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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Some Preliminary Thoughts on the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional

Hello again, everyone! With the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional now less than 24 hours away, I wanted to offer some thoughts leading up to it. From its' commencement up through 2012, when this devotional was held annually, the members of the First Presidency each spoke, interspersed with music from the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. Then in 2013, the First Presidency announced that other Church leaders would speak during that same devotional, which would still feature the members of the First Presidency, but on rotation.

So the 2013 devotional featured remarks from Church President Thomas S. Monson, then-Primary General President Rosemary M. Wixom, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The following year, the featured speakers were Elder Richard J. Maynes, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, who was then Young Women General President, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and President Henry B. Eyring, then-First Counselor in the First Presidency.

By 2015, as most of you are probably aware from previous content posted here, President Monson had begun to scale back his role in public Church events. The devotional that year consisted of talks from Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, Sister Linda K. Burton, who was serving as Relief Society General President at the time, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who was serving as Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

In view of President Monson taking a reduced role the previous year, 2016's devotional featured remarks from then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Craig C. Christensen, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, Brother Douglas D. Holmes, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, and President Eyring again.

You can see that the devotionals between 2013 and 2016 followed a typical pattern of featuring one member each from the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Presidency of the Seventy, and from one of the general auxiliary presidencies of the Church. It seemed that pattern would continue to be the standard, until the devotional aired last year. The 2017 Devotional consisted of only 3 addresses: we heard from Sister Cristina B. Franco, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy, and then-President Uchtdorf again.

So what does that mean for this year's devotional? As I mentioned earlier, President Nelson has showed his willingness to approach standard patterns of the past with a willingness to vary them. That said, there have been a couple of groups among general Church leadership which have not been tapped as of yet to participate in the Christmas Devotional since the format changed: the Presiding Bishopric and the Sunday School General Presidency. So this year could see one or both groups asked to participate. We might also hear from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with my theory being that either President Ballard,  Elders Holland or Uchtdorf (the latter of whom has done so in previous years), Elders Cook, Andersen, Stevenson or Renlund.

I honestly do not know if the First Presidency would ask either Elders Gong or Soares to speak this year, but could potentially see that happening for one of them. And although all three current members of the First Presidency have spoken at this event in recent years, if we assume only one member will speak, my vote goes to our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. And if that turns out to be the case, he may ask either President Oaks or President Eyring to conduct (but likely the latter, since he has done so before).

Again, these are just some observations I wanted to pass along to you all as we prepare for the devotional tomorrow evening. Whether I am correct or absolutely dead-wrong about the likely speakers for this devotional, I will greatly enjoy the devotional either way, and I will be carrying a full report of that event here either tomorrow night or ASAP on Monday. The Lord has always inspired this event and the featured speakers thereof, and that will continue to be the case.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as they conform to the established guidelines which I have set up here. 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 and Temple Developments Reported

Hello again, everyone! Within the 24 hours since my last post on this blog, a few more Church news updates and temple developments have been reported. Let's get right into all of those. First, the Church news updates. In light of the report late last night that former US President George H. W. Bush had passed away, the First Presidency issued an official statement earlier today expressing gratitude for his legacy of service to the United States, condolences and love to his family, and an invocation of God's peace to attend them at this time.

Also, two leaders of the Church (Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, who also serves as chair of LDS Charities; and Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy, who is serving in a few different Church headquarters assignments), responded to an invitation from Baroness Emma Nicholson, who spearheaded the creation of AMAR, in speaking on the subject of religious intolerance at a conference in Baghdad.

That city, located in the Middle Eastern countries, happens to fall under Elder Perkins' responsibility, as he is the Senior Administrator for the Church in the Middle East/Africa North Area. You can read more about that in this article from the Newsroom.

In the meantime, we turn now to the additional temple updates of which I spoke earlier. Other developments have been noted on the construction process for the Durban South Africa Temple. While work continues on painting, millwork, plumbing, and electrical systems, tiling has begun to be installed inside that temple as well. Meanwhile, on the grounds of that temple, the exterior planter boxes are being plastered, and installation is underway on the water feature which will be part of the temple grounds.

It has also been reported that the angel Moroni statue was installed atop the Arequipa Peru Temple yesterday (November 30). Having said that, I need to offer a disclaimer here: While this milestone is significant, there is nothing currently which indicates that the dedication of that temple will occur any sooner than early 2020, and I don't see that changing in the future, unless the Lord knows something that I don't (which He does, by the way).

In the meantime, with the process of setting piles for the construction barrier on the  Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire Temple nearing completion, work has now turned to setting up the poles within the construction barrier that will mark the areas where the footings of the temple foundation are to be poured.

It is most wonderful to see the day-to-day Church news updates and temple developments which are being reported on a consistent basis, and I was happy to bring you word of the latest here on this blog. I continue to monitor all such updates and will bring you word of the major ones as I receive them. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, so long as such comments align with the established guidelines.

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.