Last night Jill called and we talked about the previous 2 sessions (no, neither of us sat and watched the Priesthood session). I was trying to explain how our viewing of General Conferences had changed over the decades but then, in talking with Dawn, Dawn reminded me of something I had forgotten. So I shall regale you with what it used to be like before technology became such as it is now…and I just wonder what it will be like in the future.
In the beginning, we just learned about what was said in General Conference when the little booklets were printed and mailed out...I'm not even sure they were whole messages given in the Improvement Era magazine. I just know somehow we got them and we read them, studied them.
When I was young, as a young teen, we would go and sit in a chapel and the conference was delivered by a phone line through the audio system. Nothing but hours of listening to the words coming through a phone. It seems like the lights were not always turned on bright in the chapel. At some point, the local ABC network, Channel 5 WEWS, would broadcast the 1st session of Saturday’s conference at like 5am or 6am on the TV. Dawn said she remembered Robert and I getting up early on Sunday and watching that one session. We’d go to church and a sweet old lady, Marian Ballif, would put up a picture of the General Authority who was speaking so we had something to look at and connect the voice to the picture. Marian was from Utah and very familiar with many of these men. Like this of the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith. And we would sit and often just stare on the picture as we listened....truthfully. We did that.
There was some disagreement with WEWS and other churches, I think..or the advertisers and they stopped the presentation of that 1st session.
But then Cablevision TV arrived in this county. At that point, I think Cablevision was the only cable network…at least it was in Sheffield lake. My mom kept up an ongoing campaign to get them to agree to broadcast conference. She was a terror. But she made it work. It was a joy to be able to sit in our own homes and watch the Brethren speak to us. Around the same time, the ward buildings began to install satellite dishes. those huge ones, and now not only did we have voices we had video.
Today, some cable companies offer the BYUTV channel. Dish and DirecTV do. And if all else fails, there’s the wonderful internet which can be hooked up through the HDMI cable to our television (which is what we personally do right now). Oh and Roku TV.
Now the conferences are all held in this huge building. The Authorities must seem like tiny ants if you were to be given seating in they way back. This place (and I have been there) reminds me of the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, OH. Built for Rex Humbard who my grandmother and I used to watch on TV before we found the restored church.
Once while still at BYU I attended a conference session in the old Tabernacle. See the pillars along the sides? It was just my luck to be seated behind one of them toward the back. And man! were those pews HARD. Obviously I was not made of pioneer stock, at least not of pioneer butt.
But while at BYU, we were able to watch each session on a small black and white TV which I had brought from home. And we could watch them in our apartment. It was here, after Robert returned from his mission in the Franco-Belge that we started our tradition of having Conference (coffee) Cake and juice on Sunday morning of conference. This continues to this day, in each of our children's homes as well. This morning Jordan asked when we started to call this Conference Cake and not coffee cake. I think it started pretty early because Robert, being the forever Mormon, didn't want to use that term around our kids.
But I have been blessed to have grown up through the technology changes and have grown to appreciate General Conferences is in a different way through the decades. It still works best for me to list 2 questions I am searching answers for before the start of each General Conference and then to wait and see who answers and when. Almost always the answers start in the first session and end in the last. How does that work?
I don't believe in having a favorite speaker/favorite authority. I don't want to remove myself from learning from all of them. Inevitably, many of them answer my questions and give me a whole lot more to think about.
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored the earth and with it all the truths to help us become more like Heavenly Father and my Saviour Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for Elder Fred Day who brought this gospel to our home, and to my mom who had always been on a quest to find the truth...who then embraced it and held fast to the iron rod until her dying breath. I shall do the same.