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SALT LAKE CITY — In the Sunday sessions of the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church leadership made no big announcements. Rather, they shared messages of hope in difficult times and on the importance of exercising faith every day.
In the opening session of the conference Saturday morning, President Thomas S. Monson made an historic announcement that leaders had decided young men and women could serve missions for the church at 18 and 19, instead of 19 and 21 respectively. Sunday, however, they shifted the focus to faith.
President Monson reminded church members that God hears their prayers.
"The Lord is in all of our lives," he said. "He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek his help as He guides us and directs us and as He hears and answers our prayers."
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency challenged conference-goers to extend love and seek forgiveness.
"Many of you, as I have, have felt fear in approaching someone you have offended, or who has hurt you," Eyring said. "And yet, I have seen the Lord melt hearts time after time, including my own.
"Despite any fear you may have to extend love and forgiveness, I promise that as you do, you will fee the love of the Savior for that person, and His love for you."
During a time when many still wonder if Latter-day Saints are Christians, two Apostles delivered powerful messages on that subject.
"To all that can hear my voice, that those apostolic keys have been restored to the Earth and they are found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Robert D. Hales, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke on the same subject.
"Especially among (Christ's) disciples, He taught that Christians cannot contend with other Christians, notwithstanding their differences," Elder Hales said.
The new Relief Society General President, Sister Linda K. Burton, addressed the church, reminding them to look for opportunities to serve others, as Jesus Christ did in scripture.
President Monson also reminded church members to serve.
"May we willingly serve one another, may we pray for the inspiration to know of the needs around us and then may we go forward and provide assistance," he said.
Saturday's announcement still takes the stage in discussions among members, though. Many are now talking with family members about the new lower ages at which young people can serve missions.