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Sunday, March 31, 2019

A One-Year Anniversary and Some Additional Thoughts About Temple Construction

Hello again, everyone! While I fully intend to follow through on my promise to bring you all a look at temple progress which has occurred between New Year's Day 2019 and today (which I will probably get done around 10-11 hours from now), I wanted to post some additional thoughts I have been having about the upcoming General Conference. First, as many of you might have realized, today marks one year exactly since the Solemn Assembly was held for President Nelson, and since Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares were appointed as the first Asian-American and Latin American apostles of the Church.

Within this last year's time, the Church has seen unprecedented changes, and this has been brought on primarily due to President Nelson's willingness to formally acknowledge how much of what he has done since he became Church President has been inspired by the Lord. As I mentioned in the comment threads of another post, I reference this opinion article written by a product manager for the Church, which focuses on what needs to happen for us as individuals, families, and congregations in order to be prepared for the Church's unprecedented future.

But above and beyond that, one of the major highlights I have treasured the most in terms of what has happened during President Nelson's prophetic administration is the announcement of so many new temples, which was significant due to the specific locations being announced for 17 of the 19 temples. And that got me thinking about some aspects of what we have seen in terms of the temple construction program of the Church. More specifically, in August of last year, this article highlighted days in Church history on which more than one temple had a groundbreaking.

And for the first time since March 4, 2017, that will be occurring again this year, when the Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde, and San Juan Puerto Rico Temples all have their groundbreaking ceremonies on May 4. I am anticipating and hoping that that will mark the first of many occasions during President Nelson's prophetic administration when the Church will see that occurring.

With that in mind, I want to take this a step further. As part of the Church News coverage leading up to, during, and directly following General Conference weekend, this article was published earlier today, which provided an overview of the most significant circumstances which resulted in one or more temples being announced outside of General Conference. That history is well worthy of review.

Given that the Church published an article about multiple temples having a groundbreaking on the same day roughly 9 months before 3 more temples would have that occur, I wanted to offer a theory that perhaps, once President Nelson outlines and details the extent, timing, and other specifics of his temple expansion plans and intentions, the Church could very well see the announcement of several additional temples outside of General Conference.

That said, I still believe and strongly feel that President Nelson will continue to announce temples over the General Conference pulpit every six months for the foreseeable future, but I would anticipate several temples being announced at other times going forward, given the precedent for which I have provided an overview here.

Either way, it will surely be exciting to see what comes of General Conference in a general sense, and what happens going forward with the temple-building program of the Church in both the near and more distant future. And I fully believe that temple construction developments and milestones will be playing a major part in the "unprecedented future" President Nelson described for the Church.

We are blessed to have a prophet who makes it clear how much the Lord is inspiring his decisions, and that will continue to be the case. I look forward to seeing that occur. In the meantime, I will do my level best to continue to keep all of you informed on any major Church news or temple developments leading up to General Conference throughout this week, and will be providing full and complete coverage of all major developments as they occur next weekend.

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 such comments are made in accordance 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.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Miscellaneous Temple Developments and Church News Reported

Hello again, everyone! This will be a multi-subject post to cover the latest temple developments and some Church news which has been reported. Let's talk about all of that. First, the temple developments. I was pleasantly surprised to hear of another update relating to the Durban South Africa Temple. The latest information I have indicates that poles for the security cameras have been installed, while the process of sandstone cladding the entrance walls and the fountain continues, as does the interior millwork, tiling, painting, plumbing, data, electrical, and fire suppression systems and equipment.

From this update, it appears that the construction of that temple may be back on track. With that said, I still believe that the dedication for the Arequipa Peru Temple will be set to occur first. And there is a possibility (however slight) that the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple could likewise be dedicated before the Durban South Africa dedication as well. But I am watching for information on that subject, and will bring word of it to you all here if and when I find out anything.

In the meantime, while framing continues for the meetinghouse adjacent to the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, work on the temple proper currently involves pouring the main floor slab. The one other temple update I have relates to the Raleigh North Carolina Temple, where decorative fencing is being installed, trees and shrubs are being planted, and walkways are being poured. As I mentioned previously, the renovation process for this temple will likely be completed and the open house and private rededication information announced before the end of June, but I still believe that the open house and rededication will not occur until August, following the annual July recess for the General Authorities.

I also continue to work as I can on updating my previously-offered thoughts about temples for which a groundbreaking is anticipated to occur within the next year or so, and a reordering of announced temples due to new information of which I have been made aware. Having noted that, I'd like to pass along some additional Church news items. The first relates to the subject of temples.

The Church News shared information today that Brother Craig P. and Sister Linda K. Burton (as you may recall, Sister Burton served as Relief Society General President from 2012-2017 have been called to serve as the president and matron of the Jordan River Utah Temple, replacing the current president and matron, who have served since 2014 (with the latter part of their service interrupted slightly by the renovation of that temple).

This brings the total number of new temple presidents announced this year to 9, leaving 55 currently-operating temples on my personal list of those which might have a new president called, along with the 3 or 4 presidents which will likely be called for temples that will be dedicated within the next year or so. There have been other Church news stories reported recently which may be of interest to many of you, and a general mention of those here would seem to suffice for now.

The final development about which I want to report here today is from the Church's Newsroom, to cover the details of the new name which will be used going forward, and how that change relates to the other changes the Church has seen within these first 14 months of President Nelson's prophetic administration. The video accompanying that article is well worthy of your time and attention.

I do continue to monitor any and all other Church news and temple developments, and will keep doing my level best to bring word of those to you all here as I become aware of them. 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 such comments are made in accordance 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.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Updated List of Locations Most Likely to Have a Temple Announced During the April 2019 General Conference

Hello again, everyone! As I mentioned in another post earlier today, I realized a revision of my list of the locations which are most likely to have a temple announced in General Conference in roughly 1.75 weeks. Due to those tweaks (which have included fixing some inadvertent errors in the notes section), and as a result of my desire to allow for sufficient feedback, I am extending the deadline for the commenting period on this list to midnight MDT on the day that Thursday April 4 transitions into Friday April 5, which will subsequently allow me to make any necessary tweaks and adjustments to this list prior to General Conference the following day.

I hope that any of you will let me know if there are any glaring errors, omissions, or over-estimations in this list. With that said, the updated list and notes follow below. In order to not distract from the flow of that information, I will be ending here and now as I always do: 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.

Temple predictions: At least 12 new temples announced for any of the following locations[1]:

Africa Southeast[2]: Antananarivo Madagascar; Second DR Congo Temple (in Mbuji-Mayi or Lubumbashi; Maputo Mozambique; Kampala Uganda
Africa West[3]: Freetown Sierra Leone; Kumasi Ghana; Monrovia Liberia; Yamoussoukro Ivory Coast; Benin City Nigeria
Asia[4]: Ulaanbaatar Mongolia; Jakarta Indonesia; Singapore; Taichung Taiwan; Hanoi Vietnam
Asia North[5]: Osaka Japan
Brazil[6]: Belo Horizonte; Florianopolis; João Pessoa Ribeirão Preto
Caribbean: Kingston Jamaica[7]
Central America[8]: Coban Guatemala; San Pedro Sula Honduras
Europe[9]: Budapest Hungary; Edinburgh Scotland; Vienna Austria; Oslo Norway
Europe East[10]: Vilnius Lithuania
Mexico: Queretaro/Torreon Mexico[11]
Middle East/Africa North: Dubai/Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates[12]
Pacific[13]: Port Moresby Papua New Guinea; Tarawa Kiribati; Pago Pago American Samoa; Neiafu Vava'u Tonga; Savaii Samoa; Christchurch New Zealand
Philippines[14]: Angeles/Bacolod/Tacloban Philippines
South America Northwest[15]: Santa Cruz/La Paz Bolivia; Iquitos/Cusco Peru; Cali/Medellin Colombia
South America South[16]: Antofagasta/Valparaiso Chile; Neuquen/Rosario Argentina; Ciudad del Este Paraguay

North America (including the United States and Canada) [17]:
Canada[18]: Victoria British Columbia; Lethbridge Alberta
North America Central[19]: Missoula Montana; Pueblo/Colorado Springs Colorado; Wichita Kansas; Green Bay Wisconsin; Des Moines Iowa; Rapid City South Dakota
North America Northeast[20]: Cleveland Ohio; Pittsburgh Pennsylvania; East Brunswick New Jersey; Augusta Maine; Montpelier Vermont
North America Northwest: Fairbanks Alaska[21]
North America Southeast[22]: Jackson Mississippi; Shreveport Louisiana; Jacksonville Florida; Knoxville Tennessee; Savannah Georgia
North America Southwest[23]: Bentonville Arkansas; Fort Worth Texas; Las Cruces New Mexico; Flagstaff Arizona; Elko/Ely Nevada
North America West: Bakersfield California[24]
Utah[25]: Herriman/Heber City/Tooele/Washington County Utah; Preston Idaho; Evanston Wyoming


[1]Some have offered their opinion that, with 19 new temples announced last year alone (which has resulted in a current backlog of 27 temples, though 3 others have a groundbreaking scheduled to occur roughly one month after this conference), no new temples may be announced this go-round. While I understand (and appreciate) the rationale behind such comments, from what others and I myself have directly or indirectly heard, President Nelson may unveil his temple expansion plans during this conference. Whether he does or not, the locations below (grouped by area, then by likelihood within that area) represent the most likely locations in which I feel such temples may be announced during this conference.
[2]The Africa Southeast Area has experienced significant Church growth. With 1 dedicated temple in the area currently, there are 2 under construction (1 of which will be dedicated the week after conference, with the other anticipated to follow in 4-6 months), and 2 others announced (both of which have had sites procured, and could therefore have a groundbreaking either later this year or early next year), I have found 5 other potential locations which may get a temple in the near future. Most of these candidates are based on the mileage to the current temple(s), travel rigor, or oversized temple districts. Additionally, Uganda, Madagascar, and Mozambique are fifth, seventh, and ninth respectively on the list of top ten nations with the strongest Church presence that do not have a temple in any phase. Madagascar is my top pick for this area. And in reference to a second DR Congo Temple, I have personally favored Lubumbashi, but a recent report on the Church growth blog pointed to the idea that a temple in Mbuji-Mayi might be more imminently needed, so I have prioritized that pick.
[3]The same factors I referenced above in previously (about significant Church growth, the mileage and rigors involved, and temple district sizes) also applies to the Africa West Area, as reflected by the five candidate cities listed here. With only 2 temples currently operating, one more other construction, and one announced, the Church growth blog noted recently that West Africa could have at least 13 operating temples by 2030. There are a couple of big differences, though. Only two of the five candidates do not have a temple in any phase. The two are Sierra Leone and Liberia, which rank as the second and sixth respectively on the aforementioned top ten list.  Sierra Leone is my top pick for this area. And while it may be difficult to know how soon a second Ivory Coast temple and a third Nigerian temple may be announced, I have felt confident enough in my picks to justify their selection.
[4]The Asian Saints, whose ability to practice their faith has been somewhat limited at times by governmental regulations, are nonetheless very faithful, as evidenced by recent temple announcements for that continent. With the Hong Kong and Taipei temples serving the Saints currently, the one in Bangkok is under construction, and two others have been announced for Bengaluru and Phnom Penh. The factors first mentioned in previously above also apply to the Asia Area, which is the largest geographically in the Church. Of the locations listed, Mongolia is my favored pick, since that nation is eighth on the aforementioned top ten list. Also, President Hinckley publicly proposed a temple in Singapore, and Vietnam is a dark-horse pick that I included based on reports of Church growth in the area.
[5]The Asia North Area of the Church has seen some stagnated growth, to the point where some have suggested that that area could be merged with the Asia Area. While I understand the thinking behind that, and while I would not be surprised if such a merge occurs in the near future, I have evaluated the area and seen at least one prospective location where a temple could be built, with the main reasoning being the factors previously mentioned in previously.
[6]Brazil has been a Church stronghold for a while now. With six temples currently in operation, both the Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temples will be dedicated within the next year, during which time the Brasilia Brazil Temple is likely to have a groundbreaking occur. With two other temples (Belem and Salvador) awaiting a site announcement and groundbreaking, some may feel that more Brazilian temples may be delayed. But my research indicates that, due to the factors mentioned in previously, these cities are the next most likely locations to have a temple announced. I personally favor Belo Horizonte, but would be happy if any or all of these cities have a temple announced this go-round.
[7]This city is another dark-horse pick, but is on the list due to the factors mentioned in previously, but also due to someone suggesting it elsewhere. And given what President Nelson has done in terms of the 19 temples he announced last year, Kingston could be another location for a smaller temple. 
[8]A Church member living and working in the Central America Area kindly informed me that a second temple to serve the current Guatemala City temple district is the most imminent prospect for the future in this area. As I studied that opinion, I concurred with him that Coban would likely be the next Central American city in which a temple will be announced. But I also feel (based on general consensus and according to my research) that a San Pedro Sula temple may be on the horizon sooner rather than later, so both cities are listed.
[9]The situation of Saints living on the European continent is somewhat interesting. Where there are centers of strength, significant growth has occurred. But in many European nations, the Church has experienced some stagnated growth, which has necessitated discontinuing some congregations in order to strengthen others within the last year or two. But due to the factors I mentioned previously, it appears likely that most (if not all) of the candidate cities that follow in this section could get a temple, even if only a smaller one.  
[10]This area of the Church has also experienced stagnated growth to the point that some have suggested that the Church could consolidate it into the Europe Area. Additionally, although President Nelson boldly announced a temple in April of last year for a major yet-to-be-determined city in Russia, the political and religious oppression existing in that nation makes it hard to know how soon that temple will be built. With that in mind, a temple in Vilnius makes a lot of sense. And that is especially true given the public proposal for such a temple which was made by then-Elder M. Russell Ballard in May 1993. Although Elder Ballard noted that prospect might not occur for 50 years or so, based on what has been said about President Nelson’s temple expansion plans, the prospect seems imminent enough to include it on my list for now.
[11]The relevant factors in notes 13 and 20 also apply in a way to Mexico (where centers of strength have seen excellent growth in some respects, but in others, massive congregational consolidates have also occurred within the last couple of years. Based on these facts, it may be difficult to know how soon another temple may be announced for Mexico, especially since one was announced for Puebla last October. But the cities of Queretaro and Torreon have been identified by a Church member living in Mexico as likely to get a temple in the near future, so both are on this list.  
[12]As recently as a year ago, if someone had suggested a temple for the Middle East/Africa North Area, I would have dismissed it as an impossibility. But within the last year, we have seen President Nelson announce temples for areas which I felt would not get a temple for 15-20 years, and with that in mind, a temple in this area seems feasible, if only a smaller one. Although the bulk of Church membership in this area is comprised of military personnel, the United Arab Emirates represent a stronghold of the Church in this area. And with that in mind, a smaller temple in either of the two most populous cities in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively), feels like it may be more practical than I would have believed this time last year.
[13]The Pacific area is another stronghold of Church growth. With 10 temples currently operating there (and one other announced), it seems logical to assume that other temples will be needed to serve the area. Most (if not all) of the factors I mentioned previously apply equally to this area. Additionally, New Guinea, Kiribati, and American Samoa are ranked first, third, and fourth respectively on the aforementioned top ten list of nations. So I have no doubt the Pacific Area will see temples announced in each of these cities within the next decade, if not sooner.
[14]The Church has two operating temples in the Philippines (Manila and Cebu City). The temple announced in October 2010 for Urdaneta had a groundbreaking ceremony in January. And with the last 3 sets of temple announcements, the Philippines has seen temples announced for the greater Manila area (which will be located in Muntinlupa City), Cagayan de Oro, and Davao. If that is any indication of what might happen in the future, then other temples may be needed for the Philippines, and the cities mentioned here seem to have the best likelihood.
[15]The entire South American continent has experienced massive Church growth. Having previously discussed Brazil, in reference to the South America Northwest Area, I wanted to observe that there are 7 operating temples there. 1 more is currently under construction in Arequipa Peru (for which a dedication is anticipated before the end of this year) Two others have been announced: the Lima Peru Los Olivos and Quito Ecuador Temples, both of which could have a groundbreaking within the next 2-3 years, though hopefully sooner if all goes well. And while I have personally-favored candidates here, a second temple in Bolivia may be the most imminent prospect. For Bolivia and Colombia, I have listed two potential locations each due to my inability to narrow those down to one.  
[16]The South America South Area has likewise seen very significant and rapidly expanding growth. So again, with President Nelson’s extensive temple-building plans in mind, I have considered the most imminent prospects for future temples in this area, and the factors mentioned in previous notes hold true here as well. Currently, this area of the Church is served by 6 operating temples (1 of which is closed for renovation), and there were 2 more announced for this area last year. With that in mind, the 5 locations listed in this section seem to have the strongest case in their favor of a temple announced in the near future. And for Argentina and Chile, I list two cities each because the sets for each nation are about even in terms of their likelihood.  
[17]Although the North American continent (primarily in the United States) has seen somewhat of a stagnating growth situation, in light of the recent increased mentions of President Nelson’s ambitious temple-building plans, the likelihood is extremely high that the US and Canada will be included in whatever the plans are to expand the number of temples worldwide. The locations listed below represent what I believe are the most imminent prospects for each of the now-8 North American areas of the Church.
[18]For purposes of simplification, I have chosen to list my temple candidates for Canada in a separate section from those elsewhere in the United States. So the North American areas listed below will not include these Canadian candidate cities. Of the two, Lethbridge may be more of a long shot. But Victoria has been mentioned to me as a prospect due to the cost and arduous nature of the journey to worship at the Vancouver British Columbia Temple.  
[19]As mentioned in previous notes, on the one hand, it may be difficult (if not impossible) to gauge the imminent likelihood of any locations. But as also mentioned, in view of some of the relevant factors, I can see the merits of each location listed here. Particularly, I heard a report of a public proposal of a temple for Missoula Montana. Pueblo made the list due to a report I received of high attendance numbers at the Denver Colorado Temple. For Kansas, Iowa, and South Dakota, mileage is the main factor driving my choices, and a temple (if only a smaller one) seems likely for all three states in the near future. A temple in Iowa could be named for Mount Pisgah, a significant landmark in the pioneer history of the Church.
[20]Given the steady growth of the Church in Ohio and Pennsylvania, second temples for each seem to be likely sooner rather than later. And New Jersey, Maine, and Vermont may each be eligible for a temple of their own given the distance factor, and the rigors of travel involved in getting to their currently assigned temples.
[21]The Saints in both Fairbanks and Juneau have an arduously lengthy journey to get to their assigned temple in Anchorage. While both may have equal merits in terms of their eligibility for a temple of their own, my research shows Fairbanks may be first in line for such a prospect. But I would anticipate temples in both cities within the next 5-15 years, if not sooner.
[22]Since the Saints in Jackson currently have an arduous journey to get to their assigned temple, it is my opinion that a temple will be announced in that city sooner rather than later. And an arduous journey also factors in to my reasoning for temples in Shreveport, Jacksonville, Knoxville, and Savannah. If, as I anticipate, President Nelson plans to prioritize the mileage factor and also filling in the gaps that exist in temple district coverage, then any or all of these may simply be a matter of time.
[23]Things are a little tricky for this area of the Church. Given that the Saints assigned to the districts of temples over the Mexican border might possibly have a harder time accessing those temples in the future, some have offered very specific opinions about the merits of some of the candidate cities which are listed here. But I am basing my theories on the potential location of an Arkansas temple on information from a friend indicating that land has been held in reserve in that city for a temple for several years now. And I am basing my picks for temples in Texas and New Mexico on the opinion of someone living within the current Dallas Texas Temple district. This individual noted that Fort Worth would almost certainly be the next Texas city to get a temple. So if border issues arise, those could be ameliorated by a temple in Las Cruces, which would likely also cover El Paso for the time being. Arizona and Nevada both fall under the “Mormon corridor”, and I have heard that Flagstaff may well be the most likely Arizona city to get a temple. Both Elko and Ely have arduous journeys to their assigned temples in Utah, so It seems to be just a matter of time before one (or both) of them get a temple of their own, and I feel the next Nevada temple location is too close to call.
[24]With a temple announced last October for Yuba City, a temple in Bakersfield might potentially be delayed, but however long it might take, I am reasonably confident that that city will be the next one in California to get a temple of its’ own, as I have been anticipating such a prospect for almost as long as I have been offering my thoughts on future temple locations.  
[25]A temple site was publicly mentioned as being held in reserve in April 2005 for a temple in the Southwest Salt Lake Valley. Though no official confirmation has occurred, if my research is correct, the land in question has been the subject of a border dispute between Herriman and Bluffdale cities, but is currently owned by the city of Herriman. For Heber City, Tooele, Preston, and Evanston, they all seem to have an equal likelihood of having a temple announced in the near future. And Elder Steven E. Snow, who was born in Washington County, recently told the Saints there at a stake conference that someone from the Temple Department had indicated to him that a third Washington County temple would be needed in the not-too-distant future. For these reasons, I couldn’t narrow any of these selections down, at least not for the moment.

Additional Temple Developments and Church News Reported

Hello again, everyone! Within the last 3 hours, I have been made aware of quite a few new temple developments and several more Church news stories, so I wanted to bring a report of those to you all here. We will start with the temple developments, then move on to new reports from the Church News and the official Newsroom on the Church's website. Let's jump right in to all of that.

Firstly, as some of you might recall, I had mentioned when I posted the latest version of my list of potential temple locations that I would be inviting comments until April 1. That remains true. But I have recently made a few minor edits to the list, so I will be publishing a brand-new version thereof here later today, and, as a result, i will extend that commenting period until midnight when Thursday April 4 becomes Friday April 5, which will then allow me roughly 34 hours or so to make any adjustments and alterations that may be needed before General Conference starts on April 6 at 10:00 AM MDT.

Turning now to actual temple construction updates, the open house for the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple will conclude at the end of the day on Saturday, after which it will undergoing a two-week final preparation process for its' dedication. In relation to the scheduled dedication, I maintain my belief that President Nelson could set out on yet another leg of his ongoing Global Ministry Tour following General Conference, though nothing has been announced to that effect as of yet. If he does so, the dedication of this temple could be part of that tour. But President Nelson could also delegate that to either of his counselors or one of the senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It will be interesting to find out more about that.

As some of you may recall, I had recently voiced my opinion that, given the lack of consistent progress and the ongoing delays in relation to the construction of the Durban South Africa Temple, the Arequipa Peru Temple could (and likely would) be dedicated first, in the same way that the Lisbon Portugal Temple was set to be dedicated before the Durban temple. Earlier today, that theory was more or less confirmed when many of the sources I have available for temple information moved Arequipa ahead of Durban.

But in addition to that particular development, progress has been noted on both temples. In Arequipa, lamp-posts are being installed, and while the planting of trees and shrubs continues, preparation is underway to lay sod in various areas on the temple grounds. For the Durban temple, the process of cladding the entrance walls and the fountain is underway, while millwork, tiling, painting, plumbing, data and electrical installation continues.

i should also note here that I am still trying to get a feel for how likely it might be that the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple will be dedicated prior to the end of this year. At the moment, I am leaning more towards the conclusion that while construction on that temple could wrap up before the end of this year, the open house and dedication of that temple would likely be deferred until after Christmas 2019 and New Year's day 2020. That said, another update has also been reported on the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, where the pouring of the concrete floor slab is now complete, and where the process of framing the meetinghouse continues.

Turning now to temples undergoing renovation, open house reservations will be available for the Oakland California Temple beginning this Saturday. Additionally, at the Mesa Arizona Temple, trees continue to be planted on the north lawn, while the installation of landscaping elements and the replacement of sections of the temple roof continues as well.

Switching gears to discuss the latest church news stories which have been reported, Sheri L. Dew, who served in the Relief Society General Presidency at one point, and who has penned many biographies for Church Presidents and other apostles, has published a new book, entitled "Insights From a Prophet's Life", in which she shares some experiences which have molded President Nelson into the man we sustain as the Lord's prophet today.

We also have this inspiring story of an MLB professional who retired to serve as a mission president, a look at how the Church is simplifying the process of scripture production, some insights from the directors of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Sqaure about the work of the Choir, and its' latest produced album, some thoughts from an area seventy about an influential seminary teacher, and a significant marker the Church has donated to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

I'd like to now conclude by sharing the latest articles published on the Church's Newsroom: Following a violent shooting at a Muslim mosque in Christchurch New Zealand, the Pacific Area Presidency issued this statement of support. And Latter-day Saints in Hamilton New Zealand welcomed their Muslim neighbors as special guests in a multi-religion gathering.

In the meantime, the Church recently hosted an interfaith tribute in the Tabernacle at Temple Sqaure, And Latter-day Saint members and missionaries based in Zimbabwe donated supplies to victims of a recent cyclone that impacted not only Zimbabwe, but also Mozambique and Malawi. A local radio station offered to take the supplies to the location that would distribute them, and missionaries in the area provided manpower in unloading the supplies once they reached the designated location.

Both a  well-known radio personality and the owner of the radio station that offered to transport the supplies interviewed the missionaries about who they were, what they were doing, and why. The answer the missionaries provided displayed a wisdom and understanding far beyond their years. Those two with the radio station voiced their surprise and gratitude that the missionaries were not only willing to help, but were able to answer their questions without any hesitation or reservations.

I have to say this: If the missionaries going into the field at around this time are of the same caliber as these young men, the missionary program of the Church will continue to remain in very good, very well-prepared, and very inspired hands. And that is wonderful to think about. I do continue to monitor any and all Church news and temple developments, and will bring word of those to you all as I become aware of them. Any major developments will continue to be reported in new posts like this one, and anything else will be passed along via comments from me on previously-published posts.

I should also mention that I am still committed to posting about the temple construction progress of the Church, and you can look for a first-quarter 2019 update on that subject which will be published here at some point around the time when Sunday March 31 becomes Monday April 1. So be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, 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 such comments are made in accordance 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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

General Conference--The Opportunity to Hear the Word of the Lord

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post some thoughts here on the subject of General Conference, especially because the upcoming April conference is now less than 2 weeks away. In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos tells us: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets." The Joseph Smith translation of that verse changes the word "but" to the word "until." In Doctrine and Covenants Section 1, which serves as the Lord's designated preamble to all other revelations found in that volume of scripture, the Lord says the following:

"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

On the day the Church was reorganized in Palmyra New York, the Lord shared counsel found in D&C 21 in relation to Joseph Smith, which by extension applies to all other prophets which have succeeded him: "Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

"For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

"For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory."

At around the same time that the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants was received, another revelation from the Lord (Section 66) shared the following in relation to the elders of the Church: "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation."

Wikipedia provides this definition (complete with several more relevant and accurate sources) of a prophet, seer and revelator. With a growing global worldwide Church, the General Conferences which are held every six months enables practices mandated by scriptural requirement to occur, including the opportunity to sustain and be instructed by the leaders of the Church who have been called by the Lord. This is a unique and special opportunity we have twice a year to put aside other everyday pursuits and focus on hearing the Lord's will for our day.

There have been several suggested methods in terms of how each of us can best prepare for General Conference. For most of my teenage and young adult years, I would take the opportunity each March and September to again fully read and review the talks from the previous General Conference. Although that tradition has faded in recent years, another great suggestion I heard is one I have taken to heart for a while as well, and I recommend it fully and wholeheartedly to all.

The suggestion is this: Beginning roughly two weeks prior to each General Conference, take some time to think about and, where practical and feasible, to write down, the specific concerns and questions you have leading up to General Conference. After doing so, with those questions and concerns in mind, pray at least once daily (but certainly more often if needed) regarding the specifics of those concerns and questions, and ask the Lord to help you find answers to those questions.

Then, during General Conference weekend, participate in it to the fullest extent you can. As you listen to or watch the proceedings, continue to maintain a prayer in your heart that you will find the answers you seek. And if you do that, I am of the opinion, based on experiences I have had in this respect, that there will be at least one or two talks that deal specifically and directly with the exact concerns and questions that you have.

As the Spirit speaks to your heart regarding what is said, write down the impressions that come based on what you heard (which may not match exactly with what was said). Refer back to the questions and answers as needed following each conference,  and, where impressed to do so, share your experiences with others concerning the answers to which you were led. In so doing, the Lord can and will tell you what you need to hear, even if that may not necessarily be what you want to hear.

As President Nelson shared in his first major address to the entire Church in General Conference, the Lord is anxious to reveal his will to all those who have questions and concerns. I know that answers to our concerns and questions can be found in General Conference, because that has been my personal experience for years now. May the Lord bless us all in the preparation we undertake in the remaining days before General Conference is my hope and prayer, as I offer these thoughts and my testimony that the things I have shared herein are true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Changes Announced to Seminary Program

Hello again, everyone! In a landmark announcement, the First Presidency has noted changes to its' seminary program. Rather than following a traditional academic schedule (August to May), beginning in January 2020, seminary students will have the opportunity to have their "Come Follow Me" Church curriculum and home study additionally supported by following a similar study schedule (and focus on the same book of scripture) as will be studied each year with the "Come Follow Me" curriculum.

In addition to the First Presidency announcement, 3 members of the Church Board of Education addressed these adjustments in a broadcast this morning. Those 3 Board members included Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who is the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles assigned to oversee the work of the Church Educational System, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, who, as Young Women General President, serves on that Board, and Elder Kim B. Clark, a General Authority Seventy who is currently serving as the Commissioner of Church Education. Joining these Board members was Brother Chad H. Webb, who has been involved with the CES program for a while, and who presently serves as the Seminary and Institutes of Religion administrator.

One thing that really struck me as I briefly skimmed the articles to which I linked above is what was said about the timing of this announcement. Knowing that the announcement was going to be forthcoming, although the Board members had some concerns about the logistics associated with these adjustments, they said that the Lord confirmed to them that the timing of the change was right, and that the logistics would work themselves out as they are implemented.

The faith evident in that expression is in line with John 7:17, wherein we read: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." Some may feel more inclined to do the reverse: They want to know that something said or done is of God before they do anything as a result. But I was also reminded of 1 Nephi 4:6, in which Nephi says this: "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."

More often than not, the Lord requires a small step into the darkness before He provides a light to help us see ahead. And that goes back to the Lord's statement elsewhere hat "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." I am grateful that the members of the Church Board of Education determined to follow this inspired decision now and worry about the logistics of doing so later,

I also wanted to note the significance behind Elder Holland's current service as the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the Church Board of Education. Elder Holland has long been involved with the Church Board of Education. He found his heart was in teaching, and he had a prestigious career as a professional educator, during which time he served on many national college boards. He also taught seminary and institute for a time.

In 1976, Elder Holland succeeded Elder Neal A. Maxwell as Commissioner of Church Education. Almost 4 years later, while serving in that capacity, he was helping lead the search for a new president of Brigham Young University, and he was surprised when the First Presidency called him to fill that same position himself. The end of his service at BYU in 1989 coincided with his call to serve as a General Authority Seventy.

And I am blessed to have some degree of familiarity with his long-term ties to the Church Educational System. My mom has worked as a freelance proofreader to varying degrees, and I recall her mentioning working on some projects for the Church Educational System during the same time Elder Holland was serving as the Commissioner of Church Education, and has shared fond memories of working for and with Elder Holland.

Sorry for that side-track on my part, but I thought some of you might be interested in those details. As soon as I read about the details of this change, I knew it was inspired. I continue to monitor any and all Church news and temple developments and will do my level best to bring word of those to you all as I receive it.

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 such comments are made in accordance 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.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

First Presidency Begins Announcing New Temple Presidents for 2019

Hello again, everyone! I have previously remarked on this blog about the fact that President Nelson seems to be very much ahead of the curve, which is in no small measure due to both his finely-honed skills developed as a surgeon that have enabled him to get to the heart of any matter (pun intended), and his extremely good health and administrative capabilities. We saw that last year when the announcement of new area leadership was made 4-6 weeks sooner than they had been in prior years, and we saw it again when the new mission presidents that will begin serving in July were announced, along with new and consolidated missions, not long after the beginning of January of this year. Yet another example occurred today, when the First Presidency announced new presidents for 8 of the Church's operating temples. This first group announcement is occurring around a month earlier than the first announcements of temple presidents have been made in previous years. So I have no doubt that other announcements of this nature will be made over the next several weeks. Among the 8 temple presidents announced today are two current area seventies (Victorino A. Babida and Milan F. Kunz), both of whom will either be released as such during the April or October General Conferences of this year.

Also included among those 8 are 2 former area seventies and 1 counselor in the current presidency of a temple who will become the new temple president in November. There was also an unexpected development in that a new president was called for the Manila Philippines Temple. I call that unexpected due to the fact that the current president of that temple has only served for 2 year, and it has been somewhat standard for temple presidents to serve for a roughly 3-year period.

Due to the announced calls of presidents for these 8 temples, I am publishing an updated version of my list of temples that have gotten or may yet get a new president. As I have mentioned previously, it is usually the case that the Church announces presidents for roughly 1/3 of all operating temples every year. And since there will be 168 or 169 operating temples by the end of this year, I am estimating that a minimum of 56 new temple presidents will be called to begin their service this year.

My personal list of potential temples which could get a new president include 3-4 of the new new temples anticipated to be completed within the next year, and I have an additional list of 56 other temples that could get a new president at some point this year, based on what my research on that subject demonstrated.

I do continue to keep my eyes open for any and all significant Church news and temple developments, and will be doing my level best to pass word of those along to you all as I become aware of such things. In the meantime, the updated list of temples that have had or may yet have a new president called for 2019 follows below. So as to not disturb the flow of that information, I will end here and now as I always do:

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 such comments are made in accordance 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.

New presidents have been called for the following temples:
1.      Copenhagen Denmark
2.      Manila Philippines (not anticipated)
3.      Tampico Mexico
4.      Philadelphia Pennsylvania
5.      Spokane Washington
6.      Manhattan New York
7.      Columbia River Washington
8.      St. Paul Minnesota

The first presidents will likely be announced for the following new temples:
1.      Arequipa Peru
2.      Rio de Janeiro Brazil
3.      Winnipeg Manitoba
4.      Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire

List of currently-operating temples which may be getting a new president in 2019:
1.      Aba Nigeria
2.      Anchorage Alaska
3.      Birmingham Alabama
4.      Campinas Brazil
5.      Chicago Illinois
6.      Ciudad Juarez Mexico
7.      Cochabamba Bolivia
8.      Columbus Ohio
9.      Curitiba Brazil
10.  Dallas Texas
11.  Detroit Michigan
12.  Fort Collins Colorado
13.  Fresno California
14.  Gilbert Arizona
15.  Guadalajara Mexico
16.  Halifax Nova Scotia
17.  Hamilton New Zealand (Note: It is possible that the Church could hold off on calling a new president for this temple until its’ rededication is held in 2021)
18.  Hartford Connecticut
19.  Hong Kong China (Note: It is possible that the Church could hold off on calling a new president for this temple until its’ rededication in 2021 or 2022)
20.  Idaho Falls Idaho (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
21.  Johannesburg South Africa
22.  Jordan River Utah (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
23.  Kyiv Ukraine
24.  Lima Peru
25.  London England
26.  Medford Oregon
27.  Melbourne Australia
28.  Memphis Tennessee (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
29.  Mexico City Mexico
30.  Monterrey Mexico
31.  Montreal Quebec
32.  Merida Mexico
33.  Nashville Tennessee
34.  Nauvoo Illinois
35.  Nuku’alofa Tonga
36.  Oklahoma City Oklahoma (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
37.  Orlando Florida
38.  Panama City Panama
39.  Perth Australia
40.  Portland Oregon
41.  Provo Utah
42.  Raleigh North Carolina (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
43.  Reno Nevada
44.  Rexburg Idaho
45.  Santiago Chile
46.  Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
47.  Sapporo Japan
48.  Seattle Washington
49.  Seoul Korea
50.  St. George Utah (Note: Since this temple is scheduled to close for renovation later this year, the Church could hold off on calling a new president until the renovation is complete)
51.  Star Valley Wyoming
52.  Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico
53.  Twin Falls Idaho
54.  Veracruz Mexico
55.  Washington D.C. (Note: Since the current president of this temple had his service interrupted by its’ renovation, the Church could hold off another year or two on replacing him.)
56.  Winter Quarters Nebraska