"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
November 14, 2013
You Should Attend Stake Conference
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


Stake conference is coming up. I know people who don’t attend because they have a bunch of little kids, and they say keeping them quiet and occupied for the entire meeting is impossible. They also say they can’t hear or pay attention to the talks, so what’s the point of going.

What do you think of that? Am I a sucker for taking small children to stake conference?


Stake conference is not a superfluous church meeting. It is held twice a year because of the commandment to assemble together given in Doctrine and Covenants section 44. There are significant promises associated with it; it is an occasion to receive council from leaders that is specific to our wards and families.

That said, attending stake conference with small children is, in my opinion, an exercise in pure obedience. It is difficult to keep children quiet and occupied for the entire meeting. It is often difficult to hear or pay much attention to the talks. One might even leave the meeting feeling more agitated and less enlightened than when one entered.

But that pretty much describes every event with small children. And fortunately, none of that matters. What matters is this rule: On Sunday, we go to church.


Showing up every Sunday is step number one for a successful life of church activity. No matter what else is happening in your life, no matter how downtrodden you feel, no matter how tense things are at home, no matter how difficult it is to keep a particular commandment, you should go to church on Sunday. It is where you are supposed to be, and just being there will give you strength. Staying home will not help anything.

Children need to learn from your example that only the most extraordinary circumstances can prevent your family from attending church meetings every Sunday. You want them to know that going to church on Sunday is more important than any of the other things they could be doing that day.

You also want them to know that they should listen to their church leaders. Going to stake conference is an excellent way to teach this principle.

Obviously, you can’t attend church if you’re sick. But we are not talking about people who are sick. We are talking about people who don’t want to come for other reasons.

It is no excuse that you don’t think you will get anything out of the meeting. We attend church not only to receive instruction and spiritual nourishment for ourselves. We also attend church to serve and teach others, and to set a good example.

This is still true at stake conference, where we serve by lending our attention and support, sustaining our leaders, and joining the congregation in prayer and singing. Where we teach by example the importance of attending all of our meetings. The simple act of filing in and sitting down with your family of little ones is an expression of faith that obedience brings blessings. This expression of faith strengthens you, your children, and the rest of the congregation.

By contrast, imagine the damage to your fellow ward members when they don’t see you at stake conference. What message does it send to the Beehives, to the new members, to your own children, if you stay home because it is easier and more convenient?

Stake conference is also another opportunity to teach your children how to behave at church. As this takes years to accomplish, every opportunity to practice proper church behavior should be seized. Rules should be clearly explained before the meeting. For example: We sit on our chair. We face forward. We whisper.

But I have no magic tricks for getting children to behave at stake conference. Personally, I allow a little more leeway in the kind and quantity of activities they can bring to amuse themselves because the meeting is longer, the talks are generally aimed at adults, and there are fewer opportunities to move around. So instead of just a notebook and pen, I might permit some crayons. Instead of one Matchbox car, I might permit two Matchbox cars.

The items you bring should meet four requirements.

One, they should not disturb others. If you allow your child to play handheld video games at stake conference, that will disturb others. They are impossible to ignore, they distract and agitate other children (“But why does he get to play?”), and they have those bright little screens.

If you allow your child to run around on the stage, that will disturb others. If you allow your child to repeatedly bang his Matchbox cars into the metal folding chairs, that will disturb others.

Most children would rather play video games, run around, and make clanging noises than sit quietly. Your job is to stop them when they succeed and redirect their energy, even if this means you cannot pay as close attention to the talks are you would wish.

It is your social duty to prevent your children from continuously disturbing others. And it is the social duty of the people around you to be patient as you manage your children. As long as you are making an effort, they should ignore you completely or smile kindly.

Two, whatever you bring should, in theory, allow the child to simultaneously participate in the meeting (or other religious behavior, such as reading scriptures) and do the activity. So, no novels, but a book of mazes might be okay. Ear buds are out.

Three, you should bring things that are appropriate for church and for the Sabbath. So The Friend would be appropriate, but perhaps not a Monster High coloring book. Again, video games are not appropriate for church.

Four, you should not bring things that will make a mess. No one wants to clean your glitter pens, yogurt, tape, or chewing gum off the floor or furniture.

Finally, life is full of genuinely difficult decisions. Whether to attend stake conference with your children is not one of them. It is a regularly scheduled Sunday church meeting. Therefore, you go. Sometimes, life really is as simple as that.

Do you have a quandary, conundrum, or sticky situation in your life? Click this button to drop Cyndie a line, and she’ll be happy to answer your question in a future column. Any topic is welcome!

Bookmark and Share    
About Cyndie Swindlehurst

Cynthia Munk Swindlehurst spent her childhood in New Hampshire and her adolescence in San Diego. She served a mission in Manaus Brazil. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and from Duke University with a law degree.

She practiced law until her first child was born. She enjoys reading, tap dancing, and discussing current events. She and her husband live in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two sons.

Cyndie serves as the Sunbeams teacher in her ward.

Visit Cyndie at Dear Cyndie
Copyright © Hatrack River Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Hosted and Designed by WebBoulevard.com