SALT LAKE CITY — Six months ago, President Russell M. Nelson promised members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a general conference unlike any they had ever seen.
Even he didn’t understand the magnitude of that promise, made prior to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on Saturday, he began to reveal what he meant.
Speaking from a mostly empty auditorium in the Church Office Building, President Nelson announced Saturday that a portion of the Sunday morning session of the conference will become a worldwide solemn assembly of the church, when he will lead church members in the Hosanna Shout.
“We pray that this conference will be memorable and unforgettable because of the messages you will hear, the unique announcements which will be made, and the experiences in which you will be invited to participate,” President Nelson said.
Solemn assemblies are unlike regular conference meetings in that they are special meetings held for a variety of holy purposes defined as sacred, the church explained. Such meetings include the naming of new presidents of the church, the dedication of a new temple or similar religious building, the introduction of new scripture, or similar meetings.
President Nelson will indicate the purpose of Sunday morning’s solemn assembly during his remarks.
Generally reserved for special circumstances such as temple dedications, the Hosanna Shout is a way for Latter-day Saints to give honor and praise to God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, according to an explainer by the church. The action stems from the time of Jesus Christ, when he was ushered into Jerusalem during the last week of his life.
The shout is accompanied by each participant waving a white handkerchief in the air. In the absence of a clean white kerchief, President Nelson said church members may simply wave their hand. When the Hosannah Shout concludes, members will sing the Latter-day Saint hymn, "The Spirit of God," the same way early church members did at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.
“We pray that this will be a spiritual highlight for you as we express in global unison our profound gratitude to God the Father and His beloved Son by praising them in this unique way.”
Follow along with every session of the 190th Annual General Conference with our live blog of important moments, announcements and talk summaries here.