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Monday, November 28, 2016

Church News Conglomeration

This will be a massive post to highlight Church News which, if not mentioned before, is still very significant for the Church.

On November 25, the Church flipped the switch to turn on the light display on Temple Square. The light and decor is, as always, amazing. Click here for more on that.

The Draper Utah South Mountain Stake was rocked with tragedy recently as a fatal car accident claimed the lives of two of the stake's youth, injuring three others that were also in the vehicle. To honor them, the youth in the stake went to the temple. More details here.

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered an address to missionaries spending the holiday in the MTC. The details are well worth reading.

To mark the Worldwide Day of Service that will take place on December 1, the First Presidency has encouraged members of the Church to find someone to serve on that day, and to do as much service as possible to commemorate the Christmas season. They said, as they have repeatedly stated before, that the best gift we could give the Savior is to spend His birth month in serving. It is a call that appeals to me personally. I recall many Decembers between 2006 and 2012 when I was serving in the temple and (for two years) with Welfare Services. Our hearts were always humbled by the circumstances of those who came to assist those less fortunate. It is natural that the Christmas season can and should revolve around service. It makes my heart ache to think that I may not be able to serve very well this Christmas season because I honestly don't know what will happen on December 1. If future surgery becomes necessary, I may not be good for much during the holiday season. I only hope I can keep the spirit of the holidays, even if I cannot be out there benefiting my fellow man. To read more about this Christmas initiative, click here.

New Zealanders displaced by the massive earthquake in that nation were benefited by the assistance of the Mormon Helping Hands. Click here to read about the relief efforts.

As a sidenote, I am amazed continually by the number of centenarians there are in the Church, and the number of couples who are marking 70+ years of marriage. The Church highlights such milestones each week. The Church News website is an excellent resource to visit to read of these remarkable milestones.

This is the text of the Hartford Connecticut temple. A recent decision was made that the Church would no longer provide self-pack services. Want details?

The First Presidency's annual Christmas Devotional is coming up on Sunday. As per the tradition, I am anticipating a member of the First Presidency (In their rotation pattern of the last few years, it is President Monson's "turn", but he may elect to ask someone else to speak.), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (since they have been including the apostles, we have heard from Elder Bednar (2015), Elder Christofferson (2014) and then-Elder Nelson (2013)), a member of the Presidency of the Seventy (we have heard from Elder Clayton (2015), Elder Maynes (2014), Elder Rasband (2013, three years prior to his apostolic call)) and an auxiliary presidency member (we have heard from Sister Burton (2015), Sister Oscarson (2014)), and Sister Wixom (2013)).

With these past speakers, and no set pattern for choosing speakers or establishing the order in which they will speak, it is anyone's guess who will represent the Church. I will be particularly interested to see if any of the newer apostles, Presidency of the Seventy members, or male auxiliary presidents will be asked to represent their tiers at the devotional.

BYU is seeking qualified individuals to teach in China. It sounds like an excellent opportunity for someone to gain experience in a unique way. It's not my thing, but it is worth a mention.

The Church has called eight new visitor's center directors. A BYU Symposium was held to honor Alexander Doniphan. For those who don't know who he is, he was a soldier serving in the United States army at the time that Joseph and Hyrum Smith, along with many others, were illegally held in Liberty Jail. Doniphan, assigned to guard the men, refused point-blank to obey an order from his superior to kill Joseph and those captured with him. He said it was cold-blooded murder, that he would not follow the order, and that if he found out these men had been killed without due process, he would hold his superior responsible before a tribunal. His courage saved the lives of those men. It made such an impact on Joseph that he named one of his sons after this courageous, noble, and most honorable man. The Prophet found in Doniphan a sympathetic ear and the protection he needed to foil the attempts at falsely charging and trying him, all through Doniphan's permitting him to escape. As long as his story keeps getting passed along, Doniphan's memory will not be forgotten. This article says it all.

Colombia has marked 50 years that the Church has grown and progressed there. Their celebration was marked by service. The Church has announced a new Book of Mormon video series.

I mention my final news item reluctantly. The Church has updated its resources for members who struggle with same-sex attraction. While this is wonderful to hear, I have a member of my extended family who is a staunch defender of the practice of homosexuality, having a brother who deals with this. I have delayed posting about this Church milestone out of my concern that she will feel like I am attacking her and her beliefs. I have no desire to do so. Coming from a Church that, in its early years, was viciously and vituperatively attacked by those who wanted to deny our right to believe and practice the way we would like to, I can well understand how it might seem that all the Church is doing is to hurt those who deal with this. I have avoided goling in-depth on my beliefs regarding this practice in consideration of how it might affect my family. But it is awesome that the Church is doing more to help those who deal with this. Much like their resources for those dealing with pornography, addiction, or any other problem arising from living in a far-from-perfect world, their resources for those dealing with same-gender attraction are becoming ever more widely available. The latest resources to come from the Church are highlighted here.

It is my firm belief and testimony (because I have witnessed this firsthand) that there is no earthly problem, temptation, trial, or tribulation of any kind for which the Church is not prepared to offer support and resources. My personal study of the gospel of Jesus Christ and my adherence to the principles I have so willingly embraced and so fervently cling to are the only reasons I am able to deal with all that my situation entails. There is no wound that the gospel cannot heal. There is no challenge anyone can ever grapple with that is so far-reaching the gospel and the joy thereof cannot help them handle. And it is only because of my beliefs that I am able to be of any influence to anyone. I hope others will see in me the light of Christ, and that I can be successful in bringing even one person closer to the Savior. If I can do that, my life, no matter the length or the impact, will not have been wasted. Thanks for wading through this.

Important posts by Matthew Martinich

I wanted to use this post to weigh in on some important posts done by Matthew Martinich, the blogger of the LDS Church Growth blog.

This one discusses potential new missions that may be announced and created next year. There follows in the comments an excellent and instructive series of comments regarding the growth in the Church resulting from the creation of new church units.

This one was supposed to highlight the creation of new stakes recently in Arizona, Brazil and Utah, along with the creation of a new district in the Ivory Coast. For some reason, and for the first time in all the time I've followed Matt's blog, the information about the new Utah stake was not included in that post. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I only mention this next part reluctantly. Since the new stake was in St. George, the birth city of my father, and since I was curious about the new stake that was referenced, I dug as deeply as I could. It occurred to me after a few minutes that I could find the information on Rick Satterfield's excellent LDS Church Temples site by looking under the St. George Temple District. There I found the information on the wards in that stake, and I reported my findings in my next comment on that post. Matt initially promised to include the information in the post later last week, but he must have decided against doing so.

As Matt noted in an earlier post this month, the Church is well on track to have created 100 stakes this year. That's the most stake creations in a single year within the past decade. And as has been noted on Matt's blog itself, only nine more stakes need to be created in the four weeks between now and then. With about 3 weeks to get those stakes created (no stakes are likely to be created on Christmas Day), only 3 per week is the magic number to reach that milestone.

Church growth is significant, of that there is no doubt. And we are blessed to live in a time when the growth of the Church can be found at the click of a button. Matt's strength seems to be noting overall Church growth. With Rick's excellent site, you can easily learn of the latest Church units created, and especially the latest in temple news. I hope this blog is one that can also be looked to for the latest news, whatever it is, about the LDS Church. If that can be my lifelong labor of love, and if I can make a difference for just one person by blogging about such things, I will count myself most lucky.

Thanks for reading and (if you feel so inclined), giving me your feedback on my posts. It always helps to hear about people who follow this blog and to have their insights into what I have to report. Thanks to you all.

Apostolic Age Averages

With the next apostolic birthday on Saturday (Elder Holland will be 76), this second post shares the latest apostolic age averages.

These averages are current as of yesterday.

With the updates I made to my tables, I am pleased to report that the average age of the First Presidency is 82.94. That average is getting closer to the age of President Eyring. President Eyring is 83.94 years old, while President Monson is 89.21 and President Uchtdorf is 76.06.

The average age of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is 74.49. President Nelson is 92.22 years old. Elder Oaks is 84.29, while Elder Ballard is 88.14. Elder Hales, younger than Elder Oaks by just twelve days, is 84.26.

Elder Holland, with his birthday just days away, is 75.98. Elder Bednar, the oldest and most senior of our 3 youngest apostles, is 64.45. Elder Coo, the oldest and least senior of the three apostles born in 1940, is 76.22. Elder Christofferson is 71.84 years old.

Elder Andersen is 65.80. Elder Rasband is just over six months older than Elder Andersen and is 65.81. Elder Stevenson is the very youngest at 61.30. The next youngest and least senior Elder Renlund is 64.04.

With these average ages, the easy calculation of the average age of the group of 15 apostle is 76.18.

Hope this information is helpful and informative to you. Thanks for your readership and for any and all feedback that may be provided.

Temple Construction Progress Update

This will be the first in a series of four posts created one after another today because Church News and Events have warranted it. This first post is to inform you of important developments in temple construction progress.

Here is my latest report. As always, any and all comments are appreciated.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 11/28/16)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 10 under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; 1 scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 11 announced; (NOTE: Up to 2 additional temples may soon have a groundbreaking announced).

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Interior work underway; open house and dedication dates announced; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Installing interior and exterior light fixtures; interior work and landscaping progressing; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing sprinkler systems and planting bushes; installing window frames and art glass; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring concrete parking lot; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime in late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Cupola assembly attached to steeple framework; paving main entrance; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
162. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring the foundations; connecting to city utilities; installing sewage lines; landscaping entrance mounds; completion anticipated sometime in 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Exterior walls rising; completion anticipated sometime between 2018 and 2019.
165. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Concrete forms surrounding main floor exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.
166. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Pouring meetinghouse footings; clearing temple site; completion anticipated sometime in 2019.

Groundbreaking scheduled:
167. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Plans approved September 12, 2016; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday December 3, 2016 @ noon (11 am MST).

Scheduled for rededication:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in late 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime in 2018.

168. Arequipa Peru Temple: General contractor selected; groundbreaking pending.
169. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking pending.
170. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.

Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress update.