difficult than we wish it to be, but how do we respond to these? Sometimes our inclination is to withdraw, which happens to be the adversary’s means of sifting us. This hurts not only the person stepping back, but the work as well. Two scriptures are relevant to this situation: “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth. My foot standeth in an even place; in the congregations will I bless the Lord”(Psalm 26:8, 12). “Be not hasty in withdrawing your support from them, peradventure ye shall injure my work”(D&C 118:4b).
Beyond the preludes and prayers, there was a specific experience that made this conference special for me. It involved the Restoration Chorale, and, surprisingly enough, a cold that I came down with the Saturday before the conference that lasted beyond the end. Because of this virus, I had little voice, which disappointed me as I knew I would barely contribute to the chorale when they sang on Thursday night. However, when the chorale stood to sing the anthem, “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!” I sang with a normal voice. (This anthem is set to the tune, Hyfrydol, which is the tune used with “Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens, Adore Him,” #4, and is one of my favorite hymn tunes. Hence it was a pleasant surprise to be able to sing an arrangement of it.)
I mentioned this in a testimony on Saturday morning, and as a result received an email from Cynthia Patience the following week. In part her email stated that, while the chorale sang, she saw an extra man dressed in a suit and out of line with everyone else. She rubbed her eyes and looked again, but he was still standing there, earnestly singing. When she reviewed the video later, she did not see him. The following Thursday, Terry Patience, her husband and the chorale director, related that he had prayed with the chorale for the assistance of angels as we sang. I didn’t hear his prayer as I was playing the prelude music at the piano at that time. It seems his prayer was literally answered and explains my five minutes of normal voice.
I felt impulses of the Holy Spirit many times over the course of the conference, and we apparently received angelic ministry. There were also other indicators that the Spirit ministered to us as evidenced by the extensive fellowship that took place after services, and by the love that was expressed by many members during the conference. It would be a tragedy to be so caught up in the “failures” of others, as percieved by us who suffer from imperfect judgement and similar shortcomings, to allow the adversary to separate us “from each other and the work whereunto you have been called” (D&C 122:17b). I believe the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the potential to do the “greater works” that Jesus referred to (John 14:12), if we can find ourselves filled with His divine love and worshipping in the congregations of the Saints.