Over thirteen million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with interested friends, are anticipating the upcoming semi-annual Church Conference. At that time, the new First Presidency–Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf– will be sustained by Church members. A unique process, designed by the Lord, marks both their call to leadership and their sustaining.
The sustaining of Church leaders occurs in what is known as a “solemn assembly.” A solemn assembly is a sacred gathering of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a specific spiritual purpose, including the dedication of a temple or the sustaining of a new First Presidency and other divinely appointed Church leaders before the Lord.
Solemn assemblies have many historical precedents. To ancient Israel, the Lord called for a day of fasting and spiritual cleansing, and a day of assembling for special instruction and the receipt of ordinances. Solemn assemblies were held in conjunction with feast days, such as the Feast of the Tabernacles and the Passover ( Deut. 16: 8; Lev. 23: 33-36) and, specifically, at the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chr. 5: 2-3).
The practice of holding solemn assemblies was restored in our day, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord re-instituted this particular order of gathering for His sacred purposes. Many assemblies have convened since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored to the earth. In addition to those held in connection with temple dedications and changes in the First Presidency, others are organized to instruct and enable Church members in their responsibilities, or to sustain a particular law or proclamation issued by the Church authorities. Solemn assemblies are often attended with greater manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit, as the Saints purify their lives and come to the meetings offering prepared hearts and minds.
During the first weekend of April, 2008, a solemn assembly session of General Conference will afford each member to signify by the raise of their right hand, their sustaining vote of the 16th First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
117 Therefore, verily I say unto you, my friends, call your solemn assembly, as I have commanded you.
7 And for this cause I gave unto you a commandment that you should call your solemn assembly, that your fastings and your mourning might come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, which is by interpretation, the creator of the first day, the beginning and the end.
4 Wait patiently until the solemn assembly shall be called of my servants, then you shall be remembered with the first of mine elders, and receive right by ordination with the rest of mine elders whom I have chosen.