LDS General Conference begins, President Thomas S. Monson absent due to health concerns

SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were not able to see or hear from LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson Saturady at the 187th Semiannual General Conference.

President Monson was unable to attend because of health problems related to his age.

“We send our greetings and love to our dear President Monson, who is viewing the proceedings from his home,” said President Henry B. Eyring of the LDS Church's First Presidency.

During the opening prayer, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge from the LDS First Quorum of Seventy asked for comfort for the ailing leader.

“We thank thee oh God for a prophet and pray that he will know of our love for him,” Elder Corbridge said.

The conference included remarks about same-sex marriage and gender identity. LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks said the church’s 1995 Family Proclamation was inspired through prayer and was not just a church policy that could change.

“The Family Proclamation begins by declaring that marriage between a man and woman is ordained by God,” Elder Oaks said. “It also affirms that ‘gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.’”

In two separate talks, LDS Church leaders spoke about how social media can be a blessing and a curse.

“We have substituted texting and tweeting for actually looking someone in the eye and smiling or, even rarer, having a face-to-face conversation,” said Bonnie L. Oscarson,  the LDS Church's Young Women General President.

“This loss of personal conversation can affect marriages, take place of valuable spiritual practices and stifle the development of social skills, especially among the youth,” added LDS Apostle Gary E. Stevenson.

Elder Stevenson encouraged conference goers to use social media to teach, inspire and encourage others.

The conference continues through Sunday.