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SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100,000 people will attend General Conference sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in downtown Salt Lake City this weekend.
Every six months, Latter-day Saints gather to hear from their church leaders, with General Conference sessions originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and being transmitted via television, radio, satellite and the Internet throughout the world.
Many Latter-day Saints in our broadcast area gather in front of their televisions to watch conference on KSL, while others gather around the country watching it on their computers. But there are many other ways to feel globally connected to people who share the same faith.
For many, there is much more to General Conference than listening. Some join what's known as "Twitterstake," a Latter-day Saint online community. Last October, this community registered 50,000 tweets about General Conference, making it one of the top 10 twitter trends in the United States.
One of the most talked about topics last October came when President Thomas Monson announced the fire-damaged Provo Tabernacle would become a temple.
"Turning the burnt tabernacle into a full temple is the very epitome of rising from the ashes," said Howard Tayler. "Or, dare I say, baptism by fire?"
"I haven't been this excited since I was born," wrote C. Jane Kendrick "Provo gets a second temple!!!"
KSL's Social Media Specialist, Natalie Wardel, said tweeters experience a sense of community and learn what is important from others when they participate in Twitterstake.
"It adds to your experience," she said. "You're seeing what other people are hearing. They're grabbing the soundbite that you wouldn't have heard particularly, but when you hear it, you're, ‘Oh, yeah, that is a good point,' and it internalizes more of the event for you."
Although Twitter is the most common "gathering place," several websites offer Latter-day Saints a place to communicate with other members. And church leaders are very aware of how important it is to participate in conference sessions this way, so, they have joined the crowd.
Latter-day Saint church leaders are asking members to "Invite Others" through Facebook and other forms of social media to participate in General Conference. It is a way, they say, to find answers to life's questions.
I think it's a really good tool just to get the message out there. I've seen a lot of posts on my friends Facebook pages saying, ‘Remember to watch conference.'
"I think it's a really good tool just to get the message out there," said Jordan Fawson, a conference participant. "I've seen a lot of posts on my friends Facebook pages saying, ‘Remember to watch conference.' "
"I think it plays a positive role," said conference participant, Melissa Kamp. "It gets other people's opinions about General Conference out there and a lot of it is really good and great for the church."
If, however, you plan to travel to Salt Lake City to see General Conference, be prepared for a long weekend of headache-filled commutes. With conference, spring break, road construction in Utah County and a Jazz game, traffic will be several congested.
According to KSL Traffic Specialist, Andy Farnsworth, the Friday ahead of the April General Conference is one of the four busiest commutes of the year.
"Add all that extra traffic in and you're looking at about as bad as you can get," Farnsworth said.
Salt Lake City Police were preparing Friday for an onslaught of General Conference attendees.
"Be courteous, be respectful, be conscientious of others," Det. Dennis McGowan said.
Contributing: Andrew Adams