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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Overview of Changes in General Church Leadership

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to provide an overview of resources which the Church has released, particularly those relating to announced leadership changes. The Church has released this summary of the Solemn Assembly (including biographical information for Elders Gong and Soares, our new apostles), along with this one (introducing the new members of the Presidency of the Seventy and new General Authority Seventies).

As anticipated, President Nelson had more than enough time to make all the necessary changes in Church leadership. Let's take a quick look at what has changed (and is going to change) in terms of the Presidency of the Seventy and the new General Authority Seventies that have been called. It is worth noting that, while we sustained two changes in the Presidency of the Seventy that are effective immediately (in view of the calling of the new apostles), in leading the second half of the sustaining of Church officers, President Oaks additionally mentioned that three other members of the current presidency (Elders Craig C. Christensen, Lynn G. Robbins, and Juan A. Uceda) will be released in August, and that Elders Terence M. Vinson, Jose A. Teixeira, and Carlos A. Godoy will begin serving in the Presidency as of August 1, 2018. As we know, this is when the area leadership changes take effect.

The interesting thing about those upcoming changes is that Elder Uceda will have only been in the presidency for a year once his release is effective. I cannot be sure, but I would imagine that Elder Uceda has been asked to fill a special assignment, either at headquarters or in an area presidency, that would prevent him from continuing to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy at that time. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

So let's talk about the General Authority Seventies that were sustained today. Among them are y that had been serving as area seventies at the time of their calls (Elders Steven R. Bangerter, Matthew L. Carpenter, Mathias Held, David P. Homer, Kyle S. McKay, and Juan Pablo Villar), 1 (Elder Jack N. Gerard) who was released as an area seventy two years ago, and 1 other (Elder Takashi Wada) who has served as a director of temportal affairs for three areas of the Church (North America Northwest and West and Asia).

We also saw the calling of a new Young Women's General presidency. As relayed in this article, the former First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency (Bonnie H. Cordon) has been called to serve as the Young Women General President. She has selected as her counselors Michelle D. Craig (who had been serving as a member of the Primary General Board) and Becky Craven, who is, as far as I know, a new face to the general Church membership.

Sister Cordon's call to serve as the Young Women General President has resulted in the call of Lisa Harkness, a member of the Primary General Board, to serve as the new First Counselor. Interestingly enough, Sister Harkness is the third First Counselor for Primary General President Joy D. Jones.

In April 2016, Sister Jones selected Jean B. Bingham and Bonnie H. Cordon as her counselors. In April 2017, Sister Bingham was called as the new Relief Society President, so as a result, Sister Cordon became the new First Counselor, with Cristina B. Franco called as the new Second Counselor. Now that her second First Counselor has been called as the new Young Women General President, for whatever reason, the only change to the Primary General Presidency this go-round is that Sister Harkness has replaced Sister Cordon, while Sister Franco remains the Second Counselor.

There were also a number of area seventies released and sustained as well, and I will have more later this week on how those changes impacted the total number of area seventies. That does it for this overview of the changes to the general leadership of the Church, and therefore, that does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums to Be Combined in Each Ward as One Elders' Quorum

Hello again, everyone! Breaking news from the LDS Church tonight in the Priesthood Session. This release describes how the Elders' Quorums and High Priest's Group are now going to be combined into one larger quorum, and, regardless of office, will be referred to as "the Elders' Quorum", with its' presidency being comprised of those who may be either High Priests or Elders. The new Elders' Quorum Presidency will directly report to the stake presidency.

All those serving in stake leadership (including the stake presidency, high council members, and the bishop and his counselors) will now comprise the high priests' group in the stake. This will add strength and power to priesthood quorums.

On a personal note, I welcome this change. My first opportunity to teach a lesson in Elders' Quorum was in my parents' ward. On the first day I was going to teach, I was advised that the High Priests in the ward would be joining the lesson, as their instructor was not able to make it. As I taught that group of combined elders and high priests, there was a power in the discussion of the lesson material, and, above and beyond that, how to implement the principles taught into our lives.

So I welcome the chance all Melchizedek Priesthood holders will have in a ward to meet in one united group, firmly committed to bearing the priesthood and doing the Lord's work together. I testify, along with the testimonies we have received tonight from President Nelson and Elders Christofferson and Rasband, that this is yet another example of the clear fact that modern revelation does occur in this Church. It is the Lord's Church. Together we will move the work of the Lord forward.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Some Thoughts on the Newest Apostles

Hello again, everyone! Now that the Saturday Morning Session has concluded, I wanted to provide some additional thoughts regarding the newest apostles. First, both picks should appeal to those that complain about the face of Church leadership not representing the diversity of the Church. Elder Gong, though born in the US, is of Asian descent, and Elder Soares becomes the first apostle called from South America, having been born and raised in Brazil.

And it is wonderful to think how prophetic President Nelson's statement made during the January 16 press conference in which he and his counselors took media questions. He indicated that the Church would see a day when there are more flavors in the mix, and the men he was inspired to call certainly reflect how prophetic that statement really was.

Next, since this is my specialty, I wanted to note that, with Elder Gong being 64 years old, and with Elder Soares being 58, they become the 10th and 12th in order of age among the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and they are also the 13th and 15th oldest among all of the apostles.

Elder Gong has only given 2 talks in General Conference, and Elder Soares has given 5 addresses. That makes sense because Elder Soares was called as a General Authority in April 2005, and to the Presidency of the Seventy in January 2013, while Elder Gong was called as a General Authority in April 2010 and was called to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015 (as a result of Elder Rasband's call to the Twelve; he formally began his service in that presidency on January 4, 2016, by which time he had concluded all his obligations as the president of the Asia Area).

Next, a general note about the apostles overall. As many of you know, I had been predicting that one of President Nelson's counselors would speak during the Saturday Morning Session. Since we heard instead from three members of the Quorum of the Twelve (rather than 2 as I had projected), it is likely that all three First Presidency members will speak tomorrow morning, along with Elders Gong and Soares.

And I also found it interesting that the Solemn Assembly from this General Conference is going to be separate and distinct from the sustaining of other Church leadership, which is set to occur at the beginning of the session this afternoon.

But getting back to the apostles, Elder Gong is the second current apostle that has a birthday in December (with his December 23 birthday coming 20 days following that of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland), and Elder Soares' birthday, which is marked on October 2, means he joins President M, Russsell Ballard, whose birthday is marked on October 8.

I would like to again share my absolute witness that these men have been called by the Lord at this time. I received instant confirmation of that as their names were announced. And for any who do not yet have such a witness, I invite you to do that which is necessary to obtain one.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Hello again, everyone! As many of you likely know by now, Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares have been called to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In a surprise move (at least to me), President Eyring, who lead the Solemn Assembly, noted that other Church leaders would be sustained during the Saturday Afternoon Session. The Quorum of the Twelve is now complete, and I couldn't be happier with those the Lord chose, as I had the instant confirmation that those called were called by the Lord.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Final Word Before General Conference

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post again now to offer a final word before General Conference starts in 12.5 hours. We have a great deal to look forward to this weekend, with a Solemn Assembly being held in which all of us, as groups and then as an entire Church, will have the opportunity to sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, including two new members of that Quorum.

In a couple of newspaper articles leading up to this weekend, spokesmen for the Church were quoted as saying that any theories made online regarding the identity of the new apostles, any other Church leadership changes, any temple locations, and any other suggestions of changes in doctrine and policy are nothing more than the private thoughts of the individuals perpetuating them.

I have recently referenced both the fact that my thoughts on the apostolic vacancies had been focused on in an article on Mormon Light, and that that article referred to those thoughts as "speculation". For myself, I have tried to use the patterns of the past to offer informed musings on that subject. And I am just as ready to sustain any one or two men that were not on the list of those I mentioned as I would be to sustain any one or two men that were not. But until something is officially announced tomorrow, anyone's thoughts, mine especially, are no more and no less than thoughts which may or may not reflect the Lord's will.

No matter who might be called to serve this go-round, the two new apostles (as with the others) will have my sustaining vote of support. As I have already indicated, I took time to gain my own testimony that those who will be called have been appointed by the Lord, and I have no doubt that when their names are revealed tomorrow, I will instantly know, as I have in times past, that the two were meant to come to the apostleship at this time. I would also anticipate that, barring anything unexpected, we will see the Solemn Assembly occur, as noted, at the top of the Saturday Morning Session.

And while I fully expect that new temples will be announced, and while I hope that any that are will have been on my list, I will rejoice just as much whether any are announced or not. As I have also observed, I don't see any scenario where President Nelson will not have taken time to call the new apostles and to make any subsequent changes that will fill out Church leadership following those calls, including the calling of new General Authority Seventies.

I am also equally certain that we will see the Young Women General Presidency changed, and I can see a few options there, with one or both of the current counselors retained in the new presidency, or one of the counselors in the other two auxiliaries (Primary or Relief Society), or current members of the Young Women General Board.Board.

Of one thing I am absolutely certain: the Lord leads His Church and knows perfectly what its' members need and how best to convey His will to His servants on what needs to be done and said in every General Conference. What we will hear and what will be done during this weekend will be what the Lord wants said and done in and for His Church at this time. And you can find ongoing reports on all of that here as it occurs.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Update Noted on the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple

Hello again, everyone! This will just be a quick post to note a status update for the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple. New information received late last night was expanded by another update that came in earlier today. The latest information indicates that structural framing has gone up for both the temple and its' steeple.

And, as I noted yesterday, the general completion estimate for this temple has changed from early-to-mid 2019 to just mid-2019, and I am more specifically estimating that this temple could be dedicated in early-to-mid June. Stay tuned for further updates as they are needed.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Some Additional Thoughts on the Announcement of the Rome Italy Temple Dedication Information

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post again today to pass along some additional thoughts on the announcement that was made earlier today about the dates for the open house and dedication for the Rome Italy Temple. First, while the Mormon Newsroom announcement does not mention a cultural celebration or youth devotional, on the Church's official Events page, the details of the dedication do include a notice that a special youth devotional will be held the night before the first dedicatory session.

And as an additional observation, this temple's dedication will mark the first time a temple has been dedicated over multiple days. For those interested, the last time that occurred was with the 2009 dedications of the Draper Utah and Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temples, which were both held for a three-day period.

The next most recent example of that was the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication in 2002, which spanned 4 days. There were a number of other temples that had 2 or more days for their dedications, including the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. For temples widely anticipated that would be meaningful to so many, the decision was made to hold those dedications over several days.

But it would appear that the period of 8 days set aside for the dedication of this temple is the longest such period to occur within the last 40 or 50 years. And that makes sense. For an iconic city such as Rome, that has such rich roots to most Christian faiths, it makes sense that the Church would want to extend all who want to do so the opportunity to participate in this dedication.

I have also observed recently that it will be most interesting to see how soon President Nelson shares responsibility for presiding at temple dedications with his counselors. He may opt to do so very early in his presidency, since he has asked President Ballard to preside at the private rededication for the Houston Texas Temple. So let's take a look at how long it took for previous Church presidents to share that responsibility with their counselors and (in several cases, the senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

President Spencer W. Kimball was appointed Church president in December 1973. The first time he asked one of his counselors to officiate at a dedication was with the 1981 original dedication of the Jordan River Utah Temple, at which he asked his second counselor, President Marion G. Romney, to preside. All other temples dedicated prior to President Kimball's death were dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, who served as Second Counselor in the First Presidency for most of the last 3 years of President Kimball's presidency.

President Ezra Taft Benson requested that his counselors, Presidents Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, preside at the first two temple dedications of his presidency. He himself presided over the next two, and President Hinckley presided over all of the rest of those dedications prior to President Benson's death at the end of May in 1994. Only two temples were dedicated during President Hunters brief 9-month administration, but President Hunter did ask his counselors to represent him in presiding at some of the final sessions of either or both of those.

President Hinckley became Church president in mid-March 1995, and the first temple dedication that he did not preside over was conducted by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who dedicated the Regina Saskatchewan Temple. The prophet's counselors, Presidents Monson and James E. Faust, began being assigned to those temple dedication duties in 2000. But following the dedication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple in August of the same year, President Hinckley resumed personal responsibility for presiding at temple dedications again, and he did so at all of the remaining temple dedications of his presidency.

And of course, as we know, more recently, President Monson became Church president in February 2008, and in view of the reorganization of the First Presidency the week before, President Monson had shifted the dedication of the first temple of his presidency by one week. Starting in August 2011, he shared those responsibilities with his counselors (and with senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles),  and the dedication of the Phoenix Arizona Temple and the rededication of the Ogden Utah Temple were the last such temple events at which he personally presided.

So it will be interesting indeed to see what President Nelson will opt to do in terms of how soon he opts to share such duties with his counselors. It may not be long at all. All three men in the First Presidency have had experiences presiding at temple dedications or rededications. I am particularly intrigued to see what occurs regarding the 8-day dedication for the Rome Italy Temple. Depending on how many sessions might wind up being held, I would imagine that Church leadership will rotate participating on different days.

Whatever might occur in terms of future temple dedications or rededications, you can find my analysis of such news here as I learn of it. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Updated Estimated Time-frames for Future Temple-Related Events

Hello again, everyone! As I promised to do, I have taken another look at the estimates which I have provided for future temple-related events, and I am posting those revised estimates now. There are some unknowns that may impact this list further, such as whether it is reasonable to assume that the temples will stay on track in their construction sufficiently to allow their subsequent dedications or rededications as estimated here. I continue to monitor all such developments and will be sure to pass those along as I receive them.

The estimates follow below. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Future estimates for known temple-related events

First half of 2018:
April: Full-scale construction anticipated to begin for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple
Note: A Church member in Winnipeg has confirmed that construction of this temple is anticipated to begin next month.
Sunday April 22: Houston Texas Temple Rededication (private; date has been confirmed; President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will preside at this event)
Sunday May 20: Jordan River Utah Temple Rededication/Mesa Arizona Temple Renovation Closure (both have been confirmed)
Note: Since the rededication Jordan River Utah Temple is the first public temple event of President Nelson’s administration, it seems to be a given conclusion that he will preside at this event, but it will be interesting indeed to see how soon he shares such duties with his counselors, which has seen some variation for each Church president in recent years.

Second half of 2018:
July: Hamilton New Zealand Temple Renovation Closure (confirmed; official date confirmation pending)
Sunday October 28: Concepcion Chile Temple Dedication (160th operating temple; confirmed)
Sunday December 9: Barranquilla Colombia Temple Dedication (161st operating temple; date has been officially confirmed)

Final note on 2018: I have heard that 2018 could potentially be a big year for groundbreakings of temples currently announced. With the Bangkok Thailand Temple having taken a major step forward towards its’ potential groundbreaking (as the site was announced and the architectural rendering was released on March 19, 2018), I will be watching that one. It will be interesting to see how many temples will actually have a groundbreaking during 2018, and once anything is confirmed in that regard, I will pass that along.

First half of 2019:
Mid-February: Frankfurt Germany Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late March: Memphis Tennessee Temple Rededication
Sunday March 10-Sunday March 17: Rome Italy Temple Dedication (162nd operating temple; confirmed)
Mid-April: Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late April: Kinshasa DR Congo Temple Dedication (163rd operating temple)
Early-to-mid May: Fortaleza Brazil Temple Dedication (164th operating temple)
Early-to-mid June: Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple Dedication (165th operating temple)

Second half of 2019:
Early-to-mid August: Raleigh North Carolina Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late August: Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple Rededication
Mid-September: Lisbon Portugal Temple Dedication (166th operating temple)
Mid-to-late October: Asuncion Paraguay Temple Rededication
Mid-November: Durban South Africa Temple Dedication (167th operating temple)
Mid-December: Oakland California Temple Rededication
Note: While this temple’s rededication is anticipated before the end of 2019, if its’ renovation process is delayed for any reason, then that would push its’ rededication into 2020.

Final note on 2019: As with 2018, I have heard that 2019 could potentially be another big year for temple groundbreakings. If that proves to be the case, there will be other temple-related events to add to this list for subsequent years.
                     
First half of 2020:
Mid-March: Arequipa Peru Temple Dedication (168th operating temple)
Mid-to-late April: Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple Dedication (169th operating temple)
Mid-May: Winnipeg Manitoba Temple Dedication (170th operating temple)
Early-to-mid June: Tokyo Japan Temple Rededication
Mid-September: Mesa Arizona Temple Rededicatiom
Mid-December: Washington DC Temple Rededication

2021:
Mid-to-late April: Hamilton New Zealand Temple Rededication

Final note: If, as noted above, several temples have a groundbreaking during the next two years, that in turn would necessitate adding their completion estimates to the list above. I continue to monitor all temple-related developments and will pass news of them along as I receive word of them.

Church to Close Missionary Training Centers in Spain and Chile

Hello again, everyone! In addition to the big news about the Rome Italy Temple Dedication, the Church has also announced plans to close the Missionary Training Centers in Madrid Spain and Santiago Chile, with the closures set to take effect in January of next year. The Church reports that missionaries that would have gone to these MTCs will go to one of the other 13 MTCs around the world. Church leaders will in the future make a determination on if and how to best use these facilities, which also serve other functions (such as temple patron housing and meetinghouses).

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Additional Temple Updates Provided

Hello again, everyone! While the big temple news today is the Rome Italy Temple Dedication, there have been a number of other developments for temples around the world that are worth mentioning here. So let's get right into those updates.

I wanted to note first an update on general information I have previously shared regarding the Church's temple construction efforts. Many of you long-time readers of this blog will no doubt recall my repeat mentions about my feeling that the Church could easily have 200 temples by or before April 6, 2030, which would mark the Church's bicentennial anniversary. Whether or not an official goal is made to do so, I am reasonably confident it will happen.

I say that because only 18 new temples would need to be announced and completed, along with the 23 in various phases around the world. Since that is a total of 41 temples which would need to be completed by that time, and since there are 12.02 years between today's date and that 200th anniversary (which will be marked on a Saturday), the Church would just need to dedicate roughly 3.41 temples per year between now and then.

With 2018 being a year that will see slightly less than that average (as only 2 temple dedications will occur by the end of this year), 2019 is shaping up to be full of temple dedications, and with the Rome Italy Temple dedication information announced today, it seems clear to me that 2019 will be a huge year for other dedications, and that we may see double or even triple the amount of temple dedications next year that we will see this year.

Having noted all of that, we now turn our attention to other temple news. I have become aware of a report regarding the Concepcion Chile Temple. The latest information I have is that the angel Moroni statue was officially installed today, while the traditional stone inscribed with the phrase Holiness to the Lord has also recently been put into place. Additionally, the entrance monument sign (bearing the names of both the temple and the Church) is being finalized.

Next, because the Rome Italy Temple dedication has been set for mid-March of next year, and since the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple is anticipated to be the next one dedicated after that, with the additional knowledge that the Fortaleza Brazil Temple has progressed nicely while there has not been any progress reported on the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple since I last shared an update on its' status, many sources to which I look for temple information have moved the completion estimate for this Haitian temple to mid-2019.

Also anticipated to be completed during mid-2019 is the Lisbon Portugal Temple, where recent reports show that parking lot curbing is being poured, that spire framework has been installed, and that scaffolding and netting continues to be placed around the temple's exterior.

Aside from these developments, there have been no other updates on any new temples or among those undergoing renovation. But it will be interesting to see if and how the general completion estimates off of which I base all of the more specific estimates I have provided might change for the new temples being constructed in Kinshasa and Fortaleza, and the temples undergoing renovation in Frankfurt Germany, Memphis Tennessee, and Oklahoma City Oklahoma. There may be a need to completely redo all of them. I will look into that later today, and will hope to have that reworked and published here at some point within the next two days.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Church Announces Open House & Dedication Dates for Rome Italy Temple

Hello again, everyone! As some of you might recall, in previous posts I have referenced an article from an Italian newspaper which quoted construction workers assigned to the Rome Italy Temple project as saying that they had been instructed to turn the temple back over to the Church by the end of May.

While that process is still pending, an official release from Mormon Newsroom confirms that the open house and dedication dates for this temple have been set. The open house tours will run from Monday January 28-Saturday February 16, 2019, excluding the Sundays during that time. The dedication for the Rome Italy Temple will be in several sessions over the course of roughly one week, and will be held from Sunday March 10-Sunday March 17.

As any Christian is aware, the city of Rome holds high importance to the history of Christianity, so it would make sense that dedicatory sessions will be held over the course of a week, to allow all who want to attend this historic event the chance to do so.

I didn't see in that official release anything about a cultural celebration or devotional for youth the night before the first dedicatory sessions, but this is significant news, to be sure. For my part, I will continue to monitor news about this event and will post that here as I find out about it.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

An Overview of Times When More Than One Apostle Was Called At the Same Time

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post now with a look at times when more than one apostle was called at the same time. As we know from articles in 2015, the Church had three vacancies to fill in April 1906, and George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, and David O. McKay were called. But that was an example where age did not determine the order of their ordinations, as Elder Whitney was the oldest, followed by Elder Richards, and with Elder McKay being the youngest.

The next time more than one apostle was ordained on the same day was in 1934, with Alonzo A. Hinckley and J. Reuben Clark being the ones involved. The interesting thing about that is that Clark had been serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, and apparently President Heber J. Grant felt it would be wise for President Clark to have apostolic seniority established.

9 years after that (in 1943), Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson were ordained, becoming the first apostles ordained on the same day who would both go on to serve as Church president.

It would not be until 1984 that two apostles would be called at the same time, and only then-Elder Nelson was able to be ordained during the week following. Less than a month after that, then-Elder Oaks was ordained after completing his judicial obligations.

The Church would not call two apostles again until October 2004, when Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar were ordained on the same day, with Elder Uchtdorf being the oldest and the first ordained. And more recently, we saw in October 2015 that Elders Rasband, Stevenson and Renlund were called. The three in order of their ages were Elders Rasband, Renlund, and Stevenson.

And, as noted previously, this weekend will be the first time in Church history (unless I missed something) where a Solemn Assembly will be held in which two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are ordained. It is likely that the oldest of the two will be more senior. It will be interesting to see what happens in that regard. It is interesting that the last time apostles were called, there was more than one, and that this is true again now.

Depending on the ages of the two newest apostles, there may be a possibility that one of them could go on to serve as Church president. Hope this information is helpful to at least a few of you who read it. And unless I am mistaken, since none of the apostles are having age- or health-related difficulties, we may see this Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serve together for a number of years before another
 of their number passes away.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

2017 Report for LDS Charities (Including Humanitarian Efforts)

Hello again, everyone! Early this morning, I had read a comment on another blog in which someone had said that they wished we knew more about the labor provided by Church Service Missionaries. I just located this report which is from LDS Charities, who manage such efforts. And I cannot be sure, but if memory serves, I have never seen the Church release such a report. If this is the first time that it has been released, it would make sense that the Church is doing so now in order to be more transparent. So I hope this information is helpful to you all.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Updates Reported on the Renovation Process for the Frankfurt Germany and Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temples

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post again now to pass along some updates of which I have become aware regarding the renovation process for the temples in Frankfurt Germany and Oklahoma City Oklahoma. For the former, I found out that insulation has been added to the concrete of the basement addition. Regarding the latter, exterior pilasters are being framed while waterproofing continues on the exterior walls and plumbing and electrical systems are being roughed in.

It continues to amaze me how, even in the course of a single day, so many temple developments such as this can be reported. I continue to monitor all such developments and will do my level best to pass those along to you as I receive them. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Some Final Observations Leading Into General Conference This Weekend--Part Two: Some Additional Observations About the Apostolic Vacancies

Hello again, everyone! When I posted a day or two ago my final observations about this General Conference, I had not intended to do a second part to that post. But in view of some additional thoughts which I had about the apostolic vacancies, I thought it would be wise to share those in this second part. So let's get right into all of that.

First of all, let's talk some more about the apostolic vacancies. Of the 13 apostles currently serving, only 3 were not serving as General Authorities at the time of their calls to the apostleship. Those three were Russell M. Nelson (although if memory serves, he was a regional representative at the time of his call), Dallin H. Oaks, and David A. Bednar (who was among the first area seventies sustained in 1997, and was still serving as an area seventy at the time of his call to the apostleship).

So the other 10 apostles had all been serving as General Authorities prior to their calls to the apostleship. Of those 10, 6 had been serving in the Presidency of the Seventy (Ballard, Uchtdorf, Cook, Christofferson, Andersen and Rasband), 3 others (Holland, Eyring, and Renlund) had been serving as General Authority Seventies (although Eyring had previously served in the Presiding Bishopric), and 1 (Stevenson) was serving as Presiding Bishop of the Church, although he had served as a General Authority Seventy prior to that.

Let me take this a few steps further. From October 2007 (with the call of Elder Cook) to the calls of the three newest apostles eight years later, all apostles that have been called have been serving among the general authorities of the Church for several years, with Elder Renlund being the newest General Authority among the current bunch, as he was called to general Church service in April 2009. 

So I would anticipate that, barring anything unexpected, the two apostles called during this General Conference will have a minimum of 6 years of service as General Authorities. It is not in any way out of the question that President Nelson could call two men with less than 6 years serving in general Church leadership, nor would it surprise me if he looked among the area seventies or lay membership, but it seems unlikely.

Next, we turn to the subject of age. Among the current 13 apostles, Elder Cook was the oldest at the time of his October 2007 call, at age 67, with then-Elder Oaks being the youngest, as he was 51 when called in 1984. The other 11 were all between their early 50s and mid-60s. So while either or both of the new apostles could be older than that range, I think it would be safe to assume they will be on the younger side, even if they are not the youngest called in recent years.

Having considered the above, we next move on to what President Nelson and his counselors said during the press conference, that while the Lord is not concerned with quotas, and while there will come a day when there are "more flavors in the mix", the apostles are called to represent the Lord's will to the people, not to represent the people to the Lord. For that reason, while I would love to see one or both apostles called from among those born outside the US, I will not in any way be surprised if one or both apostles that are called were born in the US.

In fact, it has often struck me that perhaps the Lord keeps inspiring the calls of US-born apostles as a way to test whether the worldwide Church membership will sustain those He calls, rather than declining to do so because "the face of Church leadership at the top levels does not reflect the diversity within the Church."

For those who have gained a testimony of the process by which such calls come, even if the new apostles are men that have not been the subject of discussion about who could fill those vacancies, the testimony that the Lord directs those calls should enable all of us to gladly sustain whomever He has called.

So while there have been some patterns in recent years in terms of the age, nationality, and time spent in general Church leadership, for those who have obtained a witness that such calls are divinely directed, they will not be disappointed or surprised by whomever is called. Since I have obtained such a witness for myself, I am prepared to sustained whomever has been called, even and especially if they are not on the list of names which I published on this blog earlier.

Hope this information has been helpful to you. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Renovation Efforts Formally Underway for Tokyo Japan Temple

Hello again, everyone. I am back in the early morning hours of March 28 to note some exciting news: I have received a report that indicates the renovation process is formally underway for the Tokyo Japan Temple.

As some of you might recall, nearly one year ago, on April 11, 2017, the Church had announced the closure of that temple in addition to the renovation closures for the Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Asuncion  temples. The Tokyo Temple had officially closed for its' renovation process over the same weekend that the October 2017 General Conference was held.

In the almost six months since that time, there has been no word whatsoever in terms of any progress on that process. That all changed at some point between when I last checked for such updates and now.

The update shows that the annex building has been razed and that the surface parking has been removed. With that in mind, I can definitely see why the Church indicated in the official announcement of this temple's closure that this temple will reopen sometime in 2020.

Since it is a comparatively smaller temple, I would anticipate that it will likely be rededicated during the first half of 2020. Stay tuned for more updates on this process as I learn of them. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Specific Schedule for General Conference Notes a Slight Change/Revised Thoughts About the Women's Session

Hello again, everyone! I should perhaps have remembered to lump the reason for this post in with the previous post in which I discussed some final observations about General Conference, but having forgotten to do so, it seemed wiser to do a new post instead.

As some of you might recall, in an earlier post I published this month, I had mentioned my theory that, since TV and radio stations carrying General Conference would need a similar amount of time Saturday evening to carry the Priesthood Session in April and the Women's Session in October, it made the most sense to me to  conjecture that the easiest course would be for the Church  to run both sessions from 6:00-7:45 PM.

In recognition of how we are often reminded that the Lord's ways and thoughts are higher than ours, the Church's official schedule for this weekend indicates that the Priesthood Session will run from 6:00-7:30 this Saturday night, which I assume will also extend to the Women's Session in October. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

But in that regard, I do have an interesting new theory. I had previously mentioned my original theory that the Women's Session would make October different from April perhaps only in that the members of the First Presidency not speaking in the Women's Session would merely have one less talk than they would in the April General Conference.

I now believe that it might make the most sense for the Women's Session to include one member from each auxiliary, as has been done, but that it will also include the president of the Church and one of his two counselors.

If that does occur, that would mean that the members of the Quorum of the Twelve would have a somewhat different speaking pattern in October than they do in April. As a sample of what that might look like, I present the following information:

The typical General Conference up to now has included 2 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking in both the Saturday and Sunday Morning Sessions of General Conference, with 4 more in the Saturday Afternoon, 3 on Sunday Afternoon, and 1 in the Priesthood Session.

So I could see two ways around that if it turns out that no apostles will speak in the Women's Session. The number of apostles speaking during either Saturday or Sunday Morning or Sunday Afternoon could increase by 1.

We have seen a few occasions where there have been three members of the Quorum of the Twelve speaking during the Saturday Morning Session (this happened as recently as last October), and we have had at least one occasion (in October 2007) when four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke during the Sunday Afternoon Session. To my knowledge, except in October 2004 or October 2015 (when two or three new apostles spoke for the first time), there have generally never been more than two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking during the Sunday Morning Session.

So, I can see President Nelson either having three Quorum members speak during the Saturday Morning Session next October or else having 4 Quorum members address us during the final session of General Conference. Of the two, the first option seems more likely.

And I am certainly not ruling out the possibility that perhaps I was right in my original thinking, and that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve might be asked to speak during the Women's Session alongside whichever member of the First Presidency is doing so. Of course, if that turns out to be the case, then perhaps President Nelson might ask his other counselor to speak in one of the spots that have been traditionally reserved for the Church president.

We saw that occur during the last three years of President Monson's presidency, when one of his two counselors would open the Saturday Morning Session, and where a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has given the final General Conference address. At this point, the only sure thing is that we cannot be sure exactly how October General Conferences might differ from typical patterns until one or two of them establish new patterns.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Some Final Observations Leading Into General Conference This Weekend

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post to pass along some final observations prior to this weekend's General Conference. First, as I noted a month or two ago when posting my altered predictions following President Monson's death and the reorganization of the First Presidency, the Solemn Assembly for the last three Church presidents (Hunter, Hinckley, and Monson) was held right off the bat during the Saturday Morning Session. I don't anticipate that changing, but will be more than happy to see it occur whenever it takes place.

Second, slightly connected to the first,as noted, from Presidents Kimball to Hinckley, the Solemn Assembly in which they were sustained was conducted by their First Counselors. The main reason that then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was asked to lead out for President Monson's Solemn Assembly appeared to be simply because President Eyring had injured his ankle prior to General Conference and was thus apparently not well enough to stand for that entire process.

With that in mind, it seems more likely than not that President Nelson will call on his apostolic seatmate, President Oaks, who now serves as his First Counselor, to lead out in that Solemn Assembly. Some may contend that, since President Eyring has comparatively been in the First Presidency longer, he might be tapped to lead the Solemn Assembly, but this will only be the third Solemn Assembly in which President Eyring has been an apostle, and, by comparison, this is the fourth Solemn Assembly in which President Oaks has been among the leading counsels of the Church. But the prevailing reason why I have felt confident enough to suggest President Oaks will lead this Solemn Assembly is the longtime relationship he has with our new Church president, which, to me, trumps any other consideration.

Moving on now, whenever the Solemn Assembly does occur, it will involve the announcement and sustaining of two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. While President Nelson is free to call any two worthy men the Lord inspires him to name, I would anticipate that, regardless of whether either or both were born outside the US, they will likely be between their early 50s or mid-60s, and will likely have at least 6 years of experience in general Church leadership.

And in whatever capacity these two newest apostles may currently be serving, their calls will, in turn, make other Church leadership changes necessary. With those vacancies filled, I would anticipate we will hear from 2 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during both the Saturday Morning and Sunday Afternoon Sessions, with 3 others speaking during Saturday Afternoon, 1 more in the Saturday evening Priesthood Session, and 2 veteran apostles along with the 2 new ones during the Sunday Morning Session.

Unless they are called to the Twelve, I have also offered my thoughts about the 2 members of the Presidency of the Seventy and the member of the Presiding Bishopric that will likely speak to us, along with several General Authority Seventies (particularly Elder Massimo De Feo, who, unless I have missed him doing so, has not yet given his first address since his April 2016 call to the Seventy). And it would not in any way surprise me if one or two of the speakers I have listed on my predictions for this General Conference were called to the Twelve and spoke in that capacity rather than their current callings. As those who have been regular readers might recall, in sharing my October 2015 General Conference predictions, I had Elder Ronald A. Rasband and then-Bishop Gary E. Stevenson both listed as speaking during the Priesthood Session. Their calls to the Twelve obviously meant that they both spoke in the Sunday  Morning Session rather than the night before. So I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that the new apostles may be among the speakers I have listed in my predictions for this weekend. It will be interesting to see.

I would also anticipate that several new General Authorities will be called as well. And I would likewise anticipate that we will only hear three addresses from general auxiliary presidency members. The only reason why we heard from four members of those presidencies last time is because the absence of President Monson and Elder Hales left additional time to fill. That will obviously not be a factor for our new Church president or any of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles this go-round, unless I am missing something.

And perhaps what most people are looking forward to the most is the prospect of new temple announcements. As I have noted in other recent posts on this blog, after the announcement of 5 new temples during the April 2017 General Conference, an Idaho news organization interviewed Elder Larry Y. Wilson, who serves as the Executive Director of the Church's Tefmple Department. During that interview, he had noted that the Church was considering a list of 80 potential future locations for an official announcement during the 15 years following the time that statement was made. That worked out to roughly 5 new temples per year between late April 2017 and late April 2032.

While I have not been able to officially confirm this, it seems safe to assume that the one and only reason that no new temples were announced last October was because President Monson's health did not allow him to ascertain the Lord's will on that subject, which meant he could not authorize such locations to be announced by either of his counselors.

Given the fact that it has been nearly a year since Elder Wilson referenced the 80 locations that were being considered for the 15 years following, that means there are just over 14 years remaining for that to occur. And while bearing in mind that it is likely that not all of those 80 locations may be selected as official during that time, if anywhere close to those 80 are announced between now and late April 2032, with 14 years in which such announcements might occur, that works out to roughly 5 or 6 per year, which in turn means 2-3 could be announced per General Conference between now and then, with a few here and there between each April, October, and subsequent April.

Before I go further on this subject, I do need to acknowledge the merits in the arguments some have offered to the effect that, in preparing for his first General Conference as Church president, filling the apostolic vacancies, and making any other necessary changes in Church leadership, there may not be any new temples announced this go-round.

That said, because President Nelson began right off the bat to indicate how much of a priority his administration will place on temple preparation, worthiness, and availability to Church members worldwide, it would surprise me a lot if no new temples were announced in this first General Conference, especially since President Nelson is more vigorous right now at 93 than President Monson may have been during the last 5-7 years of his life.

And, as noted previously, the length of time that passed between President Monson's February 3 ordination in 2008 and the first temple announcements of his presidency in late April of that same year is only slightly longer than the amount of time that will have passed between President Nelson's ordination on January 14 of this year and Easter Sunday (April 1), which would likely be when President Nelson would make such announcements.

So when we factor all of these elements into the equation, and add to that that although President Nelson has not yet served as Church president for a quarter of a year (he will reach the 3-month mark on April 14), there have already been four temple developments in his presidency (the closure of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, which was announced a mere 5 days after his ordination; the announcement of the open house and dedication dates for the temples in Concepcion Chile and Barranquilla Colombia almost one month ago today, and the more recent news on March 19 of the site location and artistic rendering for the Bangkok Thailand Temple and the news just three days ago that full-scale construction is anticipated to begin for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple next month), I feel reasonably safe in assuming that he will be announcing new temples this weekend.

The unknowns are how many such locations might be announced, and when that is likely to occur. I have previously offered my opinion that his first General Conference address as Church president will likely be given during the Priesthood Session on Saturday night, with his first General Conference address to the Church at large following the next morning. If that proves to be the case, then that address or an address to close out the conference may be the opportunity to do so. But since Presidents Hunter, Benson, and Kimball all gave their first General Conference addresses to the whole Church either just after or (in President Benson's case) well before thier respective Solemn Assemblies, anything is possible.

There has been a general pattern to the first General Conferences of a new Church president since 1995, but that does not mean that those patterns could not be varied. This conference will be different from any recent first General Conferences of previous Church presidents if only in view of the fact  that it has been a while (if it has ever occurred at all) since a Church president's first General Conference also saw the calling of more than one member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

I am sure there will be many wonderful surprises in store this weekend, and I will look forward to sharing them with you all as they occur. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.


Apology and Personal Update

Hello again, everyone! As this post title indicates, I have felt a need to share a personal update and to issue a general apology. I want to first explain some personal circumstances I have had to which I have previously alluded, but the details of which I have not shared here.

The best way I can describe things is to note that, in November, I had learned that my insurance would no longer cover one of my major medications, and the four months since then have involved my doctor approving a slight increase in another of my medications to compensate for this loss, only for my wife and I to find out that my insurance needed additional information from both my doctor and myself before they would cover the increase of the other medication.

So within the last four months, in addition to the general illnesses with which my wife and I are still struggling, I have had to spend a lot of time every week for at least three days per week doing everything of which I could think to get this situation figured out.

When not trying to settle that fiasco, I have continued to use my enthusiasm for Church and temple news to pass along the updates I have done within that same time. And I have also worked as I can on looking into increasing the number of views and comments on this blog and the amount I am able to earn from it. As part of that process, I have focused some efforts into increasing my blog's visibility in Google search results within the nations from which most of my page views come.

That brings me to my reason for wanting to apologize. I have been very gratified to see the number of views and comments increase on my blog during this time, in addition to seeing an increase, however slight, in my blog earnings as a result of my efforts to expand the reach of my blog.

But I am ashamed to realize that there have been a number of times within the last few months while all of this has been going on that my frustrations over the stress of this situation may have boiled over into my response to comments made here, and for that, I apologize to you all.

I am very much grateful to all who have been gracious enough to comment up to now, and I hope you will all continue to let me know your thoughts going forward. The conversations here make my day more often than not, and I appreciate the ongoing dialogue regarding those things about which I have "sounded off".

But I worry that I don't do as well as I should in showing the genuine appreciation I have for such insights, and I would like to commit here and now to doing that to a larger and more full extent going forward. Together with you, I hope to continue to celebrate all the wonderful Church and temple news that will occur for several years to come.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Monday, March 26, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: First Presidency Provides Letter with Updated Guidelines for Recognizing and Reporting Abuse

Hello again, everyone! In a letter dated earlier today that was published on Mormon Newsroom, and in the wake of the earlier report about missionaries abused by an MTC president, the First Presidency provided updated guidelines and resources for leaders to utilize in preventing abuse and responding to reports of such actions. You can find those resources here.

I am grateful that this is yet another example of how our new First Presidency is committed right out of the gate to tackle the issues facing members and leaders worldwide with tact, understanding, sympathy, and sensitivity. And I feel equally certain that General Conference addresses they, the apostles, and other leaders give this weekend will continue the trend of tackling the tough issues.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Temple Construction Updates

Hello again, everyone! Late yesterday night, some new temple updates came to my attention. But I was not able to pass those along before now. It is time to remedy that by reporting those developments.

First of all, it may interest some of you to know that the amount of time between today and the Church's 200th anniversary has now reached 12.03 years. So if the Church were to dedicate roughly 3.41 temples each year before now and then, there would easily be 200 temples in operation by that day.

The Church has, of course, announced 2 dedications will occur later this year. And the major temple update for this post relates to the Barranquilla Colombia Temple, where more trees and plants have been added to temple grounds and perimeter gardens, and where the exterior work on the housing facility is almost complete.

At the moment, the Rome Italy Temple may be dedicated either later this year or in the early part of next year. As I have mentioned, if anything happens to delay this temple being returned to the Church (which is currently anticipated to occur by the end of May), then a dedication of that temple might not happen until early next year. Until we know otherwise, I prefer to be optimistic.

And even though that means this year will be somewhat on the lower side of dedicated temples (with only 2 or 3 anticipated before the end of this year), there will be at least 5 dedicated next year. In light of the news a few days ago that full-scale construction is anticipated to begin in Winnipeg within the next month, if we assume that the modified plans will not impact the 20-month estimate for the construction process on that temple, then it is likely that construction could conclude for this temple before the end of next year, with the dedication following in early 2020.

And if, as I have mentioned, several announced temples have a groundbreaking within the next year or two, there will be many other temples that could be dedicated during 2020 and the years following. There are several locations I am keeping my eyes on for a groundbreaking in the not-too-distant future, and as soon as anything official is announced in that regard, I will pass it along here.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Note on the Latest Apostolic Statistics

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may recall, I last passed along the latest apostolic statistics on Sunday February 11 (six weeks ago today). While that would ordinarily lead me to do so again today, there are two factors that have dissuaded me from doing so. The first is that I had some computer issues that have resulted in such data being inaccessible  to me, which, though unfortunate, is not too devastating, as I found backup copies on other devices and on the websites to which I have posted them. But since they are backup copies, some of those files are outdated anyways, which I continue to work on bringing up-to-date.

The second is the fact that, because General Conference will be next weekend, two new apostles will be called, and barring anything unexpected, I would anticipate that those called would be in their early 50s-mid 60s. So in addition to updating my personal files that keep that data within the next week, I will be adding those newest apostles to my next report, and I would anticipate that those called will likely bring down the average of both the Quorum of the Twelve and the 15 apostles as a group.

I just wanted to note this for any who may wonder why I have not posted such an update recently. But stay tuned over General Conference weekend, when, barring anything unexpected, I will be able to get the latest statistics published here. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Case Study: Will President Nelson's "Old Friend of China" Status Help the Gospel spread there?

Hello again, everyone! As some of you may recall, President Nelson was a regional representative when he heard the 12th Church President, Spencer W. Kimball, talk about how vital it was that some leaders present learn Chinese.

Taking this invitation as a prophetic directive to him personally, President Nelson did learn Chinese, which helped to greatly expand the reputation of the Church and of President Nelson in the eyes of prominent Chinese leaders and citizens. Later on, as an apostle, President Nelson was given the designated title "Friend of China" because they were so impressed with him.

As some of you may also know, around 15 or so years ago, there was a popular Mormon myth going around that certain individuals had been called to serve 3-year missions in China, which was shortly after debunked. As a teen who knew a lot about the Church, I was one who at times found myself facing the question of this myth's truth from many people who knew I would know the answer.

And I recall distinctly that not long after that, the Church officially noted that this "development" was a myth, and reiterated the fact that, until it was the Lord's will and would be allowed by the government, no such  efforts would be made.

Just over two months ago, the "old friend of China" became our Church president. which brings up an interesting question: Would the fact that President Nelson is the senior apostle now potentially result in the Church's ability to expand into China? Naturally, that would depend on when the Lord willed it to be so, if the current Chinese government would recognize our prophet as a friend of China, and if negotiations with the Chinese government yielded that result.

But it is intriguing to think about. As a new apostle in 1984 or '85, he was given permission to perform one last heart surgery on a Chinese opera star, for which he had been specially requested. I honestly don't know how much opportunity he might have had to continue to foster relations with the Chinese. With that said, I can definitely see how his new calling as Church president might be the tipping point to allow a change in how the Church is viewed by China. I will for sure be keeping my eyes open for any news on that.

The fact that one of the stops while he is in Asia will be in Hong Kong indicates to me that he may be in a unique position to enable progress that we have not seen in this regard up to now. I'm sure we all remember how, shortly after President Monson's call to the First Presidency, he went with an apostle (I believe that was then-Elder Nelson, if memory serves) to talk to German leaders about the prospect of missionary work and even a temple behind the Iron Curtain.

President Monson's requests in this regard were granted because those leaders saw that he had been a true friend to the people of Germany, and they believed that if he felt strongly about such a subject, that was enough for them to grant his request. Perhaps with President Nelson now the top Church leader, the walls that have kept the Church from making real progress in that nation might be similarly broken down.

It would not in any way surprise me to learn that this is one of many reasons why President Nelson is now the Church president. If I have learned anything about the Church, it is that the Lord knows what He is doing in leadership transitions, and that at the right time, with the right people involved, such barriers to the spread of the gospel in various nations have been broken down. My prayer is that this will prove true for China now.

But that's just my take on this matter, which I wanted to share with you all. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Changes Made to Frankfurt Germany Completion Estimate

Hello again, everyone! I am back with more temple news. Apparently at some point today, new information came in to many of the sources to which I look for such updates that points to the idea that, instead of being completed at a yet-to-be-determined time-frame during 2019, the Frankfurt Germany Temple is now more specifically anticipated to be rededicated in early-to-mid 2019.

Between this development and those I reported earlier, it is clear that I will need to take yet another look at all of the completion estimates which I have offered here and perhaps revisit many of them. But there is nothing so constant as change, so that's to be expected. I will have the revised estimates put up on this blog ASAP.

In the meantime, I am going to make a prediction right here and now. During the administrations of Presidents Hinckley and Monson, there were a number of instances where a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at a temple dedication or rededication. With that in mind, I am thinking that President Nelson will not hesitate to ask Elder Uchtdorf, who has officiated at such events previously and is a German native, to officiate at this rededication.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Progress Reported on the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple; Full-scale construction for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple to Begin Next Month

Hello again, everyone! I am pleased to be able to bring you all a status update on construction efforts for the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple. Before doing so, however, I have discovered from a few of my sources for temple updates that there has been big news for Winnipeg, where construction is anticipated to be fully underway at some point during April.

As many of you are no doubt aware, the groundbreaking for that temple was announced 2.5 weeks prior to being held, so that was a quick turnaround. But construction was first delayed for four months due to the very harsh Canadian winter conditions last year. Once those cleared, the governmental leaders apparently raised some concerns about the site plans, which had to be modified.

And by the time that hurdle was cleared, winter had returned to Winnipeg for this year. Since the winter season this year here in Utah has been unusually mild and dry, whether or not that was the case for Winnipeg this year (which I do not know for sure), apparently all obstacles have cleared, so full-scale efforts can begin there at some point next month.

Still no word on if or how the modified plans will affect the 20-month estimate that was originally provided for this temple's completion, but I am hoping it may turn out to be another Port-au-Prince in the sense that construction will be fast whenever it does start, in which case it may be able to be dedicated in either late 2019 or early 2020. Stay tuned for more on that as I become aware of it.

In the meantime, we turn our attention now to the progress on the temple in Kinshasa. In my last update on that temple (which was posted on March 1), I had noted that roof shingling continued, the driveway and parking areas had been outlined, and where stone and tile work were underway inside the temple.

New information provided today indicates that, while the installation of interior stone and tile continues, palm trees have been planted around the temple grounds. This progress is significant, but I don't currently see anything changing my recently expressed opinion that the dedication of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple and the rededications of the Memphis Tennessee & Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temples may all precede this temple's dedication.

But I continue to monitor all such developments and will also continue to post those here as I become aware of them. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Church News Releases Article Explaining the Principle of Common Consent Prior to the Solemn Assembly

Hello again, everyone! I just wanted to post to pass along this article from the Church News, which sets in context recent teachings of Church leaders regarding what it means to sustain our 13 (soon to be 15 again) in their callings as prophets, seers, and revelators. Among other highlights, it mentions that, as we know, the President of the Church is the only one recognized and sustained to receive revelation for the Church as a whole, although we have also had affirmations that the words of the other apostles likewise constitutes the word of the Lord.

There has seemed to be a mistaken idea put forth by certain individuals that this process is a "vote" and that, if they choose, they are free to vocalize their refusal to sustain the Brethren. There are also those that seem to be under the impression that if they pester the Brethren enough on certain subjects, that will somehow sway them to consider changing Church doctrine and policy.

But both are categorical falsehoods. The Lord has also said that those who refuse to sustain those He has put into place, and who refuse to accept the will of the Lord as expressed by the apostles will one day be held accountable before Him for rejecting those He has called, sustained, and ordained through His prophets and apostles.

So with these ideas in mind, I want to unequivocally testify that I know that the 13 current apostles and the other two that will likely be called within the next week are those the Lord needs in those positions at this time. Whenever there has been a vacancy in the Church presidency or the apostleship, as far back as I can remember, I have prayed in advance to know that whomever was called were the individuals the Lord wanted in those positions at that time.

And each time, as soon as the calls were announced, whether or not it was something I had personally suggested or considered, I have gained the instant confirmation that those calls to those individuals have come from the Lord.

As perhaps a few of you may be aware, I was honored sometime after last General Conference to discover that my thoughts on who might fill the apostolic vacancy were themselves a focus of a post on the Mormon Light blog. Despite my protests to the contrary, the most recent version of that article billed those thoughts as "mere speculation, but [something of which it was] wise to be aware of some of the possibilities".

So I want to clear that point up right now. I never have and never will condone the idea of speculation, and I am just as fully willing to sustain any two Brethren to the apostolic call that may not be on my list as I would be to sustain and support the calls of either or both apostles that did make my list.

This is because I do have that witness, that such calls are divinely directed. President Nelson has been or will be led to the identity of the two men that should be called to the apostleship. And as the Church News article mentioned, although any two Brethren could be called to that assignment at any time, if either or both of those Brethren are not necessarily who anyone expects, that does not mean that any others who may have made the list of anyone else is any less worthy of the calling.

For that reason, I share my absolute conviction that I know the Lord has prepared the Brethren who will be called to the apostleship in just about a week. And there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that He will confirm again to me that those who are called were divinely appointed to join the ranks of the apostleship at this time.

Our current and past apostles and prophets have willingly given up any claim to prestige, acclaim, or success in their professional lives to serve a cause higher than themselves, and what will be said by them next weekend will truly represent the word of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the mind of the Lord, and the power of God unto our salvation.

I know that because I have sought to obtain and have received such a witness, which has sweetly been reiterated to me any time I have asked for such a reconfirmation. My hope and prayer is that all who read these words either have that witness or, if they do not, they will do that which is necessary to obtain such a witness for themselves, and I share these thoughts in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen,

Progress Noted on Concepcion Chile Temple/Church Releases Details of President Nelson's Multi-Continental Tour

Hello again, everyone! Late yesterday, a significant development was reported on the Concepcion Chile Temple, but I was unable to post about it then due to an extensive health issue I am trying to resolve. Nothing too worrisome, just something that demanded my attention more than this blog. So this post will report on those developments. I was also able to find some details on President Nelson's world tour which I will pass along as well.

First, I am pleased to be able to report that at the Concepcion Chile Temple, the cupola has been attached to the steeple wall. If I am understanding this correctly, this temple had previously had a placeholder on top while construction continued elsewhere, and now the permanent fixture has been placed. The next step will likely be topping the temple with the angel Moroni statue.

In the meantime, we turn our attention to the details of President Nelson's world tour. The visits will include meetings with missionaries and members and "other visits", which I interpreted to mean that perhaps looking at present or future temple sites might be involved. The official stops noted on the itinerary include London, England; Jerusalem Israel; Nairobi Kenya; Harare Zimbabwe; Bengaluru India; Bangkok Thailand; Hong Kong China; and will finish up in Honolulu Hawaii.

It does intrigue me that three of the stops on his itinerary are locations that have had temples announced, and that of those three, the artist's rendering was recently released for the temple in Bangkok, and that a groundbreaking had been anticipated in Harare in short order last year but had not taken place.

Let me be clear: I am not in any way trying to imply that I anticipate President Nelson will break ground for either or both of those temples while he is there. Until that is officially confirmed or denied, that may or may not be possible. What I am saying is that I do not find it coincidental that three of the stops on his itinerary are at cities that will someday be home to three new temples of the Church, however soon that might occur.

Having given the general locations of that tour, for specifics, I refer you to this release from Mormon Newsroom. And you can be sure I will continue to keep my eyes open for any additional Church or temple news and pass that along as I hear about it.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Updated Future Estimates for Known Temple Events

Hello again, everyone! As I promised to do, I have taken another look at the estimates I have previously provided for future temple events that are currently anticipated. Based on that additional research, I have made those changes that I have felt would be appropriate. So as to absolve myself of any trouble, I should throw out a disclaimer: I do not in any way have access to inside information that would prove the merit of the information below. 

What I have done is to use my knowledge of the progress (or lack thereof) on new temples and others undergoing renovation to gauge how close each might be to a dedication, then used any other facts I could find (including estimates mentioned by others whose opinions I greatly respect, information about climate-related concerns that might alter such estimates further, and even a few newspaper articles from well-respected publications covering progress on such projects on a local level).

The estimates below represent my best efforts to figure out how reasonable a suggested time-frame might be, and they follow below. That does it for this post. Any and all 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 be with and bless you all in everything you do.

Future estimates for known temple-related events

First half of 2018:
April or May: Full-scale construction anticipated to begin for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple
Note: This temple, which had a groundbreaking in December 2016, has been stalled in the approval process, which necessitated a plan modification. So I fully anticipate that, once winter 2018 clears Canada, construction will begin soon afterward.
Sunday April 22: Houston Texas Temple Rededication (private; date has been confirmed; President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will preside at this event)
Sunday May 20: Jordan River Utah Temple Rededication/Mesa Arizona Temple Renovation Closure (both have been confirmed)
Note: Since the rededication Jordan River Utah Temple is the first public temple event of President Nelson’s administration, it seems to be a given conclusion that he will preside at this event, but it will be interesting indeed to see how soon he shares such duties with his counselors, which has seen some variation for each Church president in recent years.

Second half of 2018:
July: Hamilton New Zealand Temple Renovation Closure (confirmed; official date confirmation pending)
Sunday October 28: Concepcion Chile Temple Dedication (160th operating temple; confirmed)
Sunday November 18 or December 16: Rome Italy Temple Dedication (which would, if confirmed, make this temple the 161st or 162nd operating temple of the Church)
Note: In a recent Italian newspaper article, (if I interpreted the translation correctly), a construction worker assigned to this project indicated that Church leaders had set a date near the end of May by which the project would be turned back over to them. If that occurs on schedule, then I could easily see the dedication scheduled for one of these two dates. That said, because this temple has had other delays in its construction process up to this point, if those delays continue, that would push back the estimated timeline for this event.
Sunday December 9: Barranquilla Colombia Temple Dedication (161st or 162nd operating temple; date has been officially confirmed)
Note: With this temple’s dedication date confirmed, the one questions, as noted above, is whether or not the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple will be able to occur in late 2018. Until that is officially confirmed or denied, the numbering for this temple is tentative.

Final note on 2018: If the Rome Italy Temple dedication is delayed at all, that may push other events in subsequent years back as well. I have also heard that 2018 could potentially be a big year for groundbreakings of temples currently announced. With the Bangkok Thailand Temple having taken a major step forward towards its’ potential groundbreaking (as the site was announced and the architectural rendering was released on March 19, 2018), I will be watching that one. And with President Nelson set to tour Africa, Asia, and Europe, there may be a possibility that he could break ground for one or more of the announced temples that might be ready for that while he is there. I continue to keep my eyes open for anything official and will be sure to post such news as I receive it.

First half of 2019:
Mid-February: Fortaleza Brazil Temple Dedication (163rd operating temple)
Note: My main rationale for moving this temple up to this spot on this list is in the fact that, as of today, that temple has a similar status to that of the Concepcion and Barranquilla Temples, meaning it may be far enough along to be dedicated sooner than anticipated. I will keep my eyes open for information that could change my mind again, but for now, the rationale to move it up seems sound.
Mid-to-late March: Memphis Tennessee Temple Rededication
Mid-April: Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple Rededication
Early-to-mid May: Kinshasa DR Congo Temple Dedication (164th operating temple)
Mid-to-late May: Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple Dedication (165th operating temple)
Early-to-mid June: Raleigh North Carolina Temple Rededication

Second half of 2019:
Early-to-mid August: Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple Rededication
Mid-to-late August: Lisbon Portugal Temple Dedication (166th operating temple)
Mid-September: Frankfurt Germany Temple Rededication
Note: While I would hope that the Saints served by the Frankfurt Temple, which has been closed since 2015, will not have to wait this long to have their temple operating again, at the same time, this temple has had numerous delays, while its’ US counterparts that have closed for renovation more recently have made much more substantial progress. If and when I see anything that would necessitate shifting this estimate again, I will do so.
Mid-to-late October: Durban South Africa Temple Dedication (167th operating temple)
Mid-November: Asuncion Paraguay Temple Rededication
Note: While this temple was the second one to close for renovation in 2017, it has not progressed beyond the securing of building permits. For that reason, while I hope to be able to move this estimate up once full-scale efforts are reported, for now, it has felt wise to be more conservative.
Mid-December: Oakland California Temple Rededication
Note: This temple closed for renovation on February 19, 2018 and the renovation process was officially underway as of February 28, 2018. When its’ closure was announced by the First Presidency, the announcement indicated that this temple would be rededicated in 2019. That said, it is an older temple, and if anything delays or prolongs that process, another adjustment to this estimate would be necessary.

Final note on 2019: As with 2018, I have heard that 2019 could potentially be another big year for temple groundbreakings. If that proves to be the case, there will be other temple-related events to add to this list for subsequent years.
                       
First half of 2020:
Mid-March: Arequipa Peru Temple Dedication (168th operating temple)
Mid-to-late April: Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple Dedication (169th operating temple)
Mid-May: Winnipeg Manitoba Temple Dedication (170th operating temple)
Note: This estimate will only prove justified if, as widely anticipated, full-scale construction begins for this temple in April or May 2018. If that process is delayed for any further reasons, or if the 20-month construction estimate no longer applies, any subsequent adjustments that may be needed will be made.
Early-to-mid June: Tokyo Japan Temple Rededication
Note: While I previously noted that, because this temple is considerably smaller than others, the renovation would likely be concluded in early 2020, not much progress has been reported since the temple closed on October 2 of last year, which I have felt is sufficient reason to push this estimate back. If such progress is reported in the near future, I will be sure to change this estimate again.
Mid-September: Mesa Arizona Temple Rededicatiom
Mid-December: Washington DC Temple Rededication

2021:
Mid-to-late April: Hamilton New Zealand Temple Rededication


Final note: If, as noted above, several temples have a groundbreaking during the next two years, that in turn would necessitate adding their completion estimates to the list above. I continue to monitor all temple-related developments and will pass news of them along as I receive word of them.



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Significant Update Noted on the Raleigh North Carolina Renovation Process

Hello again, everyone! I was made aware earlier today of a significant update that has been noted on the renovation process for the Raleigh North Carolina Temple, but this is the first opportunity I have had to report it officially on this blog. The new update indicates that the roof line has been raised for the altered exterior shell, and that the temple's exterior (including the roof line) has been sprayed with mold-resistant coating.

With the last update on the status of that temple reported on this blog on February 26 of this year, this update is a clear indicator that work is moving along at a very steady pace. With that in mind, not only does a general completion estimate for mid-2019 make sense, but it seems clear that, with the sheer amount of progress made on this temple's renovation since its' official closure on January 7 of this year, a more specific estimate of April or May for that rededication may be much more reasonable to assume than the later side of that estimate (which would be in August or September).

As time and current circumstances allow, I will be taking another look at the estimates I have offered and will hope to post updates to those later this week. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of your all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Church Releases Official Statement on Alleged Abuse Accusations Against a Former Mission President

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post now with some breaking news from the Church. In response to a request for comment about an ongoing police investigation of charges that a former MTC president may have abused one of the missionaries under his stewardship, the First Presidency has released this statement.

What impressed me as I read it was how balanced it was, making it clear that abuse of any kind by anyone is cause for immediate disciplinary action if the allegations are subsequently verified, but also making it clear that since the recollection of the two people involved (the accuser and the accused) differ so much, and since the police continue to investigate, there is not much Church leadership can do unless and until this is settled one way or the other.

And I for one appreciate the balance. While this may not be true in other nations, in the US, someone is believed innocent until proven guilty. So for that reason, until the allegations are verified as true or false, the situation needs to be in the hands of the law enforcement members involved in the investigation, and if and when the claims are verified as factual, the Church would, of course, take the necessary action on their part.

This measured response from the First Presidency shows clearly how much they intend to keep the balance between the love of the Lord and the law of the Lord, as they mentioned in the press conference on January 16. In my opinion, this is the best approach they could have taken to responding about this issue.

If and when more details are determined about the case, subsequent releases will follow, I am sure. In the meantime, for any of my readers who may have been or are currently being subjected to abuse of any kind, I wanted to post some links to official Church resources on that subject.

You can find resources on that subject, among others, from the Church's page on that subject from the gospel topics section, from Mormon Newsroom's additional resource page covering the subject, and these General Conference talks as well.

Perhaps my all-time favorite among those is the most recent one, given in April 2008 by Elder Richard G. Scott, who, as some of you might recall, committed his talks to memory so he could focus on making sure he was always looking right into whatever camera was covering him. And since the Church has released this statement today, perhaps another talk or two from this next General Conference may be added to that list.

That does it for this post. Any and all 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 everything you do.