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Monday, July 23, 2018

Sharing My Answer to a Recent Question

Hello again, everyone! I need to get on my soapbox for a minute. As some of you may know, the Church has been doing more Face-to-Face events for youth and Young Adults. We recently learned that the September 9 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults would combine with another Face-to-Face event for Young Adults, and would feature Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with two representatives from the Church History Department. Set to originate from Nauvoo Illinois, the devotional and Face-to-Face event will showcase a new narrative history of the Church, which is anticipated to be a four-volume set and will be published in coming years.

Now we come to the reason I am getting up on my soapbox. I personally have a problem with one of the question that one young adult asked in preparation for that event. The question posed was why the members of the Quorum of the Twelve no longer serve as missionaries as they did in the early days of the Church.

To me, the question suggests both a misunderstanding of the current evolution of the missionary program, to say nothing of modern Church procedures and the ministry of the apostles. As often as these Brethren can, they are committed to being out among the people of the Church, to finding out what their needs and concerns are, and to using that information to mold the opinions they offer on Church doctrine and policy.

From 2002-2005, we had three members of the Quorum of the Twelve assigned to serve as Area Presidenfots in Chile (Elder Holland) and the Philippines (then-Elder Oaks; both assignments lasting 2 years between 2002-2004) and Europe (Elder L. Tom Perry, for one year). This gave them the chance to observe first-hand day-to-day needs and issues in those areas, which molded their ability to contribute to discussions on policy matters specific to those areas. Also, the Church News recently shared this article, which I have previously mentioned on this blog, about how the ministry of the apostles and the missionaries of the Church have a connection in their worldwide ministry.

With that background in mind, here is the problem I have with that question: First, it used to be very common for the apostles to be missionaries in the early days of the Church, but that was simply because the Church is not as global as it is now. Second, although the apostles were commonly sent out on missions for the first 40-50 years or so of Church history, it was not uncommon for these Brethren to have to leave their families to serve in that way. Recognizing the toll this had taken on the early Brethren, in a revelation to Brigham Young (what we now know as Section 126), this is what the Lord said to him at that time:

"Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.

"I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.

"I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen."

So the new direction to the President of the Quorum at that time (which extends to the apostles today) is to send the word abroad (which implies that should be done through the ministry of others), and to take especial care of their families (which would be harder to do if they were involved in full-time missionary work).

That does not, of course, excuse these Brethren from their duty to share their apostolic witness with the world, but when we combine the words of this revelation with what the article cited above shared about the connected and shared role the apostles and the missionaries have, it should be plain that the apostles sending the missionaries (by being inspired about which missionaries should serve in which areas of the world), the extension of a mission call is the Brethren's best way to follow the mandate of sending the word abroad.

But it also comes back to the fact that, with the Church being so much more global now than it was in the early days of the Church when apostles were more easily able to serve long-term as missionaries, if the apostles were to devote more time to doing more missionary work themselves, there would be little or no opportunities to do much else, including seeing to the day-to-day administration of the Church.

This is the same reason that, as I have noted a few times before, apostles could, during the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, meet personally with those opposing a vote to sustain any general Church leader, but why that would not be possible now. The Church has moved much more fully in the direction of placing more trust and responsibility on local leaders, who at this time, would be better suited to understanding why a local member of their congregation might have a problem sustaining anyone.

The apostles are divinely mandated to share their witness of the Savior with the world, which does involve extensive traveling. But due to the increasingly global nature of the Church, if the apostles took more time than they now do to serve missions, or to meet with those who dissent a sustained proposal, their ability to administer the affairs of the global Church, and to make all the decisions and go through the deliberations pertaining thereunto would be greatly hampered, which in turn would slow to a halt the Church's ability to remain global.

That said, one other major obligations the apostles hold is to unlock the doors of nations to the preaching of the gospel, and in every prayer of dedication relating to such events of which I have read, special mention is made of the missionaries that will serve and the members who will come into the Church in that nation, which means that the prayer of dedication serves as both an extension of their apostolic mandate to take the gospel to the world, in addition to providing the Lord's blessing on the missionaries that current and future apostles will send to such lands.

I apologize if the way I approach such questions come across as insensitive of the individuals who ask them. But what would be practical for a Church that is only present in a handful of nations no longer becomes feasible or wise when the membership of the Church and its' day-to-day administration is on a more global scale.

That said, I recognize that I do not speak for Elder Cook (to whom this question was addressed) or for any of the Brethren, for that matter. They speak for the Lord, while I only ever speak for myself. If that question is one that Elder Cook elects to answer, his answer will likely be given with far more understanding of the one asking the question, the question itself, and how best to answer it.

I appreciate the chance to address this personally, but again, I speak only for myself, and the analysis of the question I provided here may not be in accord with the answer that might be officially provided. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to do so, please feel free to subscribe to stay informed of new content. 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 Musings

Hello again, everyone! I have two pieces of news to report which has me musing about temples again. So let's talk about that. The LDS Church Temples Facebook page noted today that work continues on the meetinghouse that is the first part of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple project. It appears that the Church may be placing top priority on the meetinghouse because that is anticipated to be used while the temple proper is under construction.

But I also wanted to pass along new information of which I became aware a week or two ago, which indicated that, unless something unexpected occurs, the construction of that temple is not anticipated to take any longer than the 20-month estimate originally provided by the Church. With that in mind, if all goes well, construction may end in February or March 2020, with a dedication sometime between April and June.

The other development on which I wanted to report is this release from the Canadian Mormon Newsroom, in which it has been reported that President and Sister Nelson will be visiting Winnipeg Manitoba, Montreal Quebec, and Hamilton Ontario. Sister Nelson was born in Alberta, so this will be a homecoming of sorts for her. They will be accompanied by Elder Neil L. and Sister Kathy W. Andersen, and the stops will occur from August 17-19, 2018.

As some of you may recall, when the stops of the Global Ministry Tour taken by the Nelsons and the Hollands in April were announced, many commented that all of the stops but Bengaluru India and Jerusalem were home to announced temples of the Church. During the April General Conference, President Nelson announced a temple for Bengaluru, which no one (least of all he himself) had planned on occurring, though some had speculated about that prospect. The leaders spent some of their time in India scouting for a site for the future temple, which President Nelson indicated he hoped to return to dedicate.

As we also know, there are already temples in Winnipeg & Montreal, but not one in Hamilton Ontario. So I have two takeaway thoughts about this: First, what are the odds that President Nelson could (and possibly will) announce a temple for Hamilton Ontario? Even if they may not have the Church presence there, members in Hamilton currently travel just over 40 miles to attend the temple in Toronto, which may or may not be an arduous or challenging journey.

My reason for broaching that question is, given recent conversations on this blog about President Nelson's ambitious temple-building plans, he may be working towards having every member within 40 miles of a temple, which would be game-changing. It could be no more than coincidence, however.

My second thought is this: President Nelson seems to also want to do more about being out among the people. We saw that occur with his worldwide tour in April, and since he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, I am sure that he will be traveling extensively as long as he is able to do so.

And if I may also offer a third thought: As some of you may have realized, between the two lists of most likely prospects for a temple in the near future which I am considering merging for the October General Conference, there were no locations listed in Canada. I had wondered if any Canadian cities were likely to get a temple, but I didn't find any immediate prospects. So I put it to you, my readers: Are there any prospective temple locations in Canada which I should be considering? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, as your feedback is always most welcome and appreciated.

That does it for this post. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of new content (either posts or comments), please feel free to subscribe to receive e-mail updates. 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 Church News Reported

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to pass along two additional Church news stories, and unfortunately, it is not all good news. Let's dive right in. First, the bad news: Yesterday, during a Sacrament Meeting in Fallon, Nevada (after the administration of the sacrament and as the first speaker began his address), a gunman opened fire on the congregation, killing one man and injuring another. All three men were members of that congregation.

The gunman surrendered to police late yesterday, but the motive for the shooting is unclear. A Church spokesman issued a statement indicating that the general Church leadership is mindful of the situation and will be praying for this congregation in the days ahead, and noted that local leaders have made themselves available to talk to anyone affected by this incident. You can find more details on this story here.

The Church News also reported that another LDS missionary has died while serving. Gavin Paul Zimmerman, who hails from West Haven, Utah, was 19, and had been serving in the Australia Sydney Mission since August 2017. He was with a group that was sightseeing and fell from a cliff. A Church spokesman delivered a statement about Elder Zimmerman's passing, and the parents of Elder Zimmerman did as well.

While it is heartbreaking to hear of a missionary dying in the field, he did so while doing what the Lord wanted him to do, and I have no doubt he is continuing his mission on the other side of the veil. You can read more about this development here.

On the good news front, more information has been released regarding the NAACP's partnership with the Church, which has included additional contextual statements from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in addition to the NAACP reaching out to The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir, who performed at the Church's Priesthood Revelation Commemorative Broadcast on June 1. The NAACP requested that the Choir perform at a gathering that recently clarified the extent of that initiative. You can find more details on that story here.

I continue to monitor all Church news and temple developments and will do my level best to bring word of those to you 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. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. 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.