Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide gather in Salt Lake City twice a year for general conference. Six sessions are held every spring and fall for members to receive instruction from Church leaders. The sessions are also broadcast throughout the world in multiple languages. When not meeting for conference, Church members attend weekly worship services on Sunday in their local congregations.
The spring meetings are called annual conferences, and those held in the fall are referred to as semiannual.
The first session of each general conference is the general women’s session held on Saturday evening the week preceding the remaining five general sessions held the first weekend in April and October. The general women's session is for women, young women and girls of the Church, 8 years old and older.
In April and October, two-hour sessions on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon meetings are open to everyone. A Saturday evening session is designed for Latter-day Saint men and young men who hold the priesthood.
Latter-day Saints travel from all over the world to attend general conferences, which originate in the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Free tickets are distributed for each session, with standby lines available for those without tickets. Overflow facilities on nearby Temple Square accommodate those who cannot fit in the Conference Center.
Since the vast majority of the Church’s 15 million members are unable to attend general conference in person, the meetings are broadcast via satellite in more than 90 languages to over 7,400 Church buildings in 102 countries. In addition, the Church streams the meetings live on the LDS.org website, LDS General Conference YouTube channel and Mormon Channel. Members can also watch conference on television through Salt Lake City-based station KSL or BYUtv, carried on cable and other digital channels.
During the conference, Church leaders speak on a variety of spiritual topics. They address Latter-day Saints as well as government, faith and community representatives and other conference guests. Speakers include the worldwide leader of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors in the First Presidency, the governing body of the Church. Talks are also given by the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other leaders.
Talks usually cover gospel principles or address significant issues of the day, with speakers encouraging individuals and families in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ.
After the conference is over, the talks are published on the LDS.org website and reprinted in the Church’s Ensign and Liahona magazines so members can read and study them. Music for the conference sessions is provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and organists, other Church choirs and the congregation. The music emphasizes gospel themes.
Church leaders have conducted general conferences since 1830, when the Church was organized by Joseph Smith. About 30 baptized members attended the first conference, along with others who were interested in the Church. Today, the conferences are simultaneously interpreted into more than 90 languages ranging from Albanian to Yapese to serve a large and growing international membership. American Sign Language interpretation and closed captioning are also available.