President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “For the next six months, your conference edition of the [Liahona] should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently.”
— David A. Bednar, April 2021 General Conference
What was taught at the April 2021 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
While the messages that speak to you personally are the most important, I have a semi-annual tradition of taking the General Conference texts and analyzing the words used.
To be clear, the most commonly used words at General Conference (outside the standard lexical the, and, is, of…) are God, Jesus, Christ, and Lord. The main purpose of the prophets and apostles is to testify of God and his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the major message of every conference.
However, the specific ways that listeners are encouraged to learn about and follow Jesus Christ are what changes each conference. It is those differences that I will discuss in more detail below.
Was there continued talk about COVID-19?
Were there overlapping themes that were discussed?
Was there anything discussed that had never been discussed before?
Take a look at the infographic below and see if the words that were emphasized were themes that stood out to you.
A Few Thoughts
Looking over the most emphasized words, many of the words came from talks that emphasized a particular word or phrase.
President Dallin H. Oaks’ talk Defending Our Divinely Inspired Constitution repeatedly used the word “constitution.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund’s talk Infuriating Unfairness consistently used the word “unfairness.”
While the word “prevail” was used by several different speakers, it was derived from President Russell M. Nelson’s previous conference talk Let God Prevail.
“Pandemic,” “Easter,” “light,” and “miracles” all received extra mention, though not in one particular talk. Perhaps we can remember the light, truth, and miracles of Easter even while in the midst of a pandemic.
What You Noticed
Apart from the word counts and averages, the most impactful part of general conference is what you hear personally. I’m amazed at how often I have had conversations with others with comments like, “They sure did emphasize [gospel topic] at this conference.”
Meanwhile, I feel like that topic was hardly mentioned at all.
The reverse has also happened. I have had a question in mind that multiple talks address, and others don’t seem to notice that my topic came up at all.
If you feel like there was a topic mentioned that seemed emphasized to you, but it did not make the word count chart, take heart! This was probably something you personally were looking to learn, and the Holy Ghost was teaching you personally.
Perhaps the most important topics are the ones you notice that don’t make the emphasized word list.
More of Conference by the Numbers
In the past, I’ve published my results in my blog Visual Scriptures, including my methods for comparing word usages to past conferences. While I’m keeping all my past content in that blog, I’m now publishing my Conference by the Numbers on Medium.com. You can find October 2020 Conference by the Numbers here.
If you’d like to get updates each conference for the newest Conference by the Numbers, sign up here. I’ll send you an email each April and October with the latest.