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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.


  1. Hello again, everyone! The Church News has provided the following additional reports:

    My thanks once again to you all.

  2. Hello again, everyone! The Church News and the Newsroom have provided the following additional updates:

    My thanks once again to you all.

  3. Hello again, everyone! A few more temple updates have come to light. Firstly, on both the Urdaneta and Alabang Philippines Temples, new information indicates that construction has been stalled due to a government-imposed quarantine. As a result, I have projected that the completion of the following temples may occur within the following general windows:

    Mid-2022: Quito Ecuador and Belem Brazil
    Mid-to-late 2022: Saratoga Springs Utah
    Late 2022-early 2023: Richmond Virginia and Urdaneta Philippines
    Early-to-mid 2023: Layton Utah
    Mid-2023: Auckland New Zealand and Feather River California
    Mid-to-late 2023: Salta Argentina and Orem Utah
    Late 2023: Bangkok Thailand and Alabang Philippines

    Next, I wanted to mention that, since full-scale construction is pending and/or delayed on the Puebla Mexico and Lima Peru Los Olivos Temples, whether or not they might even be completed in 2023 is up for debate. Hopefully that changes soon.

    In the interim, until full-scale construction begins in earnest on those two temples, it seems likely that some temples that may soon have a groundbreaking nnounced awill move ahead of those two temples, in the same way those temples for which a groundbreaking has been scheduled are going to get ahead of the newest temples in Mexico and Peru.

    That leads me to the next thing I wanted to mention. The following updates have been provided on the Tooele Valley, Washington County, and Taylorsville Utah Temples:

    First of all, given the fact that the Tooele Valley Utah Temple is going to be built on an accelerated schedule, and that the latest reported news on the Washington County Utah Temple (from earlier today) and the Taylosrville Utah Temple (on Tuesday), it appears more likely than not that within the next two weeks (but certainly sooner, if all goes well), groundbreaking arrangements could be announced for all three temples. It may even be possible for any of those three to have a groundbreaking on the same day as the groundbreakings are held for any of the other 3 currently scheduled.

    And although it has been traditional in recent months for the president or counselor of any area to preside at a groundbreaking ceremony, for Utah temples particularly, I could see the Church sending out apostles to help out with those. As a prime example, given the fact that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was born and raised in St. George, I could see the Church assigning him to preside at the groundbreaking for the Washington County Utah Temple.

    For whatever it may be worth to any of you, I also anticipate within the next two months or less that the Church could make announcements on the groundbreaking arrangements for the Moses Lake Washington, Bentonville Arkansas, and McAllen Texas Temples, though others could certainly have such arrangements announced.

    With at least 6 temples on my radar that may soon see a groundbreaking announced, the groundbreakings themselves could be scheduled for each of those during August, September, or October. Hopefully there may be more temple announcements coming down the pike as well.

    I continue to keep my eyes open for all such developments, in addition to all Church news updates, and will be sure to pass word of any such news to you all here as I become aware of such things.

    In the meantime, thanks again, everyone!

    1. A late-night update has just been provided on the Pocatello Idaho Temple. You can read about the specifics of that latest update at the following web address:

      My thanks once again to you all.

  4. Late this evening, the Newsroom published a new edition in the ongoing new series entitled "Relief Society in Action", which focuses on the work done by Relief Society sisters all around the world:

    My thanks once again to you all.

  5. Hello again, everyone! Boyd Matheson, opinion writer for the Desert News, has published an article looking back on a lesson he learned from observing how President Nelson and Elder Christofferson and their wives ministered to small gatherings of Latter-day Saints in Southeast Asia:

    My thanks once again to you all.

  6. The Newsroom has today provided the latest installment of the continuing series "Latter-day Saints Around the World":

    Featured in this latest edition are articles from the following nations: Bolivia, Colombia, Canada, El Salvador, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mongolia, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines (from which a few stories were shared), Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sierra Leone, Spain, Tonga, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

    My thanks once again to you all.

  7. Hello again, everyone! The Church News published another article written by Gerry Avant, the retired editor of the Church News, in which she took a look back at yet another remarkable development she had covered during her many decades as a Church news staff writer.The latest article shares the story of how Vietnam became a "land of opportunity" for one soldier and Church convert:

    The Church News has also begun covering the consdensed virtual version of the Seminar for New Mission Leadership. The first articles about that cover the standard-length message from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who appears to be sufficiently recovered from his recent medical ordeal to a degree where he can resume some of his normal apostolic duties:

    Additionally, the remarks offered by Church President Russell M. Nelson were also covered:

    That article also offered another interesting tidbit not specifically related to the mission leadership seminar. One of the photographs in that article shows the entire First Presidency seated side-by-side, with no social distancing involved.

    That suggests to me that it is likely that the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be able to attend all sessions of the October 2020 General Conference, perhaps with no social distancing necessary for them.

    What is less clear, however, at this point, is whether any other leaders who are not speaking or praying in any of those sessions will be in attendance, if pre-recorded music or scaled-down choirs will provide music for that conference, if the general leadership training will be able to be held, where the sessions might originate from, whether any General Authorities or area seventies currently serving outside the United States may be in attendance, and whether the Saturday evening session may be the standard woen's session, or another Saturday evening session for all Church members and friends 11 and older.

    But we do have the promise that additional details relating to that conference will be shared as those plans are finalized. For my part, I will be sure to bring you all word of Church news updates and all new temple developments as I become aware of them. Thanks again, everyone!

  8. On this Sabbath afternoon, I am pleased to provide coverage of the following additional developments. Exactly one week to the day after the Newsroom shared a video from Elder Stevenson in the ongoing "How I #HearHim" series, the next video in the series featured another apostle, Elder Gerrit W. Gong:

    That newest video in this series was also the focus of a Church News article as well:

    Additionally, the Church News also continues the reports about the Seminar for New Mission Leadership. Interestingly enough, the latest article in that series also coincidentally focuses on remarks given thereat by Elder Gerrit W. Gong:

    That article provided images of some of his fellow Quorum members listening to his remarks. Interestingly enough, although the First Presidency sat side-by-side in the article I hared yesterday highlighting President Nelson's remarks, it appears that some degree of distance was established between the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It wasn't much distance, but they did not appear to be seated side-by-side as were the members of the First Presidency.

    So now I am even more intrigued to find out at some point in the near future what will happen with the October 2020 General Conference. Another thought occurred to me again, as it has a few different times since 2018. In the press conference where the new First Presidency took questions from the media in January 2018, President Nelson had remarked on the fact that, while most of the then-current apostles were white and American, there would be a day when there would be more "flavors in the mix" among the apostles. President Nelson then went on to appoint the Church's first Asian-American and Latin-American apostles roughly 2.5 months later during the April 2018 General Conference.

    My train of thought was then led to consider what might happen with the Church going forward when an apostolic vacancy arises. While all members of the current First Presidency appear to be in good health, I'm not entirely sure that I believe that President Nelson will be the first of that current group of Presiding High Priests to pass away.

    By the same token, if and when President Ballard passes away, since he is the current Smith family descendent in the Quorum, it seems likely that his eventual passing would lead to the appointment of someone else with connections to the Smith family (which, to my knowledge, currently includes Brother Jan E. Newmann, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, who is currently 60 years old, though there may be one or two other Smith family descendents in current Church leadership that we might not know about.

    Whenever any other apostles might pass away, it is hard to know whether the Church would look to someone who would, as President Nelson indicated, add "more flavors (to) the mix" or if a US native might be the Lord's choice at that time.

    Just wanted to share those musings for the time being. My personal hope is that the Church won't lose any more apostles for at least the next several years. But I will be monitoring all of that, along with any new CHurch news updates and temple developments, and will bring word of those to you all as I become aware of such things. Thanks again, everyone!

  9. Hello again, everyone! Around 4 hours ago, the Church News reported that 12 more temples will reopen under phase 1 next Monday, July 6:

    The 12 in question are as follows: Asuncion Paraguay, Boston Massachusetts, Fresno California, Madrid Spain, Manhattan New York, Montevideo Uruguay, Newport Beach California, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Redlands California, Rome Italy, Sacramento California, and San Diego California.

    And for the second or third week in a row, the Church also announced that two temples that had been set to reopen today under phase 1 will instead remain closed. Those two are the Colonia Juarez Mexico and Monterrey Mexico Temples.

    With that information in mind, the number of temples that are reopened under phase 1 will total 108 of the Church's total 168 temples worldwide, expanding the majority that are open. I don't know how soon any of these temples may transition to phase 2, but it will be interesting to see what happens there.

    Additionally, the Church News has finally provided a "home page" for coverage of the 2020 Virtual Leadership Seminar, which was condensed from 3 days down to 2:

    That "home page" for content about the seminar will be updated with the appropriate links. But on my end, I will still try to pass along updates from the Seminar as I received word of them. In the meantime, I am still hopeful that we may soon see at least one or two breaking news developments relating to temples.

    I am similarly hopeful that within the next couple 0f weeks, we might hear something more official on the October 2020 General Conference. Other developments may also possibly be reported. Time will tell. In the meantime, my thanks once again to you all.

    1. That was impossibly fast. While I was typing the above comment, the Church News apparently provided at least one new article covering the seminar. The newest one of which I'm currently aware featured Elder Uchtoorf's remarks opening the seminar:

      My thanks once again to you all.

    2. And the Church News has provided coverage of Elder Uchtdorf's remarks closing out the seminar:

      Additionally, coverage was provided on the remarks offered by Elder Neil L. Andersen, another member of the Church's Missionary Executive Council:

      My thanks once again to you all.

    3. Here is an article covering remrks given by Elder Quentin L. Cook during this weekend in the seminar:

    4. More summaries of addresses given during the Mission Leadership Seminar have been shared:

      My thanks once again to you all.

    5. Here is a report on another address from the seminar, this one given by Acting President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Due to his being a direct-line descendent of Hyrum Smith, he spoke about Hyrum's role as one of Joseph's chiefest supporters, defenders, and protectors. From seeking the Lord's will for him through his brother's revelatory capabilities, to eventually serving as one of the 8 witnesses of the Book of Mormon, to his service alongside his brother in the First Presidency, and to the very end of their lives, at which time Hyrum had been serving as Patriarch to the Church and the Assistant President of the Church, he never once wavered.

      When Joseph determined to give himself up to law enforcement and to go to Carthage to answer false charges, he urged his brother to take his family and flee. But Hyrum refused to leave his brother, and was thus martyred alongside him.

      Far from coincidentally, when President Ballard addressed the new mission leaders, that address was given on Saturday June 27, which marked the 176th anniversary of the brothers' martyrdom. Read more about President ballard's remarks in the following article:

      My thanks once again to you all.

    6. Hello again, everyone! Two more reports have been provided on the Seminar for New Mission leadership:

      My thanks once again to you all.


In addition to my life-long love for the subjects which I cover in the posts of this blog, I have long held the belief that we can disagree without becoming disagreeable. Differences of opinion are natural, while being disagreeable in expressing those differences is not. And in that sense, I have no desire to close the door on anyone who earnestly desires to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on subjects covered in the posts on this blog.

At the same time, however, I recognize that we live in a time when incivility, discourtesy, unkindness, and even cyber-bullying has regrettably become part of online interactions. With that in mind, while anyone who wishes can comment on anything if they choose to do so, I hereby reserve the right to immediately delete any comments which are critical, unkind, lack civility, or promote prodcuts, services, and values contrary to either the Church, or to the rules of online etiquette.

I'd also like to remind all who comment here that I try to respond personally to each individual comment as I feel is appropriate. Such replies are not meant to end the conversation, but to acknowledge earnest feedback as it is submitted.

And in order to better preserve the spirit and pure intentions for which this blog was established, I also hereby request that anyone not commenting with a regular user name (particularly those whose comments appear under the "Unknown" or "Anonymous" monikers, give the rest of us a name to work with in addressing any replies. If such individuals do not wish to disclose their actual given names, a pseudonym or nickname would suffice.

Any comments made by individuals who opt to not give a name by which they can ber identified may, depending on the substance and tone of such comments, be subject to deletion as well. I would respectfully ask that all of us do all we can to keep the dialogue positive, polite, and without malice or ill-will. May the Lord bless us all in our discussion of these important matters.