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Church members preparing for different kind of General Conference

This weekend's General Conference will be like no other. Not only will it focus on the restoration 200 years after Joseph Smith’s First Vision in New York., but it will also be held exclusively virtual for the first time.

SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend’s General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be different than any other.

Church leaders say the conference would’ve been different in the first place, because it will focus on the restoration  200 years after Joseph Smith’s First Vision in New York.

It will also have five general sessions scheduled instead of the usual four.

However, this year will bring even more unprecedented changes. The conference will be held exclusively virtual for the first time, in an effort to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The conference changes come during an uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the uncertainty, Tabernacle Choir member Jim Bennett said he’s looking forward to this conference more than any other in recent memory.

“I am hoping to get words of encouragement, words of inspiration that give us understanding on how to get through this,” Bennett said. “And some perspective on how this fits into the eternal plan.”

Bennett said this will be the first conference he’ll be watching from home since he joined the choir. Fortunately, the choir pre-recorded all the music a while ago that will be played during General Conference.

“It’s clear that the leaders of the church were planning contingency plans for conference, before all the self-quarantining and social isolation really began,” he said. “So I think they have been ahead of the curve on this.”

The conference sessions will be broadcast from a small auditorium on Temple Square, with no audience and no large groups of church authorities. Only the people speaking and giving the prayers will be present, with the First Presidency presiding.

You can hear all the sessions live on KSL Newsradio, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a special Saturday night session at 6 p.m.