SALT LAKE CITY – President Thomas S. Monson spoke to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first time during the 185th General Conference in Sunday’s morning session.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, how grateful I am to be with you this beautiful Easter morning," Monson said while addressing the congregation.
He also spoke at the men’s priesthood session of conference Saturday night.
Monson announced the construction of three new LDS temples. One will be built in Africa on the Ivory Coast; one in Port au Prince, Haiti; and the third in Bangkok, Thailand.
“The building of temples is a very clear indication of the growth of the church,” Monson said. “We currently have 144 temples in operation.”
Eliza Martinson, from Thailand, said she was surprised and excited to hear that a temple will be built in Bangkok.
“In Thailand, we didn’t think there’d be enough members there for a temple, but it’s very exciting because now we can send missionaries going to Thailand like we used to,” she said.
Church spokespeople said the leader was cutting back on his speaking time this year, and he was unable to meet with President Obama Thursday while the Commander-in-Chief was in town visiting because they said he was preserving his strength for conference weekend.
"This conference marks seven years since I was sustained as president of the church,” Monson said. “They've been busy years, filled with not only a few challenges, but also countless blessings."
Karen Martinson from South Jordan said she was grateful to hear from the President of the LDS Church.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to hear from him, so, it was wonderful to hear from him,” she said.
Other church leaders at the conference spoke about the importance of focusing on what matters most.
“Make time to set aside your mobile devices,” said Elder Jose Teixeira, a member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy. “It is refreshing to set aside our electronic devices for a while and instead turn the pages of the scriptures or take time to converse with family and friends.”
There was also a rare moment Saturday when at least five people voted in opposition of church leaders during the sustaining portion of the afternoon conference session. An opposing vote during General Conference hasn't occurred since sometime in the '80s.