No new temples. This confirms the financial status of the church, the surge of missionaries is using up any extra funds floating around. Temples cost a lot to build and maintain and the financial return is virtually zero. Money spent on missionary work should lead to an increase in tithing donations.
Same number of converts. Just under 300,000 converts were baptised in 2013. While the true results of the surge in missionaries will be known next year, although this number has to be a bit of a disappointment. The surge does not include just an increase in the number of missionaries, but also a change in strategy with many missionaries using facebook and other online resoureces to share the gospel. Next year's statistics will also give us insights to how effective these new methods are. I think the real value of the increase in missionaries will never show up in convert baptisimal statistics. Rather, it will be seen in activation numbers as missionaries work with inactive members. Also, members who serve missions are more likely to stay active for the duration of their lives.
New general authorities. New members of the first quorum o the seventy are not from the US (Germany and Hong Kong). A new member of the presidency of the seventy is from the US. The internationalization of church leadership continues but at a slow steady pace.
Changes in the women's general meeting. I'm not a regular watcher of the women's meetings, so I'm not 100% sure how new some of the changes are but I did see two interesting developments.
- A regular member gave a prayer. Maybe this is because of the limited number of general church leaders who are women, but I think it most likely reflects a desire to involve all the members in the meeting. This is a positive development that hopefully will be applied in general conference as well. Earlier I have called for a regular member to give a talk in general conference. That is probably a long ways away, but having regular members give a prayer is a good first step.
- They used a long video clip in the meeting. This is a refreshing break from the standard talk talk song, talk talk song pattern we are used to. This is especially good for visual learners. It isn't quite the same as my pageant idea, but it achieves the same goal.
No changes yet for Spanish speakers. Spanish speaking general authorities are still forced to speak in English. I don't think it is easier for an English speaker to listen to a talk by someone with a thick accent compared to listening to a talk in Spanish with English subtitles or hearing a dubbed translation. The church should bite the bullet and allow a multi language general conference format to allow Spanish speakers speak in their native language. There could be some complications, but thousands of other organizations have to deal with these same language issues and they have gotten by just fine.
Equality for women just the tip of the iceberg. Ordain Women supporters were denied access to the Priesthood session again. This has garnered considerable media attention and posed a challenge for the church PR department. The topic of equality for women in the church is an important topic. I think this goes far beyond the women and the priesthood debate. I think this will be a relevant topic for decades to come. Keep your eye's pealed for an upcoming op ed I'm planning to write on this topic!
Enjoy the rest of conference!