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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Funeral Services Held Today for Elder Bruce D. Porter

Hello, all! As anticipated, funeral services were held today for General Authority Seventy Elder Bruce D. Porter. Also as anticipated, the Deseret News gave a report on that commemoration of his life. But what was not expected was the difference between the report of the services honoring Elder Rudd yesterday and the same today for Elder Porter. Rather than listing specific General Authority attendees, as was done in the article about Elder Rudd the article about Elder Porter only vaguely made mention of those in attendance. I am sure those specifics may be added given time, if they become available, but for now, the article is not clear in that regard.

That being said, the General Authorities of the Church appear to have been well represented in terms of the number of them in attendance, even though specific attendees were not known. President Eyring represented the First Presidency. 75% (9 members) of the Quorum of the Twelve were also in attendance, as were four members (a clear majority) of the Presidency of the Seventy and many other unnamed General Authorities and general officers of the Church.

The most weird thing about the article reporting the services, in my opinion, was the fact that the article, written earlier today, was nowhere to be found on the main LDS Church News website. I only found it by running a search for it. Also, it is indicated in the article that the article itself was put together as press time approached and that a more full report would be contained in the next print edition of the Church News (though it indicated that the full report would be available instantly on the Church News website). For now, if any of you would like to read the version to which I am referring, click here. I will post the more complete report as soon as I am able to find it.

Well, with how very busy it has been at work today, it's time for me to go home. Depending on what I might learn in terms of other Church news and developments, I may be posting again as needed once I get there. Thanks, as always, for your kind readership and attention. Any and all comments continue to be welcome and appreciated.

(Added from home about 75 minutes later) Click here for the more extensive report I referenced above. Still no specific list of attendees from the various leadership groups mentioned in the article. But perhaps the numbers mentioned above are more indicative of Elder Porter's scope of influence than an actual list of participants would be. Hope this additional information is helpful to you.

(Still later) We have yet another source available to us in regard to Elder Porter's funeral services. This article from the Mormon Newsroom on, goes into greater detail than that which has been provided by the Church News. Still no official list of participants, but another amazing read nonetheless. Another great report of the events commemorating the life of this amazing spiritual giant. Stay tuned for more on all Church news and developments as I hear of them. Thanks again.

Important and Significant Temple Construction Progress Update

Hello. I am posting today for a very exciting reason. When I made my first check of the LDS Church Temples website, I was initially very disappointed to see that no progress has been noted on temples now under construction. But those disappointed feelings faded away very quickly when I looked at the information about announced temples.

Just between the last time I checked the site and now, there has been sufficient reason enough to warrant noting that a groundbreaking announcement is anticipated soon for the Arequipa Peru Temple. That was great to hear.

The one question in my mind, which I am trying to get resolved in the best possible way, is whether the site announcement and groundbreaking ceremony for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple may take place before the groundbreaking in Arequipa. Since it is difficult to tell, I would welcome any thoughts in that direction. For the moment, my line of thinking is that since the Arequipa groundbreaking appears to be more imminent than the unfolding of events in Harare. it is Arequipa that should be listed first. I will change that in the posted report below. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and feelings on this matter. If it comes to a point where I need to change it again, I am more than willing to do that. Just let me know what you think, if you feel inclined to do so.

Here's my updated report:

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 1/5/17)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; 11 under construction; scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 10 announced. NOTE: There is a more than likely possibility for several announced temples to have a groundbreaking announced during 2017. Two are very close to that so far this year, and there may be many more before too much longer.

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Exterior lighting system operating; interior work underway; scheduled to be dedicated on Sunday May 21, 2017.

Under Construction:
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Light fixtures hung; interior trim underway; completion anticipated sometime during late 2017.
158. Cedar City Utah Temple: Fencing progressing; entrance plaza created; landscaping areas defined; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime during late 2017.
159. Tucson Arizona Temple: Pouring walkways; erecting fencing; installing art glass windows; hanging drywall; completion anticipated sometime during late 2017.
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime between early and mid-2018.
161. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Building the exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime between early and mid-2018.
162. Concepcion Chile Temple: Attaching building wrap to exterior walls; adding landscaping structures; completion anticipated sometime during mid-2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Pouring temple foundation; setting rebar for missionary housing walls; palm trees planted along entrance road; completion anticipated sometime during mid-2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Pouring walls for steeple base; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
165. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Groundbreaking held Saturday December 3, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Second floor exterior walls poured; completion anticipated sometime during 2019.
167. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Excavation underway for temple and utility building; structural framing going up for meetinghouse; completion anticipated sometime during 2019.

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 between late 2017 and early 2018.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; some exterior stone removed; foundation exposed; old meetinghouse razed; rededication anticipated sometime between early and mid-2018.

168. Arequipa Peru Temple: Construction preparation phase; awaiting groundbreaking announcement.
169. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Approval and construction preparation phase; official site announcement anticipated in early 2017, with the groundbreaking anticipated to take place shortly following the site announcement.
170.  Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Governmental approval phase; preliminary environmental license issued in November 2016; groundbreaking pending.
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. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Stalled in planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Quito Ecuador 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 report. 

Journalist's gripe against the Church's Public Affairs Department Is Not Justified

On the LDS Church Growth blog, some discussion was had regarding a gripe made recently by a journalist regarding how the LDS Church Public Affairs Department responded to some questions he had about the Tabernacle Choir's agreement to perform at the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump. One comment made on the LDS Church Growth blog was to the effect that the Public Affairs Department should be more transparent regarding the information they share about the public actions of the Church and its associated entities.

Since I had before offered my opinion on the Choir's decision (which I believe is fully justified), I was sickened by reading the journalist's rant about the unjust way his concerns had been dealt with. In his rant, he cited James 1:5-6 as being the reason Joseph Smith sought wisdom at the hands of the Lord, saying that while the Lord is willing to give wisdom to those that ask for it, his concerns and questions had not been dealt with in the same spirit.

I couldn't disagree more on that point, and I will explain my reasoning for saying that in a minute. First, if you haven't seen the rant in question yet, you can find it here. When I read his rant, the first thought that came to my mind is this: While it is absolutely true that Joseph was given wisdom when he lacked it primarily because he asked, there was another side to that. He additionally had studied the matter out in his mind before he asked, and he had done research enough to give him doubt as to the truthfulness of any Church then in existence. A big part of obtaining wisdom when one asks for it is doing the research to know what questions to ask. Had the journalist bothered to do so, his questions would have been addressed without him having to ask the Church public affairs department to do his research for him.

Now that you understand more about my line of reasoning in my approach to all of this, I wanted to share my personal response to the journalist's questions. This response was posted on the same comment thread as the link to this rant. And I am only in a position to venture any answer to these questions because I have made the subjects of the Church's political neutrality and the Choir's past experiences singing for presidents and presidents-elect a matter of extensive study, prayer, and observation. That said, for what it may be worth, these are the answers I felt to provide on the LDS Church Growth blog in response to the questions posed by the journalist.

1. The Choir is a volunteer unpaid organization, and as such, any events at which they appear are entirely voluntary and no participant receives any compensation of any kind for their participation.
2. The Choir has accepted any and all invitations extended to participate in any event that involves a current or future US President. By nature of the Church's devotion to political neutrality, no candidate receivesspecial support, consideration or rejection of such invitations for any reason. If that were not the case, the Church could not maintain its professed political neutrality. Their actions would clearly set the lie to their words, and that's the last thing the Church wants or needs.
3. The only opportunities the Choir ever seeks or books as an entity is their appearances at special venues, such as during tours or for special events. They would never presume to seek an opportunity to perform forany government leader (especially one who clearly sees the Church and its members and practices through a very darkened lens) but willingly respond when invited to do so. That being said, the Church and Choir may have taken this opportunity as a way to see if the Church's image could be improved in the eyes of the President-elect.
4. Again, in the Church in general and with the Choir in particular, except where noted above for special events at particular venues, opportunities are never sought after nor declined. If it is true that the Choir has not for a while performed at an event for a Democratic President, it is because such an opportunity was never extended.
Anyways, that's how I chose to respond to the attempts of this journalist to take issue with the answers provided him by the Church Public Affairs Department. I welcome any comments, whether in agreement or contention with what I have said here. However, I would encourage us all to be respectful of other people's right to their own opinion. Even if that opinion is not shared, any uncivil, rude, or contentious comments will be promptly deleted after they are made. Thanks for letting me weigh in on this.