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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Additional Information on Possible Consolidation of North America Areas

Hello again, everyone! As many of you are aware, shortly after the April 2018 General Conference, the First Presidency had announced the area leadership assignments which became effective as of August 1. Among those changes, it was announced that areas in North America would once again be overseen by a presidency of three General Authority Seventies. Six such presidencies were announced for what had been 10 areas to serve the Saints in the United States and Canada.

As at least some of you also might recall, I have posted previously with evidence I found that seemed to further indicate the number of those areas had been consolidated from 10 to 6. But given the fact that some sources (particularly many of the biographies of the 18 men who have been assigned to oversee those areas) were somewhat ambiguous, I had not been able to definitively settle the question of what was actually the case.

Accordingly, a day or two ago, as I did one of my usual checks on the Church's official website for word of any new developments in terms of Church news, I found a recent address given by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The address, given one week ago today (on the same day the dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple took place), was one of four given during a regional conference for the Utah North Area.

Given that fact, it appears that any ambiguity on this point has been cleared up once and for all, and that the original source (which announced these changes) was in error in reporting that there are only 21 areas of the Church now. The number of areas within North America instead remain at 10, which means there are a total of 25 areas still within the Church.

Having noted this new information, hopefully that settles any additional questions on this point. It looks as though I will need to again rework my list of area seventies (including the demographic information I put together) in accordance with that clarification. I do continue to monitor any and all Church news and temple updates, and will do my level best to keep passing word of those along to you all as I receive 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. 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.

Temple Updates Noted

Hello again, everyone! Several temple updates have recently been reported, so I wanted to pass those along to you all now. Let's jump right into our discussion of those developments. First of all, I wanted to follow up on something I have noted repeatedly in the recent past. The Church is well on track to have 200 operating temples by (but perhaps even before) the 200th anniversary of its' reestablishment, which will, as noted, occur on Saturday April 6, 2030.

With 160 temples operating, only 40 others will need to be dedicated during the 11.42 years between today and that day, which could easily be done if 3.5 temples are dedicated each year between now and then. Since 5 or 6 temples are anticipated to be dedicated within the next year (with one more dedication planned by the end of this year, and two already set for early next year), I have no doubts the Church will have at least that many temples by that date, but certainly more if all goes well.

In the meantime, yesterday marked the beginning of the public open house for the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. The public will be able to tour that temple every day between now and November 24, with the exception of today and the additional Sundays of November 11 and 18. Following the open house, there will be a two-week period of final preparations for the temple, and a youth devotional will be held on Saturday December 8, with the temple dedication following the next day.

We now turn our attention briefly to the Lisbon Portugal Temple, where the work of stone cladding the temple's exterior walls is nearly complete, and where the Holiness to the Lord inscription stone is now in place. And as the renovation process continues for the Mesa Arizona Temple, scaffolding is going up around the temple's exterior, while windows are being removed, and landscaping efforts to regrade the grounds of the temple are also underway.

To conclude this update, new information received today indicates that, with the Church office building having been completely vacated in Bangkok Thailand, the process of demolishing that building is now underway, and once that occurs, the Church will be that much closer to being able to have a groundbreaking for that temple. It will be interesting to see how soon that occurs. As a result of that new information, I estimate that a groundbreaking could occur for that temple within the next 4-8 months, but certainly sooner if all goes well.

And of course, we are now just 4 days away from the November 8 groundbreaking ceremony which has been scheduled for the Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple. So look for a report on that ceremony once it is provided later this week. In the meantime, on a note unrelated to temple progress, Elder Uchtdorf's birthday will occur on Tuesday, with Elder Renlund's birthday exactly one week later. So posts will be provided on those days in honor of those milestones. And any other Church news and temple developments will be passed along as they are reported as well. I am also involved in an ongoing process of getting my predictions for next General Conference put together, and will pass a copy of those along as soon as I finish doing so.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time. 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.

Additional Church News Reported

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post again right now about some additional news stories which have recently crossed my radar. So let's get right into those. First, from the Church's official Newsroom website, we have a look at the second Colombian Temple (built in Barranquilla) for which the open house began today, and is set to be held for the next three weeks, ending on the 24th. The Newsroom also covered a luncheon which the Church hosted for the NCAA Common Ground Executive Committee.

Church representatives in attendance included Elders Craig C. Christensen (president of the the Utah Area) and Allen D. Haynie (who serves as Second Counselor in the North America Northeast Area Presidency), both of whom are General Authority Seventies, Sisters Jean B. Bingham (Relief Society General President) and Bonnie H. Cordon (Young Women General President).

Common Ground, for those not aware, is an organization built to serve as a liaison between athletic administrators in institutes of higher education and those advocating for LGBTQ rights. As the leaders of the Church explained, the Church always has and always will support measures, programs, and practices that provide fairness for all, so this meeting was right in line with the continued commitment of the Church to that ideal.

In the meantime, Sister Lisa S. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, recently spoke out to clear up confusion on the Church's stance regarding medical marijuana, and how the ballot initiative is interconnected to the legislative action which will be taken by the members of the Utah Senate and House regardless of the initiative's outcome. That story came from KSL, which is owned and operated by Bonneville Communications, a subsidiary organization of the Church.

We now conclude by catching up on some articles from the Church News website. One big story highlighted the remarkable way an apostolic prophecy about the destiny of the Church throughout the South American continent (including Brazil and the countries comprising the South America Northwest and South America South Areas) is being fulfilled.

As President Nelson recently observed, when he was born in 1924, there was no Church presence whatsoever in that continent. Since that time. numerous faithful South American Saints have served in general Church leadership positions, and last April, we saw one such faithful man, Elder Ulisses Soares, called to be the first Latin American apostle in the Church.

If that is not a testament to how much the Lord values the faithful Saints in South America, then consider this: The only two temples which have been or will yet be dedicated this year are located in South America. 3 others are currently under construction throughout that continent, while 1 previously-dedicated temple is currently closed for renovations and upgrades. And of the 31 temples currently announced, 7 (roughly 25%) of them will be built in South American countries. And that is amazing to consider.

Next, Boyd Matheson, who heads up the Sutherland Institute and who writes for the Deseret News, recently reported on a conversation he had with Church President Russell M. Nelson about the power of not looking back, or, in other words, leaving the past in the past, and going through another door when the first one closes.

Also, in the latest edition of "This Week on Social", posts shared included thoughts from President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, on how to endure the many trials of life; in addition to thoughts from the following members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Elders David A. Bednar, who highlighted the importance of faith; Neil L. Andersen, on what life's trials can teach us if we let them; Ronald A. Rasband on recognizing and utilizing our many God-given talents; and Dale G. Renlund on the similarities between a master violin maker and our Master, Jesus Christ (which, of course, reminded me personally of the poem "The Touch of the Master's Hand").

Other leaders featured in that article were Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, who posted some thoughts highlighting the importance of repentance and the Sabbath Day; Sister Cordon, who shared a special message for and about the Young Women of the Church; and finally, from her first counselor, Sister Michelle D. Craig, who shared her thoughts about how following President Nelson's invitation to read the Book of Mormon by the end of this year has blessed her and the members of her family.

We additionally got some good news about how Saints in Mexico have successfully weathered the recent Hurricane Willa. Also, the Church News provided highlights of favorite moments from the first South American leg of his ongoing Global Ministry Tour. In the meantime, Latter-day Saints in Great Britain recently commemorated the 100th anniversary of the ending of WWII. And finally, two former BYU athletes recently donned the yellow "Helping Hands" vests to help their fellow Saints living in the southeastern United States in their ongoing efforts to recover from Hurricane Florence.

I do continue to monitor any and all Church news and temple developments and will keep doing my level best to pass word of those developments along to you all as I receive word of them. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time. 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.

Latest Apostolic Statistics: Part Two--Updated Ages & Other Important Information

Hello again, everyone! Having set the stage in the first part of this apostolic age update (posted just a few moments ago), we now move on to talk specifics regarding the long-form and decimal ages of our current apostles, which will also include updated information on the average ages of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the 15 apostles as a group, and current and future nonagenarians. So let’s get right into all of that. Again, all data is current as of today (Sunday November 4, 2018).

First, I thought it might be appropriate to share an overview of the apostolic birthdays that are coming up in the near future, particularly those which will be observed by the end of this year. We have four apostolic birthdays coming up. The first will be the 78th birthday of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (which will occur on November 6). Exactly one week later, Elder Dale G. Renlund is set to observe his 66th birthday.

Interestingly enough, that event will be the first of the last three apostolic birthdays this year, which each happen to be 20 days apart. Elder Renlund’s birthday on November 13 will be followed by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s 78th on December 3, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong is the final apostle to have his birthday, as he will mark his 65th birthday on December 23, a mere two days before Christmas. Interestingly enough, Elder Gong was born on the same day as the Prophet Joseph Smith.

With that noted, we now move on to some exact figures about the ages (and average ages) of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and all 15 apostles as a group. We start, as always, with the three Presiding High Priests of the Church. President Nelson is, as noted towards the end of my previous post, 94 years, 1 month, and 26 days old, with a resulting decimal age of 94.15 years. His apostolic seatmate and right-hand man, President Oaks, who is less than 8 years younger, is now 86 years, 2 months, and 23 days old, which makes him 86.23 in decimal years.  And President Eyring, who remains 0.8 years younger than President Oaks, has a long-form age of 85 years, 5 months, and 4 days. He therefore now is 85.43 in decimal years.

These combined figures bring the total life experience of the three men to 265.81 years, which results in an average age of 88.6 years for each man. President Oaks remains closest to that average, still being 2.37 years below it. Obviously, Presidents Nelson and Eyring are still respectively above and below the average. And, as a recent Salt Lake Tribune article notes, our current First Presidency has the highest average age in the history of the Church.

Although some who don’t understand how the system of succession works might find that alarming, to me, it is a comfort to know that we have men in this leading Quorum of the Church who know the will of the Savior for the Saints and who will not go beyond the word of the Lord. While many other religions adapt their basic name, message, and purpose, the message of the Lord to the people of His Church has always been clear, consistent, and unyielding in terms of the purity of the doctrine. And that is reassuring indeed.

We move on now to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Since my last update, President Ballard has observed his 90th birthday. He therefore has a long-form age of 90 years, 0 months, and 27 days, which puts his decimal age at 90.07. Elder Holland, now less than a month from his 78th birthday, is 77 years, 11 months, and 1 day old, with a resulting 77.92 decimal years. Elder Uchtdorf, who will observe his 78th birthday in just two days, is 77 years, 11 months, and 29 days old, and comes in at 77.99 years.

Elder Bednar has now reached the exact age of 66 years, 4 months, and 20 days, which puts him at a decimal age of 66.39 years.  Elder Cook, meanwhile, is 78 years, 1 months, and 27 days old, working out to 78.16 years. Elder Christofferson (who will mark his birthday just over a month after that of Elder Gong) is now 73 years, 9 months, and 11 days old, which gives him a decimal age of 73.78 years.

Elder Andersen now has a long-form age of 67 years, 2 month, and 26 days, with a resulting 67.24 decimal years. Elder Rasband, who is roughly six months older than Elder Andersen, has now reached 67 years, 8 months, and 29 days, making his decimal age 67.74 years. Elder Gary E. Stevenson, who is exactly 4.5 years younger than Elder Rasband (to the day) has now reached the age of 63 years, 2 months, and 29 days old, with a resulting decimal age of 63.25 years.

We now come to the final three apostles. With Elder Renlund’s birthday approaching, he now comes in at 65 years, 11 months, and 22 days old, or 65.98 in decimal years. Elder Gong, whose birthday comes 40 days after Elder Renlund’s and 20 days after Elder Holland’s, has a long-form age of 64 years, 10 months, and 12 days old, which converts to 64.87 years.  And our youngest and most junior apostle, Elder Soares, as of today, is 60 years, 1 month, and 2 days old, putting his decimal age at 60.09 years.
                                                                                               
With this data noted, the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles now have a combined 853.48 years of life experience, or an average of 71.12 years per Quorum member. As I noted previously, the ages of Elders Christofferson and Rasband put them above and below that average respectively. Elder Christofferson, who has been 2.65 years older than that average, is now 2.66 years above it. Not much of a difference, I know, but I certainly felt it was worth noting. And Elder Rasband remains 3.38 years below that average.

Based on the information I provided earlier about the members of the First Presidency, the entire body of apostles now have a combined 1,119.29 years of life experience, or an average 74.62 years for each of those 15. Elders Holland and Christofferson stand closest to that average, and their margins from that have likewise changed somewhat, with Elder Holland now being 3.3 years older, and Elder Christofferson still 0.84 years younger.

We now move on to the nonagenarians. President Nelson remains the 7th oldest apostle in Church history, and is set to move up to the 6th spot in 8 months and 1 day (on July 5 of next year). In the meantime, with his 90th birthday having been observed on October 8, President Ballard has joined the list of nonagenarians. 9 days from now, he will move up on that list, when his lifespan will have become longer than that of J. Reuben Clark Jr. By the time President Nelson moves up to the next spot on this list, President Ballard will have moved up 3 more himself, and he will have one additional milestone on that list later in July of 2019 as well. More on those specifics will, of course, be provided in future reports.

I continue to track all of this information, and will do my level best to pass updates on to you regularly, with my hope being to post the next such update roughly 6 weeks from now, which I hope to continue to do for the foreseeable future. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time. 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.


Latest Apostolic Statistics: Part One--Updated Data for President Oaks, President Nelson, and Longest-Serving Apostolic Groups

Hello again, everyone! While I hope you all will feel free to continue to comment on any previous posts, another 6 weeks have come and gone since I last posted updated information on the latest apostolic statistics. (The last time I did so was Sunday September 23, 2018.) Since there have been an impressive number of changes in that information within that period of time, and in view of a previously-given promise that I would do so, I wanted to focus two other posts on that subject today.

While I hope most of you will find this information interesting and enlightening, there may be some of you who are not interested in the data I will present. Consequently, I will not in any way be offended if any of you skip over this data. The information I will be presenting is current as of today (Sunday November 4, 2018), and the data will again be presented in the same order.

After updates on the tenure of President Dallin H. Oaks as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and on the tenure and age of Church President Russell M. Nelson, there will be some observations about the tenures of our First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and all currently-living ordained apostles as a group. At that point, I will end this post, and publish another a few minutes later to cover updates on upcoming apostolic birthdays, the long-form and decimal ages of our apostles, and a discussion on apostolic nonagenarians.

So let’s begin with some information on President Oaks’ current tenure length as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which will include exploring how soon he will move up on this list. The length of his service has currently spanned 9 months and 21 days. Two weeks ago today, the length of President Oaks’ tenure as such became equal to that of President Gordon B. Hinckley, and the former officially served longer than the latter by the following day. President Oaks is now the 25th longest-serving Quorum President. There will be a roughly 5-month hiatus before President Oaks observes his next milestone (which will occur in April 2019). He will then observe two additional milestones two days apart in July, followed by one each in November and December of next year. More specific details on those milestones will be forthcoming closer to the time. 

President Oaks appears, by all accounts, to be in good health. So I have no doubt he will at least be around to observe the next 10 milestones which are upcoming for his tenure as Quorum President. But as previously observed, the length of his tenure will not just depend on how long he lives, but also on how long President Nelson lives. Since the prophet is in very good health, as he appears to be 20-30 years younger than he is when speaking to Church congregations around the world), he will likely be around for a while. So the health of Presidents Oaks and Nelson will be something to keep an eye on for sure.

And speaking of President Nelson, since he was ordained and set apart as Church president on the same day he set apart President Oaks as Quorum President, his tenure has spanned 9 months and 21 days as well. He is now 94 years, 1 month, and 26 days old. President Nelson observed the first tenure length milestone of his presidency on Wednesday October 10, 2018, at which time he had served longer than President Howard W. Hunter. He will observe both another tenure-related and his first age-related milestone two days apart in July of 2019, with subsequent milestones more spread out in the years following that. And again, I will be detailing those more specifically closer to the time when they will be reached.

In the meantime, as also noted previously, the current First Presidency will only be joining the list of longest continuously serving First Presidencies in Church history on Saturday April 20, 2024, so I will be outlining their future milestones on that list closer to the time. I am also not aware of any other current apostles having health issues, so I have no doubt the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will continue to serve together for a while.

Those 12 men (who have served together since March 31 of this year), will mark 3 years together on March 31, 2021, at which point they will join the list of the longest-serving Quorums of the Twelve Apostles in Church history. I will likewise be providing updates on those future milestones in the near future. And interestingly enough, less than two months prior to that, the 15 apostles will make the list of the longest-serving such group (the exact date is February 8, 2021).

With that said, I want to conclude this portion of the update. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on this or any other post at any time. 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 (which should be the second one on this subject and will be published here within the next few minutes), I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.