Need more information?

Top Leaderboard

Thursday, April 30, 2015

LDS Church Approves Electronic Method to Submit Tithes and Other Charitable Donations/Supreme Court Hearing Arguments on Same-Sex Marriage

Two major things I want to discuss with this post. First, the Church has approved an electronic method for members in the United States to pay tithes and other offerings. Also, the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments on same-sex marriage. Let's get down to business!

The Church has approved an electronic method for members in the United States to pay tithes and other offerings. This method has been beta tested in areas of the United States and will soon be available for all members in the US. Local leaders will be informed when it is available in their area. This is an exciting development. It means that tithing and other offerings can be paid from a bank account in addition to the old-fashioned method of cash, checks, and currency. It will cut down on the work the ward financial clerk has to do. As a former ward financial clerk myself, I can't begin to articulate what this means to me. It will eliminate the need for clerks to try and read different types of handwriting. Of course, members can still submit their offerings the old-fashioned way. But this will be a more effective method of tracking donations. And this isn't just for members. Anyone with an LDS account in the United States, member or not, can donate to any of the Church's funds. I can't predict how many not in the Church will take advantage of this, but I do hope that someday this may be a Church-wide development. More to come on this as information becomes available.

Also, the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on the legality of same-sex marriage and determining whether it should be an issue decided by individual states or not. Most of you know that I am in favor of traditional marriage between a man and a woman and that I believe this is the only type of marriage sanctioned by God. I believe the Bible when it says, "For this cause shall a MAN leave his father and mother and cleave unto his WIFE and they twain shall be one flesh." I would be pleased if the court decided that this issue should be left in the hands of individual states and voters to decide. A majority of Utah voted for traditional marriage  when the issue was decided here, but a federal judge took it upon himself to reverse the majority decision and make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states, whether that ruling was wanted or not. I believe that a majority of people in the United States favor traditional marriage. This belief has been solidified by the fact that the LDS Church was just ONE of several entities, religious or not, who joined together to send an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of traditional marriage. The church's position is firm and will not change, no matter what the world does or what the court decides. Utah leaders have appealed to the court of last resort to not have to recognize or perform same-sex marriages. But that appeal has failed. This issue will have nation-wide impact. Whatever the ultimate outcome is, I hope we can all be respectful in our discourse about the issue. I hope I have not offended anyone by stating my opinion. If I have, though, so be it. I don't believe I should have to keep silent on an issue important to me simply because it might offend someone. And since I am using this blog to "sound off" about important topics to me, I wanted to give my perspective on a potentially life-changing and game-changing issue. You can be sure to find the latest on this issue here.

I am grateful for these two important developments. I was anxious to share my opinion on both with this post. And now I have. I think I have "sounded off" enough for today. I will try to post on Saturday, if not before, with a general update. So much has happened since my last general update that I need to fill all of you in on. But life has caught up with me in a major way and I haven't had much time to write that update. So hopefully I will get to it then. Until I write again, all the best!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Elder Richard G. Scott released from hospital; Elder L. Tom Perry's cancer treatment continues

Hello, friends! Posting here with a vital update on the health of the two brethren I mentioned in my last post. The Church announced that Elder Richard G. Scott has been released from the hospital after being observed since Thursday evening for gastrointestinal bleeding. He will continue to recuperate at home. In the meantime, Elder L. Tom Perry is continuing with his cancer treatment and receiving general authority visitors and conducting his Church business at home.

I am grateful that these brethren continue to recover. The thought of losing either of them was enough to make my heart ache. I have been keeping them in my prayers, as have many of you, I'm sure. I still couldn't say how long any of the 15 apostles may be with us, but one thing I am sure of. True to the words of scripture, they all have been "sanctified by the spirit unto the renewing of their bodies." And it will continue to be so until the Lord sees fit to call them home. Whether that be in the near or distant future, let us give heed to their words while we have them and their wisdom upon which to draw. Let us never forget that they have been "called of God by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." Their words are truly "scripture, . . .the will of the Lord, . . .the mind of the Lord,. . .the word of the Lord, . . .the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” Truly, "whether it is by [His] own voice, or by the voice of [His] servants, it is the same."

I pray that we will always remember these truths, and I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Apostolic Health Update: Elder L. Tom Perry to undergo cancer treatments; Elder Richard G. Scott Hospitalized

More on the health of two of our apostles was revealed today on the news. Elder L. Tom Perry has been diagnosed with cancer in his thyroid gland. He began chemotherapy treatments this morning. In the meantime, Elder Richard G. Scott was hospitalized yesterday night with gastrointestinal bleeding. He is past the worst of it and is reported to be resting comfortably in the hospital.

This announcement on the news at noon broke my heart today. I sat silently weeping for several minutes after hearing about all this. I mentioned before how hard it is for me to see the brethren I have loved and sustained for so long having such difficulties as they near the end of their lives. It gave me pause to think, "Am I giving sufficient heed to these brethren who might not be around much longer to uplift and inspire us?"

I look at the apostles serving in our day. President Monson has his health challenges that go with his almost 88 years of age. In addition to his diabetes, he is now also dealing with whatever kept him from speaking more frequently during general conference weekend at the beginning of this month/ President Packer is dealing with a recurrence of his childhood polio. Elder Perry now has cancer. Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks, and Elder Ballard are still by all reports healthy. Elder Scott has had this gastrointestinal bleeding. Elder Hales has his health challenges which have kept him from attending and speaking at several general conference as he served as a seventy, Presiding Bishop of the Church, and now as an apostle. Elder Holland, President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook, Elder Christofferson, and Elder Andersen are by all accounts still doing well, though President Eyring did suffer a sprained ankle soon after taking on his current assignment as First Counselor in the First Presidency.

President Eyring will be 82 next month. Elder Bednar celebrates his 63rd birthday in June. President Monson will be 88, Elder Perry will be 93, Elder Oaks and Elder Hales will be 83, and Elder Andersen will be 64 in August. Elder Cook will be 75 and President Packer and Elder Nelson.will be 91 in September. Elder Ballard will be 88 in October, and Elder Scott turns 88 and President Uchtdorf will be 75 in November. Elder Holland will be 75 in December. Elder Christofferson marked his 70th birthday in January.

It is sobering to think about how many of these 15 brethren may be called home in the next several years. Many of them have already exceeded the anticipated life expectancy. The face of Church leadership could change drastically at any moment. Many have suggested that a kind of "emeritus status" should be put into place much like the emeritus status of members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. They miss the mark because only the Lord controls when the tenure of an apostle ends, unless he falls into apostasy and is excommunicated. However, that's not something I foresee happening anytime soon. Each of the brethren is much more likely to serve the remainder of his life. How long that will be for each of them is known only to the Lord.

As I mused upon these things today, the thought came to my mind that I'm glad the Lord is in charge. If it were up to me, I might be tempted to prolong the lives of these good men, and that's not the Lord's plan. As terrible as it is for me to say, based on what I know about these men, I thought that, due to their health, Elder Hales and President Packer would be the first to be called home. Now with Elder Perry and Elder Scott's illnesses, particularly when talking about cancer and gastrointestinal bleeding, I don't know what expect. But I take comfort that the Lord controls the death dates of his apostles. And I feel certain that when each of these men is called home, the Lord will put in his stead someone equally as wonderful, who we will love and sustain as fully as we did those who passed on.

I testify of a perfect system of succession that allows us to draw upon the wisdom of the ancients for as long as the Lord wills it to be so. I testify that this is the Lord's work, that He is in control, and that if we leave those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators in His hands, everything will work out in the Lord's due time. I testify that He leads His work under inspiration given to these men, and of the vital importance in giving heed to their words while they are with us and even after they depart. Periodically I have taken time to review conference talks given by brethren who are now on the other side of the veil. And their words still move me as fully as they did when they were alive. There is power in the priesthood of our Lord and those who exercise it in overseeing this work under His inspiration. The Lord is in control, and all is well. I so testify in  the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Matthew Martinich's Post: The 10 Countries with the Most Members without a Temple Announced, Under Construction, or Operating

Matthew Martinich has given me the green light to share every one of his posts that I feel would be of interest to my readers. This one is something also unique to Brother Martinich's blog: the 10 countries with the most members without a temple announced, under construction, or operating. His research is telling. Check it out here! Someone did similar research about states within the United States, which is posted in the comments. See comment #6. Very interesting! I can't wait to see when each of these states/nations will get a temple. Awesome posts!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Elder L. Tom Perry Hospitalized; Released

I know I still haven't posted the general update I've been promising, but some important Church news crossed my radar today and I had to share.

Elder L. Tom Perry, the third most senior apostle , second most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the current oldest living apostle, aged 92, was hospitalized earlier today for some breathing difficulties. By 8:30 MDT today, he was released and is reportedly resting comfortably at home. But his brief hospitalization served as a reminder to me of the fragility of life and how grateful I am to have the leading brethren of the Church to guide us. Though I'm sure I would equally love, revere, and sustain whomever the Lord calls, I am very grateful that for the moment we do not have to worry about any apostles passing away. And since I just recently did a health update on the brethren, I thought this was important news to note.

Elder Perry's amazing stature (6'3") is only surpassed by the sweetness of his spirit and the goodness of his heart. I had the privilege of meeting this choice apostle of the Lord when he came to speak to the temple workers at the Mount Timpanogos Temple Worker's annual devotional. This man towered above all those in attendance. His message was timely and just what we needed to hear. While I have long forgotten what that message was, I will never forget how I felt being in the same room as this good brother. And then you can well imagine my joy at the privilege to meet him afterwards and shake his hand. I looked into his eyes and I clearly saw the testimony that he bears of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His gospel. He must have been anxious to leave and resume his evening, but if he was, it didn't show. As each person came up, he asked for their names and spoke to them briefly. When it was my turn near the end of the evening, I thanked him for his message and for taking the time to be there. As the temple president, President Clarke, introduced me to him, President Clarke called me one of the most diligent workers there. Elder Perry expressed his thanks for me and the work I was doing. He then turned to greet others. I had to wait for my mom to pick me up, so I was there when he left. He graciously wished me a good evening, then took his wife's hand and left. I will never forget the impact this man's visit had on me, and I will always treasure the moments spent in his presence.

How grateful I am that he is all right! I hope he is around to inspire us for many years to come. As I mentioned in the post about the health of the brethren,, he will become the oldest apostle in the history of the Church on July 5, 2020. I think he'll make it, as the hospitalization today was only an ordeal for a couple of hours and he is otherwise very healthy.  Time will tell.

I will keep you updated on this and all other major Church news as time and circumstances allow. For the moment, the storm has past, and everything is all right now. General update to follow perhaps on Sunday, with no blog posts plans in between, unless something comes up. That's all for now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Temple Progress

I know I haven't yet posted the general update I've been promising since the beginning of the month, but there have been some exciting developments in temple progress that I just had to post about. Hang on to your hats! This will be a wild ride!

First off, the Star Valley Wyoming temple groundbreaking will be held this Saturday. It is unclear who will preside at this groundbreaking. President Monson did say he wanted to be the one to dedicate that temple because the fishing is good there. So he may decide to do it himself and get some extra fishing in, if he feels up to it. President Eyring might be asked to do it, or President Uchtdorf might have his first opportunity to break ground for a temple. Any members of the Twelve could do it. None of them have any ties to Star Valley as far as I know, but if a member of the Twelve is sent, there are possibilities there. Any member of the Presidency of the Seventy could do it, as they all have equal authority to preside over the areas in the US and Canada. Of course, it could be Elder L. Whitney Clayton, who has specific supervisory responsibility for the Utah North Area, where the temple is situated. Or it could be any member of the First or Second Quorums of the Seventy or the Presiding Bishopric. The Presiding Bishopric has direct responsibility for being part of the temple site selection process.

In the meantime, the Cordoba Argentina Temple open house is underway and will be completed on May 2, with the dedication to follow 15 days later. The Payson Utah Temple is currently being toured by VIP and the media. It will open for the general public this Friday. Tours will go until May 23, with the temple to be dedicated 15 days later. The Trujillo Peru temple will also have its open house starting May 8 and running until the 30th, and the dedication of that temple will take place on June 21. With three temple dedications in the near future, the question arises, which First Presidency member will dedicate each of these temples, and who will accompany them? I could easily see President Monson presiding at the Payson dedication, but I honestly don't know whether he's up for out of state events like the Cordoba and Trujillo dedications. So it'll be interesting to see what happens with those dedications.

In the meantime, no significant progress has been made on the under construction or announced temples. Provo City Center could be dedicated by the end of this year, but it's difficult to say. We have two other dedications and one rededication by the end of the year. Other temples are progressing as follows:

Temples Undergoing Renovation:
26. Mexico City Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be rededicated Sunday September 13, 2015.
86. Montreal Quebec Temple: Anticipated to be completed in late 2015.
91. Suva Fiji Temple: Anticipated to be completed in early 2016.
33. Freiberg Germany Temple: Anticipated to be completed in mid-2016.
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Anticipated to be completed in late 2016.

Under Construction:
145. Cordoba Argentina Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday May 17, 2015.
146. Payson Utah Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday June 7, 2015.
147. Trujillo Peru Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday June 21, 2015.
148. Indianapolis Indiana Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday August 23, 2015.
149. Tijuana Mexico Temple: Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday December 13, 2015.
154. Provo City Center Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2015-early 2016.
150. Rome Italy Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
155. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
156. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2016.
151. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-to-late 2016.
152. Sapporo Japan Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
157. Paris France Temple: Projected to be completed in late 2016.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple: Projected to be completed in mid-2017.
153. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Projected to be completed in 2018.

166. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Building permit approved; groundbreaking scheduled for April 25, 2015.
167. Tucson Arizona Temple: Construction approval phase; general contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Cedar City Utah Temple: Local government approval phase; site plan presented at January 2015 meeting; groundbreaking pending.
159. Concepcion Chile Temple: Approval phase; temple and site design plans complete; groundbreaking pending.
160. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Planning and approval phase; land purchase finalized; groundbreaking pending.
168. Arequipa Peru Temple: Planning and approval phase; final piece of land for temple site acquired; groundbreaking pending.
163. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Planning and approval phase; temple and site designs complete; groundbreaking pending.
162. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
165. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
170. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
161. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
164. Durban South Africa Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

According to this, two other temples could potentially have their groundbreaking ceremony this year, with several more to follow by the end of next year. As soon as Urdaneta, Durban, Abidjan, Port-au-Prince and Bangkok have their sites announced, they will join the queue. And more temples are sure to follow. I will keep you all updated on this as events occur. Look for the updates here.

In the meantime, if I don't do it before then, you can count on me doing a substantially large general update on Sunday. Until I post again, all the best!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

General Conference Predictions Results

I'm sorry to be getting back to this so late. Life caught up with me in a major way, and I simply have not been feeling up to posting lately. But the storms have calmed down, so now I can get back to things. After last general conference, I posted the result of my predictions. So this post will serve the same purpose. First, Church membership for the end of 2014 was announced as 15,372,337. This is 24,363 less than the prediction I made of 15,396,700. In all fairness to me, though, my method for predicting the increase in Church membership is somewhat obscure and not based on any particular method. The only factor determining my prediction is the average church membership increase of previous years. If the Deseret News was still putting out a Church Almanac, then that would list Church membership up to the end of the 3rd quarter of each year, which would give me a much better number to base my prediction on.

Now I will share how my predictions for changes in general Church leadership panned out. Below are my predictions, with each followed by a note that highlights what actually happened. All things considered, I didn't do too badly. See for yourself:

April 2015 Predictions for Changes in General Church Leadership
First Quorum of the Seventy: New members added from Second Quorum of the Seventy, Area Seventies, or Church at large.
NOTE: Kim B. Clark, Von G. Keetch, Alan D. Haynie, Hugo Montoya, and Vern P. Stanfill were sustained as new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Second Quorum of the Seventy: New members added from Area Seventies or Church at large.
NOTE: No changes.
Area seventies: Releases and sustainings.
NOTE: Releases and sustainings occurred.
Young Men General Presidency: David L. Beck, Larry M. Gibson, and Randall L. Ridd released; new Young Men General Presidency sustained (perhaps with Randall L. Ridd remaining as President or Counselor).
NOTE: Young Men Presidency was released. New Young Men General Presidency: Stephen W. Owen, Douglas D. Holmes, and M. Joseph Brough.
Primary General Presidency: Rosemary M. Wixom, Jean A. Stevens and Cheryl A. Esplin released; new Primary General Presidency sustained.
NOTE: Sisters Stevens and Esplin were released. Rosemary M. Wixom remains as Primary General President, with Cheryl A. Esplin as First Counselor and Mary R. Durham as Second Counselor.

The biggest surprises here were that there were no members added to the Second Quorum of the Seventy and that only the counselors in the Primary General Presidency were changed, rather than the whole presidency. I guess the Church has made a decision as much as possible not to have two new auxiliary presidencies called during the same conference. Which makes sense in a way, but it was still surprising. I wouldn't be surprised if we got a new Primary General Presidency next April, after this one has functioned for a year.

Now I will share how my predictions for General Conference speaking order turned out, followed by my analysis of them.

April 2015 General Conference Predictions

General Women’s
Bonnie L. Oscarson
[Linda K. Burton]
Cheryl A. Esplin

[Carole M Stephens]
Carol F. McConkie

[Bonnie L. Oscarson]
Carole M. Stephens

[President Henry B. Eyring]
President Thomas S. Monson
Saturday Morning
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
President Thomas S. Monson [President Henry B. Eyring]

[President Boyd K. Packer]
Elder L. Tom Perry

[Linda K. Burton]
Bishop Gérald Caussé

[Elder Dallin H. Oaks]
Linda K. Burton

Elder L. Whitney Clayton

[No one]
Elder Richard G. Scott

[Elder L. Tom Perry]
President Henry B. Eyring
Saturday Afternoon
President Henry B. Eyring
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Sustaining of Church Officers)

Church Auditing Department Report, 2014
Kevin R. Jergensen

Statistical Report, 2014
Brook P. Hales

[Elder David A. Bednar]
President Boyd K. Packer

[Elder D. Todd Christofferson]
Elder David A. Bednar

[Elder Wilford W. Andersen]
Elder Kevin W. Pearson

[Elder Dale G. Renlund]
Elder Rafael E. Pino

[Elder Michael T. Ringwood]
Elder M. Russell Ballard

[Elder Quentin L. Cook]
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Saturday Priesthood
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Russell M. Nelson [Elder M. Russell Ballard]

Elder Ulisses Soares

Larry M. Gibson

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Henry B. Eyring

President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Morning
President Henry B. Eyring
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf [President Thomas S. Monson]

[Rosemary M. Wixom]
Elder Quentin L. Cook

[Elder Jose L. Teixeira]
Rosemary M. Wixom

[Bishop Gerald Causse]                                                                                   
Elder Jose A. Teixeira

[Elder Brent H. Nielson]
[Elder Jeffrey R. Holland]
Elder Neil L. Andersen

[President Dieter F. Uchtdorf]
President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Afternoon
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Robert D. Hales

[Elder Kevin W. Pearson]
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

[Elder Rafael E. Pino]
Elder Jorge F. Zeballos

[Elder Neil L. Andersen]
Elder Mervyn B. Arnold

[Elder Jorge F. Zeballos]
Elder Yoon Hwan Choi

[Elder Joseph W. Sitati]
Elder Brent H. Nielson

[Elder Russell M. Nelson]
Elder Dallin H. Oaks

[No one]
President Thomas S. Monson

  77% accuracy on these predictions.

 The biggest surprises with these predictions were that President Monson spoke only twice, rather than the five times I had predicted, that Elder Scott did not speak, that there were 3 apostolic speakers Saturday Morning and 3 Saturday Afternoon (typically there are 2 and 4, respectively), that there were several seventies I dd not predict that spoke to us, and that we had a few more speakers this conference than is typical for an April General Conference. The closest I came to having a perfect prediction for a session was the Priesthood Session, where I only got the first speaker incorrect. As I explained last conference, I give myself 3 points per speaker: 3 if I got the right person in the right position in the right session, 2 points if I got them in the right session but the wrong position, 1 point if I got it right that they spoke at all, even if the session or order was incorrect, and no points if there was a wild card, or person I did not predict. So for the Priesthood Session, for example, there were 21 points possible. I got 18 because I got all the correct speakers in the correct position, except for getting the first person incorrect. As shown above, I was 77% accurate with these predictions. Which falls right in with my typical accuracy range of 60-80%. Not bad at all. I usually have my predictions for next conference made by this time, but haven't started on those yet. I will post those closer to October General Conference.

So there you have it: a report on my predictions and how they turned out. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will post probably within the next day or two with a much-needed update on how our lives have gone since my last general update. Until I write again, all the best!