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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review of Temple Construction Progress During the Second Quarter of 2020

Hello again, everyone! As the final minutes of June 2020 move towards their inexorable conclusion here in Utah, I am pleased to provide a look back at temple construction progress which has occurred during this second quarter of this year (spanning from April 1 until today). Within that time, 8 new temples have been announced. Open house and rededication arrangements have been scheduled and then postponed for the Washington D.C. Temple. And several more temples have had site locations confirmed, exterior renderings released, or groundbreakings scheduled.

Based on the developments that have occurred this quarter alone, the Church may also be queueing up as many as 8 temples for a groundbreaking within the next quarter (through the end of September), aside from the 3 already scheduled to occur in July, August, and September. It will be interesting to see all of that unfold, and to the best of my ability, I will continue to document those events as they happen. With those preliminary comments in mind, I'd like to remind you all where the Church stood in terms of temple developments as 2020 began, and where things stood by the end of the first quarter of 2020, just 3 days prior to the April 2020 General Conference.

Having posted those two links, we now look at where things stand as of tonight, which marks both the end of the second quarter of this year, and also the end of the first half of 2020. With the sheer number of breaking news developments relating to temples that have been shared by the Church during the first half of this year, it will be interesting to see what announcements come down the pike in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I will be particularly excited to see what happens in terms of temple developments during the upcoming third quarter of this year, and more importantly, between now and the October 2020 General Conference.

As I mentioned previously, I have no idea whether the Church might schedule any other temple groundbreakings to occur between now and the first weekend of September, when ground will be broken for the Orem Utah Temple. Assuming that the Feather River California, Salta Argentina, and Orem Utah Temples are the only ones that have a groundbreaking between now and September 5, then the Church will still have 11 to break ground for between that day and the end of the year.  

There are only 13 Saturdays between September 12 and the end of the year, if we exclude General Conference Saturday and the final two Saturdays of the year for Christmas and New Year's, and there might be a reason to exclude the 1 or 2 other Saturdays in November before and after Thanksgiving Day. So unless the Church holds more than one groundbreaking on any week between mid-July and the end of the year, there will have to be at least one groundbreaking per week.

As I also mentioned, it seems likely that, within the next couple of weeks, the groundbreaking arrangements could be announced at minimum for the Tooele Valley, Washington County Utah, and Taylorsville Utah Temples, and I can see groundbreaking announcements in the near future for Moses Lake Washington, Bentonville Arkansas, and McAllen Texas. I'm also hopeful that there could be private groundbreakings for several international temples as well, especially in places where COVID-19 has not had such a profound impact, and where construction can safely begin.

If all goes well, it wouldn't shock me to see the total number of announced temples go down to 30 or so from its' current 39, between now and the weekend of the October 2020 General Conference. But time will tell whether or not that is possible. I'm also hopeful for much more temple news coming down the pike. With all of that being said, that concludes my thoughts about temple construction progress which has occurred during this second quarter of 2020.  I would also mention here, just briefly, that my next apostolic milestone update is set to be published here on Sunday July 12, so stay tuned for that. 

In the interim, I am pleased to note at this time that, one week ago today (on Monday June 23), President Nelson observed his latest prophetic tenure milestone. As of that date, the length of time for which President Nelson had served as Church President became equivalent to the tenure length of Joseph Fielding Smith. President Nelson thus became the 14th longest-serving Church President.  He won't abserve his next tenure milestone until mid-February of next year.  In between now and then, his next prophetic age milestone will be observed in August, and I will be providing more details on that in the aforementioned apostolic update coming up on July 12. 

President Nelson's First Counselor, President Dallin H. Oaks, who also serves as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently observed a tenure-length milestone. Just two days ago (on Sunday June 28), the tenure length of President Oaks as Quorum President matched that of Harold B. Lee. As a result, President Oaks is now the 17th longest-serving Quorum President in Church history. He will observe his next two milestones as such on two consecutive days next month, and I will be sure to provide further details on those in the aforementioned July 12 update.

I am in the midst of necessary updates to my October 2020 General Conference predictions as well. And I also continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will pass word of all such developments to you all here as I become aware of such things. That does it for now. 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, June 28, 2020

Some Thoughts About Church Growth (or the Lack Thereof) in Certain Areas

Hello again, everyone! Although I anticipate that breaking news will be provided at some point tomorrow morning on the reopening of more temples under phase 1 (which allows husband and wife live sealings with limited in-person attendance), and although it seems more likely than not that the Church could share a couple other breaking developments relating to temples, I had something else I wanted to mention on this blog at this time. 
Before I get into that topic today, I also wanted to note that I'm specifically anticipating the announcement of at least 2 temple groundbreakings, and maybe also the new announcement of 1 or more temple sites and/or the release of one or more additional temple renderings. and that additional developments may be reported on one or two other fronts as well, what I wanted to focus a new post on today couldn't wait at all.  
I wanted to note that, over the last few months since the April 2020 General Conference was held, since the Church had subsequently released quite a bit more in the way of nation-by-nation statistics that were updated as of year-end 2019, Matthew Martinich, who maintains the Church Growth blog, has been in the process of overhauling the content he provides in his "Reaching the Nations" profiles through cumorah.com. 
Through his blog, he has shared links to many of those updated profiles. And with that focus (and the ensuing comments in the associated threads thereof) in mind, I wanted to post some thoughts from me here about Church growth (or the lack thereof) in certain areas. Some of the most recent posts shared by Matt with the updated profiles focus on nations within Europe, Asia, and South America. In many of those recent threads, problems related to Church growth across those continents were detailed. Those issues have principally been noted in the Europe, Europe East, Asia, Asia North, and South America South Area (with the possible exception of the nation of Argentina). In the early 2000s, the Church sent out 3 apostles (including then-Elder Oaks to the Philippines and Elder Holland to Chile from 2002-2004, and Elder Perry to Central Europe from 2004-2005). The apostles sent to those areas specifically focused on Church growth issues in those regions and provided a more personal touch towards fixing and/or reversing those issues.
Between 2002 and now, the Church has called 10 new apostles (Elders Uchtdorf, Bednar, Cook, Christofferson, Andersen, Rasband, Stevenson, Renlund, Gong, and Soares). Of those 10, five have connections to Europe (with Elder Uchtdorf being a native German, and Elders Bednar, Cook and Andersen having served in European missions, while Elder Soares has been a mission president in Portugal), two have connections to Asia (with Elders Stevenson and Gong both having served missions in Asian ntions, and both having served in Asia Area presidencies, while Elder Stevenson has also served as president of a mission in Asia), and 3 or 4 have served missions, in area presidencies, or as mission presidents in South American nations (namely Elders Christofferson, Andersen, Soares, and perhaps also Elder Rasband).s counsel
So I have a couple of theories here. First, many of the latest comments on the Church Growth blog have suggested something that I believe will absolutely be true, that COVID-19 conditions may ultimately lead the Church to see greater success in nations currently experiencing struggles with growth-related issues. I definitely hope that will be the case, and could see it happening. At the same time, however, a part of me wonders whether President Nelson, whose right-hand man President Oaks had the experience of previously presiding over an international area of the Church, may choose at some point in the near future to send one or more apostles out to any of these struggling areas and to take oversight thereof for a period of one to two years.
It may not happen, especially since the apostles have been utilized more frequently of late in performing duties typically done by the president of the Church or his counselors. But on the other hand, having such apostles in such areas would enable them to personally oversee some of those assignments while serving for a time as presidents of those areas.. And the apostles have been commanded in scripture to "send" the word and their representatives abroad rather than filling long-term assignments abroad themselves. There's a lot to consider about this scenario that may or may not occur again in the near future, just as it had been utilized in the early 2000s.

I will be interested to see if the current conditions impacting the growth of the Church on the Asian, European, and South American continents resolve themselves following the elimination of COVID-19 as a factor, and whether or not the Church needs to take action on any of these issues at that time. I also continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates, and will be sure to pass word of those along to you all as I become aware of such things.
That does it for now. 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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Church to Hold Condensed Online-Only Training for New 2020 Mission Leadership

Hello again, everyone! More breaking news has been reported by the Church News within the last few minutes. As a result of COVID-19 conditions worldwide, the 2020 Seminar for all new mission leaders who will begin their service on July 1 of this year will be conducted entirely online and with a condensed schedule. The seminar, usually spanning 3-4 days towards the end of June, will be held this weekend. This continues the Church's efforts to be good neighbors who earnestly consider the health of those over whom they have stewardship.

The seminar usually includes a high degree of participation from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in addition to all who serve on the Missionary Executive Council (that includes Elders Uchtdorf, Christofferson, Andersen, and Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, at least one member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and at least 2-3 general officers of the Church (at last notified check, that included Sisters Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, and Cristina B. Franco, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency). 

By definition, those GA Seventies serving in the Missionary Department are there as well. Ordinarily, that includes Elder Brent H. Nielson, who has served as Executive Director of that Department for the last several years, and those who serve as Assistant Executive Directors, which, at last check, included Elders W. Mark Bassett, Craig C. Chirstensen, Weatherford T. Clayton, James B. Martino, and S. Gifford Nielsen. But Elder Nielson has been called to the Presidency of the Seventy, so unless he is assigned to continue serving on the Missionary Executive Council in that new role, he has been or will be released as the Executive Director of that Department.

Of the Assistant Executive Directors listed above, only Elders Bassett and Clayton are not currently serving as president of any area of the Church. And of the two, it seems more likely to me that Elder Clayton will succeed Elder Nielson as the Executive Director of that Department. But time will tell in that respect. I am grateful that the Church is continuing to roll with the punches when it comes to the COVID-19 adjustments that have become necessary in cosideration of the health of Church members worldwide.

And it is also wonderful that modern technologoy can make it possible for the Church to provide virtual training. It's likely that the October 2020 General Conference Leadership sessions will go forward as planned, but be provided through virtual methods to eliminate the need for in-person attendance. Still no word on specific arrangements/additional changes for that General Conference, but it will be interesting to see what happens with all such developments. I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will be sure to pass word of all such things along as I become aware of those developments.

That does it for now. 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.

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Exterior Rendering Released and Groundbreaking Date Announced for the Orem Utah Temple

Hello again, everyone! Less than 24 hours after the release of the rendering and site information for the Mendoza Argentina Temple, more breaking temple news has been shared. In n totally unexpected development as far as the timing of both the announcement and the event itself are concerned, an exterior rendering has been released and a groundbreaking date announced for the temple in my current city of residence, Orem Utah. The rendering shows the 70,000-foot 3-story temple with a tall single-spire design. Although many of the community leaders here told the Church they'd prefer an angel Moroni on the temple, with the Church acknowledging that not all temples being built have that statue, it appears that this temple will not have one either. The groundbreaking has been set to occur on Saturday September 5, 3 weeks after the groundbreaking for the Salta Argentina Temple. Elder Craig C. Chirstensen, who will continue as Utah Area President following the other changes in area leadership becoming effective on August 1. Attendance at the temple site will be by invitation only. It appears that, given current COVID-19 restrictions here in northern Utah County, the groundbreaking will be a private event, not broadcast by the internet to Church buildings or being featured on social media or anywhere else, though I imagine that a video of the proceedings in their entirety will be available in due course.

Having noted all of that, a couple of additional comments from me here: I said earlier that the timing of the Orem Utah Temple groundbreaking announcement and scheduling was unexpected. I said that because for a while now, it appeared that the next Utah temples to have a groundbreaking would be the Tooele Valley, Washington County, and Taylorsville Utah Temples. Clearly I was mistaken in that respect, but I'm not necessarily surprised about that, as I have been mistaken about plenty of things in the recent past. That will continue to be the case. But I am hopeful that the Church might soon announce groundbreakings for at least two of those 3 other temples in the next short while. There is also one other thing that surprises me with respect to the timing of this announcement and the scheduling of this event itself. That surprise comes by way of the text under the headline of the Newsroom announcement. The text in question reads as follows: "Orem Utah Temple designated as the Church's 190th temple worldwide." So, first of all, the announced timing of the groundbreaking for this temple would make it currently and tentatively numbered the 186th temple of the Church.

The size of the temple, which is comparable to that of the Layton, Tooele Valley, and Washington County Temples, suggests that construction could take between 2-3 years, which means it would wrap up at some point in late 2023-early 2024 or so. Above and beyond those observastions, however, insofar as I am aware, the Church is not in the habit of giving a temple a designated number before construction begins, or even generally until construction wraps up. That suggests to me that the Orem Utah Temple will be built on a very definitive schedule, one that may see other temples with groundbreakings yet-to-be-announced have a construction process that will be swifter than what is going to be done for the Orem Utah Temple. That idea is not necessarily a shocker, since we know that plans currently call for the Tooele Valley Utah Temple to be built on an accelerated schedule to help with temple activity while the iconic Salt Lake Temple remains closed until 2024 for renovation. As I said, the shocking part to me is that the Church has given this temple a designated number which does not, at the present time, appear to be accurate.

I am hopeful that that means that the Church is working on the factors that have delayed the construction for the Puebla Mexico and Lima Peru Los Olivos Temples, in addition to factors that will allow other temples that may have a groundbreaking either just before or just after that of this temple to move ahead of it in the construction queue. I will also note here that I had been hoping that a groundbreaking announcement for one or more of the Utah temples would be coming down the pike, but again, the fact that it is Orem first and in early September is surprising to me. One thing is very clear to me: there are going to be unprecedented developments in terms of temple construction in the days ahead. That has been true thus far this year, and it will be even more true going forward. For my part, I continue to monitor any and all such developments and will bring word of those to you all as I become aware of such things.

That does it for now. 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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Exterior Rendering Released for the Mendoza Argentina Temple

Note: This post was originally published to this blog at 10:41 AM, and was updated between 4:20 and 5:20 PM.

Hello again, everyone! The First Presidency today released the exterior rendering for the Mendoza Argentina Temple. The Church also specified the site location. When originally reading this announcement, it appeared to me as though the confirmed location was different from the one that had been speculated. But as a result of a more careful reading of the release, the site location was confirmed for the speculated spot, which will be between Calle Dr. Pose and Calle Dr. Coni E, along Avenida Champagnat. The temple appears to be a single-story edifice. It will be around 21,000 square feet, and accompanied by an adjacent meetinghouse. At present, a groundbreaking date has not yet been established, with project leaders working through the approvals process in the coming months. But it could be possible that this temple might have a groundbreaking before the end of this year. The announcement of the rendering and site information for the Mendoza Argentina Temple comes just 18 days after the early Jun announcement of the site location, rendering, and groundbreaking for the Salta Argentina Temple. And it is the latest in an unprecedented period of announced temple developments. If, as anticipated, this temple has a groundbreaking later this year, it will mark the first time ever that two new temples will be under construction at the same time in Argentina. And a groundbreaking for this temple will also mark the first time since 2018 that more than two temples are under construction in South America. I do not include Brazil in that definition, since Brazil comprises a separate area of the Church. This announcement also comes in the midst of unprecedented temple developments being reported throughout Latin America (which, by definition, includes Brazil and Mexico, in addition to the rest of Central and South America). As I observed in reply to a comment made by longtime reader Eric S. this morning about this announcement, just when I think I have the likely sequence of temple events for the next 12-18 months sorted out, an announcement like this changes the game again. Based on these most recent announcements, I have adjusted a few of my files again. I will include links to each of those files, along with brief explanations of what the files are, along with any needed additional context.

First, I have updated certain sections of my temple construction progress report. Some iinformation about the numbering used may be helpful. Firstly, with the groundbreakings having been held earlier this year for the Richmond Virginia, Layton Utah, Alabang Philippines, and Auckland New Zealand Temples, those temples are ahead of any temple in this first document. Based on current projections, the Richomond Virginia Temple will either be the last dedicated in 2022 or one of the first to be dedicated in 2023, with the dedication for Layton happening next. Barring any massive delays, Auckland New Zealand may be the next to be completed. I'd anticipate the Feather River California, Alabang Philippines, and Salta Argentina Temples to be completed next, though the three may change places with each other. I'd next conjecture that the Bangkok Thailand Temple would be dedicated, unless full-scale efforts soon begin on either or both the Puebla Mexico and Lima Peru Los Olivos Temples, for which the compleion is hard to gauge while full-scale efforts are pending. With that in mind, hopefully the numbering for the temples in the first couple of sections of the first document makes more sense.

And of course, it goes without saying that the timing of completion of temples which are now or will soon be under construction is up to the Lord, so any thoughts offered in the remainder of that first document are no more and no less than my own personal observations and theories, based on what is currently known or unknown about those temples, and all such information is subject to change as more information comes to light.

That said, let's move on to the next document, which shows the probable timing that may come into play for groundbreakings during the reaminder of this year and the first part of next year. Another document shows the temples most likely to have a groundbreaking  this year and next year. And the final document I want to share here details some data about those temples for which no official information has been announced.

What I said about the temples in the first document applies to all announced temples: Any data I have offered or will offer is no more and no less than based on my own personal analysis, and all such information is thus subject to confirmation, denial, or correction through official announcements from the First Presidency. But the overarching principle also remains true: we are living in a time where unprecedented developments are occurring in all facets of the work of the Church and the progression of the gospel, and that is particularly and specifically true for temple developments. For my part, I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will pass word of all such things along to you all as I become aware of those reports. That does it for now. 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.

Friday, June 19, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: All Stake Conferences Cancelled Through November 1, 2020

Hello again, everyone! One of the key duities of menmbers of the Quorum of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and particularly for the most senior apostles not in the First Presidency is to set the schedule Churchwide for stake conferences. As shared earlier tonight through LDS Living, a letter from M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church has canceled all stake conferences through November 1 of this year, with the situation to be reevaluated closer to that date. The letter also indicates that, as needed, the business which would ordinarily be conducted in stake conference can be handled through technological methods, and that, in some cases, when an exception is granted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,a stake confeerence can go forward if proper precautions are taken. I am grateful for the ongoing attention from all living apostles in the Church towards adapting in the midst of ever-changing situations due to COVID-19. I am similarly grateful to have reported this week on the hospitalization of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will do my best to bring you all word of those to you all here as I become aware of such things.

That does it for now. 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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Admitted to the Hospital

Hello again, everyone! I am still working on fleshing out my previous brief post about the rescheduling of the rededication for the Washington D.C. Temple, but additional breaking news has been shared by the Church. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is the youngest of the 3 apostles born in 1940, has been admitted to the hospital. Doctors tested Elder Holland for COVID-19, with a negative result. Other tests are being run at the present time. As I have previously mentioned, my family has a double connection to Elder Holland. My dad's dad was his home teaching companion at the time young Jeff was a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. And my mom worked for Elder Holland during his tenure as Commissioner of Church Education, during which time she was one of many freelance proofreaders assigned to work on Church materials.

The strange thing is that Elder Holland is younger than Presidents Nelson, Oaks, Ballard, and Eyring, as well as being younger than Elders Cook and Uchtdorf, so for him to be dealing with some unknown something that is taking a while to figure out is somewhat unusual. From the wording of the news release, it is unclear whether he is still hospitalized. But hopefully whatever's going on with him will be figured out soon. At this point in time, Elder Holland's condition is surely a worry for all, particularly his fellow apostles, and specifically President Nelson, who has been the longtime apostolic physician who has always been concerned about the health of his Brethren. So I'm sure any prayers we can send heavenward for Elder Holland would be the best way we can help in this situation. For myself, I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will pass word of those along to you all as I learn about such things.

That does it for now. 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.

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Washington D.C. Temple Reopening Dates Postponed

Hello again, everyone! As many of you might recall, on February 27, 2020, the First Presidency originally announced that the open house for the Washington D.C. Temple would take place from September 24-October 31, with a youth devotional and rededication following on December 12 and 13, respectively. Then today, in an amendemnt to that announcement, it was noted that the open house and rededication for the Washington D.C. Temple are postponed until large public gatherings are deemed safe. This mirrors the previous postponement of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple open house and dedication. As I noted previously, the Church's hope was to rededicate this temple before the end of 2020. so as not to interfere with the events surrounding next year's planned inauguration for the US President (which is set to be held on January 20, 2021, as mandated by the US Constitution). But with the reopening of the DC Temple anticipated to generate widespread interest, the Church continues in its' efforts to ensure that, as an entity, they are good global citizens. So the precaution of postponement seems very appropos at this time. Based on this development, I don't see any scenario in which the rededication for this temple, the rededication for the Mesa Arizona Temple, or the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple will be able to be held before the end of this year. Instead, I anticipate that all of these events will be pushed into 2021. And it could be that the rededication of the Mesa Arizona Temple will be the first of those 3 events to be scheduled for after the first of the year. Although a delay for this event may be unsettling to some, I consider it a wise and prudent move on the Church's part. And as I said previously, smaller temples like Winnipeg, Yigo, Praia, and San Juan likely have a better chance of being completed and dedicated on the anticipated time-frames, while larger temples that will attract more interest may see the timing of their openings adjusted in response to COVID-19.

That being said, I do not see it as accidental but providential that, before COVID-19 shut things down, the prophet of the Church was inspired to take all living apostles will him to Rome for the dedication of Italy's first temple, and that most of the duties of dedicating or rededicating temples have been delegated to his fellow apostles. If a queue of new temples or temples being renovated does build up, the apostles can be sent by ones, twos, or threes to take care of any backlog. And in the interim, I don't anticipate COVID-19 having an impact on the Church's plans to break ground for a total of 18 temples this year. If anything, the timing for those groundbreakings and the conditions under which they are held, how many are in attendance, how the groundbreaking proceedings are dissemanated to the public, and so on. It seems to me that President Nelson, as a former practicing physician, is the best possible individual to be the prophet of the Church at the time of a global pandemic. An article from the Church News has provided additional context and information on this development.

I continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will be sure to bring you all word of those developments as I become aware of such things.That does it for now. 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, June 15, 2020

1900th Post: BREAKING NEWS: 4 More Temples to Reopen Nexxt Week Under Phase 1; Several Church Historic Sites Renamed

Hello again, everyone! As hard as it is to believe, this post is my 1900th on this blog. For this milestone post, I am pleased to cover two breaking news developments, which have been reported by the Church today. Firstly, as of totday, the total number of temples open under phase 1 now rises to 89. This morning, the First Presidency announced that 4 more temples will reopen under phase 1 one week from today (June 22). That will bring the total number of temples open under phase 1 to 92. The 4 in question are the Apia Samoa, Brisbane Australia, Paris France, and Santo Domingo Dominican Republic. After several weeks of double-digit temples opening, it's nice to see the Church slowing down a bit. We are clearly not yet at a point anywhere in the world where opening any of the soon-to-be 92 temples under phase 2 is practical as of yet. I think it's wiser to take things more slowly and steadily than it would be to backtrack in that respect. So I appreciate the measured, principle-based approach.And for the second time in many of the last 6 Mondays or so, the temple reopenings do not constitute the only big news from the Church today, As also shared by the Church News, the nnames of several of the Church's historic sites have received minor name changes, With all Church sites still temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the following name changes go into effect: Brigham Young Winter Home will now be known as the Brigham Young Winter Home and Office. Historic Carthage Jail and Visitor's Center has been simpzlified to Cathage Jail. What was once known as Historic Cove Fort will now be known as Cove Fort. The Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site will now be known as the Grandin Building: Book of Mormon Publication Site. The Home of Jacob Hamblin will simply become the Hamblin Home.  Haun's Mill has been renamed Hawn's Mill to reflect the corrected spelling for the name of the owner of the property, Jacob Hawn. The Historic John Johnson Home lis renamed the Johnson Home. The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial is now Joseph Smith Birthplace. Historic Liberty Jail now becomes Liberty Jail. The Historic Isaac Morely Farm will be known as simply the Morley Farm. What has been known as the Joseph Smith Family Farm will be renamed the Sacred Grove, which is more descriptive of what the site honors. A similar adjustment better describes the Peter Whitmer Farm, which will now be known as the Whitmer Farm: Church Organization Site.

For the remaining sites on the lsit, the name adjustments require some context which I hope may be helpful. In the early days of the Church, with members of the Church known colloquially as "Mormons", during the pioneer treks that occurred in the mid-to-late 1800s and beyond, many sites prominent to the process of that trek used the name "Mormon", which became a common identifier to differentiate those landmarks from others more associated with the Oregon Trail or other US trails named after US pionners not so connected with the Church.   

The usage of the word "Mormon" in tall such sites thus became an important differentiator.  Above and beyond that, however, the usage of that term is technically historically correct for the preiod of time within which it became part of the Church's history and was easily identified as such. As a result, the next sites I will mention by name retain the usage of the word "Mormon" in their names to reflect the differntiating factor. First, the Mormon Battalion Historic Site at San Diego will now become the Mormon Battalion Center at San Diego. The Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters will be renamed the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters.

The Mormon Handcart Historic Site: Martin’s Cove will now be known as Martin's Cove: Mormon Trail Site. What has been he Mormon Handcart Historic Site: Willie Center at Sixth Crossing will be renamed Sixth Crossing: Mormon Trail Site. And finally, the Mormon Handcart Historic Site: Rock Creek Hollow will hereafter be known as Rock Creek Hollow: Mormon Trail Site. As previously noted, these are relatively minor but still fairly significant adjustments are being made for historical relevance or contexxt, for more effective descriptive purposes, or in some cases merely to simplify the names and make them easier to remember, and thus in essence be more memorable for visitors. I am grateful to have been able to bring you word of these developments. I do continue to monitor all Church newsand temple updates and will bring you all word of those here as I become aware of them. In the interim, I wanted to note in this post as well the reiteration of a development I reported in the threads of another recent post: With around 2.5 weeks having passed since I had to enable comment moderation, and with my having marked all spam comments as such in order to block those who made them, I have determined to lift comment moderation for now. I will do my best to be more diligent about watching posted comments for future spammers, but that's not sufficient enough reason to punish the rest of you who are earnest in your comments by preventing you frorm contributing to the relevant dialogue. So that's over for now.

Within the next week or two, I also plan to revisit other Church subjects I have previously covered, providing new information and updates as practical. I will likewise be reevaluating the ad setup for this blog as time and circumstancs allow me to do so, in the hopes of yielding better revenue for my efforts to report on these developments. During the period in which I will be doing so, the layout of this blog may change in some ways from time to time. I appreciate your patience with me as I navigate these issues to enable me to continue to provide the content you have come to expect, while ensuring those efforts yield sufficient returns for me financially. That does it for now. 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.

In Honor of Elder David A. Bednar on His 68th Birthday

Hello again, everyone! Given that today is June 15, I wanted to take an opportunity to pay tribute to Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who today is marking his 68th birthday today. So let's get into some details about his life experiences. David Allan Bednar was born in Oakland California on this day in 1952 to Anthony George and Lavina Whitney Bednar. His mother came from a long line of Latter-day Saint ancestors, but his father was not a member of the Church. Despite not having a formal Church membership, Anthony Bednar fully supported the rest of his family participating actively in the Church, and he would often step in and participate in meetings and Church activities, including various service projects, whereby he was in essence functioning in the same supportive way as other Church members did, but as one who was not a Church member. Young David would often ask Anthony when he would be baptized, to which his father replied that he would do so when he felt it was right. Elder Bednar served a mission in southern Germany, during which time, then-Elder Boyd K. Packer visited his mission, and was advised that, in order to get through the necessary border security, he would need money. The future President Packer would later recount in General Conference that a young missionary provided him with the money he needed, and later revealed that Elder Bednar had been that missionary.

Elder Bednar attended BYU-Provo, where he earned a bachelor's degree in communication and a master's in organizational communication. He went on to earn a doctoral degree in organizational behavior from the prestigious Purdue University. He met Susan Kae Robinson at an activity for young adults. He recounts that they were playing flag football, and that he threw a pass, which she caught. Susan would later note that, incidentally, that was the only time she could remember catching a pass. That experience left a positive impression on both of them, and the two started dating not long afterward. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 20, 1975, and would go on to raise 3 sons together.

One major highlight of Elder Bednar's life came long after his marriage. Anthony called his son one day and asked, "Would you be free on (and he named a date in the near future)? I would like you to come and baptize me." He was able to baptize and confirm his father, and also ordained him to the priesthood. He spent his vocational career as an educator at several secondary schools. For a four-year period (1980-1984), he was an assistant professor of management at what was then the College of Business Administration at the University of Arkansas. He spent the next two years as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University, after which he returned to Arkansas, where he served first as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, then the Director of the Management Decision-Making Lab. During this time, he was recognized as being an outstanding educator through the receipt of many prestigious awards and honors. He also had a few ecclesiastical responsibilities within the Church at around the same time.

He spent several months as a bishop, then went on to serve first as the president of what was then the Fort Smith Arkansas Stake, then as the first president of the newly-established Rogers Arkansas Stake. During the final months of his service as a stake president, he was called to serve as a regional representative. In 1997, he was among the first men called to serve in the new position of area seventy. That same year, he was also called by the Church Board of Education to serve as president of Ricks College, during which time he led the transition of that college to BYU-Idaho. In October 2004, as a result of the apostolic vacancies created from the July deaths of Elders Neal A. Maxwell and David B. Haight (which occurred 10 days apart), Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that the vacancies would be filled by Elders Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar.

Interestingly enough, Elder Bednar joined only two other current apostles (now-Presidents Nelson and Oaks) who were called to the apostleship without having previously served as a general authority. At the time of his call to the apostleship, Elder Bednar, who was 52 at that time, was the youngest apostle to have been called since then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks (who had been called to the apostleship in 1984 Although he immediately commenced his service in the apostleship, he also continued to serve as president of BYU-Idaho for several weeks prior to the appointment of an interim president. Elder Bednar's tenure as an educator has molded how he speaks and ministers as an apostle. One of his common traditions as he speaks in General Conference is to invite the Holy Ghost to bless him and the rest of us as we listen to his remarks.

Because he will have been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 16 years in October, he has given 32 General Conference addresses, which are always well crafted and insightful, and are well worthy of review by all of us. He is currently the fourth-most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which, including the current members of the First Presidency, makes him the seventh in apostolic seniority), and is still among the younger apostles, being the fifth-youngest both among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and all 15 ordained apostles as well. While I have never had the honor of personally meeting him, from the moment his apostolic call was first announced and onward since then, I have had a testimony that his apostolic call has been inspired and directed by the Lord, which I reiterate to you all today

Given his relatively younger age in comparison to both the six apostles senior to him, and four of the eight apostles who are junior to him, I fully believe that, at some point in the future, Elder Bednar may serve as Church President. That, of course, will be up to the Lord’s will and the health and longevity of Presidents Nelson, Oaks, Eyring, and Ballard, and that of Elders Holland and Uchtdorf. And I want to make it very clear that such a prospect is merely my own personal opinion, and not anything I can attribute to anyone else. As the Lord himself reminds us, he days of each apostle are known, and their years shall not be numbered less. I hope this post has served as a fitting tribute to this remarkable servant of the Lord.

That does it for now. 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.

Friday, June 12, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Exceptions Approved for Male Missionary Attire

Hello again, everyone! Some of you might recall that in December 2018, the First Presidency had approved some attire exceptions for young sister missionaries, where climate, culture, or tradition made it a logical move. At the time that change was announced, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf had remarked that such changes were part of the history of the Church, as previous adjustments had been made when practical, feasuble, or neccessary. He also indicated at that time that further adjustments would come in the future as necessary. Fast forward to today: In another First Presidency announcement, as corroborated by both the Newsroom and the Church News, and as again contextualized through comments from Elder Uchtdorf, adjustments were announced for male missionary attire, where approved by area presidencies. Although minor adjustments have been made to missionary attire for young males where cultural, climate, or political situations have necessitated that, the latest adjustments are meant to present general acceptable options the area presidency can consider for the young men serving in their areas. These changes include an allowance for the wearing of white or blue dress shirts with or without ties. This does not change the standard that, in most areas where there is no need for them, continues to be a white shirt and tie, with or without a suit jacket. That attire continues to apply specifically when young elders participate in mission conferences at any level, for attendance at baptisms, in temple worship, and during the weekly worship services. And only after very careful consideration would these exceptions be used. As seen recently with new editions of the scriptures, and changes in missionary contact regulations, it is neither recommended or required that current missionaries granted the exception to the standard missionary dress purchase new clothes right away based on these changes. Instead, as wear and tear occur in current attire, the new clothes can be rotated in. The coverage of this announcement also provides an overview of other changes to missionary attire made by area since 2010. Further contextual comments from Elder Uchtdorf describe this change as an opening, rather than a downgrade or diminishing of the long-standing practices related to male missionary attire. He also noted that the hope is that these exceptions may, in some cases, extend and expand opportunities for community outreach and for missionaries to connect and interact with individuals and families.

On a personal note, I have some experience with a non-standard missionary dress scenario. Although I obviously wore a white shirt when engaged in my six years of service as a temple worker. when it came to my Welfare Services missionary labors, a butto-up shirt of any style was the standard. It makes snese that missionary dress standards continue to be adjusted as necessary or advisable. As with other new changes which have been announced.Toccurred to me that it is amazing that, in the midst of managing the impacts of a global pandemic, including a phased reopening of temples, announcements continue to be made about weekly worship services, temple events, General Conference, and so many other aspects related to the work. The laser-sharp focus on the most important matters relating to the work continues to amaze, astound, and astonish me. We are truly seeing, as President Nelson noted two years ago in Rome Italy, that the work is moving at an accelerated pace, and that unfolding revelation continues to further that work in all facets relating thereunto. For my part, to the very best of my ability, I will keep monitoring all such developments and will pass word of those along to you all as I become aware of them.

That does it for now. 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.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Alabang Philippines Temple Groundbreaking Occurs Later Than Scheduled But Earlier Than Its' Rescheduled Plans

Hello again, everyone! As some of you might recall, the groundbreaking for the Alabang Philippines Temple was originally scheduled to occur on Saturday May 2, with Elder D. Todd Christofferson presiding thereat. But COVID-19 put the kibosh on that, and the Church of Jesus Christ Temples page for that temple, along with comments on the Philippines Area Facebook page, announced the postponement of that groundbreaking until early June on the recommendation of the First Presidency based on governmental direction. A tentative date for that groundbreaking was announced as being today (Saturday June 6), though that date was tentative, and it was unclear who would preside at that groundbreaking. That was primarily because it seemed unlikely that Elder Christofferson would be sent while governmental restrictions impacted travel regulations from Salt Lake City to the Philippines. In the interim, the First Presidency had also announced the 2020 area leadership assignments, and among the changes that were announced was, that Elder Evan A. Schmutz would be released as the area president, along with resulting changes in that presidency.  With those changes in mind, I offered my theory that outgoing president Evan A. Schmutz might be the one to preside at the groundbreaking for the Alabang Philippines, as one of his final actions (if not indeed the final major one) before he left that assignment.

Anyways, fast forward to today. The Church of Jesus Christ Temples page for this temple reported that the groundbreaking had taken place in early June, but not this morning. Instead, it took place on Thursday June 4.  And instead of Elder Schmutz as the outgoing president of the area overseeing the groundbreaking, his current First Counselor, who will take over as president in August of this year, oversaw that groundbreaking on Thursday. The temple is anticipated to have its' construction wrap up sometime in 2023. So that leaves only two questions:

How soon will full-scale construction be able to begin? And will the same governmental restrictions currently impacting the construction of the Urdaneta Philippines Temple have a similar impact on the construction process for this temple? Either way, the groundbreaking for the Alabang Temple marks the first time ever the Church has had two temples in the Philippines simultaneously under construction, something that will continue to be true through at least 2022. That said, I am hopeful that at least one or two of the other three temples for the Philippines (which have all been announced by President Nelson) might have a groundbreaking within that time, leaving the trend to continue for a longer term. 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 here as I become aware of such things.

That does it for now. 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.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Updated Observations and Information About the Temple Construction Program of the Church Over the Next Two Years

Hello again, everyone! Information of which I became aware a while ago through the comments on the Church Growth Blog indicated that President Nelson's immediate goal was to have a total of 300 temples in any phse by the end of 2025. Following the discovery of that information, I had run the numbers, and if President Nelson continues to announce at least 8 temples every 6 months, the Church will reach a minimum of 300 temples in any phase following the announcement of new temples during the October 2025 General Conference. Based on that, I conducted further analysis on the likely developments for the temple construction program of the Church. I assembled those thoughts in several documents, including one that shows the updated sections of my temple construction progress report,  some analysis on what may be needed for the Church to fulfill the goal of breaking ground on 18 temples before the end of this year, a revised list of temples for which I have felt a groundbreaking could occur this year and next year, and a look at the temples for which official information has not yet been confirmed.

That does it for now. 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.

BREAKING TEMPLE NEWS: Church Reconfirms the Groundbreaking for the Salta Argentina Temple

Hello again, everyone! As some of you might recall, in an earlier post this month, I had shared the report about the groundbreaking being set for the Salta Argentina Temple, and provided details about the temple at that time. Subsequently, the news release about that groundbreaking seemed to disappear, and I was not sure why that was. Then today, the Church News and the Newsroom provided the information again, with the Church Temples site providing additional context and corroboration. Aside from these corroborations, the releases additionally provided insight into how the Church will handle the groundbreaking in the midst of COVID-19. So, to sum up, the groundbreaking will take place on Sautrday August 15. The rendering is the same as it was at the time of the orignial release of this information. I still anticipate construction taking 2.5-3 years or so, based on the rendering of the temple, which will put its' general completion sometime around mid-2023 And the temple will be built on the location that had previously been widely speculated as the spot for it: a large grassy field across the street from the airport in southern Salta. It is good to have this gorundbreaking reconfirmed today through multiple sources. I do continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates and will bring you all word of those as I become aware of such things.

That does it for now. 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, June 4, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: First Presidency Announces Preliminary Changes to October 2020 General Conference

Hello again, everyone! Just under an hour ago, the First Presidency announced that the October 2020 General Conference will follow the same health parameters of the April 2020 General Conference, with the conference originating from a small auditorium on Temple Square, and only those speaking or praying invited to attend each session. This is being done out of an abudance of caution as COVID-19 conditions continue to widely impact the world. Additional details will be announced at at later date. There are at this point a few unknowns in that respect. First, the First Presidency earlier this year had announced the six-month postponement of General Conference Leadership meetings, usually held before the April General Conference each year. I am assuming this announcement will delay those meetings another six months, or that the information may be disseminated in pre-recordedmay take  material. I am also assuming that the music will be prerecorded from prior performances, and that leaders serving outside the United States would again be excused from coming.

But perhaps the biggest unknown in all of this is whether another adult session held on Saturday evening will replace the traditional Women's Session. If that happens, then we could be looking at an entirely different format from either of the scenarios I have previously presented. I assume here as well that the intent was to put the information out there with what could be announced at this time, with other announcements in the coming days clarifying more on that. And if this announcement is being made 4 months prior to General Conference, that suggests to me that there may be quite a bit more information forthcoming about that, but it also suggests that most of the traditional training sessions, usually held later this year, for mission and temple leadership, among others,  may similarly take a small-scale virtual format. So these are just a few of the thoughts I had at the time I read the announcement.

As I wind down on my coverage of this development, I wanted to thank regular commenter Nigel for sharing this news in the threads of another post. Nigel, your comment was made not long after I got the information from a Church News alert on my phone, so I appreciate you sharing that there.  Just a quick update from me as well about ongoing comment moderation: It appears that that process has, for the moment, put a stop to the frequent spam comments that had been coming in. But I don't feel at this point as though pausiing or discontinuing comment moderation would be a wise move until I am sure there will be no further problems. With that in mind, my thanks to all of you for your patience in terms of giving me time to find and approve the genuine comments, especially those from my regular readers who comment frequently. I wish I could pull the plug on moderation now for the time being, but want to be cautious with it and ensure that there will be no opportunity for the same kind of spam comments I was getting en masse before I determined to enable that moderation.

I will, of course, be monitoring any and all Church news and temple updates and will bring you all word of such developments as I learn about them. That does it for now. 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, June 1, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Multiple Church and Temple News Developments Reported; Changes in Area Seventies Quorums to Go Into Effect Today

Hello again, everyone! As you'll notice from this post's title, multiple developments have been noted by the Church today. Let's get right into all of those developments. Firstly, it appears that around 5 days ago, the Church noted in some respect that the groundbreaking for the Salta Argentina Temple will occur on Saturday August 15, with Elder Bejamin De Hoyos, president of the Soutth America South Area, presiding. The Newsroom had published that release on their main page earlier today to note that officially, but it appears that the release has since been taken down from its' original location on the website. 

As a result, in order to confirm this information, I refer you to the relevant news page for that temple from the Church Temples site. Hopefully the Church will fix that release at some point later today, and when that happens, I will provide that update through an edit to this post or through a comment hereon. Based on the rendering provided on that page, I am estimating that construction will take 2.5-3 years or so. That news will necessiate another revision to any previous thoughts about temple events this year that I have provided up to this point. Stay tuned for more on that as I figure it all out. In the meantime, the Church News website has reported that the phased reopening of temples will continue, with 11 more temples set to reopen next Monday. 

This latest announcement will bring the number of temples open under phase 1 to a total of 77 by Monday June 8. Among those reopening next week will include the sole temples in Ghana, Nigeria, Portugal, and Tahiti,  and the temples in Sapporo Japan; Fort Lauiderdale Florida; Meridian and Rexburg Idaho; Indianapolis India; Lubbock Texas; and Reno Nevada. I love to see how the Church is truly being cautious when it comes to the approach towards reopening temples. Hopefully in the coming weeks, others will move into phase 1, while some which have successfully been in phase 1 for a while may be able to go to phase 2. Stay tuned for more information as I become aware of such newsx on that front.

Let's turn now to the last new development. Earlier today, the Newsroom announced a streamlining to the process whereby Church news will be covered thereon. The previously-separate News and Events page has been absorbed into the Newsroom page, where all News and Events will now be featured. Additionally, some coverage provided by the Church News will be shared in that central Newsroom page, which will now in essence become the main hub for all such developments. The image posted with this announcement showed Elder Soares, apparently seen somewhere in Latin America. I am not sure if that is meant to indicate that Elder Soares now has some role in the Church Public Affairs Department, but that is a possibility.

And the final item I wanted to mention in this post is regarding a previously-announced development.  On May 19, the First Presidency had announced changes in the demographic composition of Area Seventies' Quorums, along with the creation of 4 new Quorums of the Seventy. Since that announcement noted that those changes would take effect on June 1, they have now become official. Although the Church website staff may be busy making other updaites that are needed relating to the other developments reported in this post, it's my hope that the official list of area seventies might soon be updated.

In conclusion, I want to note that when President Nelson mentioned things moving foroward at an accelerated pace, he was definitively not kidding. I look forward to seeing whatever may be next in that respect.