By Becky Squire
In the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the year 2020 marks the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. The significance of the event for members of the church is part of a basic belief and doctrine we adhere to of God the Father and Jesus Christ being two separate and distinct individuals. Following the first vision, many more truths have been restored, including priesthood keys and authority, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
As members of the church, we have been asked to prepare for this special bicentennial conference. In the most recent general conference, President Nelson said, "the year 2020 will be designated as a bicentennial year. 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."
Many past prophets and leaders of the church have also spoken to us about the restoration. Here's a compilation of just a few that have stood out to me over the years.
Light and Knowledge to the World, Joseph Anderson
"The day was dawning when the gospel in its fullness was to be restored to mankind, when the light of heaven was to fill the entire earth, a time to come in which nothing would be withheld, when everything which had been kept from the understanding of man from the beginning of time would be made known; a time about which the prophets of old have spoken; a time when in very deed a great and a marvelous work and wonder would come forth among the children of men."
Why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Marion G. Romney
"It is a fact worth noting that of all the churches then claiming to represent Christ, not one of them bore his name. Joseph learned from the teachings of Jesus to the Nephites that no church could be Christ’s church unless it did bear his name."
A Message of the Restoration, Charles Didier
"A testimony of the veracity of the Book of Mormon helps people to find an answer to why the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ have been restored by a prophet and why we have a living prophet today... It also answers the ultimate why: all the ordinances of the gospel provide the greatest blessing to prepare our salvation and to fulfill our mortal purpose to create eternal families. This message of the Restoration is true because it is divine."
Our Most Distinguishing Feature, Jeffrey R. Holland
"I join you and a choir of the living and the dead in singing in this commemorative year, “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!”—and communed with Adam; Gabriel; Moses and Moroni; Elijah; Elias; Peter, James, and John; John the Baptist; and a host of others. Truly “Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.”
Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion, Bonnie L. Oscarson
"We need to understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days. We need to have a witness that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely chosen and appointed by the Lord to bring about this restoration and recognize that he organized the women of the Church after the organization that existed in Christ’s Church anciently."
The Correct Name of the Church, Russell M. Nelson
"The name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended."
This past January, President Nelson reminded us again of the importance of this bicentennial year: "When I spoke during last October’s general conference, I designated 2020 as a bicentennial period commemorating 200 years since God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in a vision. That singular event in human history initiated the Restoration of the Lord’s gospel—an unfolding Restoration that continues today."