With General Conference coming up and the whole COVID-19 fallout, I’ve been thinking that my comic strip missionary Sis. Kerry Jo might have something to say. I played around with a few ideas and came up with this:
I got it to the point where I was ready to ink it, but I was unsettled. Something just didn’t sit right. The tone was too negative, too pessimistic. That didn’t fit with Kerry Jo’s character, nor did it fit the spirit of General Conference. It wasn’t the message Sis. Kerry Jo wanted to deliver.
There’s no other way to describe what happened next. I was hit with inspiration that made a lot of sense — and the message was pure Kerry Jo.
A lot of times we as a people get caught up in the pageantry of General Conference. Thousands of people flock to downtown Salt Lake City. We fill the Conference Center with the faithful. Tickets are a prized commodity. We wait to hear the statistical report to tell us how many millions of members we have, how many thousands of missionaries. We can’t wait to hear where the next temple will be.
This General Conference, it won’t be about the numbers. Thanks to the COVID-19 virus we have zero operating temples, and the number of full-time missionaries is in a state of flux.
As Pres. Nelson told us, this conference is about having a personal experience, just like the young prophet Joseph Smith did in the Sacred Grove.
When Joseph retired to the woods, his concern was to find out which church would help bring salvation to his soul. He was looking for direction; he was looking for peace.
His answer came personally.
So often in Jesus’ ministry we read about him tending to the individual: the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood, Simon the leper. Christ’s interactions are personal. They’re all about the one.
For us, it’s about having our own personal experience of coming unto Christ. What better way to do that than through removing the distractions: the crowds, the protestors, the huge (and amazing) choir.
The setting for each session will be intimate. The First Presidency and the speakers in a small meeting room, each of us in our own home — alone or with a family. No large crowds, just a personal, intimate experience.
Just like Joseph had in the Sacred Grove.
Our Sacred Grove moment can be wherever we are. As a friend recently told me, “All groves are sacred.”
Let us be prepared — as a church and as individuals. Ask, pray, and be ready to receive.
I think it’s going to be a good one!