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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Update on Construction of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple

While not a lot has changed in regards to the status of temples now under construction, one significant development has been reported. At the Barranquilla Colombia temple site, stone cladding is being installed, a significant sign that it is nearing completion. What remains unclear, however, is whether or not that second Colombian temple will be completed and dedicated before the first temple in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is completed and dedication. They seem interchangeable at the moment. For now, the sources available do indicate that Kinshasa will be first, but if things progress more speedily in Barranquilla, that dedication could happen first.

In similar fashion, the temples in Concepcion Chile and Durban South Africa can be said to be interchangeable (as both are anticipated to be completed during mid-to-late 2018), as can the temples for Rio de Janeiro Brazil and Winnipeg Manitoba (with both anticipated to be dedicated sometime during mid-2019, and the Rio temple is only currently ahead of Winnipeg because construction for Canada's newest temple is anticipated to take around 20 months once it begins in earnest within the next two or three months).

I am doing my level best to keep abreast of all temple-related developments and to pass that information on to you who read my blog ASAP. If any of you notice any such developments upon which I have not reported, please let me know. Thanks for your readership and for any feedback any of you feel impressed to provide. Your insights are always appreciated!

Breaking Temple News: New Book Provides Insight for Those Preparing for Temple Endowment

I just found out about this a moment ago, but a current ordinance worker at the Mount Timpanogos Temple, Cory B. Jensen, has authored a book with insights for those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time to receive their own endowments (this is the correct terminology; Church members don't go to the temple to "take out" their endowments: they are receiving them).

I wish there had been such a book when I was preparing to go to the temple. That said, the kindness, compassion, patience and concern I saw from the temple workers who helped me when I received my endowments put me at ease and convinced me of the rightness of the decision I had made that part of my part-time missionary service would involve being a temple worker. But this volume will be a wonderful edition to the library of anyone preparing to go to the temple to receive their own endowments.

To read more about that book, and to find a link detailing where to purchase that book, click here. What a remarkable time we live in where the Lord is inspiring such great literary works that are needed today. Thanks for letting me share this news. Hope you will all enjoy this article. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated.

More New Temple Presidents Announced

With the announcement today of 4 additional new temple presidents, I wanted to use this post to take a look at where temples worldwide stand in terms of potential to have a new president announced this year. So let's get right into that.

For this update, I will first post my updated list of the changes that have happened or might yet happen, and follow up that posted list with my analysis of that. Here's the list.

Operating Temples whose president was changed earlier this year:
1.      Calgary Alberta (president changed sometime during March for an undisclosed reason, likely because the previous president died or became incapacitated)

General Note #1: The president of the Tokyo Japan Temple died during his active service in late April of this year. The Church will no doubt be calling one of his counselors as the new president within the next few days to ensure that the work of the temple presidency can move forward uninterrupted.

New Temples whose presidents will begin serving later this year:
1.      Paris France (President announced in 2016; will begin formal service on May 21)
2.      Cedar City Utah (President  announced in March; will begin service on December 10)
3.      Tucson Arizona (President announced in March; will begin formal service on August 13)
4.      Meridian Idaho (President announced in April; will begin formal service in November 19)

General Note #2: The presidents of the Freiberg Germany Temple (closed for renovation in 2014 and rededicated last year) and Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (closed for renovation in 2015 and scheduled for rededication in June of this year) started serving in 2014, months before their closures. If not for that, both would be marking the completion of their third years of active service later this year. As it is, they only actively served for a few months maximum. Therefore, it is possible that the Church may retain him for a couple more years. I could see them calling a new president, but it doesn’t seem probable.

General Note #3: Other operating temples, as has already been announced, will be getting a new president later this year as well, and if those changes take place as they did during my six-year service in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple, the new presidents will start their service on the first Monday or Tuesday of November, which fall this year on the 6th and 7th. Those temples that will have a new president this year include the following:
1.      Apia Samoa
2.      Logan Utah
3.      Vernal Utah
4.      Toronto Ontario
5.      Snowflake Arizona
6.      Phoenix Arizona
7.      Salt Lake
8.      Bern Switzerland
9.      Quetzaltenango Guatemala
10.  Louisville Kentucky
11.  San Diego California
12.  Mount Timpanogos Utah
13.  Madrid Spain
14.  Bogota Colombia
15.  Edmonton Alberta
16.  Newport Beach California
17.  Adelaide Australia
18.  Kona Hawaii
19.  Caracas Venezuela
20.  Bismarck North Dakota
21.  Mesa Arizona
22.  Columbia South Carolina
23.  Ogden Utah
24.  Lubbock Texas
25.  Guayaquil Ecuador
26.  Fort Lauderdale Florida
27.  Los Angeles California

Temple presidents generally serve for around three years. With that in mind, I feel confident in predicting that the following temples may also have a new president announced:
1.      Asuncion Paraguay
NOTE: The current president has served since 2014, which means that this year would mark time for a charge. But this temple will close for renovation in October, one month before usual changes are made. As a subsequent rededication of this temple is anticipated sometime in 2019, it is more than likely that the Church will hold off on naming a new president until that time.
2.      Baton Rouge Louisiana
3.      Buenos Aires Argentina
NOTE: The current president has been serving since this temple’s rededication in 2012. As that is well beyond the standard 3 years of service, it seems reasonable to assume that there will be such a change this year.
4.      Manila Philippines
5.      Oakland California
NOTE: Though this temple president has served for three years this year, this temple will close for renovation in February of next year. With that in mind, I could see the Church calling a new president this year for a few months prior to that renovation, or holding off on calling anyone until after the renovation is completed sometime during 2019.
6.      San Salvador El Salvador
7.      Washington DC
NOTE: Though this temple president will have marked three years of service later this year, the temple will close for renovation next March. With that in mind, I could see the Church calling a new president this year for a few months prior to that renovation, or holding off on calling anyone until after the renovation is completed sometime during 2020.

Temples that will most likely be dedicated during the early or middle part of next year and might therefore have their first presidents announced at some point during the fall of this year (since the first president of the Paris France Temple had its’ first: president called during summer 2016):
1.      Rome Italy
2.      Kinshasa DR Congo
3.      Barranquilla Colombia

ADDITIONAL NOTES: The current president of the Jordan River Utah Temple has been serving in that capacity since 2014, which would have made his release possible this year, but as it has been undergoing renovations since 2016, he has had less than two years of active service. It is therefore highly probable that he will retain his presidency until sometime during 2020, which would be two years of additional active service following the rededication, for the total standard service period of three years. The current president of the Frankfurt Germany temple has a slightly different but similar situation, as he started serving in 2013, and had roughly two years of active service prior to that temple’s renovation closure in 2015. We could therefore see a change in that temple presidency sometime within the next two years or so. Time will tell. In both cases, the Church might always decide to make those changes sooner, but that seems unlikely. As far as I have been able to ascertain, every other temple president whose active service has been interrupted by a temple renovation has subsequently gone on to fill the remainder of his three-year term.

That does it for the list. Now for the analysis: First, as noted above, in March, a new president was announced for the Calgary Alberta Temple. The previous one had only served since 2015, so that change caught me a little off guard. There are usually only two reasons a temple president is changed so abruptly: the death or incapacitation of the current president. There has also been a time or two when a temple president is disfellowshipped or excommunicated, but one of the perks of generally appointing older men to preside over temples is that they are able to devote their full energies to that calling and responsibility and are not very likely to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. So I feel safe in asserting that it was either the death or incapacitation of the previous president that lead to a change in this case.

I am anticipating that we will learn very soon about the identity of the new Tokyo Japan Temple president. The previous president died a few weeks ago. If the Church follows its usual practice in the wake of that death, they have put in one of that president's counselors as the new president. And it is not unreasonable to assume that, since that new president will only serve for about six months prior to that temple's closure in October for renovation, that the new president will be in place for 2-3 years following the rededication of that temple, which is anticipated sometime during 2020.

I have heard some rumors that the Freiberg Germany and Idaho Falls Idaho Temples could get new presidents at some point this year, but I don't think that is very likely. For Freiberg, which closed for renovation in 2014 and dedicated last year, the current president has yet to mark three years of active service. The same is true for the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, closed for renovation in 2015, and scheduled for rededication in just under a month. It would not be unheard of for the Church to call new presidents for either or both of those temples, but it does not seem likely.

The announcement today of four new presidents brings the number of previously dedicated temples that will get a new president this year to 27. The announcement of other presidents is always possible. During my 6-year service period as a veil worker in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple, those changes always took place in November of the relevant year, and generally the new presidencies would begin their service on the first Monday or Tuesday of that month. If that holds true for each of these 27, that change will happen on November 6 or 7 this year. I have heard from others who have worked at other temples that it worked slightly differently for their temple presidencies, but doing it that way would ensure a smooth transition in the first full week of that month.

I have also noted through observation that the Church puts new presidents in place for roughly 1/3 of the total number of operating temples each year. Noting that, by August of next year, we could have a total of 162 operating temples, it would not be hard to believe that we could see as many as 54 temples total have new presidents announced during that year. Half of that number have been called already. So which other temples might get a new president? In the list above, I have noted seven other possibilities from those currently in operation. Of those seven, 1 (the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple) has not had a new president since its rededication in 2012, meaning that the current president will mark 5 years of service in September.

And of those same seven, three (the Asuncion Paraguay, Oakland California, and Washington DC temples) are scheduled to close for renovation within the next 10 months or less. So for those three, I could see the Church either calling a new president to service for a few months prior to those renovations, or retaining the current president until 2019 (for the first two) or 2020 (for the temple named for the US capital.)

There are also the three (Rome Italy, Kinshasa DR Congo, and Barranquilla Colombia) that might be dedicated early next year that could potential have their first presidents announced within the next 6 months or so. We might also see new presidents for the Jordan River Utah (where the current president was called in 2014, but a renovation has been taking place since 2016, so the Church might elect to retain him until 2020, which would make the standard 3 years of active service) and Frankfurt Germany Temples (where the current president started serving in 2013 and marked just under two years of active service before that temple closed for renovation in 2015, so the Church might elect to retain him for another year or two).

So there you have it. My updated list and my analysis of it.  Please let me know if you have any feedback, and also if, by any chance, I have overlooked any possibilities on this list. I have tried to be as accurate as possible, but I am not infallible at all, so I welcome any corrections that point to something I neglected to consider. I believe that we could see at least 1/3 of all operating temples have a new president called this year, and I have done my best to consider all possibilities. I look forward to any and all such feedback any of you might care to offer. Thanks for your interest and support.

Church News Update, including article introducing New General Authority Seventy Elder John C. Pingree Jr.

Here I am again with a Church News update. In a subsequent post later today, I will focus on temple presidents whose callings have been announced this week. For now, though, here are some other Church News items.

I noted in my previous post the changes to the Church's Scouting program, which were the focus of a Church News interview with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In additional apostolic news, this article contains a call to action regarding religious liberty that was issued by Elder Ronald A. Rasband to Latter-day Saints in Arizona and Nevada. It was a timely message that was great to read about. The Church News also focused an article on the statue being placed to honor Elder John A. Widtsoe, an apostle who was born in Norway and whose life is being honored by that statue. Click here for more on that.

Bonnie H. Cordon, called last month as the new First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, wrote an article about the important influence a child can have on his or her family's activity in the Church. She shared three classic examples on that subject. It was fun to read about that. Click here to read that inspiring message.

Speaking during the annual BYU Women's Conference, Young Women General President Bonnie L. Oscarson shared a message applicable to any Latter-day Saint: If each of us aligns our wills with that of Heavenly Father for us individually, we will be much happier in life. This article summarizes that address.

One week ago today, members of the Primary General Presidency (Sisters Joy D. Jones and Bonnie H. Cordon; as you might recall, Sister Jones's new Second Counselor, Christina B. Franco, is concluding her service with her husband as president and matron of the Argentina Resistencia Mission and will assume her new calling in July) spoke during Women's Conference on the vitally important role parents have to provide their young children with knowledge of the gospel. A summary of that excellent address can be found here.

On the night when May 5 became May 6, the Church lost a young missionary who was actively serving in Wisconsin. The causes of his sudden passing remain unknown. He had started his missionary service in November 2016. His family said they were stunned by his passing, but are grateful to know that he died doing what he loved, and that they are comforted by the knowledge that he is serving beyond the veil and that they will be able to see him again if they live worthy to do so. For more information on that story, click here.

In continuing the series of articles about newly sustained General Authorities and Officers, the Church this week put out an article about new General Authority John C. Pingree Jr. To learn more about him, click here.

Finally, a general note about Church news and developments: on the LDS Church Temples website, changes in Church units are noted prominently as they are reported. The latest reports of such changes can be found here. where you can see the number of units worldwide, then broken down into within the US (with Utah having its own subsection) and outside of it. That breakdown is followed by two lists: one reporting the creation or discontinuation of a stake or district, and, halfway down that same page, a breakdown of changes in individual Church units like branches, wards, and, where applicable, units transferred to or from other stakes, districts, and missions. Enjoy looking over that.

More to come in a few minutes. Thanks for your readership and support. Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated.

LDS Church Discontinues its' Varsity and Venture Scouting Programs

Big news from the LDS Church today. Effective January 1, 2018, the Church will no longer sponsor nor provide direct support for Varsity and Venture Scouting Units. The directive has come down from the First Presidency that instead of such an extension of the scouting program, emphasis will instead be placed on activities for boys ages 14-18 that will best foster physical, emotional, spiritual and emotional well-being, and that it will be the responsibility of those who serve in local Young Men presidencies and quorum leadership of those ages, in connection with bishoprics and branch presidencies, to implement a new activity plan that will allow for that growth. This move also shifts direct responsibility for a scout's earning their Eagle to be self-motivated and work on their own to achieve that. If any scout ages 14-18 elects to do so, they are fully able to join with official local chapters of the BSA to have the external support and leadership they need. The hope is also that this move will encourage more Scouts to earn their Eagles prior to age 14.

Some have stated their view that the Church is doing this in reaction to the decision of the BSA to allow openly gay and transgender boys to join local scout troops, or in response to the BSA's consideration of allowing girls to participate in the Scouting program. The Church made it clear today that this is not the case. Church leaders have long deliberated the merits of continuing their involvement with and endorsement of the scouting program, and the Church stated a long time ago that Church leaders on every level would be studying the matter and doing the best they could to make a decision that works best for all concerned. This announcement suggests that this is what the Church has felt inspired to do on this matter.

As one who has earned my Eagle Scout award, I have to say that I personally applaud this decision. I spent my Cub Scout and Boy Scout years in Payson and American Fork Utah, where I worked with leaders that encouraged me to adhere to the standards of both the BSA and the Church. As a disabled young man, I gained courage to work towards my own Eagle Scout award not just because I felt it was expected of me, and not just because I felt it would be easy. Rather, I knew it would be worth my time to do so. And I had leaders all along the way that patiently mentored me, supported me, and encouraged me. It was not at all uncommon for other young men in my Scout troop to achieve the rank of Eagle by the age of 14.

I earned my Eagle the summer between my sophomore and junior years of High School, and it was mostly because I was motivated to do it myself, and because I had leaders who were willing to think outside the box and work around the limitations of my health conditions and disabilities. Many times, they petitioned the BSA to allow me to do alternate merit badges to qualify for my Eagle as many of the required ones were things I could not handle physically. The main reason I earned my Eagle was because I had that leader support and because I was driven to do it for myself. And I have never once regretted the fact that I am and always will be an Eagle Scout. Many of the things I learned in Scouting still bless my life today.

And so, to any Scout out there who reads my blog posts, I would say, don't let this policy change discourage you from becoming an Eagle Scout. As I had leaders that supported and motivated me to to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, so you will have such leaders yourself. This does not diminish or downgrade the importance and prestige associated with that honor. Rather, it is a reiteration of policies that have always been in place but are now being emphasized more: A scout is to do his duty to God and to his country not just because of the support of his local Church leaders or his troop, but because it is the Scouting way. And if someone like myself can become an Eagle Scout, the way will be open for you to do so as well, no matter how hard that might seem.

For those who would like to read more on today's announcement, click here and here. If any of you, my readers, have any questions about my own experience or regarding these changes that you feel I might be able to answer as one who has been in the program and understands the reasoning, please don't hesitate to ask. More coming in a minute or two.