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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Important Church News Items

Hello, all! Hope you are all doing well. I am writing early this morning (Wednesday) to highlight important news relating to the LDS Church. These items are not in order of importance or significance. I will just meander through this post and try to share all the news that has crossed my radar.

First on the list is temple progress. The Church is currently conducting an open house for the newly completed Indianapolis Indiana Temple. The open house began on Friday July 17 and will conclude on Saturday August 8 and excluded the Sundays on July 19, July 26, and August 2. A cultural celebration will be held August 22, and the dedication will take place on August 23. It is unclear who will be sent to dedicate the temple, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say it will be President Henry B. Eyring. He and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf seem to be assigned to alternating temple dedications, especially if President Thomas S. Monson is not able to get out to them. If President Eyring is assigned to that dedication, it will be only the 3rd temple he has dedicated during his time as a member of the First Presidency. It is unclear who among the now 10 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be sent to accompany the presiding authority. None of them that I know of have ties to Indiana. So I will try to keep my eye on who will be at the dedication and share that information as soon as it's available.

Additionally on the temple progress front, ldschurchnews.com reports who will presided at and oversee the groundbreakings and site dedications for the Cedar City Utah Temple on August 8 and the Concepcion Chile Temple on October 17. For the Cedar City Utah Temple groundbreaking, Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy (who has direct supervisory responsibility of the three geographical Church Areas in Utah) will preside, and he will be accompanied by Elder Kent F. Richards of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, who will conduct the service and who may still be serving as Temple Department Executive Director, though he may not be serving in that capcity by the time of the groundbreaking. My reason for saying that is because he is at an age and service length that may result in his release during the October General Conference, and changes in Church leadership assignments (such as the Temple Department Executive Director) are effective on August 1. No official announcement has come to confirm Elder Richards's release from that assignment, but it makes sense. For the Concepcion Chile Temple groundbreaking, Elder Walter F. González, who serves as President of the South America South Area Presidency.

I have drawn up a chronological list of upcoming temple-related events to help me see what the status of temples will change to with each event. I share that list for any and all who may be interested. Here it is!

August 8—Cedar City Utah Temple Groundbreaking (147 operating, 13 under construction, 13 announced, 5 undergoing renovation)
August 23—Indianapolis Indiana Temple Dedication (148 operating, 12 under construction, 13 announced, 5 undergoing renovation)
September 7—Frankfurt Germany Temple Renovation begins (148 operating, 12 under construction, 13 announced, 6 undergoing renovation)
September 13—Mexico City Mexico Temple Rededication (148 operating, 12 under construction, 13 announced, 5 undergoing renovation)
October 17—Concepcion Chile Temple Groundbreaking (148 operating, 13 under construction, 12 announced, 5 undergoing renovation)
November 22—Montreal Quebec Temple Rededication (148 operating, 13 under construction, 12 announced, 4 undergoing renovation)
December 13—Tijuana Mexico Temple Dedication (149 operating, 12 under construction, 12 announced, 4 undergoing renovation)
February 21—Suva Fiji Temple Rededication (149 operating, 12 under construction, 12 announced, 3 undergoing renovation)
March 20—Provo City Center Temple Dedication (150 operating, 11 under construction, 12 announced, 3 undergoing renovation)

I hope that this list has proven to be enlightening and instructive and interesting to you, my readers. With that said, on to the next news item!

The leadership of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which just returned from its tour in the Eastern States, has announced that they will be going on a tour of Europe next year. This is big news because they typically tour only every 2 years, and there is also the fact that this will be the first time in 18 years that the choir has toured Europe. The tour will go from Monday, June 27-Saturday July 16. The choir will visit Berlin and Nuremberg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Rotterdam Netherlands; and Paris France. President Thomas S. Monson, who serves as an adviser to the Tabernacle Choir, is quoted as saying:

“Our goal is for the choir and its companion Orchestra at Temple Square to be a shining example of the musical arts to all the world. With the announcement of this European tour, I am delighted that these noted ensembles will have the opportunity to touch the hearts of people in multiple nations through their magnificent music. This tour will be an important step forward as the choir and orchestra continue to build bridges of friendship and understanding across the globe as ambassadors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Choir President Ron Jarrett expressed his delight about the European Tour, saying that when he became choir president, he wanted to plan many international tours for the Choir to extend their outreach and to share with a wider audience the inspiration and power that accompanies each performance of the Choir.

This will be the choir's sixth tour to European nations. The first visit was in 1955 and took the Choir to many major European cities. In 1973 they toured western and central Europe; in 1982 they were in northern Europe; in 1991 the cities of Eastern Europe welcomed the choir; and seven years later, in 1998, southern Europe was the tour location.

The Choir has toured since 1893 in venues in many states of the US, and many other countries, including major music capitals of the world such as Israel, Russia, Japan and Australia. The choir has performed at the inauguration of six US Presidents. The orchestra has toured with the choir since 2005. The choir is composed of 360 voices and, in all, there are 200 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square. The choir's weekly program, Music & the Spoken Word, has aired since 1929. It has been recognized as the world's longest continuing broadcast, being aired by over 2,000 satellite, cable, radio, and TV stations worldwide. The Choir and Orchestra are actively involved in recording projects, with the currently in-progress creation of a full-length edition of Handel's Messiah, which is anticipated to be released sometime next year.

The final news item I wanted to focus on is one I feel strongly about, but may not be well received by some readers of my blog. I will take that chance. On July 27 (Monday), the LDS Church reported that it was reevaluating their relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) after the BSA announced that, because of a vote by the National Executive Board, they would be permitting openly gay men to serve as Scout leaders. Like the Church, I was disappointed by this decision, and I don't blame the Church for considering cutting all ties to the BSA and organizing their own equivalent program for young men. The reason the Church is considering this course is that, while same-sex marriage is legal now in the United States, the Church feels that the BSA's decision is not in keeping with the Scout Oath, particularly the part about being "morally straight." Also, while the BSA has said that individual organizations still have the right to choose their own leaders (which in the Church's case would be those not identified as "homosexual"), the Church is worried that, with this ruling, they might at some future point be compelled to allow Scout leaders for Church-affiliated Scout troops whose standards are not in harmony with Church teachings. The Church issued the following statement, which directly addresses their response to this ruling:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.

"As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead."

As one who was in the Scouting program and is an Eagle Scout myself, I wish that this ruling had been different or had come at a time when Church leaders could meet and appropriately discuss it and evaluate what impact this ruling would have on the LDS Church's relationship with the BSA. I honestly don't know what kind of program the Church would create for young men that would be equivalent to the Boy Scout program, but I'm sure that if ties are cut to the BSA, the Church will come out with something equally as profitable to LDS young men and those called to be their leaders.I am grateful that the Church is still remaining firm on its stance about same-gender attraction and marriage, and I look forward to seeing what develops in light of this disappointing ruling.

I would like to make one additional statement about my view of same-gender attraction and marriage. Many people have said that the LDS Church and its' membership should show love, and that the Church's current stance on homosexuality is not in keeping with what Jesus would teach. I disagree. I know that our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, love all their spirit children (in the case of the Father) or spirit siblings (in the case of the Son). Christ was all about loving everyone. His incomparable atonement is evidence of His love for all of us who have ever been or will ever be. But at no time during his mortal ministry did he condone or excuse the transgression of His Father's commandments. Many cite the example of the woman taken in adultery as an example of Christ condoning or excusing sin. But what He said was, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go thy way and sin no more." In other words, he was saying, in essence, "You don't deserve to be stoned. I cannot excuse your behavior, and there will be penalties for it at some point, but that will be meted out by me, and I promise I will be just. You will be better off if you don't repeat this transgression." I believe that is the Lord's message to everyone who commits a transgression at any point in their lives. And I freely recognize that all of us "have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Were it not so, there would be no need for the Savior or our Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation, Redemption, and Happiness.

Further, remember that the Lord himself has said, "I, the Lord, cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." I believe what the ancient and modern prophets have said in reference to the following scripture in Romans 1:24-27: "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

"And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."

If not homosexuality, what could this scripture possibly be referring to? Again, that's from the biblical apostle Paul, not just an LDS Church leader. Anyone who believes the Bible cannot in good conscience condone, excuse or support homosexual behavior, nor can they claim that those with homosexual tendencies were simply "born that way." To so say is to deny the godly doctrine of agency, the ability to choose. The Lord has never and will never take away that power of choice from anyone, but at the same time, He will hold each of us accountable for any conduct that violates His laws. That has been and ever will be the Church's stance. Some have made the mistaken assumption that simply because the doctrine of polygamy was rescinded and because the blacks were in 1978 granted the priesthood that, in due course, the Church will accept homosexuality. But I know this will not happen.

The basic doctrines, founded upon scripture, that the Church embraces, will never change. No man could change them, and, as Wilford Woodruff observed, anyone who tries to lead the Church astray will be removed by the Lord from their positions of authority in the Church. The importance of the doctrine on the family cannot be overstated. And I am and ever will be supportive of the Church's doctrines and practices, for I have come to know for myself that they are absolutely true and in harmony with the Lord's will. I share this post with you and bear my testimony of the importance of these truths set forth herein, and give my firm witness that we will only be blessed as we follow the Lord's doctrines as set forth in scriptures and in the words of our modern day prophets, seers, and revelators. This is my witness and testimony, which I share with all my heart in the sacred name of our Advocate with the Father, who cannot excuse, condone or support sin and earnestly pleads with us to keep His commandments and live as He would have us live, even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Russell M. Nelson set apart as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Hello, all. It's early in the morning of Thursday July 16, and I am posting for a very exciting reason: Yesterday (Wednesday), Elder Russell Marion Nelson, the most senior apostle next to President Thomas S. Monson, was officially set apart by President Monson as the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He had become the de facto Quorum President and had functioned as such since President Boyd K. Packer died on July 3, but now it's official. At age 90 (he'll be 91 on September 9), he becomes one of the oldest men to be set apart as Quorum President. All reports say his health is very good, so I'm sure he'll be the Quorum President for at least 5 years, possibly more. He may even live to break Elder David B. Haight's record as oldest living apostle. He will reach that milestone on August 8, 2022. Now we just need to wait until October to find out who the new apostles will be (though there's always a chance that they may be called sooner). I will endeavor to keep you updated on apostolic news as it happens. Until I write again, all the best!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The 5th Anniversary of our engagement/I've been blogging for a year now.

I know I'm a little late in posting this. But life threw us a few curve balls we weren't expecting. So I've been trying for the last few days to sort some things out. Don't be alarmed or unduly concerned, readers. Amy and I are both still healthy and well. And the storms we are experiencing are sure to pass given a few more days or so.

What I wanted to focus on in this post is a couple of wonderful milestones I marked over Independence Day Weekend. First of all, but not most importantly, I've been a blogger since my first post last July 4. The blog has been a great way to keep those who follow it informed not only of important developments in our personal lives, but also about major news items from and about the LDS Church. It's been a thrill to blog, knowing there are so many people who care about what I have to say. You, my readers, are the reason I blog. That and I've not been very diligent as a journal keeper, so this blog has served as an outlet for me to be able to preserve all the important details of my life and the work of the Lord, which I love with all my heart. Thanks for your continued support and interest in this blog.

That being said, as many of you are aware, Saturday July 4 marked the 5th anniversary of our engagement day. We celebrate each such anniversary in a very unique way. On the first anniversary of our engagement, I expressed to my sweet Amy a desire I had to propose to her anew every year. In this way, we have another thing to celebrate each Independence Day: we become engaged all over again. Of course, of the five "reengagements" we've had, none can compare with the joy of being married and having one another to be with, take care of, and love. I thought I loved Amy on the day we became engaged, and even more so when we got married 5 1/2 months later. But what I felt for her then is a mere drop in the bucket compared to my feelings for her now, as we near the 5th anniversary of our marriage, which we will celebrate on December 18 of this year.

Each day with her makes her more dear to me than I ever thought anyone could be. She is the first face I see when I wake up every morning, and the last sight I have before I drift off to sleep every night. For over 5 years now, she has been my best friend, my biggest  fan, my most trusted confidante, and the reason for all the wonderful things in my life. She has encouraged me in every pursuit I have undertaken. She has stood by me as we have weathered the storms of life. She has taught me by her example what it means to see people as the Lord sees them. She loves me unconditionally, even when I have tried her patience or have said or done anything stupid or insensitive. She willingly deals with the consequences of decisions I have made, even when those decisions may have not been in our best interest. She is so patient with and kind to me.

I have often thought and told her that I may still be physically disabled, but, because of her, I am whole. For a long time before she came into my life, I always  felt there was something missing. Then she came into my life, and nothing was missing anymore. I told the Lord long before she came along that if I could just find someone who would love me and look beyond my disabilities and everything else wrong with me, I would happily accept her as an eternal companion. Amy is all that and so very much more. As I often try to tell her, I could look the world over from here to eternity and back again, and I would never find anyone as perfect for me as she is.

So reproposing to her every year on the day of our engagement reminds me of the innumerable reasons I love her. It helps me evaluate how I'm doing as a husband to her and whether I could or should be doing things differently or better. It helps me remember the treasure, the real gem I have found, who is worth anything it takes to help her be happy. I hope she can feel from me even just a small portion of what I feel for her. I am so blessed that Amy Nuttall consented to be my eternal companion, and I hope and pray that someday I will be worthy of her.

My beloved Amy, I hope you never doubt how much I love you. You give me a reason to press forward in life, no matter how rocky the road may be. When I am afraid, you give me courage. When I feel lost and alone, you give me companionship. When I am worried or troubled about anything, you help me feel better. You have given me your complete devotion and trusted me with your heart and your life and your love. I marvel every day that out of all the men in the world you could have chosen to spend your life and eternity with, you wanted me. No one could ever take your place. I don't ever want anyone else. You are the miracle I prayed for for so long. You are a companion and a help meet in the true sense of the words. I never imagined I'd be so lucky as to be bound eternally to someone as wonderful and amazing as you are. My love for you is beyond my ability to express. I hope that I may someday prove worthy of you. Thank you for all you are and everything you have given me. I love you, my precious Amy, now and forever!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Funeral set for President Boyd K. Packer/My article featured on lds.org's home page

I am posting today for a couple of reasons. First of all, I learned today that funeral services have been arranged for President Boyd K. Packer, who died yesterday of causes incident to age. The funeral will be held on Friday July 10 @ 11:00 AM MDT. Further details, such as which TV stations will carry the funeral proceedings, will be announced in the coming days. President Packer will be buried in the Brigham City Cemetery. The graveside service will be private. Now that the details of the funeral have been announced, I wonder who might be called upon to speak at the funeral. It's been quite a while since a President of the Quorum of the Twelve has died in office. The last time was when President Marion G. Romney passed away on 20 May 1988. That was 27 years ago. Of the 27 men who have served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one was excommunicated (Thomas B. Marsh) which is why his tenure ended.

15 Quorum Presidents have become President of the Church, which is the reason for the end of their tenure. One (Orson Hyde) had his tenure end due to a readjustment in apostolic seniority. (It was determined by Brigham Young that seniority in the apostleship was to be determined by longest continuous service rather than the date on which an apostle was ordained. Hyde had previously been disfellowshipped for brief periods of time in 1839 and 1846. Additionally, from 1847 to 1868, Hyde was actually the third most senior apostle. The second most senior apostle was Heber C. Kimball, a member of the First Presidency. If current practice were followed, Kimball would have been President of the Quorum and Hyde would have served as Acting President during this time period. However, Kimball was never called as President of the Quorum of the Twelve.)

One man (Brigham Young Jr.) served twice as President of the Quorum, with his tenure interrupted by the return of Joseph F. Smith to the Quorum following the death of Lorenzo Snow. (At the beginning of Young's tenure, George Q. Cannon was the second most senior Apostle in the Church. However, Cannon was a counselor in the First Presidency and was never called as President of the Quorum. If today's practices had been followed, Cannon would have been called as Quorum President and Young as Acting Quorum President. When Cannon died in April 1901, Young remained the President of the Quorum despite the fact that First Presidency member Joseph F. Smith was then the second most senior Apostle.) One Quorum President, Joseph F. Smith. only served in that capacity for the week between the death of Lorenzo Snow and the reorganization of the First Presidency, with Joseph F. Smith become the next Church President. When that happened, Young resumed his service as Quorum President.

8 men who served as Quorum President died in office. Additionally, 5 men who served as Quorum President were serving in the First Presidency during the entirety of their tenure, and the next most senior apostle not in the First Presidency served as Acting President. During President Marion G. Romney's tenure, he was in ill health, so Howard W. Hunter served as Acting President during Romney's entire tenure. When Romney died, Hunter became Quorum President.

The one man I haven't mentioned in this brief history of Quorum Presidents is Russell M. Nelson, who became the de facto Quorum President at the death of Boyd K. Packer yesterday. However, Nelson has yet to be set apart for this position. I hope I haven't bored anyone with this Church history lesson, but I find all this fascinating.

 There is one other thing I wanted to note in this post. I went onto lds.org a couple of days ago. I was surprised to discover a link to an article on the site's main webpage. The link read, "Christ Has Felt Your Pain." I could think of only one article that had a similar title, and that was the one that I wrote. So I clicked on the link, and, sure enough, it led to the article I had written that was published in the July Ensign. So my work has been and is currently being featured on lds.org's home page. I couldn't be more pleased and proud that the Church is finding additionally uses for my article. And I hope that more people will read it as a result and that it will make a positive difference in their lives. That's all I wanted to post about. I've "sounded off" enough for now. Until I blog again, all the best!

President Boyd K. Packer passes away/Other Church News

Many of you have heard the news by now, but President Boyd K. Packer passed away today from causes incident to age. He was 90 years old and was serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time of his passing. He becomes the second apostle to pass away this year, the first being Elder L. Tom Perry on May 31. With his passing, Elder Russell M. Nelson succeeds President Packer as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And that now leaves two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Those vacancies could be filled at any time, but most likely will be taken care of during the October General Conference. It has been 11 years since two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles died within a short time of each other. I  mused over an interesting bit of trivia regarding President Packer's passing. Now the two most senior apostles are separated in age by 3 years (President Monson will be 88 on August 21, and President Nelson turns 91 on September 9), but their ordinations to the apostleship took place a little over 20 years apart (President Monson in October 1963, and President Nelson in April 1984). This is the longest time span between the ordination of the two most senior apostles in the history of the Church especially in light of the fact that they are so close in age.

The question of who might fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles still remains. I will, of course, support and sustain fully the two newest apostles as much as I tried to sustain President Packer and Elder Perry. But I personally would love to see a couple of younger men,  with perhaps one or both of them being international. It will be interesting to see whom the Lord calls.

There have also been one or two other items of Church-related news that I wanted to touch on briefly in this post. The leaders of the Church at the top level have called for better observances of the Lord's holy day, Sunday. The Newsroom article on that subject states: "Recommendations include wider participation in planning worship services and holding these sacrament meetings and other classes. Elder Ballard said the proposed changes are recommendations that may be adapted to local needs. 'We have to maintain flexibility. The Church all over the world has different circumstances.'"

A committee made up of four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (though the article didn't reveal which apostles were on the committee) and the Presidency of the Seventy is also on the committee. One major change the committee is asking local Church leaders to do is for bishoprics to involve the ward council in the planning of Sacrament Meetings. Elder L. Whitney Clayton, who is the 2nd most senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy, said, "The contribution of all ward council members will add spiritual insight to the plans being considered by bishoprics, while bishoprics will be responsible for approval of plans. There's a great deal of freedom to move within that recommendation. What we hope is that bishoprics will bring in suggested plans for sacrament meetings, out into the future — we're talking two, three months out into the future — and that members of the ward council will offer suggestions. They may have a suggestion about who should speak or a refinement about a particular topic or a suggestion about a hymn." The committee has suggested that among other appropriate Sabbath Day activities are: doing acts of service, reading the scriptures and spending time with family.

“What we hope is that the Sabbath will become a delight for people at home, that they'll love what happens in their homes on Sunday. It will be a time to draw apart from the world, to just give ourselves some rest from the things that are always before our eyes the other days of the week, with the work week, all the things we worry about. And then on the Sabbath we could think about the Savior. What we hope is that the Sabbath will become a delight for people at home, that they'll love what happens in their homes on Sunday. It will be a time to draw apart from the world, to just give ourselves some rest from the things that are always before our eyes the other days of the week, with the work week, all the things we worry about. And then on the Sabbath we could think about the Savior.”

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom is quoted as saying: “When we consider that is His day, then what we do is in connection to Him and for Him. But that doesn't mean we can't load our children in our cars and go visit grandparents or family or relatives. It doesn't mean that we can't take time to laugh together.” Additional Sunday-appropriate activities could include writing in journals and to missionaries, as well as sharing the numerous resources the Church has available online with family. The news release shares a couple of great quotes from Elder Russell M. Nelson's April 2015 General Conference talk, "The Sabbath is a Delight". I would encourage all my readers to review that address.

The news release says, "Training on improving Sabbath day worship and gospel learning within families was given to general authorities, area seventies and general auxiliary presidencies during the week of general conference. That training is now being extended to the level of local congregations as training occurs throughout the year. "Training materials focused on improving Sabbath day worship at church and in the home are being distributed to local leaders for upcoming leadership meetings; the principles will then be taught to the full membership of each congregation." Thus ends the news release.

I am grateful for the emphasis that is being placed on Sunday as being a holy day. I hope that those who need to examine their Sabbath day observance will be benefited by this training that will take place. It is my hope and prayer that a reverence and respect for the Lord's holy day may be cultivated and enhanced. and my fervent testimony that blessings come from treating Sunday as a different day and not just another day like any other day of the week. That we may properly observe the Sabbath Day and reap the blessings that come from truly keeping the Lord's Day holy is my prayer as I close this blog post for now in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!/Two major developments regarding the Church and the LGBT population

I am posting at this hour for some very important reasons. First and foremost, my parents celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary yesterday (July 1). I am so grateful to the woman who set them up on their first date when neither of them had previously known each other. I am grateful for the influence my mom had on my dad serving a mission. She must have made quite the impression on him. By the time he left on his mission, she was also serving as a missionary. When my dad gave his farewell talk, he mentioned that he had met a South African lady that he intended to marry when he got home. I'm glad my mom came to the United States on a "short vacation." I'm glad my dad didn't let the moss grow under his feet upon his return and that my parents were engaged a day after his release as a missionary. I am grateful that they did such a remarkable job in raising their family. They deserve much of the credit for my personal successes. After all, as I observed in my article in the Ensign this month, my earliest doctors told them to take me home and simply love me, as I would never amount to more than a limp noodle on a sofa. While I do have my "limp noodle" moments, thanks to them, I have had far more successes than I have had failures. And even when they had reservations about letting someone else (the woman who would become my wife) take over responsibility of looking out for me, once they knew I was serious about marrying her, they fully supported me, just like they have in everything I've ever done. I hope to be able to give them many more grandchildren to dote on. And I know that my children couldn't ask for a better Ouma and Oupa. I have seen what my wife has gone through in dealing with the death of her mother. I hope my parents will be around for many years to come. I still have so much to learn from their examples and testimonies. They have lived a legacy of faith and devotion to God that  I know will be a blessing to their posterity for many years to come. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad, and thanks for everything!

That being said, there have been two major developments relating to the Church and their attitude toward and actions regarding the LGBT community in general and same-sex marriage in particular. The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has written a letter that they indicated should be shared to all adults and youth in congregations in the United States and Canada either July 5 or July 12, in a setting other than Sacrament Meeting. It reaffirms the Church's support for traditional marriage, reiterates the doctrine of marriage being between one man and one woman, addresses the reasoning behind a belief in and support for traditional marriage, and directly provides answers to questions relating to why traditional marriage is so important in the eyes of the Church and our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Since the Church has made public the information that will be shared, I share it here as well. I would encourage all those Latter-day Saints who follow my blog to prayerfully review these materials and come to find out for themselves the truthfulness and importance of this doctrine. I believe the statement that "when . . .prophet[s] speak, the debate is over." I have been and will continue to be a supporter and proponent of the Church's view. I know that will not make me popular with any who support same-sex marriage, but I have never been afraid of being unpopular. In the letter, it is stated that the Church insists on its right to practice and uphold a support of traditional marriage without threat of ridicule or persecution. The bottom line is, our leaders have spoken, and no one, whomever they may be, has a right to change the doctrine the Lord has set forth. The Church will never change their position. Neither will I. The whole world could make same-sex marriage legal, and it still wouldn't alter what the Lord has decreed. Any who take issue with that are welcome to do so, but I hope all my readers will accept this as something I have come to know for myself to be true and respect me for it, rather than ridiculing or persecuting me for so believing. I respect other peoples' rights to disagree with what I believe and proclaim their own opinion on the subject, but I don't appreciate people telling me that I'm bigoted, prejudiced, or misled. Other people may believe however they want. I accept their rights to do so. I hope in turn they will accept my rights to believe in and support traditional marriage without trying to convince me of the error of my ways. Sorry about the sermon. But it's how I feel. Those who favor same-sex marriage have said that everyone needs to love and accept everyone else and their lifestyles. I do have a love and respect for all of our Heavenly Father's children. But just as a parent won't condone their children doing something wrong, I cannot condone or support something that I believe is not in harmony with God's will. Many say about same-gender attraction that those who deal with it were just "born that way" and that they can't help their tendencies, that this is just part of "who they are." Anyone is free to believe that. But I refuse to believe that a loving God would take away anyone's power of choice or ability to act for themselves in any matter. Everyone has their agency. For some, that leads them to disobey and disregard the Lord's standards. I am using my agency to live the way I feel God wants me to live. And I hope I will be respected for that rather than ridiculed, criticized, or persecuted for it.

Enough on that. I also wanted to mention another development in regards to the Church's conduct towards the LGBT community. The Church has made a sizable donation of money and much-needed perishable food items to the Utah Pride Center at the request of the Center. The Church made no mention of this themselves. It was the Center who reported the information to the local news outlets. What was donated will go to help the Center provide breakfast every Saturday to homeless youth. The Center partners with the Utah Food Bank, but the Bank is unable to supply perishable items. Those interviewed said that they were glad that, in spite of their difference in beliefs, they were able to come together on this issue, to help those who are not currently able to help themselves. It is a major milestone in the Church's relationship with the LGBT community in general and this Center in particular. It is hoped that this donation will benefit those homeless youth for a long time.

Well, I've "sounded off" enough for one night. It is past 2 am, and I haven't eaten anything since getting back from work 4 hours ago. I will keep my eye out for further developments on the Church news front and will do my best to also keep all my readers updated on our personal lives. Until I write again, all the best!