Accommodating the Saints at General Conference
Accommodating the many Latter-day Saints who faithfully assemble every April and October to receive counsel and direction from prophetic leaders has always been a formidable challenge. This article surveys how general conferences were held, beginning with early territorial Utah in 1848 with a small bowery, only 40 feet by 28 feet. The first tabernacle was built in 1851, and the Great Tabernacle was built by 1867. By the 1880s, inadequate space led to the decision to provide concurrent sessions of conference, held in the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall. By 1916 it became standard procedure to hold as many as four overflow sessions on Sundays in various venues around Temple Square. Speakers struggled to make themselves heard, and in April 1923, the Church used amplifiers for the first time in general conference, and proceedings were piped to four thousand Saints in the buildings of Temple Square. Concurrent, separate sessions of conference were discontinued in 1928. Radio changed everything in 1924. Today’s beautiful Conference Center and widely available broadcasting is the fulfillment of the dream of early Church leaders.