2020 The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
During his closing remarks at the October 2019 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson announced, “...the year 2020 will be designated as a bicentennial year [in honor of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision]. General conference next April will be different from any previous conference. In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel…. general conference next April will be not only memorable; it will be unforgettable.”1 This statement proved to be prophetic for the 190th Annual General Conference itself, as well as for the circumstances surrounding it.
In late February and early March of 2020, reports of a rampant and dangerous new virus, later known as COVID-19, spread rapidly around the world. Within a few weeks, a worldwide “shut-down” occurred as the most expansive global pandemic in a century set in. Businesses, schools, sports arenas, and almost all public places were closed and empty as quarantines and other measures were issued to slow the spread of the disease. Governments and public health organizations around the world wrestled with what to do in the face of a health crisis that affected billions of people, either directly or indirectly. Case counts and death tolls continued to rise as medical professionals and researchers worked diligently to find effective treatments and vaccines. Unemployment, adequate housing, financial stability (for individuals, families, and nations), food scarcity, and lack of other necessities became real concerns. Sorrow, despair, and fear gripped many people who now faced completely unforeseen challenges.
As a result, many special conferences, concerts, and other events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the First Vision had to be cancelled. As with most public events, the 190th General Conference was closed to the public.2 Providentially, advanced audio and video technology made it possible for members of the Church to watch the sessions of conference via the internet. However, speakers at the April 2020 General Conference took full advantage of this historic moment. Joseph Smith’s First Vision was referred to in this conference more than at any other conference in the history of the Church. President Russell M. Nelson referred to the First Vision more than any other Church President had in any other single conference.3
However, this special conference focused more on the Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel in its entirety than it did exclusively on the First Vision. This seems consistent with some prefatory thoughts that President Nelson had shared during his closing remarks at the October 2019 General Conference regarding the upcoming April 2020 General Conference:
God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph, a 14-year-old youth. That event marked the onset of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness, precisely as foretold in the Holy Bible.
Then came a succession of visits from heavenly messengers, including Moroni, John the Baptist, and the early Apostles Peter, James, and John. Others followed, including Moses, Elias, and Elijah. Each brought divine authority to bless God’s children on the earth once again.
Miraculously, we have also received the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Holy Bible. The revelations published in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price have also greatly enriched our understanding of God’s commandments and eternal truth.
The keys and offices of the priesthood have been restored, including the offices of Apostle, Seventy, patriarch, high priest, elder, bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon. And women who love the Lord serve valiantly in the Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, Sunday School, and other Church callings—all vital parts of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness.
His invitation to members of the Church to reflect on the impact of these major events and developments of the Restoration on their lives set the stage for the forthcoming Proclamation entitled, “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World,” at the April 2020 General Conference.
Authorship of this document is attributed to “The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The First Presidency at the time consisted of President Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks (1st Counselor), and Henry B. Eyring (Second Counselor). The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles included: M. Russell Ballard (Acting President), Jeffrey R. Holland, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerritt W. Gong, and Ulisses S. Soares. As he introduced this Proclamation, President Nelson indicated something about the counseling process involved in determining to write a sixth official Proclamation:
As we anticipated this 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles wondered what we might do to commemorate appropriately this singular event. That theophany initiated the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times. We wondered if a monument should be erected. But as we considered the unique historic and international impact of that First Vision, we felt impressed to create a monument not of granite or stone but of words—words of solemn and sacred proclamation—written, not to be carved in “tables of stone” but rather to be etched in the “fleshy tables” of our hearts.4
In a Young Adult Face to Face event on September 13, 2020, Elder Ronald A. Rasband provided more details about the process involved in creating the Proclamation:
Now I’d like to give you a little peek behind the scenes and tell you what we did for the months and months leading up to that proclamation. In President Nelson’s wonderful way, he allowed all of the prophets and apostles, all fifteen of us, to work on putting together the proclamation. We wrote it out; we edited it. I even think I have a couple words in that Proclamation that I may have contributed. But in the end, I want you all to know that we reached unity, and we knew that what we were doing in preparing that Proclamation to the world was the mind and the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. And then our dear Prophet, with his prophetic mantle, finished the Proclamation and prepared it for his reading in the Sacred Grove at general conference. It was a wonderfully special revelatory experience. And I bear my witness to all of you tonight that it’s a true Proclamation of what the Lord Jesus Christ would have us know.5
The 2020 Proclamation reflects the effort of fifteen prophets, seers, and revelators who thoughtfully counseled together to unitedly receive the mind and will of the Lord Jesus Christ and convey it to the world.
This “Bicentennial Proclamation to the World” begins with the powerful foundational truth that “God loves His children in every nation of the world” (Proclamation, p. 1). This is followed immediately by a testimony of Jesus Christ and his “infinite atoning sacrifice” (Ibid.). The next several paragraphs recount the blessings of key events of the Restoration, from the First Vision to the angelic bestowal of priesthood authority to the translation of the Book of Mormon to the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830. The final paragraphs of the Proclamation emphasize the importance of ongoing revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is by revelation that “God is making known His will for His beloved sons and daughters” (Ibid.). It is also by revelation that “Millions throughout the world have embraced a knowledge of these prophesied events” and that “those who prayerfully study the message of the Restoration and act in faith will be blessed to gain their own witness of its divinity and of its purpose to prepare the world for the promised Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Ibid.).
In the April 1977 General Conference of the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, “Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication.”6 Although the 2020 Proclamation may seem like a rather ordinary document to some--especially in the context of global pandemics, unstable financial markets, terrorist strikes, political unrest, cultural tensions, civic divisiveness, and so forth--it promotes the most essential, the most important truths of the fulness of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, “which is, in one way or another,” testified Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “the answer to every issue we face in life.”7
- “Closing Remarks,” October 2019 General Conference, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 3, 2021.
- “How COVID-19 Will Impact the April 2020 General Conference,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, March 11, 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 3, 2021.
- See Gardner, Ryan S. (2021), “Entrenching a Fundamental: Use of the First Vision in General Conference,” The Religious Educator, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 13-35, https://rsc.byu.edu/vol.. , accessed August 3, 2021.
- “Hear Him,” April 2020 General Conference, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 4, 2021.
- “Young Adult Face to Face with Elder and Sister Rasband,” September 13, 2020, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 4, 2021.
- “Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets,” April 1977 General Conference, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 4, 2021.
- “Waiting on the Lord,” October 2020 General Conference, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org.. , accessed August 4, 2021.
In the afternoon session of the 190th Annual General Conference, following the reading of the 2020 Proclamation earlier that morning, Elder Quentin L. Cook added his witness that the Proclamation was evidence of ongoing revelation in the Church:
This seminal declaration by President Nelson has made it clear that the Church of Jesus Christ owes its origin, existence, and direction for the future to the principle of continuous revelation. The new proclamation represents a loving Father’s communication to His children.Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org..
In a missionary broadcast in June 2020, Elder Ronald A. Rasband shared important truths stemming from the 2020 Proclamation. He further testified that the Proclamation was “the mind and will of the Lord”. Elder Rasband went on to challenge the missionaries to gain their own witnesses of the doctrines and principles contained within the bicentennial proclamation:
We are so blessed by the truths elaborated in this bicentennial proclamation to the world… Know it, use it, study it, pray about it, find with it, teach it, bear testimony of it and make it a part of your very lives.Read More: https://www.thechurchnews.com..
On September 13, 2020, Elder Ronald A. Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, held a Face to Face Event for Young Adults, which partly focused on the message of the 2020 Proclamation. This was the second time in only a handful of months that Elder Rasband had taught from the Proclamation in a worldwide address to young people. Focusing on the last paragraph of the Proclamation, one young adult asked, “ If God wishes to speak with us, why is it so hard to hear Him?”. Elder Rasband responded in this way:
Heavenly Father knows you. He loves you. You are His children. He will respond to you in ways that are familiar and correct to you.Read More: https://www.thechurchnews.com..
In the October 2020 General Conference, Elder Gerrit W. Gong noted that the 2020 Proclamation was “profoundly inclusive” of every “nation, kindred, tongue, and people”. He went on to explain that members of Christ’s Church must be equally inclusive:
In the household of faith there are to be no strangers, no foreigners, no rich and poor, no outside “others.” As “fellowcitizens with the saints,” we are invited to change the world for the better, from the inside out, one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time.Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org..
In the April 2021 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund recounted how he and his wife, Ruth, responded to a man who asked how a loving God could allow terrible things to happen to His children, such as in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. In retelling this experience, Elder Renlund cited the 2020 Proclamation, adding that the principles he and his wife shared in their answer, “are clearly articulated in ‘The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World’”. Elder Renlund described their response in this way:
Without minimizing the suffering caused by the genocide, and after acknowledging our inability to comprehend such suffering, we replied that Jesus Christ has done something about infuriating unfairness. We explained many gospel precepts concerning Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Church.Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org..
The Church News reported that President Russel M. Nelson taught new mission presidents about the importance of the 2020 Proclamation at a training on June 24, 2021. As a part of his message, President Nelson encouraged mission presidents to focus on the truths declared by the Proclamation:
Teach it often to your missionaries. There is power in its declarations. It proclaims truths concerning the Godhead, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the First Vision, the organization of the Lord’s Church, the restoration of priesthood authority, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and modern-day prophets.Read More: https://www.thechurchnews.com..
President Russell M. Nelson first read the 2020 Bicentennial Proclamation to the World as part of his message entitled, “Hear Him,” at the 190th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 5, 2020:
Before the Sunday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference of the Church had concluded, the 2020 Proclamation was reprinted by the Church Newsroom on the internet at 11:46 a.m. on April 5, 2020:
At 11:48 a.m., ABC4.com in Salt Lake City, Utah, published the 2020 Proclamation on their web site
The 2020 Proclamation was also quickly published on the Deseret News web site on April 5, 2020, at 11:52 a.m.:
Just as the morning session of general conference was concluding, KSL News, in Salt Lake City, Utah, also published the 2020 Proclamation online at 11:59 a.m.:
Shortly after the morning conference session adjourned on Sunday, April 5, 2020, the Salt Lake Tribune reprinted the 2020 Proclamation online at 12:35 p.m.:
A longer video entitled, “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” explaining more about the background of monuments and proclamations in the Church was posted on the Church’s official YouTube channel on April 5, 2020. This video includes the excerpt of President Russell M. Nelson reading the Proclamation in the Sacred Grove in New York, which was used in the Sunday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference of the Church:
On April 5, 2020, the non-Church-sponsored magazine for Latter-day Saints, LDS Living, published the 2020 Proclamation on their web site:
Meridian Magazine, a non-Church-sponsored publication for a Latter-day Saint audience, reprinted the 2020 Proclamation on their web site on April 5, 2020, with editor-inserted headings for the separate paragraphs of the Proclamation:
The 2020 Proclamation was also published in the Church’s magazine, The Ensign, in the May 2020 issue as part of President Nelson’s message, “Hear Him”:
It was also published separately in the same issue under the title, “Restoration Proclamation”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org..
The 2020 Proclamation was also published in the May 2020 issue of the Church’s international magazine, Liahona, as part of President Nelson’s message, “Hear Him”:
In the same issue, the Proclamation was also published separately under the title, “Restoration Proclamation”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org..
[Versions of this magazine in multiple languages are available on this web site by clicking on the world icon in the upper right corner; then click on the language button and select the desired language. On a mobile device, click on the three-line menu icon in the upper left corner; then click on the world icon and then select the desired language.]
[Featured version] The 2020 Proclamation was published for the youth of the Church as the final page in the May 2020 New Era:
The 2020 Proclamation was published as an appendix in the Come, Follow Me— For Individuals and Families, Doctrine and Covenants 2021 manual:
An online version of the 2020 Proclamation can be found on the Church’s “Basic Resources” web site:
[Translations of the current version of the 2020 Proclamation in multiple languages are available on this web site by clicking on the world icon in the upper right corner; then click on the language button and select the desired language. On a mobile device, click on the three-line menu icon in the upper left corner; then click on the world icon and then select the desired language.]