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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Major Church News Items

Hello, all. I am posting today for several very good reasons, and the entirety of this post will be devoted to the Church news items that crossed my radar yesterday (Tuesday) and today. That said, on to the news items!

First, the Church announced a new Commissioner of Church Education in May, but I only found out about it early this morning. Elder Kim B. Clark of the First Quorum of the Seventy replaced Elder Paul V. Johnson, also of the First Quorum, as Commissioner of Church Education effective August 1, which is the same day Elder Johnson commenced his service as First Counselor in the Europe Area of the Church. Elder Johnson had been serving as Commissioner since 2008.

The Commissioner of Church Education oversees everything related to the Church's seminary and institute programs as well as having involvement with all Church-related religious instruction at universities and colleges Elder Clark becomes the 16th man to hold this position. There have been 17 different service periods for the Church Commissioner, but one of the men who served as Commissioner, President Henry B. Eyring, served two nonconsecutive terms.

I felt kind of stupid about finding this change. The change was announced in May, but I only stumbled upon the source for it yesterday (Tuesday). I knew, in view of Elder Johnson's Area Presidency assignment, that his release as Commissioner would take place sometime around August 1, when other changes are made to Church leadership assignments. But I and other editors of Wikipedia interested in this change, didn't know where to look for information. On a hunch or gut feeling, I checked the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion website, and there, on the front page, was the source I'd been looking for. A friend who also edits Wikipedia works with the Church Educational System, and it was from him that I first learned this change was in the works, though he couldn't give specifics until today. And even he was baffled about where we might find a source to confirm Elder Clark's status as Commissioner, So I was grateful to find this source and post it on Wikipedia in all of the relevant places.

Elder Clark is well qualified to be the Commissioner. He had, previous to his call as a general authority, served as the President of BYU-Idaho. So he is well-versed in policies relating to the Church Educational System. I don't know how long he will serve in this capacity. He turned 66 just prior to his call as a general authority, and members of the First Quorum of the Seventy typically serve till around age 70. But that doesn't necessarily mean he will be released as Commissioner upon his release as a general authority. Before Elder Johnson became the Commissioner, Elder W. Rolfe Kerr had served for several months both as an emeritus general authority and Church Commissioner. So it'll be interesting to see how long he has this assignment.

The other two Church News items I wanted to post about were featured on the news yesterday (Tuesday). As part of the LDS Church's Joseph Smith Papers Project, the Church released the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon and information  regarding the seer stones that were used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. This brings the number of volumes in the project to 11. It took a collaboration between the Church and the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS Church) to bring this volume to fruition. The Church Historian and Recorder (Elder Steven E. Snow of the First Quorum of the Seventy) and his assistant (Richard E. Turley Jr.) represented the LDS Church. The Community of Chris, which holds the rights to the printing of the manuscript, was represented by President Robin Linkhart,, one of the currently 10 Presidents of the Seventy, and Lachlan Mackay, who coordinates matters relating to the Nauvoo historical sites. Both the LDS Church and the Community of Christ were pleased to collaborate on this project. Brother Turley has co-authored an article about Joseph Smith's role as a seer, and seer stones, and their role in translation and revelation. This volume of the Joseph Smith Papers Project is supposed to add to the set of what will become at least two dozen volumes that the Church will publish,

The final Church News item was about Brigham Young's house. Not the one known as the Beehive House in Salt Lake City, but a house sititng on about 1/3 of an acre in Port Byron, New York. A letter regarding the house came to the Mormon Historical Sites Foundation and was received by the foundation's vice-chairman, Richard Lambert. The letter asked if anyone would be interested in helping to purchase and restore the house. The property, seen as an eyesore to the community, was overgrown with poison ivy and weeds. A small plaque sits near the house and reads as follows: "This wood frame house built by James Pine in circa 1818 and later occupied by Brigham Young and family." Lambert learned of the house's authenticity firsthand by going to Port Byron himself. Lambert said that the house hadn't changed very much since Brigham Young and his family lived there. Lambert obtained the property and the house for $30,000. Lambert said he was hoping to find Brigham Young's initials somewhere. His additional hope is that this will provide enough of a reason for schoolchildren and Church history tours to come through Port Byron. Lambert brought the house back into the Young family, as Brigham Young is his 3rd great-grandfather. He will travel with other descendants of Brigham Young to begin the restoration process sometime next summer.

Well, it's late and I probably should be getting to bed. Just had to post about these exciting developments for the Church. Until I post again, all the best!