New faces and new guidance at Latter-day Saint General Conference

The spires of the historic Salt Lake Temple. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

General Conference put some new faces and old issues front and center as leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke in Salt Lake City. Here are some things that stood out:

First Black woman speaks at conference

Tracy Y Browning became the first Black woman to speak at a General Conference.

  • Browning, who helps oversee Primary (church programming for young children), described joining the church as a convert and urged members not to focus too much on “outward appearances.”
Speaking of outward appearances

A new version of the church’s major youth pamphlet eliminates objections to specific dress and grooming taboos.

  • Gone are discussions of tattoos, body piercings, and bare shoulders in the pamphlet, titled “For the Strength of Youth.”
  • “The guide could give you a long list of clothes you shouldn’t wear, words you shouldn’t say, and movies you shouldn’t watch. But would that really be helpful in a global church?” asked apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who announced the change Saturday.
Church vs “the world”

Church President Russell M. Nelson exhorted church members to “overcome” the “sin-saturated, self-centered” world.

  • “Take charge of your own testimony,” he said. “Don’t pollute it with false philosophies of unbelieving men.”

Yes, but: Dallin Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, said members also should be “more aware and more appreciative” of religious and humanitarian work that goes on outside the church.

  • Oaks highlighted the contributions of non-Mormon faith groups in fighting for “religious freedoms” from certain laws. The church has historically pushed for exemptions to abuse reporting requirements and LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination laws.


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