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Stake Conference

by Merrill J. Bateman

In the revelation on Church organization and government received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in April 1830, Church members were instructed to "meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint; and said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time" (D&C 20:61-62).

stake conference

Once stakes were organized, the Saints began meeting in stake conferences every three months. The practice of quarterly stake conferences continued from the mid-1800s until 1979, when the frequency was reduced to two per year. General Authorities of the Church presided at most stake conferences until the mid-1980s, when the growth in Church membership and the number of stakes made it impossible for an authority to attend each conference. In 1986, General Authorities were assigned to preside at one of the stake conferences, and the stake president was authorized to preside at the other. In 1990 General Authorities were assigned to visit each stake for a conference only once every other year.

Stake conferences bring together members and friends who reside within the geographical boundaries of a stake. At least four sessions are held during a two-day period: (1) the first meeting is with the stake presidency and the visiting authorities, if any, to review the activity and progress of the stake during the last six months; (2) a priesthood leadership meeting to train stake and ward priesthood leaders in Church doctrine and principles; (3) a general assembly of all adults (eighteen years of age and over) where the presiding authority and invited stake members speak; and (4) a Sabbath general session for all stake members, including children and interested friends of the Church. The Sabbath general session features congregational hymns, specially arranged choir selections, stake business, and sermons from the presiding authority, stake leaders, and other invited speakers.

The major purposes of stake conference are: (1) sustaining general and stake officers; (2) releasing stake officers; and (3) approving ordinations to the Melchizedek Priesthood, and also enhancing the faith and testimony of the members through leadership training, music, sermons, and the fellowship of the Saints. The meetings are often considered a spiritual feast. The General Authority and stake leaders are well versed in the scriptures, are excellent teachers, and present strong witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ.

(See Daily Living home page; Activity in the Church home page; Meetings and Conferences home page)



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Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Conference, Stake

Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company