SALT LAKE CITY - Thousands of people from all over the world gathered Saturday for the 187th General Conference of the LDS Church to hear messages on faith, respect and helping those living in poverty.
For some, stepping inside the conference center was a once in a lifetime experience.
“This is my first time and just seeing the prophet himself, I was in tears,” said Sherri Faalafua, one of those who attended.
Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of the LDS Church, was present for the first of Saturday's sessions. A church spokesperson said he was absent during the second because he was, "conserving his energy".
While President Monson didn't speak, many other LDS leaders delivered messages of love, hope, and faith.
“For us to ask for respect, we must be respectful,” said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about the importance of helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
He said economic deprivation is "a curse that keeps on cursing, year after year and generation after generation."
“If we could do more to alleviate poverty, as Jesus repeatedly commands us to do, maybe some of the less fortunate in the world could hum a few notes of 'There is Sunshine in My Soul Today,' perhaps for the first time," he said, referencing the lyrics to a popular hymn.
Holland continued by mentioning the needs of those suffering from mental or emotional illness.
"I pray we will not let these children of God suffer in silence," he said.
Marsha Thomas attended the conference and said it turned her focus toward family.
“The messages were very inspiring, I have a daughter in Africa, and it really made me miss her,” she said.
The statistical report revealed that in 2016 there were 70,946 full-time missionaries and 155 temples in operation. LDS Church membership grew to 15,882,417--up from the 15,634,199 reported at last year's April conference.
To see more of the statistical report, click here.
The semi-annual conference continues Sunday with a morning and afternoon session. For more information, including details on livestreams, click here.