Six months removed from only attending what one might describe as the “bare minimum” of General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has confirmed that church president Thomas S. Monson will not attend the upcoming remaining sessions of the 187th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, marking the first time in his over 50-year tenure as a General Authority that he will not be present for any conference meetings. This also marks the first time since 1994 that a Church president will not be present at any General Conference meetings.
No update was provided on the prophet’s condition. Instead, spokesmen referred to the May 2017 update where the Church informed the public that President Monson was no longer participating in day-to-day affairs of the Church and remained at home.
Earlier this afternoon, the Church confirmed that Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would also not be participating in conference after being hospitalized. Elder Hales has suffered from numerous maladies for many years but typically managed to attend at least the session of conference where he spoke. Not to trivialize it, but we’ll particularly miss his reliability in wearing the same black tie with white polka dots that he’s sported at every conference in recent memory.
In times like this it is worth remembering that the Lord has mechanisms in place for an ailing prophet, and that the Twelve collectively hold the same keys as the First Presidency.
We have been fortunate to hear the words of the prophet consistently for so long. Many might not remember the days of Presidents Benson or Kimball being ill, requiring Gordon B. Hinckley to serve as the public face of the Church for many years before his call as President.