The Mormon Church announced Friday morning it will be adding a session to its April 2016 General Conference. The new session will be targeted at LGBT Mormons and will be held Friday, April 1, 2016, at 4:17 A.M MST.
Speaking on behalf of the Church’s leadership, spokesman Daniel Renault said, “The establishment of a special session of Conference specifically for same-sex-attraction-trial-suffering Mormons reflects a recognition on the part of the Church that they need help.” Like the other sessions of the Conference, he explained, “the messages shared during this session will focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they will have a more particular emphasis on Jesus’ primary message, the importance of respecting ancient interpretations of scripture and avoiding overly expansive or excessively inclusive applications of doctrine.”
Addressing questions about the unusual time slot of the new session, Renault said, “The new session was scheduled for Friday morning because the current arrangement of Saturday and Sunday meetings was already pretty set, and there didn’t seem like any good place for it to go. We understand that Friday morning before sunrise may not seem like the most convenient time to hold a meeting, but we promise it will be just as good as any other time. And really it’s not that different from having to get up for early-morning seminary, which teenagers all over the world are expected to do all the time.”
The Mormon Church holds a semiannual (not biannual) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and transmits all sessions of the conference to congregations throughout the world by satellite, as well as through various cable and radio transmissions, and on its website, LDS.org. Historically, each conference consisted of five two-hour sessions: four sessions for the general Church membership and a fifth for priesthood-holding male members. A change in recent years added a sixth session, for women ages 8 and older, which is now held the weekend before the other five sessions to preserve its different and more spiritual nature. The new LGBT session will increase the number of session to seven.
Upon hearing the announcement, some critics were quick to point out that the time of the session had already passed. Renault confirmed, “The session was held earlier this morning. Fortunately, is was a broadcast-only meeting and only the speakers were invited to attend, so you didn’t miss anything.” He continued, “The Brethren felt that having an audience of that kind of people present would not be particularly conducive to the Spirit, and it might give the false impression that they were supposed to be part of the meeting. To avoid creating unnecessary confusion, they thought it would be better to announce it after the fact.”
Video recordings of the session are now available for viewing online at a URL shared during the session, and transcripts will be added as they become available.
Happy April 1!