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Friday, June 16, 2017

Massive Church News Update

Hello, again! I hope none of you are tired of my frequent posts. I have often felt (and stated) that there is so much more going on in the Church than what just one blogger can report. That is why I have found my niche in certain subjects but still report on other developments as I feel inspired to do so. The newsroom on the Church's website recently featured articles on remarks given by two apostles. Our junior apostle, Elder Dale G. Renlund, along with his wife Ruth, participated recently at an international religious freedom symposium in Costa Rica. I could not do their remarks justice by attempting to summarize them. Therefore, you can find the report of those remarks here.

And Elder D. Todd Christofferson was the featured speaker at the prestigious Oxford University in England, focusing his remarks on the first-hand experience he had as a law clerk to the federal judge who presided over the trial about the infamous Watergate scandal, A report of his remarks can be found here.

Elder Neil L. Andersen was also recently featured by the Church News as he participated in Horasis, a global gathering that brought together those involved in businesses, politicians, and religious leaders. A summary of his remarks, which focused on religious freedom, can be found here,

In the meantime, Elder Holland was the apostolic representative who spoke to those working as part of the LDS Family Services program. His tender remarks on that occasion can be found here.

I also enjoyed President Monson's June home teaching message and this article demonstrating how President Uchtdorf lived the principle of lifting where you stand many years before he gave an address on that subject in October 2008.

Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, who serves as the Assistant Executive Director of the Church's Missionary Department, also spoke to the LDS Family Services personnel on the subject of the mental health concerns of missionaries. His remarks are summarized here.

While being granted emeritus status does mean somewhat less responsibility, for Elder Lance B. Wickman, he has carried on with his assignment as the Church's general counsel, who consults with Church leadership on legal and (when needed) political matters. He too addressed the seminar mentioned above, and his remarks can be found here. At almost 77, it is good to see that Elder Wickman is still able to fill what many consider a very high-profile assignment.

Elder Larry R. Lawrence, who will most likely be released and granted emeritus status this October, encouraged BYU-Idaho students to seek for spiritual gifts. His remarks on the subject can be found here.

Leaders of the Church's Brazil area were present as BYU-Pathway Worldwide leaders held a "Connections Conference" in Sao Paulo. That was interesting to read about. It seems that these Connections Conferences will be more widely held worldwide as the program continues to expand. You can read more about that gathering here.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy, acting under the direction of the apostles, was in Wyoming yesterday to dedicate the site known as Sixth Crossing and the accompanying visitor's center. You can read more on that here.

The annual pageants held each year will also begin soon. For more information on those, click here. And coming up in July will be both the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Pioneer Day Concerts on July 14 & 15 (you can find out more on that here)  and the annual Days '47 KSL Parade will air as usual on July 24. The First Presidency members have typically traded off duties as the Grad Marshall of the Parade, but last year, Elder M. Russell Ballard was asked to do so. So it is anyone's guess at this point who might be filling that role this year.

Looking ahead, we also know that there will be three temple dedications before the year's end: Tucson Arizona (on August 13); Meridian Idaho (on November 19) and Cedar City Utah (on December 10). There may also be the possibility that other temples might have a groundbreaking. As always, once more information becomes available, I will be sure to pass that along.

We also have that Face-to-Face event on August 5 that will be held in Africa and will feature Elder and Sister Renlund, BYU's Campus Education Week set for August 21-25, with Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy (currently the second most junior member of that Presidency, who will become the 4th most senior member on August 1) set to give the keynote address. President Monson will celebrate his 90th birthday on August 21, but there has not been any word of any celebration plans as yet. Something may or may not be in the works in that regard. A lot will depend on what happens between now and then.

Looking to September, Elder Bednar will speak at a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on the 10th. Then, of course, General Conference will be held on September 23 & 30 and October 1. At some point, the Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will announce the dates for their Christmas concert, along with their guest artist(s).

And the Christmas season will kick off with the annual Christmas Devotional on December 3. Unless President Monson improves by that time, it is likely that President Eyring will conduct the devotional and that President Uchtdorf will represent the First Presidency in speaking. The other speakers are nearly impossible to predict, but it is certain that there will be one member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and one auxiliary leader (possibly from the Sunday School, as we have not yet heard from that organization since the decision to include speakers outside the First Presidency).

This post has been more massive than I originally anticipated. I think I have covered everything well enough for now. Tune in this weekend, when I hope to finally post my update on the latest apostolic milestones. Also, if any other major developments happen on the Church news front, I will be sure to pass that along. In the meantime, thanks for taking time to read this. Let me know your thoughts, if you are able/willing to do so. If you can't, let me know that as well. Thanks for your interest.

Number of Talks Given by Our Current Apostles

I may or may not have posted about this before, but I have thought it might be helpful to look into how many talks our apostles have given. The fruit of that study has been inspiring to discover. If I have posted about this before, I have taken time to correct and expand this list. As far as I know, it is as accurate as I could have made it. During this double-checking process, I also took time to find out how many of these talks were given prior to some of these men beginning their apostolic ministries. It has been an intriguing topic to research, and I hope that most, if not all of you, will enjoy reading about my research. If you are able to, let me know your thoughts. If you are not able to do so, you can contact me via my profile. Thanks. Here is that list. Enjoy!

President Thomas S. Monson—247
President Henry B. Eyring—82+5 talks given prior to his apostolic call=87
Elder M. Russell Ballard—66+9 talks given prior to his apostolic call=75
President Russell M. Nelson—69
Elder Dallin H. Oaks—67+1 talk given prior to his apostolic call=68
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf—62+2 talks given prior to his apostolic call=64
Elder Robert D. Hales—43+15 talks given prior to his apostolic call=58
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland—46+3 talks given prior to his apostolic call=49
Elder David A. Bednar—26                 
Elder D. Todd Christofferson—19+6 talks given prior to his apostolic call=25
Elder Quentin L. Cook—20+2 talks given prior to his apostolic call=22
Elder Neil L. Andersen—17+5 talks given prior to his apostolic call=22
Elder Ronald A. Rasband—4+6 talks given prior to his apostolic call=10
Elder Gary E. Stevenson—4+3 talks given prior to his apostolic call=7
Elder Dale G. Renlund—4+2 talks given prior to his apostolic call=6

Total number of talks given by our current apostles: 775 during their apostleship+60 in other capacities=835

A belated Happy Birthday to one of my favorites among our apostles

Hello, all! I realized this late last night, but I forgot yesterday to note the birthday of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As the most recent apostle to be called without having previously served as a General Authority, I saw the mantle of apostleship settle on him the moment he gave his first talk in October 2004.

Now, as we are nearing the month when he will mark 13 years in the apostleship, he has steadily risen in the ranks as many senior to him have passed away. In just under those 13 years, he has gone from being the junior apostle (15th in seniority) to being the most junior apostle in the senior half of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and he has also become the most senior apostle of the junior half. In terms of the 15 apostles, his former seatmate, President Uchtdorf, is right in the middle in terms of apostolic seniority, and of the junior seven, Elder Bednar is the most senior.

Elder Bednar marked his 65th birthday yesterday. In view of the fact that he was called at age 52, it is significant that he is now just a heartbeat away from being among the senior apostles. While it is still far too early to tell what will happen with apostolic deaths, and while we do have 3 apostles senior to Elder Bednar that are either showing signs of old age or health issues (President Monson, Elder Ballard, and Elder Hales), and while we also know that President Nelson is almost 3 years older than President Monson despite coming to the apostleship 31 after he did, no one, especially not myself, knows what the Lord's succession plan might entail in the future.

While I do believe President Nelson has a good chance of succeeding President Monson at some point, with Elder Oaks being next, and either Elder Holland or Elder Bednar serving as Church President around the 200th anniversary of the restoration, the Lord is still in full control of the succession process, and He knows who He needs in the presidency, when He needs those changes to happen, and who received an apostolic call that will someday become Church President.

As another side note, I wanted to reiterate again how fully I disagree with those who have perpetuated the idea of some kind of emeritus status for apostles and prophets. Part of the package deal of becoming an apostle is that service is rendered until the Lord calls each apostle home. And, as Elder Bednar himself observed in his wonderful October 2015 general conference address, highlighting the final addresses that were given by the six apostles that had passed away since his own apostolic calls. I fully concur with President Hinckley's statement about the need for men of maturity at the head who will not be blown about by every wind of doctrine.

There are excellent reasons why an emeritus designation should not and never will be enacted for Church presidents and apostles. And any man or woman who suggests otherwise cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a faithful Latter-day Saint. That applies even more so for those who are gathering every six months to vocally voice their opposition to sustaining the apostles. In my opinion, if anyone who has problems with Church doctrines, policies, and procedures, and if they are not willing to resolve their concerns through the proper channels, they are in very real danger of apostatizing, and will do so. Previous prophetic statements have indicated as much.

I for one will always unequivocally sustain those who have been called of God, because I have received my own witness that every apostolic call is divinely inspired. And I have continued to pray for and have received manifestations that their words are what the Savior wants all of us to hear.

If any of you who read this have any doubts about the inspired nature of these callings, I urge you to seek to acquire your own witness. In the meantime, I always have and always will stand with the Brethren, and I will continue to sustain them with all my heart.

That was more of a side note than I meant it to be. Sorry about that. Getting back to Elder Bednar and his birthday, perhaps the greatest gift we could give him would be to take some time to review some of the counsel he gave during these almost 13 years. I could not adequately summarize his ministry thus far in the time and space I have to do so, but I will say he has covered a wide variety of topics that should be important to any Latter-day Saint who sustains him. You can review any of those you like here. Unless I have miscounted, he has addressed us 26 times. And that has just been in General Conference sessions, not even counting talks he gave in other settings. His ministry has truly encompassed so much imparted wisdom, such extensive travel, involvement in temple dedications (including one at which he presided), and so much more.

So, to Elder Bednar, I would say, thank you for your willingness to teach correct principles. Thank you for being a man in whom the spirit of God is. Thank you for the breadth of your ministry. Happy birthday! May the Lord allow you to continue to share your wisdom and inspiration with us for many years to come. And may all of us continue to follow not only Elder Bednar's counsel, but that of is 14 other colleagues.

As we do so, the Lord will continue to bless us all. Of all these things I testify with all my heart, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Quick Update on the Lisbon Portugal Temple

While I have not changed my temple construction progress report too much since posting it yesterday, I did learn of advancements in the construction of Portugal's first temple. According to that new information, foundation walls are being poured, and the walls of the adjoining meetinghouse are nearly finished. Just wanted to pass that along. It is wonderful to live in a time when so much is going on with temple work. I am continuing to keep an eye out for developments and will pass along any news ASAP after I learn of it. Thanks for reading this. Any comments, if anyone is able to make some, would be appreciated. Let me know if that is not the case. Thanks again.