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Monday, November 6, 2017

More Information Given for 2018 Church-related Events

Hello again, everyone! In yet another check of the Church's official website, I discovered some more information has been released about some of the early Church-related events that will be held during the first several months of 2018. Read ahead for more on that.

On Sunday January 14, 2018, the first of the Church's three Worldwide Devotionals for Young Adults will be held. The featured speakers will be President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency and his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf.

While a speaker will be announced in the future, we know that the 2018 Evening with a General Authority (which will be held for seminary and institute instructors, CES employees, and their spouses) will be held Friday January 26, 2018.

The first Face-to-Face event for youth in 2018 will feature President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, and will be held on Saturday February 3 (the same day when the First Presidency will mark a decade of service together).

Exactly four weeks later, on Saturday March 3, the RootsTech Family Discovery Day will be held for Family History enthusiasts. Selected leaders and general officers of the Church, who will be announced at a later date, will be featured.

As already announced, the open house for the renovated Jordan River Utah Temple will be held from Saturday March 17- Saturday April 28, with the cultural celebration on May 19, and the rededication on Sunday May 20.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will present a sing-along of Handel's Messiah on March 23. In the meantime, April General Conference will be held on Saturday and Sunday March 31 and April 1.

Over a month later, the second Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults will be held on May 6, with the speaker announced at a later date. The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will be holding their annual Pioneer Day Concert on Saturday July 21, 2018.

Rounding out the year will be the already-announced third Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on September 9, 2018, General Conference on October 6 and 7 (which will feature the Women's Session on that Saturday for the first time) and the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional held on December 2, 2018.

Already, with what is known, 2018 will be a great year for the Church. I am, of course, keeping my eyes open for any additional information on any of these events, and also for temple-related events during the year as well, and will be passing all of that along as I am able to.

That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in all that you do.

Case Study: How soon could the Church have 200 operating temples?

Hello again, everyone! As I may have mentioned previously, I started the prior post with the intention of exploring how soon the Church might see 200 operating temples. I had before offered my opinion that that could occur by or before the 200th anniversary of the Church, which is what prompted my deviation from that subject in the post previous to this one. So, let's examine what the Church would have to do to make that possible, and how temple progress will be looking over the next 2-3 years.

As many of you are no doubt aware, there are 182 temples in various stages. This means that the Church would just have to announce 18 more, in addition to completing the other 25 currently in various stages. That's a total of 43 temples that would need to be dedicated in between now and April 6, 2030. With that in mind, the Church, as of today, has 12.41 years to complete those 43. That works out to just around 3.5 that would need to be completed in each one of those years. So, what needs to happen to make that possible? Let's look at that.

As you  all know, the Church will have 2 more temples dedicated by the end of this year, bringing the number of those in operation to 159. By the end of 2018, the Church will have either 162 or 163 in operation, meaning 3 or 4 new temples will be added next year. 2019, as already noted, is anticipated to be a big year for temple-related events, without even considering how many announced temples might have a groundbreaking next year. If the data I have gathered proves correct, the number of operating temples by the end of will have risen to either 169 or 170. With that in mind, by the time the Church has 10 years left to dedicate the 200, there will be around 30 temples left to complete. So as long as 3 or 4 are dedicated each year, that could easily be done.

That said, as already noted, if many other temples have a groundbreaking next year and in 2019, the number of those that could subsequently be dedicated in 2020 and beyond, along with those new temples that may be announced within the next two years, could be anyone's guess. That said, it seems obvious to me that, whether or not an official goal is made to do so, the Church will have at least 200 temples in operation by April 6, 2030. In fact, for the span of the 17 years between January 2001 (the end of the temple-building boom that occurred between 1997 and 2000) and the end of this year, the Church will have seen an increase in operating temples from 102 to 159, which is 57 new temples. In those 17 years, that will have averaged out to 3.35 temples per year. And with the 41 that would need to be dedicated between January 1, 2018 and April 6, 2030 (a span of 12.26 years), that further works out to 3.34 per year.

Thanks for bearing with me as I have shared this information with you. Whatever might happen in terms of future temple-related developments, you can be sure to find all the latest news and developments here. That does it for this post. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

How the Church has marked milestone anniversaries

Hello, everyone! I had begun this post intending to talk about temple progress, but it became more about the milestone anniversaries of the Church, so I will post my updated thoughts about temple progress shortly. In the meantime, for those not aware of this, the Church has held a big celebration every 50 years when the different milestone anniversaries of the Church came about. I wanted to discuss each of these milestones briefly

The 50th anniversary of the Church was marked on April 6, 1880. At that time, President John Taylor, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (he would officially be ordained and set apart as 3rd Church President following the General Conference that would be held six months later) directed the events of the conference, which spanned three days, from Tuesday April 6 to Thursday April 8 (at that time, conferences were focused on ensuring that the April one always included the Church's anniversary, rather than on being held on the weekends). Exercises honoring the commemoration of the Church's 50th anniversary were held at the Assembly Hall the Sunday and Monday prior to the three-day conference. All of those proceedings were carried in the April 1880 print edition of Conference.

By the time of the 100th anniversary of the Church (on April 6, 1930), the tradition of having days rather than months or even years between the death of one Church President and the appointment of another had been observed three times, and President Heber J. Grant was serving as 7th President of the Church. As was still the tradition of that day, General Conference that year spanned 4 days, from Sunday-Wednesday April 6-9. At the top of his address opening the conference, President Grant read a proclamation authored by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in honor of the anniversary. While none of that General Conference originated from Palmyra (since the technology to allow that to happen would not come along until much later), just over five years after that centennial conference, in June 1935 a monument was dedicated at the Hill Cumorah, which was not far from Palmyra.

50 years later, when the Church observed its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary, President Spencer W. Kimball had been the 12th President of the Church for just over a year. Because technology had sufficiently advanced to allow it, the General Conference originated from Salt Lake, but featured Church leaders speaking from Palmyra. The conference, held on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th, featured an opening address from President Kimball. His second counselor, President Romney, was the only First Presidency member to address the Priesthood Session of that conference, as President Kimball had flown with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley to Palmyra for the anniversary commemoration.

At the top of the Sunday Morning Session, from the Peter Whitmer Farm House in New York, President Kimball gave a brief introduction to a commemorative proclamation that was, at his request, read by Elder Hinckley. While Elder Hinckley read that proclamation from the Farm House, the others in attendance, including three direct descendants of the Smith family, hurried over to the new stake center in the city, and from that location, President Kimball gave remarks and offered a dedicatory prayer of that stake center, the farmhouse where the Church started, and the nearby home that the Whitmers had moved to later on. President Kimball's remarks allowed Elder Hinckley time to join them in the chapel, from which he spoke at the conclusion of President Kimball's remarks. The session then shifted back to Salt Lake, where the remaining speakers of that session gave their addresses. During the concluding session of the conference, Elder Hugh W. Pinnock and President Spencer W. Kimball gave their remarks from New York.

The Church's bicentennial General Conference will, if the tradition of recent years is kept, will be held on Saturday and Sunday April 6 and 7. I have previously shared my thoughts that either Elder Holland or Elder Bednar could be the president of the Church at the time of that anniversary. And based on how much technology has evolved, some or all of General Conference could originate from New York. It will be interesting to see.

Thank you for wading through this information. I love considering what might occur for the Church's bicentennial. If the recent passage of time is any indication, that time will soon be upon us. It has been wonderful to do the research on all of this and to pass it along, and I hope it proves useful to some few of you, if not all who read this.

That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Post Honoring President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on his 77th birthday

As promised, I am posting now in honor of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who is celebrating his 77th birthday today. Aside from being only the 11th apostle born outside the US and the first with ties to both German and the Czech Republic, President Uchtdorf is the 6th of those 11 to serve in the First Presidency. At the time of his call to the First Presidency in February 2008, there were only two apostles more junior than he (Elder Bednar, also called to the apostleship in October 2004, and Elder Cook, who was called 3 years after that, but 3 months before President Monson became Church President. Since that time, President Uchtdorf has gone up in the ranks of the apostleship to become the 7th most senior apostle in the Church, which makes him the least senior of the first half of our 14 apostles. So, what is important to note about the life of this wonderful man? Let's talk about all of that.

Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf was born on November 6, 1940 in Czechoslovakia to Karl Albert and Hildegard Else Opelt Uchtdorf. He was raised in Germany, where his family joined the Church in 1947. He studied engineering, business administration, and international management. Joining the German Air Force in 1959, he trained to be a fighter pilot. In 1965, he joined Lufthansa German Airlines as a pilot, working as an airline captain from 1970-1996. He held many responsible executive positions with German Airlines. He married Harriet Reich on December 14, 1962, and they have two children and several grandchildren. He served as a stake president before his call as a General Authority. He was sustained a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 2, 1994. On April 6, 1996, he was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He became a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on August 15, 2002 and was sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 2, 2004 and ordained an apostle on October 7, 2004. On February 3, 2008, he was set apart as 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency to President Thomas S. Monson.

President Uchtdorf, who has become so well loved by many members of the Church, has had the experience of being a refugee twice, and of seeing how their conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ blessed him and his family. He also also spoken before of first being impressed by the woman he would eventually marry, when he saw them come to Church after being found by the missionaries. President Uchtdorf has spoken frequently about ways in which Church members should consider themselves called to action. I enjoy hearing what he has to say in his General Conference addresses every six months. Throughout his almost 24 years as a general authority, almost 14 years as a special witness of the Savior, and nearly a decade of service in the First Presidency, he has given 67 talks, only 2 of which were given prior to his apostolic call. To review any of these remarkable and noteworthy addresses, click here. Also worthy of note (in my opinion) is the fact that, in addition to being the 7th in seniority in the apostleship, he is also, coincidentally enough, the 7th oldest of our apostles. Though he may never read this, I wanted this post to stand as a tribute to this remarkable, unassuming man that has had such a profound effect on me personally.

That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in all that you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Matthew Holland to serve as mission president

Hello again, everyone! I will get to my post honoring President Uchtdorf, but there is big news from the campus of Utah Valley University. Matthew S. Holland, who has served as the university's president since 2009, and is also the son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has announced that, in view of his recently given call to serve as a mission president (which will start at the end of June next year), he is stepping down as UVU president. He said that he will still be committed to the university until his replacement is named, but wanted to give the governing board of UVU the next six months to find and inaugurate his replacement. He also said that he was given permission to make his new call public because of the time it will take to find the new president.

Now, that said, I did want to note that this news (especially because he is the son of an LDS apostle) may have Church critics crying "nepotism is alive and well in the Church", and may not make people happy. But in defense of both Elder Holland and the current and future President Holland, I also wanted to note that, as far as I can tell, Elder Holland has no role currently on the Missionary Executive Council, and he would likely say what President Eyring likely said about his son's call as president of BYU-Idaho, which surely echoed President Gordon B. Hinckley's response to the  call of his son, Richard, as a General Authority Seventy in 2005, that none of them advanced their son's names,  that that was done by others who have the right to do so, that they all are and were qualified because of their excellent mothers and perhaps in spite of their fathers. The Church is, always has been, and always will be very sensitive about matters of nepotism, and anyone who says otherwise obviously has never bothered to gain for themselves a testimony of the process by which such calls come.

All that aside, I will be back in a short while to publish my tribute post to President Uchtdorf, whose special day may have been overshadowed by all of this, but who is well deserving of the post which I hope will honor him sufficiently. That does it for this post. As always, any comments are welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in all that you do.

Elder Christofferson reorganizes a stake he was once sent to dissolve

Hello, everyone! While I have not forgotten my promise to post about President Uchtdorf's birthday, and while I am actively working on getting that put together to post shortly here, there was yet another apostolic coincidence that I learned of recently, and it is well deserving of a mention here. So, what is that latest coincidence? Let's talk about that.

In early June 2007, amid the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who was serving as the second most senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and was just 10 months away from the time he would be called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which, though he did not have any idea that would happen, was surely known to the Lord), had a supervisory role in overseeing the Church response to Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of that natural disaster, and knowing that many Saints had been forced to move out of the Slidell Louisiana Stake and find both new homes and work outside of the storm's destruction zone, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave Elder Christofferson the assignment to go supervise the dissolution of that stake.

It was a sad day for all concerned, but the remaining members in the region gave their full support to this decision. Fast forward now to the middle of October 2017. Having been an apostle of the Church for almost 10 years, and following General Conference, Elder Christofferson was given the joyful assignment to represent his Brethren in the apostleship by returning to the Slidell Louisiana region, this time to reorganize the stake he had dissolved over 10 years earlier.

Elder Christofferson commented to the Church News that he told the Saints in that area that he was pleased to fill this assignment, which, as he put it, gave him the opportunity to repent and redo what he had undone a decade before. As further evidence that the Lord not only knew this situation would happen the way it did (including that Elder Christofferson would be an apostle when he was sent to reestablish the stake he had previously dissolved), the Lord indicated to him that the man who should be the first president of the reinstated stake was a man who had, not coincidentally, given a prayer at the gathering 10 years earlier when the stake had been disbanded.

It was awesome to read the account the Church News shared in publishing this story.  You can find that article here. This is yet another witness to me that the Lord is, in a very real way, clearly involved in the minute details of the lives of each of us. I am confident that each one of us could share many examples of how such coincidences have occurred in our own lives, and while it may seem that the leading Brethren have such things occur more often than the rest of us, I am grateful to testify that I know for myself how mindful the Lord is of each of us as individuals. In His infinite wisdom and compassion, He orchestrates events in our lives that are not in any way random or happenstance, that demonstrate His tender mercies in the details of our lives.

I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to share all of this with each of you today. That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in all that you do.

President Nelson Will Preside at the Inauguration of BYU-Pathway Worldwide President Clark G. Gilbert

Hello, everyone! As one who has done extensive study on what happens when the Church President is dealing with age- or health-related issues that prevent him from actively presiding over Church matters, the remaining First Presidency members (in this case, Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf) from time to time have the option of delegating responsibilities to the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whether or not those assignments and responsibilities relate to assignments in which he is taking an active part. That happened just recently. So what is it that Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf have asked President Nelson to do? Read on for more on that.

As I mentioned in another blog post earlier this year, the Church Educational System membership expanded earlier this year to include four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Elders Oaks and Holland, who serve on the Executive Committee, and were on the Board prior to the changes), and Elders Bednar and Renlund, who were added when membership expanded), Presiding Bishop Gerald Causse, Elder Hallstrom (who continued his role on the Board after his release from the Presidency of the Seventy, while Elder Gong represents the Presidency of the Seventy on the Board), and the Young Women, Young Men, and Relief Society General Presidents (the RS and YW Presidents were part of the board prior to the changes, but the YM President was added when board membership was expanded).

With all of that in mind, it was significant to me that Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf, who serve as First and Second Vice Chairmen on the Board, have given President Nelson, who has no direct role on the Board, the assignment to represent them in presiding at the inauguration ceremony for BYU-Pathway Worldwide President Clark G. Gilbert. The new organization, announced earlier this year, allows groups of students in the BYU program to gather together at various locations worldwide for their study and certification, rather than having to negotiate being on the BYU campus. The new organization, administered from Salt Lake City, is an official secondary educational organization that had started at BYU-Idaho. While the appointment of President Gilbert had been announced earlier this year (as he was serving as President of BYU-Idaho), he has not yet been inaugurated. That is set to happen 10 days from now, on November 16.

The inauguration of President Gilbert is set to include a charge he will be given during the event that will give him guidelines to use as he officially assumes this new assignment, though it is unclear whether President Nelson will administer that charge himself, or if he will call on one of the four members of the Quorum of the Twelve serving on the Board to do so. For more on what is known about this event, the official article from the Church News on that subject can be found here.

I will be back later on today to post the birthday tribute to President Uchtdorf, who is celebrating his 77th birthday today. That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you in all that you do.

Meridian Idaho Temple Set to Begin Its Final Week of Open House Tours

Hello, everyone! With today being November 6, I have a post in the works for President Uchtdorf's birthday, which will be published within the next 12 hours or so, if not sooner. But I wanted to post now to note that the Meridian Idaho Temple is beginning its final week of open house tours. The dedication is two weeks from yesterday. After the open house concludes, the Church will ensure that the temple is ready for the dedication. Still no word on who will be in attendance from the leadership of the Church, but I will post information on that as soon as I find it. That does it for this post. Any comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless all of you in everything you do.