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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Exterior Rendering Released for the Syracuse Utah Temple

Hello again, everyone!Breaking news has been reported by the Church within the last hour. As some of you might recall, in late August of last year, groundbreakings were set and renderings released for the Bentonville Arkansas and McAllen Texas Temples. In that same announcement, the location and preliminary details were revealed for the Syracuse Utah Temple. Fast forward to around half an hour ago. The Church News noted that the exterior rendering for the Syracuse Utah Temple has been released. Interestingly enough, on the Newsroom, rather that providing a new press release specifically relating to this temple's new rendering, it appears that the late August release, which showed information about that temple, has since been updated with the exterior rendering.

The Syracuse Utah Temple was announced in April of last year. The site location for it was then confirmed in August, and the rendering has been released now in February, so four months passed between the temple's announcement and the release of the preliminary information, with four more months passing between the release of that preliminary information and today's release of that rendering. As I have previously mentioned, it is currently anticipated that the Syracuse Utah Temple will be one of the first (if not the very first) to have a groundbreaking this year.

The Church News update on this temple notes that no groundbreaking date has been set yet, but given that a window for that is anticipated in the spring, we might hear of formal arrangements being set for that temple within the next month or two, with the groundbreaking itself perhaps set for April, May, or June. In 2019, as some of you might recall, there were several cases where the Church released a rendering for a temple a few weeks prior to subsequently announcing the groundbreaking information for it, so something similar could happen here.

The one difference between most of the temples that had that happen 2 years ago and the Syracuse Utah Temple is that the latter is going to be a comparatively larger temple. Set to rise at the intersection of 2500 West and 1025 South in Syracuse, plans call for a three-story temple of roughly 89,00 square feet. The rendering in this case shows yet another temple that will not feature the angel Moroni, suggesting that the new trend will be towards not including it in most cases for future temples of the Church.

A couple of additional thoughts, if I may offer them. I know that I am one who has been surprised that no groundbreakings have been set to occur this year yet. Last year, the first groundbreakings were announced in mid-to-late January, and set to occur in April and May, but wound up occurring in April, May, and June, due to COVID-19 conditions. 

Last year also saw several other groundbreaking arrangements reshuffled. So while I am surprised no arrangements have been formally announced thus far, I understand that it may be wiser to factor in COVID-19 conditions when making those arrangements. And the way things worked out last year, the Church had originally planned to conduct 18 temple groundbreakings (per Elder Bednar's remarks in the April 2020 General Conference). That number was increased to 20 (per President Nelson's opening remarks in October), and the Church actually wound up being able to carry out 21 groundbreakings by the end of the year. Of those 21, 16 wound up occurring during the final 4 months of the year.

My reason for mentioning that is that, even if the Church does not wind up announcing the first groundbreaking(s) this year for another month or two, a slow start on announcing them may not equate to a smaller number of groundbreakings occurring during this year.  In fact, I think the opposite may turn out to be true. For the upcoming April General Conference, among other things, I have predicted that Elder Bednar may be one of the three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who might speak in the final session thereof.

If that happens, I think it may also be safe to assume that Elder Bednar might mention an exact number of temples for which the Church is hoping to break ground by the end of this year, and that, as President Nelson speaks to close out the conference, he may then announce several new temples. Given what we know about the potential for temple events this year, there are at least 8 thus far that will almost certainly have a groundbreaking, and I have at least 6 or 7 others on my radar as well.

As a result, I think we might safely anticipate new temples being announced in the double-digits this time around, marking the first time since October 2018 that more than 10 temples might be announced. It will be interesting to see all of that unfold this year. I continue to monitor all temple developments, major Church news, and many other factors as well, and will do my best to continue to bring word of those to you all as I become aware of all such updates.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Temple Construction Progress Report Overhauled as Completion Order and Estimates Are Frequently Adjusted

Hello again, everyone! As we near the half-way point of the second month in 2021, I wanted to publish new content today. I have mentioned repeatedly in recent threads of several of my previous posts that the completion order for temples now under construction, along with their completion estimates, have been fluctuating frequently of late. In consideration of the massive and significant nature of those changes, I wanted to provide two links to my temple construction progress report

The first shows the changes that have been made as of today, and as of the time at which this post is being published. And the second link I wanted to share today is for the version of my report that will be continuously updated from today until my first-quarter temple construction progress report is shared (which I am planning to take care of on either March 31 or April 1).

It appears that there will be a need to keep tabs on the queue of temples which are now or may soon be under full-scale construction, since there will surely be many more such changes in the days ahead. As the saying goes, "The only thing that's truly constant is change." Within the last couple of weeks alone, on several of the days therein, there have even been multiple chnages to the queue in a single day. That will no doubt continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

I remain committed to continuing to track those changes, and will do my level best to continue to bring word of those to you all here as I become aware of them. I also will be monitoring all other Church news updates and will similarly bring you summaries thereof as I am able to do so.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Monday, February 8, 2021

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: 6 Temples Will Move to Phase 3; 6 Others Will Move to Phase 2 in the Next Two Weeks

Hello again, everyone! At this hour, we have some breaking Church news to get to. So let's dive right in. The Church has announced this morning that 12 additional temples will have changes in their reopening status that will go into effect over the next two weeks, with 6 of those temples transitioning to phase 3 on Monday February 22, and 6 others moving to phase 2 effective next week. Additionally, next week will also see 3 temples that previously had their reopenings paused or downgraded terutning to their former status.

So let's break down this information. First, for the 6 temples transiitioning to phase 3 in two weeks, that marks the largest number to-date transitioning to that phase on the same date. The six temples tranisitioning to phase 3 in two weeks include 3 in Mexico (Merida, Oaxaca, and Tuxtla Guitierrez); and 1 each in Central America (Guatemala City Guatemala); Canada (Halifax Nova Scotia); and the Pacific (Sydney Australia). Phase 3 allows those temples to perform all living ordinances, along with some ordinances for the dead, while ensuring proper COVID-19 protocols are followed.

With those phase 3 reopenings occurring in two weeks, for next week, 3 temples will begin phase 2 for the firs timet, offering all ordinances for the living, with the priority given first to those previously-endowed couples who are going to be sealed, with limited guests in attendance; then to those preparing for a temple sealing in the neear future who have not previously been endowed; then to missionaries already out in the field, who departed without being able to receive their own endowments; then to those missionaries preparing to depart for the mission field; then to anyone else who made need to receive their own ordinances for any other reason.

The Palmyra New York, Rome Italy, and San Jose Costa Rica Temples are the 3 that will start phase 2 for the first time next week. The Johannesburg South Africa and Santiago Chile Temples were previously paused, and now resume phase 2 operations. And the Quetzeltenango Guatemala Temple, which had returned to phase 1 briefly due to local COVID-19 restrictions, will again resume phase 2.

The Church News provides additional details on the reopening, including updates made to the status tracker for all temples worldwide. Church leaders are continuing the inspired process of monitoring global COVID-19 restrictions or adjustments, and to adjust the temple reopenings accordingly. The cautiously-coordinated efforts have also involved receiving and evaluating information on nations worldwide from those serving in area presidencies or as area seventies, and it is inspiring to witness that occurring the way it has.

For my part, I continue to monitor any and all such developments, in addition to any breaking Church news, and will do my level best to pass word of those along to you all as I become aware thereof. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

All Current Apostles Observe Their First Group Tenure Length Milestone

Hello again, everyone! As demonstrated in the last update I provided on apostolic data (posted on January 24), the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, both on their own and in company with the current First Presidency, were set to observe serefveral apostolic group milestones this year. As the documents I shared in that last update showed, the first of those milestones has been reached today, Monday February 8. As of today, the current members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have served together for a period of 2 years, 10 months, and 8 days.

The length of their service has now matched that of the apostolic group which included Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust in the First Presidency, and when the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was comprised of President Boyd K. Packer and Elders L. Tom Perry, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, Henry B. Eyring, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and David A. Bednar.

That group served together from October 2, 2004, when Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar were called to the apostleship until the death of President Faust on August 10, 2007. Oddly enough, this first milestone for our current group of apostles will not be the only one they observe this month. They will be marking their second one on February 26.

On that date, the length of their tenure as an apostolic group will match that of the First Presidency consisting of Presidents Heber J. Grant, Charles W. Penrose, and Anthony W. Ivins, while the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles consisted of President Rudger Clawson and Elders Reed Smoot, George Albert Smith, George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, James E. Talmage, Stephen L Richards, Richard R. Lyman, Melvin J. Ballard, and John A. Widtsoe.

With both milestones being observed this month, the current group of apostles will then become the twelfth longst-serving such group in Church history, and they will be observing their next two milestones 15 days apart in July, followed by 1 more that will coincide with President Nelson's 97th birthday.

Meanwhile, the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will mark 3 years of continuous service together on March 31, and will be observing 3 milestones of their own this year as well, with one a few days after their third anniversary, and the final two also coincidentally in July, but not necessarily on the same days as the two milestones for the current group of 15 apostles as a whole.

I will provide more specific details on these milestones closer to the dates on which each will be reached. In the meantime, I continue to monitor any and all Church news and temple developments, and will be sure to bring word of all of them to you here as they are brought to my attention.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Elder Ronald A. Rasband Observes His Birthday; Becomes the Second Current Septuagenarian Apostle

Hello again, everyone! As I noted in a previous comment on this blog, on January 19, the First Presidency and those 5 apostles over 70 received the vaccine for COVID-19. When I shared that report on this blog, I failed to mention that two more of our apostles would turn 70 this year as well: Elder Ronald A. Rasband today (February 6), and his immediate senior apostolic seatmate, Elder Neil L. Andersen, will do so in roughly 6 months (on August 9). So I have no doubt that Elder Rasband will be in line for the vaccine himself soon. And perhaps by Elder Andersen’s birthday, the priority order for vaccinations may have expanded to allow all other apostles to get it as well.

While I am grateful for the example of top Church leaders in getting the vaccine as they are eligible to do so (especially given the fact that the three junior apostles of the Church have dealt with that virus, that’s a sidenote. My point in mentioning it is that this post is written in honor of Elder Rasband, who today becomes the second current septuagenarian apostle. I am pleased to share a biographical overview of his life with you all on his special day. Ronald Anderson Rasband was born to Rulon Hawkins Rasband and Verda Anderson in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 6, 1951.

He served as a full-time missionary in the Eastern States Mission, which was headquartered in New York City and encompassed the whole New York Metro area, while also stretching into western New York and Pennsylvania. He met Melanie Twitchell in a class they both attended at BYU. At the time, both of them were dating other people, but they soon made arrangements to go on a date themselves, and once they started dating, that was it for both of them. They got engaged eight weeks later, were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1973, and they raised five children.

Following their marriage, they continued their studies at the University of Utah. He later discontinued his college experience in order to begin his professional career in the Huntsman Container Company as a Sales Representative in 1976. Still in that employment 11 years later (in 1987), he was promoted to the position of president and chief operating officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation, where he closely worked with Jon Huntsman Sr. and later served on the board of directors of that company. It was not until 1995 that, as a tribute to his success as a businessman, he received an honorary degree in business and commerce from Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University).

As prestigious as his professional career might have been, his life, in similarity to those of his fellow apostles, has been characterized by a variety of assignments in the Church. Elder Rasband has served as a bishop, Temple Square missionary guide, member of the Church’s Sesquicentennial Committee, and, from 1996-1999, as president of the New York New York North Mission. On April 1, 2000, he was sustained as a general authority and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Over the next 5 years, he served in the Europe North & Europe Central Areas from 2000-2003 (with both areas having since been consolidated). From 2003-2004, he presided over the Utah Salt Lake City Area. In August 2004, responsibility for oversight of the work of the Church in North America was transferred to the Presidency of the Sevent

He then served from 2004-2005 as Executive Director of the Temple Department. He was called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy in August 2005, at which time he was assigned oversight for the North America Northwest and North America West Areas. Two years later, his assignment shifted to supervising the Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City, and Utah South Areas (from 2007-2009).

By August of 2008, he had become the second most senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy. The following April, as a result of Elder Neil L. Andersen's call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Rasband became the Senior President of the Seventy, and, as such, was given oversight for all areas in the United States and Canada.

He was still serving in that same assignment when, in October 2015, he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. With Elders Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund called at the same time (something that had not happened since 1906), the number of those who had served as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reached a total of 100. He is currently the eighth in seniority among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the eleventh in overall apostolic seniority. He also ranks as the sixth oldest among the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the ninth oldest among all 15 apostles.

As I’ve noted previously, I have an indirect personal connection to Elder Rasband. When my wife was initially involved in the institute program, Elder Rasband was one of her instructors. As a result of the three apostolic vacancies in 2015, my wife was one of many who felt Elder Rasband would be called to the apostleship to fill one of those, and she (and others who felt the same way) turned out to be right.

I will never forget praying in advance of the October 2015 General Conference for my own personal witness to know that whoever was called had indeed been chosen by the Lord. The moment President Eyring read the names of the three new apostles, I received the witness I had requested. For that reason, I gratefully sustain not just Elder Rasband. That experience is one that has been repeated for every apostle called since I entered my adult years. I gratefully sustain each of our 15 apostles in their divinely appointed roles.

Having served for nearly 21 years as a General Authority, Elder Rasband has had 17 opportunities to address us in General Conference: 1 as a General Authority Seventy, 5 more while in the Presidency of the Seventy, and the remaining 11 since his call to the apostleship almost 5.5 years ago. Any of those addresses, covering a wide variety of topics, is well worthy of review. I am grateful for this opportunity I have had, in my own small way, to pay tribute to and reflect on Elder Rasband’s life on this day, when he is celebrating his 70th birthday. I do continue to monitor all apostolic updates, general Church news, and any temple-related developments and will keep bringing you word of those as I receive it.

It is worth noting that I have another post set to publish two days from now, which will highlight one of several milestones one of our current apostolic groups will be observing on that date, so stay tuned for that.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.