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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, 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.