He also watched as many people accepted the gospel. “But I learned that I was not the one that made that happen. It was the Lord.”Thousands of years ago, Heraclitus offered an oft-quoted observation that Elder Jorge M. Alvarado and his family would surely challenge.“Wherever we have been, we have been home,” said Sister Alvarado. “That’s the wonderful thing about the Church.”Sister Alvarado, he added, was the constant glue that kept the family together—especially when professional or Church duties took him away from home. The couple became tech-savvy, utilizing Skype and FaceTime to be together even when separated by thousands of miles.A short time after returning from his mission, Elder Alvarado stopped by the local Church distribution center in Puerto Rico to pick up a few items. The employee who assisted him was Cari Lu Rios, a fellow Ponce resident. They knew each other vaguely from past Church activities.The Book of Mormon remains a defining element in his life.For almost 30 years, they have lived in various locales in their native Puerto Rico and in the mainland United States. Jobs and professional opportunities were often evolving for the newly called General Authority Seventy. And both Elder Alvarado and his wife, Sister Cari Lu Alvarado, have served in a variety of ecclesiastical assignments.Wherever they serve, the Alvarados remain proud “Boricuas”—the term Puerto Ricans use in reference to their own island history.The feeling was not mutual, said Sister Alvarado, laughing—at least not initially.The Alvarados are the parents of three children—two daughters and a son.The new missionary chose to trust his priesthood leader. “And following my mission, all of my work and Church callings have been in English. It’s been a great blessing.”The guiding role of the Book of Mormon is another proven Alvarado constant.In high school, Jorge was selected to be the president of his seminary class in his hometown of Ponce. That year, the students were studying the Book of Mormon.His new responsibility prompted personal soul-searching.Miguel and Iris Alvarado joined the Church in Puerto Rico in 1977 when their son Jorge was six years old.He witnessed the law of the harvest—you reap what you sow. He discovered the natural balance between obedience to the commandments and compassion and empathy for others.“Elder Viñas told me the greatest testimony that you give is the way that you live your life with your family,” he said. “So I would tell people to involve their families in all they do. For us, living the gospel is a family affair.”“But President Albright told me, ‘Elder, I’ll make you a promise: if you work in Spanish [areas], you will have opportunities to use English—and you will always be successful in your jobs and in the Church.’”But they had fun with one another. Soon they were spending most of their time together and realized they had become a couple. They married in the Washington D.C. Temple six days before Christmas in 1992.“I knelt down and I prayed and I knew then that it was true,” he said.They now face another pivotal moment as they serve Latter-day Saints and others worldwide. As he considers ways that he might counsel others, Elder Alvarado recalls advice he once received from Elder Franciso J. Viñas, now an emeritus General Authority.The 48-year-old General Authority’s own personal conversion is rooted in the Book of Mormon.When he served in the Tampa Florida Mission, he shared the Book of Mormon with everyone he taught. Missionary work also taught Elder Alvarado key lessons of obedience that serve him well to this day.Sorry, Heraclitus, but the gospel remains an indisputable constant for the Alvarados. Home addresses, Church callings, and jobs may change—but family prayer, faithful Sabbath-day worship, and the anchoring principles of the temple never do.
Elder Jorge M. Alvarado was sustained as a General Authority Seventy in the April 2019 General Conference.The young returned missionary was immediately smitten. “When I looked into her eyes, I knew she would be my wife.”“The temple will bring to Puerto Rico all that the members need to understand why we say we have the fulness of the gospel,” he said.But at each stop in their lives they have found communities of believing people.“Our leaders have told us that if we read the Book of Mormon, our families will be strengthened,” said Elder Alvarado. “We have read the Book of Mormon throughout our marriage and ever since our kids were born. We are promised great blessings if we read the Book of Mormon—and I believe that strongly.”Young Jorge was baptized two years later and never missed Sabbath services. By almost all definitions he was an active member.He knew little English growing up, so it was thrilling to receive an English-speaking missionary assignment. But just weeks after arriving in Florida his mission president, G. Vern Albright, told him he was assigning him to a Spanish-speaking area. It was frustrating news.“I had to ask myself, ‘Do I really know the Book of Mormon is true?’ How could I be the president of the class if I didn’t even know if that book was true?”Serving a mission, he added, was a learning center “for everything that I’ve done in my life.”“But my own conversion happened when I was 16,” he said.Puerto Rican Latter-day Saints have experienced emotional extremes in recent years. Recovery from the horrors of Hurricane Maria in 2017 continues to this day. Many members were devastated by the historic storm. But joy was found when President Russell M. Nelson visited the island last year, followed by the October announcement to build the San Juan Puerto Rico Temple.He picked up his copy of the Book of Mormon and began earnestly reading it for the first time.The family has lived in both Puerto Rico (where the Church is still relatively young) and in Utah, where Latter-day Saint meetinghouses dot most neighborhoods. The Alvarados were also missionary companions when Elder Alvarado presided over the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.“And I learned to let the Spirit be my teacher.”“The only thing that is constant,” said the Greek philosopher, “is change.”Make no mistake, the Alvarados are well acquainted with change.
Take a moment and examine a couple of the photos attached to this article.The couple also planned to have additional children with little time between each delivery, allowing for the siblings to be close in age. So Lawrence dropped out of college.She also wanted her children to witness her joy in doing hard things and pursuing worthwhile goals.Lawrence doesn’t plan to jump into the workforce, “but my kids know how I feel about education; I wanted to make sure I was walking the walk.”Eric and Sheri Lawrence remain BYU “parents.” All four of their college-age children have attended the Church-owned school.No sign of the pacifier.She is grateful that BYU supports both her family and her non-traditional educational pursuits. Family finance and math classes were highlights of her studies.Lawrence proved a woman of her word.In 1994, the Canadian-born Lawrence was two years into her college studies at BYU when she found out she was expecting her second child. She already had a little girl—and her husband, Eric, was also in college.So what’s next for the mother of seven?
Blake Lawrence and his mother, Sheri Lawrence, both graduated recently from Brigham Young University. Photo courtesy of Sheri Lawrence.In 2012, Lawrence re-enrolled at BYU with a two-pronged objective: first, to earn her bachelor’s degree. And second, to graduate at the same time as Blake, who was finishing his graduate studies in accounting.Don’t confuse “home study” with “easy.” She still had five children living at home when she returned to college. Sometimes, family circumstances allowed her to take several classes. Other times, she opted to take a semester or two off.“I’ve learned a lot about perseverance knowing she was taking college classes even while raising a big family,” he said. Sheri Lawrence dropped out of BYU 25 years ago following the birth of her son, Blake. The Canadian Latter-day Saint eventually returned to BYU and graduated with Blake. Photo courtesy of Sheri Lawrence.But the backstory connecting the two mother-and-son photos—taken decades apart—champions family support and sacrifice, commitment to lifelong education, and holding tight to personal goals.Blake is “happy to take the blame” for his mother’s circuitous, 28-year route to a college degree.“I wanted my kids to see how my husband supported me in something that I wanted to do. And I wanted to be an example to them. I always tell my kids how important education is—how could I not get my own education?”Raising a family of seven children offers scant time for penning college essays and cramming for finals. Still, she was determined to honor her word.“I wanted to graduate with Blake because he’s the kid I quit school for,” she said with a laugh. “I decided I’d walk across that stage at convocation with him.”“Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human mind, body, and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation” (Robert D. Hales, “The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 19, 2008], speeches.byu.edu).Several members of the Lawrence family cheered for Blake when his name was read at BYU’s recent business school convocation. But, perhaps appropriately, his mother’s name was read first. (Sheri graduated with a degree in general studies with an emphasis in family life—but she joined Blake at his convocation ceremony.)In one, a 20-something Sheri Lawrence is snuggling with her newborn baby boy. The little one sports a full head of dark hair and sucks contentedly on his pacifier.But her goal to claim a college degree remained resolute.In the other and far more recent photo, a young man towers over Lawrence, now 48. They’re both wearing Brigham Young University graduation caps and gowns, and the tall one has a familiar head of dark hair.“We didn’t feel like we could afford to have two children and for both of us go to school at the same time,” she said.A Minnesota resident, Lawrence resumed her BYU studies via the school’s online Independent Study.“It was hard; it was sometimes difficult to stay motivated,” she said. “But my goal was walking across the stage with Blake.”Five more Lawrence children would arrive after Blake. Sheri focused on helping with their homework, her Church assignments, and other duties.“I told everyone, ‘Once our last child is in preschool, I’m going back to school.’”
Sister missionaries Matainumera Rayleen and Tusani Tuungafasi in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Prior to the devotional, President Nelson met with local leaders—including Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who spoke briefly at a reception.“Today, I’m pleased to announce that the new temple will be built in Auckland on Redoubt Road. We visited that prominent hill earlier today.”Accompanying him on the trip are his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong.Teaching children President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, walk on ground for the new temple in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Speaking to youth before the evening devotional, President Nelson referenced the country’s rich heritage and bright future.“President Nelson, I have to say that your Church is a very important faith organization in New Zealand. The Church performs a very important role in the values that you teach and in the community service that you give us.”The result will be “a generation of sin-resistant souls,” who know who they are and what God wants them to become, he said.God’s plan is a joyful plan, President Nelson told Emma Ormsby, 17.Begin with the end in mind President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, meet with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Hours later in front of a crowd of 12,000 Latter-day Saints gathered in Spark Arena for the May 21 evening devotional, President Nelson delighted the congregation. Chunte Joseph, right, dances with Jahrian Siliva prior to a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson speaks during a devotional at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Referencing the March 15 mosque shooting in Christchurch, Goff said: “Your Church was one of the first churches to come out to condemn the act, to express your solidarity with people of the Muslim faith. Your missionaries in Christchurch helped at the community center. Your ladies in Dunedin helped set up a women’s support center.” President Russell M. Nelson shares a laugh on the grounds for the new temple in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
President Russell M. Nelson speaks with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Sylvia Pritchard plays with her niece by the same name—Sylvia Pritchard—prior to a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.AUCKLAND, New ZealandPresident Nelson said the youth will be blessed by the new temple, as well as the historic Hamilton New Zealand Temple, which closed for renovations in July 2018.Mosque donationGod’s children“Take a look at who you are”“Looking ahead, should you require volunteers to assist in the repair and renovation work that will be funded by these donations, we would be honored to lend a helping hand.”The Hamilton temple renovation project will bring the temple in compliance with modern seismic standards, replace aged systems, provide new patron housing, refresh the interiors, and enhance and beautify the exterior grounds and landscaping, said President Nelson.“Take a look at who you really are,” President Nelson encouraged the missionaries. “Every day one can become a little bit more like Jesus wants us to become. It’s a lifetime project. Practice it every day.”“We’ve been here many times,” he said. “We’ve learned to love the people, your leaders, and your special consideration of all of God’s children.”“What a blessing that we can feel the love of God for us and those around us,” said Elder Gong.Personal revelation can guide the actions of the faithful, President Nelson taught.President Nelson also pledged the service of local Latter-day Saints.The death and injury of innocent worshippers, gunned down March 15, “is incomprehensible,” President Nelson said. Missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Emma Ormsby asks President Russell M. Nelson a question during a youth meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.New Zealand is the fourth stop on President Nelson’s nine-day, seven-nation Pacific Ministry Tour, which started May 16. In Kona, Hawaii, he shared 10 personal messages for Latter-day Saints. In Apia, Samoa, President Nelson urged Latter-day Saints to be strong in the face of persecution and “attacks of the adversary.” In Sydney, Australia, President Nelson told Church members “if you want to be happy, choose the way of the Lord.” He also met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the Parliament Buildings in Wellington. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, leave after getting a photo taken with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Nelson focused his evening devotional remarks on teaching children. He asked parents to teach their children what it means to be a child of God and that they can pray to Him. He also asked that they help children understand the sacred nature of their bodies and to teach them about Jesus Christ and to love the Book of Mormon. Additionally, he entreated parents to help children avoid addiction, to get an education, and to be good citizens. President Russell M. Nelson meets with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Church leaders stood on a hillside between the Auckland Missionary Training Center and the stake center on Redoubt Road here Tuesday. Amid the cool breeze of the autumn day, President Russell M. Nelson took in the expansive view and spoke about the country’s second temple, announced seven months earlier.Elder Gong reminded the missionaries of the prophecy the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants 122:1 that states, “The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name.”Sister Nelson spoke of personal revelation and shared how she came to know she should date and eventually marry then-Elder Russell M. Nelson.“Did you ever think that when you share your testimony, told by who you are and by what you say, and by kindness, that you are fulfilling that prophecy? That you uniquely can fulfill that prophecy where you are serving? … You have the opportunity, the blessing and even responsibility to do so. Attendees enter the Spark Arena prior to a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.In a Tuesday morning event broadcast to missionaries throughout the Pacific Area, President and Sister Nelson and Elder and Sister Gong met with 2,600 missionaries serving in New Zealand or preparing for missionary service in the New Zealand Missionary Training Center.“This temple was well-built,” said President Nelson, noting the renovation will be completed in 2021, followed by a rededication. “The Temple View community will continue to grow and experience the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”In 1854, the first missionaries arrived in New Zealand—a country that today has three missions, 30 stakes, 113,500 members, and soon-to-be two temples. The missionaries found the Maori people eager to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. A translation of the Book of Mormon was published in Maori in 1889, and a meetinghouse was dedicated in the country 20 years later. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Jadarose Kapsin-Mani, 10, sings after President Russell M. Nelson asked Primary-age children to sing during a devotional at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Zeline Soriano, 4, sings after President Russell M. Nelson asked Primary-age children to sing during a devotional at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Nelson first visited New Zealand in 1976—accompanying President Spencer W. Kimball as his physician on a Pacific tour. Almost two decades later, he offered a prayer on the land and people of New Zealand on Novembr 6, 1993. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, laugh with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff prior to a devotional at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson meets with youth in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“So what can we do? We can pray, we can love, we can minister, we can give a donation. They appreciate it all. They appreciate the fact that we care.” Missionaries listen to President Russell M. Nelson in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Earlier in the day in a meeting with national and local Muslim leaders, President Nelson announced a $100,000 donation to the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. (See related story.) The mosques were damaged two months ago in a deadly attack that left 51 dead and as many injured. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave after meeting with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson meets Lorenzo Tagiloa in a youth meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Soraya Wirepa, 16, asked for advice on gaining her own testimony. “Begin with the end in mind,” President Nelson told her. “What would you like said about you at your funeral. … I can’t imagine better motivation than to know you are making progress every day.” President Russell M. Nelson has a photo taken with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The project “is well underway and on schedule.”“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the world over were heartbroken when we heard of the deadly attacks on innocent worshippers” he said, adding “our prayers, love and support are with you and all others affected by these senseless tragedies.”“The Lord is just as anxious to reveal to you the things you should know as He is to reveal to His prophet,” President Nelson told Dallyn Jafiti, 15. Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meets with missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Manga Aperahama waits with his daughter Kaainga prior to a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Sister Gong told the congregation that living the gospel will bring them “joy and peace.”Located on Goodwood Heights in Manukau City, the temple’s “light and beauty will be highly visible,” he said. “Thank you for your faith that has brought this temple.”
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with imams and a victim in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019 from two mosques that were recently attacked. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.[President Nelson met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on May 20 and praised her for being a "courageous" leader. Read more about it here.]During the small reception, President Nelson announced a donation of $50,000 U.S. to each impacted mosque “to assist repair and renovation of your two facilities.”“So what can we do? We can pray, we can love, we can minister, we can give a donation. They appreciate it all. They appreciate the fact that we care.”After announcing a $100,000 donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to rebuild and renovate mosques damaged two months ago in a deadly attack, President Russell M. Nelson stood arm-in-arm with Dr. Mustafa Farouk, the president of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with imams and a victim in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019, from two mosques that were recently attacked. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshipers were gunned down March 15 in Christchurch. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Visiting with leaders of New Zealand’s Muslim community in the Relief Society room of the Auckland New Zealand Redoubt Stake Center, President Nelson’s sentiment was clear.“The first question in my mind was how am I going to handle this. …. How are we going to rebuild our community? How are we going to start the mosque again?”Dr. Farouk said linking arms with President Nelson was a symbol of unity.Shagaf Khan, president of the Muslim Association of Canteberry, which manages the Al Noor Mosque, was at work when he received a call informing him that there was a shooting in the mosque.Of the Church’s donation, he said: “When someone comes from oversees and shows his love for us, it is really heart touching. We can feel their sacrifice.”President Nelson also pledged the service of local Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with imams and a victim in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019, from two mosques that were recently attacked. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshipers were gunned down March 15 in Christchurch. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Dr. Mustafa Farouk meets with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshipers were gunned down March 15 in Christchurch. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Looking ahead, should you require volunteers to assist in the repair and renovation work that will be funded by these donations, we would be honored to lend a helping hand.”Imam Zirullah said continued support has “given us strength.”The death and injury of innocent worshipers, gunned down March 15 at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, “is incomprehensible,” President Nelson said.“Our prayers, love, and support are with you and all others affected by these senseless tragedies.”“We are all united,” he said. “We are all one.”Imam Kahn said he has been touched by the outpouring of support from the nation and world.Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah of the Linwood Mosque said the shooting—and images of gunshots, blood, broken windows, and screaming women—is “something that I don’t really want to go back to.”Dr. Farouk said the Muslim community has felt unprecedented support since the shootings, which resulted in 51 deaths and as many injured. “Right from the prime minister to the person on the street, they all came with one voice: ‘This is not New Zealand.’”Dr. Farouk thanked President Nelson for his visit to New Zealand and for his prayers. “It is very touching to us that you are here,” he said.“We are brothers. We are brothers,” he said.“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the world over were heartbroken when we heard of the deadly attacks on innocent worshipers in the Al Noor and Linwood mosques of Christchurch on March 15,” he said, reading from a letter presented to Dr. Farouk.The fact that President Nelson came from the United States at his age “to express his solidarity with us” means much, he said.But “the love shown to us right away from the New Zealand government and New Zealand as a whole and the whole world, irrespective of faith and belief, took 50 percent of the horror, the trauma, out of us.”“Immediately I identified, ‘This is a hate crime that has happened.’”AUCKLAND, New Zealand President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets Linwood mosque victim Ahmed Jahangir and imams in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Jahangir is recovering from his injuries from the attack. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshipers were gunned down March 15 in Christchurch. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
”We are deeply saddened by the loss of Elder Andrew Carr, but we take comfort in the eternal plan of a loving Heavenly Father. How grateful we are to know that in times of tragedy we can find peace and hope through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.“Elder Andrew Carr, 19, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, and was serving in the Mexico Mexico City Northwest Mission, died Saturday morning, May 18. His companion was unharmed in the apartment incident.”We extend our deepest sympathies to his parents and loved ones as they deal with this tragedy,“ said Woodruff of Elder Carr, who began his service in October 2018. ”We pray they will be sustained and feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.“A full-time missionary serving in Mexico City has died of asphyxiation in his apartment.The asphyxiation was apparently due to a faulty water heater located near the shower in his apartment, said Daniel Woodruff, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.President Shawn Furniss of the Forth Worth Texas North Stake, Elder Carr's home stake, provided a statement on behalf of the family.
The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple closed in 2017 for extensive renovations. Members in the temple district made the long drive to temples in neighboring states, even while preparing for the day when their own temple would reopen.He pointed to the nearby baptismal font.“This temple has a perfect balance,” he told the Church News. “It is a house for the Lord—and for the people. It has a wonderful feeling.”President Eyring was joined Sunday by Elder Kevin R. Duncan and Elder Lynn G. Robbins, both General Authority Seventies. The Alonso Family from Springdale, Arkansas, enjoy the grounds outside the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple, President Eyring added, reflects the Latter-day Saints who have made this edifice their spiritual shelter for almost two decades.Rededicating a peace-filled havenYUKON, OklahomaChange and growth are synonymous, observed Elder Robbins. “With more and more members—and 250 Area Seventies worldwide—the work is growing exponentially.”“The Lord is hastening His work, and time compresses,” said Elder Duncan, noting that more temple dedications and rededications are scheduled in the coming weeks and months in nations across the globe.The temple is found in the suburb community of Yukon, a significant drive from downtown Oklahoma City. Still, over 21,000 people toured the temple during its recent, abbreviated open house—including Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, U.S. Sen. James Lankford and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin. From left, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Kevin R. Duncan participated in the May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.President Henry B. Eyring—Second Counselor in the First Presidency and Elder Eyring’s great-grandson—rededicated the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple.“People who have moved here from the western United States claim we don’t have mountains in Oklahoma,” said President Gray. “But I point out to them that we have a ‘mountain’ in our own stake: our temple—the mountain of the Lord.”Sitting beneath a painting of the Savior that greets visitors to the Oklahoma City temple, President Eyring marveled at the many who will be rededicating their lives and families to the Lord—even as the Oklahoma City temple is being rededicated.Over 150 years ago, a newly baptized convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints named Heinrich Eyring dutifully reported for six years of labor in the Indian Territory Mission, in what is now the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission President Darren Mansell, at left, and Sister Shilane Mansell, greet friends gathering for the May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.“It was also beautiful to have guests from so many different faiths—Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Baptists—who came to the temple,” said local Church Public Affairs specialist Becky Wilkinson. “We focused on the things that we have in common. … And we found we had much more in common than we had differences.”The Mountain of the LordMany of Elder Robbins’ past ecclesiastical duties have involved the youth of the Church. The temple, he said, is a young person’s portal to happiness and growth. Entering the Lord’s house on earth open the door to His house in heaven.“I feel overwhelmed by the experiences of the young people who will come to this temple. They will have a dramatic effect on the people here; increasing their love of the Lord and their love of temples.”Meanwhile, “a greater community understanding of the Church since the dedication has led to more respect and acceptance of our faith,” said President Gray. “And for the members, our temple has been a refuge—a place to get away from the chaos of the world and find peace and power.”“The temple is the most important destination in life,” he said. “It represents entering into the presence of God.” Originally dedicated in 2000, the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple was rededicated on May 19, 2019, by President Henry B. Eyring. Photo by Jason Swensen.Once dedicated, the state’s one and only temple forever changed Oklahoma, he added. Testimonies germinated and strengthened. Mothers and fathers were sealed for eternity to their children. People who encountered this small yet stately temple asked to learn more about the restored gospel—and many became Latter-day Saints.Elder Eyring’s pioneer-era, Spirit-sustaining devotion remains emblematic of the thousands of Latter-day Saints who call the Sooner State home.Elder Duncan and Elder Robbins agree that Sunday’s rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple is yet another entry in a historic chapter of Church history that is happening in real time. Even as President Eyring was rededicating this beloved edifice, President Russell M. Nelson was traveling across the Pacific and inviting Latter-day Saints there to live their best lives.The gathering continuesScores of local Latter-day Saints invited their friends, neighbors, and co-workers to the recent open house, which many here said performed miracles in strengthening friendships and inviting discussion.“It never gets old,” said President Eyring. “In fact, every time you enter a [new] temple you feel the Spirit of the Lord even more. What a blessing it will be for the people.”“As I walked through the temple and I looked at all motifs that had to do with Oklahoma and the American Indians, I felt my great-grandfather’s spirit,” said President Eyring, pausing with emotion.Blessings that the 19th-century missionary once promised the people of this region have again been bestowed. Once again, a temple in Oklahoma is welcoming and teaching all who visit.On Sunday, another Eyring etched his own name here in local Church history. Latter-day Saints gather outside following May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency bids farewell to members following May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.Almost 19 years have passed since President Eyring’s friend and fellow apostle, President James E. Faust of the First Presidency, dedicated the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple on July 30, 2000.Following Sunday’s rededication, the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple is again “the mountain of the Lord.”Temples continue to be built —and, in some cases, rededicated—because President Nelson sees them as vital to gathering Israel, he added.Celebrating Jesus Christ and His anchoring role in the temple highlighted each open house tour, she added.Having a temple in Oklahoma “was a beautiful gift,” said Oklahoma City Oklahoma Stake President Thomas R. Gray.“People come to the temple to find peace,” he said. “They come here to worship God and feel close to Him. … Our invitation is for all to come and feel His peace and love.” President Henry B. Eyring greets, from left, Sister Jan Robbins, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, and Sister Nancy Duncan, prior to the May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.The Oklahoma City temple is every bit as precious to the members it serves as, say, the iconic Salt Lake Temple or the newly dedicated temple in Rome, said Elder Duncan.“They will do that by coming here often—and by bringing their young people,” he said.More than 160 temples are in operation—with dozens more announced or under construction. But participating in events such as the one that happened Sunday in central Oklahoma never becomes commonplace for priesthood leaders such as President Eyring, Elder Duncan, and Elder Robbins.
We pray that Thou wilt bless every patron who comes here to have a spirit of unselfish service to carry forward the great work of the Son in behalf of those who are helpless to help themselves. And bless those patrons as they give that service in the name of Thy Beloved Son, that they may draw closer to Him and increase their love for Him.We are grateful for the restoration of the holy priesthood through Thy Prophet Joseph Smith and for all of the prophets who have followed him in an unbroken line, each holding the keys of the priesthood for all the world. We thank Thee that the prophet Elijah was sent to restore the keys of the ordinances of salvation and exaltation for both the living and the dead. We thank Thee for those priesthood keys that allow us to have families sealed forever and to live in love and in glory with Thee. The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. A gold-leafed statue representative of the ancient Book of Mormon prophet Moroni stands atop the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple.With heads bowed, with hearts filled with gratitude, with declarations of love, we lift our voices in solemn prayer and rededicate ourselves and all that we have to Thy divine service. And we do so in the name of thy Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen.We thank Thee for the gift of Thy Beloved Son, who came into the world so that Thy sons and daughters, by partaking of the gifts offered in this house, may return to Thy loving presence, to live in families with Thee forever.We rededicate the beautiful surrounding grounds and pray that those who pass by this temple, and those who approach its portals, will recognize it as a sacred structure built unto Thy holy name. May each look upon it with reverence and respect.Father, we now ask for Thy protection of this structure—from its footings to the tower with its figure of Moroni. May the walls, the windows, and the roof of this structure be secure against storms, winds, and water. May the baptistry herein carry forth the great work of Thy Son for those beyond the veil of death. We rededicate the endowment rooms, the sacred celestial room, and the sealing rooms where a man and a woman, parents, and children may be bound together for all eternity. Latter-day Saints gather outside following May 19, 2019, rededication of the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.Following is the text for the prayer offered by President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, to rededicate the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Originally dedicated in 2000, the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple was rededicated on May 19, 2019, by President Henry B. Eyring. Photo by Jason Swensen.We are grateful for the faith that has made possible the great privilege of having a temple in this place. Because of the faith, strength, goodness, and selfless service of those who have labored in this house, thousands have been blessed—in this world and in the spirit world. We are grateful for the faithful tithe payers of the Church, who have made it possible for us to offer this holy house to Thee and Thy Beloved Son.We rededicate the halls, the offices, and every facility and fixture found in this holy house. May all that is found within be sacred to those who come here. May a spirit of reverence and worship envelop this structure at all times.Dear Father, we pray for the missionaries who will go forth from this house endowed with blessings and power from on high. May divine authority rest upon them. May Thy watchcare be over them. Bless them with power to testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation and exaltation. We pray that the work may spread far and wide among the nations and the peoples, that it will roll forth and fill the earth, as Thou hast promised.May the defiling hand of the vandal and the destroyer be kept from the exterior. May none with evil intent enter within this holy house.We pray for a blessing on the people who live in the communities within this temple district. May their interest in learning more about Thy work increase. May they continue to seek for knowledge concerning the true source of happiness so that they embrace the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.We pray for the temple presidency, for the matron and her assistants, and for all who will serve in any way in this sacred structure and in its surrounding grounds. May all who serve be blessed by Thy sustaining and loving influence.O God our Eternal Father, Thou mighty Elohim, in the name of Thy Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and by the authority of the divine priesthood, we come before Thee to rededicate this, the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto Thee, our living God, and as a resting place for Thy Son.As thou knowest, this holy temple was first dedicated on July 30, 2000. Now, after an extensive and beautiful renovation, this house of God has an even more powerful feeling of peace, holiness, and personal dedication to it as a gift from Thee.Father, we declare our love for Thee, our Heavenly Father and our God. We love Thy divine Son, our Savior, who is our Lord and our King. Please accept our thanks. Please accept our testimonies. Please accept our faith.
The world-renowned vocalist Sissel, known for her ethereal arias throughout the film “Titanic,“ will join with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert, Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., Newsroom announced.Tickets to the Pioneer Day concert are free but required, and will be available in mid-June at ChurchofJesusChrist.org/events/temple-square-events. No tickets are required for the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast, but patrons should be in their seats in the Conference Center by 9:15 a.m.
Those who cannot attend the Pioneer Day concert can watch the concert streamed live on thetabernaclechoir.org at 8 p.m. on July 20.For more information, visit thetabernaclechoir.org.“We are honored to have Sissel perform with us again,” Mack Wilberg, music director of the choir, said. “The sincerity and purity of her voice captivates everyone who hears it. ... We count her as one of the Choir’s closest friends.”Sissel has previously performed with the Tabernacle Choir for the 2006 Christmas concert and two broadcasts of “Music and the Spoken Word”—in May 2005 to celebrate Norway’s 100th anniversary, and December 2007. Following the Pioneer Day concert, she will appear on the July 22 “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast at 9:30 a.m.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet Quentin Daniels, holding his son Archer, with Quentin’s wife, Rebecca, at left holding their son Gideon, in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.One issue discussed was the proper use of social media, Elder Gong added. “There needs to be a balance between religious freedom, the ability to speak out, but also to use it in a way that is responsible, particularly when it involves what children might see. That is something the prime minister was concerned about. She and President Nelson had a very important dialogue on that topic.”Serving as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand since October 2017, Ardern is ranked No. 2 on Fortune’s list of the world’s greatest leaders.“We are clearly sensitive to what has happened there,” said Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Pacific Area, who also attended the meeting. “Our hearts were broken when we heard about the tragedy that had taken place and the loss of life. So the Church is reaching out, as it does in these kinds of situations in other places in the world, to lend a hand, to be there for our brothers and sisters.” An aerial view of New Zealand on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.Prime Minister Ardern is the niece of Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area Presidency. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, are part of a group meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Just outside of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings here, President Russell M. Nelson lauded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “a peacemaker, a policymaker, a consensus-giver” on Monday. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, greets Quentin Daniels and his son Archer Daniels after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson—accompanied by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong—met the prime minister on May 20, during their Pacific Ministry Tour. Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The visit marked President Nelson’s second visit to the prime minister’s office in New Zealand. The first time was in 1976 while he was traveling with President Spencer W. Kimball as his physician.Elder Ardern said the President and Sister Nelson presented the prime minister with a leather-bound copy of the Book of Mormon, embossed with her name. The harbour in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, third from right, stands with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and other general authorities and their wives, for a photo in front of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Nelson expressed condolences and promised the prime minister that the Church will donate to the two mosques targeted in the attack. “We will be making contributions to those mosques to help them repair from their damages,” President Nelson explained.“She’s courageous,” President Nelson said of Prime Minister Ardern. The New Zealand parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. A sign welcomes visitors to Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, look over office-displayed items with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, walk past the New Zealand parliament building after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.“President Nelson is a natural diplomat,” Elder Gong said. “He’s a prophet for the Church, and he’s also a prophet for the world.” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints answers a question after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives photos of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“The world will discover they’ve got a real leader here. It’s an unlikely scenario, a young mother leading a great nation. ... We’re very impressed with her, she will have a great future.” A coastal community in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Islands in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Part of the warmth of the meeting was the prime minister describing her rich family heritage, Elder Gong said. After she took office, Church leaders presented Prime Minister Ardern with a copy of a her family history. A view of Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, give photos of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 19, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. An aerial view of New Zealand on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, arrive to meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.President Nelson and the prime minister also spoke about New Zealand’s diverse, multicultural populations. People can “have differing points of view and yet learn to live with and love one another,” he said.Meeting with President Nelson just two months after the worst terror attack in New Zealand’s history, Prime Minister Ardern has been recognized globally for her leadership following the March 15 attack in Christchurch—including donning a hijab to grieve with New Zealand’s Muslim populations. The personalized Book of Mormon given by President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. The coast in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.
Elder Gong said Church members have three centers—the temple, their homes, and their families—and said homes can be temples for families and bodies are temples for the spirits of God’s children. Sister Wendy Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks with an interpreter at right during a devotional in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.Sister Wendy Nelson said her husband often receives inspiration for the direction of the Church during the night and gets up to take notes.
Jason Corry has tears in his eyes as President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaves following a devotional in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Many in attendance sang and returned waves from President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.The Nelsons each thanked the hundreds of Samoans who lined the main road from the airport to Apia to see them—and Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, who are accompanying the Nelsons on the nine-day Pacific ministry tour—pass by during the hour-long drive into the capital. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks with an interpreter at right during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.“It was worth getting wet.”“This Church, when restored in its fulness, will prepare the world for the coming of the Lord,” but not before Christ’s followers are persecuted, he said.“Part of being a temple is caring for our health,” he said, adding. “As we take care of our physical bodies, we become more able to have His Spirit touch our spirits.”“There are difficult days ahead,” he said. “Please protect your children. Help them to know the Lord and love Him and keep His commandments and be free from the shackles of addiction and bondage.”“He is the anointed of the Lord,” she said. “I promise you as we follow him, we we will always be in safe waters.”President Nelson departed the covered stage as a few raindrops began to fall again, climbed into a van, and pulled open a sliding window to wave as Samoan Saints flocked to a fence to wave back.The Apia Samoa Temple’s spire served as a backdrop and thousands of crickets provided background music as President Nelson praised and encouraged the Samoan Latter-day Saints and warned them to protect themselves and their families.President Russell M. Nelson walked in under an umbrella after meeting with Samoa’s prime minister, but then, as suddenly as the steady drizzle began about half an hour before the May 18 event, it stopped after the opening hymn. Members of the Apia Samoa Central Stake Choir sing during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.Elder Haleck called the devotional a unique opportunity and encouraged his fellow Samoans to listen to President Nelson with their ears and hearts. His wife, Sister Peggy Haleck, said following the gospel and President Nelson’s counsel would strengthen Samoa’s families. Malia Fale listens during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.“Church members in the Samoan Islands will not be immune from being persecuted,” he said, warning them to “prepare to be persecuted, even every day,” and telling them they have a solemn duty to prepare for it.“I’ve underlined the titles of Christ in English and in Spanish,” President Nelson continued. “Now I’m underlining the titles of Christ in Portuguese.” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave to those in attendance at the beginning of a devotional in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, left, greet His Highness Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aleto'a Eti Sualauvi II, Samoa Head of State, and his wife Fa'amausili Leinafo Tuimaleali'ifano, following a devotional in Apia, Samoa on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church's Pacific Area, speaks with an interpreter at right during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.“Just this past week,” she said, “the inspiration was flowing so rapidly during those early morning hours that he went to the office in our home and wrote for three hours.” IIoane Savai'inaea and his wife Oliana listen during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.The Samoan head of state attended the meeting after welcoming President Nelson at his official residence in the afternoon, when he accepted an invitation to speak at the devotional.“Thank you for your great faith,” President Nelson said when he spoke at the end of the meeting. “I wondered if you could do it. You turned off the rain.” Sister Susan Gong, wife of Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks with an interpreter at right during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave to those in attendance at the beginning of a devotional in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.He told them not to become discouraged. He said God will provide them with revelation, strength, and the ability to judge right from wrong.Sister Gong said that since her husband was called to the apostleship a year ago, they have learned much from watching the Nelsons. Elder Gong recently told her about walking into President Nelson’s office to find him underlining scriptures.He said he had experienced President Nelson’s “loving kindness” at his residence and told him, “I thank God for the opportunity to meet up with you and your good lady.” Members of the Apia Samoa Central Stake Choir sing during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.President Nelson stood at a podium on a stage constructed for Saturday night’s event and warned about Bible and Book of Mormon prophesies of persecution of those willing to bear the name of Jesus Christ. Sister Peggy Haleck, wife of Elder O. Vincent Haleck, speaks during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.“Let’s stick to the foundation of Samoa, which is founded by God,” said His Highness the Honorable Head of State Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II, who is descended from the nation’s first Christians and is a lay minister in the Congregational Church of Samoa.The refrain, sung in English, is a reply from the departing American, “Oh, I Never Will Forget You.”“I’m underlining the titles of the Savior in the scriptures,” President Nelson said, referring to a challenge he’d given to Church members and had already reported that he’d finished.The expected rain finally fell from the night sky here on Saturday night and made soggier the thousands of people already damp from the smothering humidity that enveloped them as they waited on stackable plastic chairs for the arrival of the first leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit Samoa since 2005.“I was wet,” admitted April Fulumu’a, 17, who sat on a chair in the open air. Fulumu’a is a student at the Church College of Pesega on the temple campus where the meeting was held. “No, the rain wasn’t going to keep me home. I’ve been waiting for this. It’s too rare an opportunity to see a prophet. It was a great feeling when he gave us blessings at the end.“Please protect your families from the deception you will see in your future,” he said. “That’s why we are all busily engaged in this work. We have to fortify our people against attacks of the adversary.”The temperature was 81 degrees when the meeting started, but 89 percent humidity made if feel like 89 degrees. For most of the meeting, there was no breeze to mitigate the heat.“What are you doing?” Elder Gong asked. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a devotional in Apia, Samoa, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. At right is interpreter Jason Joseph. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News. Many of those in attendance wave and sing as President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, leave following a devotional in Apia, Samoa on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News..The affection of Samoan Church members for President Nelson was most evident as he stood to leave. The entire crowd stood and sang to him the Samoan song “Goodbye My Friend,” about American soldiers leaving Apia for home. The song includes a request sung in Samoan, “But never forget Apia, our home, and always remember those who stay behind.”APIA, SamoaLarge temporary tents protected about half of the audience from the rain and spurred Elder O. Vincent Haleck of the Church’s Pacific Area Presidency to compare the evening to the Book of Mormon story of King Benjamin inviting his people to bring their tents and pitch them facing the temple, where he stood on a tower erected for the occasion.
Elder Murdock’s words proved prophetic. It would be 110 years before Australia’s first stake was created in Sydney, in 1960.“Marriage and family are constantly under attack, and members feel this,” he said, noting that many commonly accepted views “are drawing further away from gospel teachings.” Isla Dunn, 7, waves to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the International Conference Center on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. An Aboriginal Australian performs on the didgeridoo on the street on May 18, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. President Russell M. Nelson, with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, visited the city on his nine-day, seven-nation Pacific Ministry Tour. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Nearly one-third of Australians (30 percent) reported in the 2016 census that they are not religious, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That number increased by 2.2 million from 2011 to 2016.Latter-day Saints, who number just more than 150,000 in a country of 24 million, filled the International Convention Centre in Sydney. As a result of the venue’s contemporary design, the seats rose upward along the facility’s back wall, creating a tapestry of member faces.Sister Gong said that during the last nine years as Elder Gong has served as a General Authority, she has had “a front-row seat to the unfolding of the fulness of the gospel.”She added: “I pray that we will all open our hearts to the Holy Spirit to know what it is that we are to do, and open our hearts to our brothers and sisters and their lived experience, especially in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”Early English settlers commenced construction of the city, where many buildings still reflect that European influence, he explained. The Sydney, Australia, skyline on May 18, 2019. President Russell M. Nelson, with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, visited the city on his nine-day, seven-nation Pacific Ministry Tour. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Known for its harbor front—a bustling center featuring the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge—Sydney is a city of diverse landscapes, architecture, and demographics, said Elder Dudfield. Attendees enter the International Conference Center to hear President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Answering questions after the devotional, President Nelson said he didn’t know how to prepare for the trip, so “I decided to let the Lord guide me.” Attendees gather in front of the International Conference Center to hear President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Have you ever wondered what knowledge you have learned from the Book of Mormon? Or to say it another way, if you pushed the delete button in your mind and removed everything the Book of Mormon has taught you, what would you lose.”Slow growthAnd while 50 percent of the population reported Christianity as their current religious affiliation, that number has been in sharp decline for the past 50 years, according to the census. In 1966, 88 percent of the population classified themselves as Christian. Paul and Diane Parton stand near the Sydney Australia Temple on May 18, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“You will see, by foregoing, to spread the gospel over these isles is not the work for one, two, or five years, but will require the diligent perseverance of many years,” one of the missionaries, John Murdock, wrote to the First Presidency.SydneyAs a result, a different, personal message “was dictated” for each of the first three stops on his nine-day, seven-nation Pacific tour.Elder Gong also spoke of personal revelation. “What a blessing it is know that as we call upon the Father in the name of the Son, He will hear us and bless us,” he said, adding “I’m grateful to meet members of the Church across the world who share how they find, through their prayers and their faith, continuing revelation in each of their circumstances.”Accompanying him on the trip are his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with youth during a meeting on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Sister Nelson said, gratefully, she has understood this all her life. ”But it was wonderful to have my husband spontaneously confirm that great truth which applies to you. The Lord is just as eager to give you revelation as he is to give it to His prophet.” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks at the International Conference Center on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“President Nelson has perfect pitch,” said Elder Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “You feel that when you sit next to him and you hear him sing. He also has perfect spiritual pitch. What he says in every situation is exactly what people need to feel and hear. And he always says it with such kindness and such clarity.”President Nelson called Sydney “a microcosm of the whole world.”“In addition to our English heritage membership, we also have Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and other language units that meet throughout the country,” he said. “Church members are striving the best they can to be examples of followers of Jesus Christ.”
Sister Wendy Nelson speaks on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“From the mountainous ranges, to golden-sand beaches and the iconic harbor, from busy city streets to rolling green hills, Sydney captures landscapes and atmospheres that resemble many parts of the globe.”Elva Merle Mitchell said during her growing up years, the Church in Australia was so small that member children did not call the adults by the title of “Brother” or “Sister;” instead they were “Aunt” or “Uncle.” Attendees wave to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the International Conference Center on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Emily Kwok talks about her service with Church public affairs on May 18, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Paul Parton’s third-great-grandmother joined the Church in Australia in 1842. His wife, Diane Parton, is a fourth-generation member whose great-grandmother joined the Church in 1901. They raised their family in one of three branches in the area. “You knew pretty much everyone,” said Diane Parton.This melting pot is a blessings to Latter-day Saint branches, Elder Dudfield said.“We are a respected people now,” Parton said. “As a kid, if anyone knew you were a member of the Church, you were seen as something different.”Personalized messages Boats travel past the Sydney Opera House on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“I wonder if you need oxygen up there on that very back row,” said President Nelson.Speaking at the Sydney devotional, Sister Nelson said President Nelson recently told her, “The Lord is just as eager to give you revelation as he is to give it to me.”Sister Nelson then shared her experience seeking revelation 14 years ago as she began dating then-Elder Nelson. “To this very moment I can feel the power and clarity with which the Lord let me know His will, for my potential relationship with Elder Russell M. Nelson. … The heavens have opened, and my life would never be the same.”Elder Robert J. Dudfield, an Area Seventy in Australia, said it can be hard for Latter-day Saints to share their views about marriage and family. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with youth during a meeting on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.SYDNEY, AustraliaSecular society“Our message is applicable to people of every nation, every kindred, tongue and color. It is a message to come unto Christ and let him make life better for you.”President Nelson said he felt directed by the Lord to speak at the Book of Mormon at the devotional.RevelationPaul Parton attended the meeting when President David O. McKay visited Australia in 1955; the Parton’s daughter sang in the Primary choir at the member meeting at the Sydney Opera House in 1976.The experiences of Church members around the world have taught her “to understand critical principles of the gospel in deeper and more fundamental ways.” The Sydney Australia Temple on May 18, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, laugh as they meet with youth during a meeting on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Attendees listen to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the International Conference Center on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The address was his third in as many days and countries. In Apia, Samoa, President Nelson urged Latter-day Saints to be strong in the face of persecution and “attacks of the adversary.” In Kona, Hawaii, he shared 10 personal messages for Latter-day Saints.The devotional, the first time a prophet has spoken in Sydney in 22 years, came at a time when religion is on the decline in Australia.Addressing a capacity congregation of 8,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in this increasingly secular city, President Russell M. Nelson delivered a custom message on the importance of the Book of Mormon.Even though Church growth in his country has been slow, Paul Parton said he has witnessed a miracle in his lifetime.“In spite of the challenges around them, they are happy people who are striving to do their best to create gospel-centered homes and raise their families in a gospel environment,” Elder Dudfield said. “They invite their friends to come and worship with them, and they regularly are seen out ministering in the communities.”President Nelson called the congregation impressive. Attendees enter the International Conference Center to hear President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. A choir sings at the International Conference Center on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“If you want to be happy, choose the way of the Lord,” said President Nelson to a multicultural congregation Sunday evening, May 19—the third stop on his Pacific Ministry Tour. “If you want to be miserable, choose the paths and the temptations of the adversary.” Twins Darren and Donovan Mekaio wait to hear President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 19, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.There are now six missions, 41 stakes, five temples and 151,000 Latter-day Saints in Australia. And the closing hymn of the devotional, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” was penned by Australian-born William Fowler in 1860.“The people of Sydney are a melting pot of the world,” he added. The city’s population includes thousands born in Asia, Europe, and many islands of the Pacific.One decade after the organization of the Church, William Barratt was called from England to serve a mission in Australia. In 1851, the Church sent two missionaries from Salt Lake City.“Since Elder Dallin H. Oaks and I were called to serve as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in April of 1984, [worldwide] membership in the Church has tripled,” President Nelson said. “Often I am asked, ‘What is the reason for this growth?’ The answer: Because the Book of Mormon is true.” Elva Merle Mitchell looks over the grounds at the Sydney Australia Temple on May 18, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Other issues include legalized abortion, debate on legalizing marijuana, and gender fluidity (the state of Tasmania no longer requires gender to be listed on birth certificates), he said.
But Brigham Young believed that sandstone—a mix of mud and straw—would turn to stone over time, Olmstead said, explaining that despite other options proposed at the conference, Young wanted to build the temple walls from adobe with a thin exterior veneer of stone.“They were taking these big stones that were already fallen from the side of the mountains and then cut them down,” Olmstead said, noting that they never tunneled or built a real quarry. “They were just pulling them out from the mouth of the canyon and as they ran out, they moved further up the canyon.” The Salt Lake Temple after its dedication in April 1893. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.Prophets and propheciesAnd while they eventually switched their plans to use granite—the “how” and “why” behind the switch are not entirely understood or recorded—it is because of the initial plans to use adobe that the temple walls were built so thick, Olmstead explained. A March 30, 1963, picture of construction site showing the sandstone sub-foundation to the granite foundations under the main entrance to the Salt Lake Temple. Photo by Ralph T. Clark, Deseret News archives.What most people don’t realize, Olmstead said, is that the stone temple that most people are familiar with was built as a hollow shell. As the walls were built higher and higher, large stones were eventually brought into the interior of the shell and hoisted up from the inside rather than the outside, as the foundational stones had been done, to minimize their movement along the towering walls.Initially, the temple plans were modeled to fit the exact dimensions and floor plans of the Nauvoo temple, with a baptistry below ground and public assembly halls with offices on the two floors above. And although the temple’s architect Truman Angell had designed floors for the interior, his death during the 40 years of construction left the majority of the interior designs in the hands of engineer and newly appointed temple architect Joseph Don Carlos Young to construct.“That meant that when it came time to work on the interior, there was a completely fresh slate,” Olmstead said.But the way people think of the temple today, mostly comes from those late 20th-century updates, Utt said. “The ways that we use the temple and enter the temple are not the ways that it’s historically been,” she said. “They’re largely a product of the 1960s. Prior to that, if you were visiting the temple for a wedding, you would use the east doors, the main historic doors of the temple, and wedding parties would gather behind the sealing rooms just inside the walls. That’s where all those events took place. And Church leadership, going to meetings on the upper floors of the temple, would enter through the west doors and go up the elevator.”“Most saints draw a connection between the Hosanna shout that was given in Kirtland at the dedication and what we do today,” Olmstead explained. And while the two are fundamentally the same, one big difference was introduced at the Salt Lake Temple.Really the first thing the Saints are told after arriving in the valley is that they are going to fulfill a prophecy that is more than 2,500 years old by creating a building that will be the mountain of the Lord’s house, Olmstead explained. “I just find that the faith and, almost the audacity, to make such a claim, given their circumstances, is very remarkable and very indicative of what was on their minds as a people.”
A worker scales the scaffolding of the Salt Lake Temple during its renovation.
Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.
Graphic by Heather Tuttle, Deseret News.Groundbreaking of the Salt Lake Temple February 14, 1853. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.As a key part of Church history, the Salt Lake Temple has been carefully cared for by members and Church authorities since its construction began in 1853. And since that time, it has been almost continually renovated and updated as well, with the first major update occurring less than 20 years after its completion when Norwegian-born Latter-day Saint artist Frithjof Weberg was commissioned to paint murals in the previously white-walled “creation room” in 1915. “The Saints didn’t know how to deal with this, … they struggled mightily,” Olmstead said. The differences caused many contentions which were a “top to bottom an issue for the whole Church.”Adobe walls require a different ratio of width to height to sustain the weight of tall structures on the lower layers, Olmstead said. So when the temple was designed with adobe in mind, they had to make the walls very thick, nearly eight feet wide. And it appears that, although they switched materials, they didn’t alter the initial designs, and so the temple was built with granite walls much thicker than perhaps otherwise would have been used.Standing quite literally at the center of the Church’s headquarters, the Salt Lake Temple gets a lot of scrutiny, said Emily Utt, a historian and curator of Church history sites. “This temple gets a lot more attention than some of the others because it’s in the middle.”In 1847, long before ground for the temple was broken, Brigham Young put the faith of the Saints to a test by having them first build a wall. The Salt Lake Temple nearing completion with a large crowd assembled for the capstone-laying ceremony. The temple was dedicated in April 1893. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.Gathered around a simple, rather barren plot of land in a vast desert valley marked by just five years of habitation, a small group of people, shovels in hand, broke ground on February 14, 1853, on what would prove to be a building project of more than 40 years. Among the turning of shovels and prayers to dedicate the land for the purposes of the Lord, the crowd began to sing an old familiar tune.
Graphic by Heather Tuttle, Deseret News.Having left behind two temples in Nauvoo and Kirtland as they were forced West, the early Church pioneers were really nothing more than a “rag-tag” and destitute people living out of wagons with no money or resources when they first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Olmstead explained. But for the early Saints, the temple was central to everything and, if the temple they built is any indication, that commitment never wavered.
Graphic by Heather Tuttle, Deseret News.During the general conference sessions of October 1852, members were invited to discuss the materials that should be used in the building of the temple. But there was no discussion of granite, Olmstead said. “The one thing the Saints agreed on was to build the temple of the best materials afforded by the mountains of North America.” The uncompleted walls of the Salt Lake Temple, taken about 1885. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.“So one day he is walking in the street and he runs into Lorenzo Snow,” Olmstead said. “And Lorenzo Snow is the first temple president of Salt Lake, and he is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And he comes up to [Dean] in the street and essentially says, ‘I want you to know, if you so choose, we’re going to give you this position as custodian of the temple and you can go on and spend your remaining days, nights, and life in the temple.’ ”The offer was an answer to Dean’s prayers and, in his diary, he attributed the blessing as a result of his willingness to donate more than a month’s worth of his salary to the temple in the final year of its construction. It had been a time when the Church was in great need of money, more so than for volunteers or laborers, and he noted that because of his decision, “the Lord has seen fit to bless me with this opportunity to spend the rest of my life in serving at the temple.” The massive foundation of the Salt Lake Temple is exposed September 8, 1962. Linden W. Millgate, engineer, inspects footings. Photo courtesy of Deseret News archives.Hosanna handkerchiefsA life callingDean was one of the few who was kept on to work on interior details after the dedication, like the stained glass windows in the domed ceiling of the Holy of Holies. And later, when Dean found out about the possibility of a custodian position for the temple, a long-term caretaker for the temple, he wrote in his journal that such a position was the secret wish of his heart. “The subject of his sermon is amazing to me,” Olmstead said. “He talked about the prophecy in Isaiah, about the mountain of the Lord’s house being established in the mountains and, essentially he said that they are going to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy.”While many modern conveniences like steel framing, steam heating, electricity, and even elevators were developed and thus able to be implemented into the temple over the long 40-year period of its construction, improvements continually took place throughout the 20th century.Constant changeThough the old Scottish tune is rarely associated with the early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or even as a religious tune, Church historian and curator of Church history sites, Jacob Olmstead, said the tune served as a commentary on the fact that the early Saints were beginning a new era in Church history.
Carrie Thorsen, Lucy Allen, Emma Neilsen, and Charlotte Allen—Women's support was key to the construction of the sacred edifice. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.As work on the temple drew to a close, many of the workers were slowly released from their commissions as their work finished. Dean, thinking he too would be let go, wrote in his journal nearly every day during the last year of the temple’s construction that he felt he would be the next one to be let go. But he never was, Olmstead said.“I think it’s truly a remarkable story, and you never hear it,” Olmstead said in a recent interview with the Church News. “They saw this time, this commencement on this temple, as a new era … forgetting the old and moving forward with the new.”“We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.” The depth and strength of the Salt Lake Temple foundation, 30 feet deep, is exposed by excavators on March 30, 1963. Photo by Ralph T. Clark, Deseret News archives.By the time Young was left in charge, new revelations about how ordinances for the dead were meant to be carried out in the temple, as well as the construction of three other temples—St. George, Manti, and Logan—had taught the Saints more about the importance of certain types of spaces in the temple and the plans for the interior were completely redesigned.It is interesting, she noted, to look at the ways people enter and use the temple and see how they have shifted so dramatically over such a relatively short time.“It is a symbol of the Saints’ sacrifice and their work and dedication of 40 years to build the house of the Lord,” Erekson said. “I also think that today, not only is it a visible landmark in downtown Salt Lake at the Church’s headquarters, but also it is a visible landmark in our online, printed, and youth materials, even our temple recommends. It becomes a symbol of our membership today as a worldwide church, grounded in those stories of sacrifice from the past.”
Men quarry stone for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. Photo by Charles W. Carter, courtesy Church History Library.A wall of faithFrom adobe to graniteAnd while to many, the wall may seem an unimportant part of the temple’s history, President Wilford Woodruff mentioned the wall in his dedication of the temple more than 40 years later and, even today, the wall continues to serve an important purpose by preserving the quiet and contemplative space around the temple, acting as a symbol for leaving the outside world to move into a holier space, Olmstead said. Wilford Hansen checks the water being used in cutting huge piece of granite for temple projects on January 28, 1963. Saw is at lower right. Photo courtesy of Deseret News archives.One little-known fact about Church history is that the Hosanna shout—a key part of every temple dedication in living memory—was first introduced as it is now known at the capstone ceremony for the Salt Lake Temple, exactly one year prior to its official dedication, on April 6, 1892.In the last years of temple construction in the early 1890s, the Saints in Utah experienced a great deal of turmoil. A raid from the federal government and fear of losing temples and property after the implementation of the Edmunds Tucker Act were followed by the Church manifesto in 1890 as well as the dismantling of the “people’s party”—a political party of Latter-day Saints—to make way for the more widely accepted Democratic and Republican parties. With many changes, the Saints underwent a period of confusion and disunity as they were separated ideologically and politically in many ways.Additionally by that time, steel had been introduced to large buildings in New York and Boston and was similarly able to be incorporated for structural purposes in the temple. Updates to the annex areas and even the baptistry were made in the 1920s and ’30s, but it was mostly in the early 1960s that the temple was closed for some larger renovations, including a complete upgrade of the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems and the addition of 10 new sealing rooms.Just one day after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, on July 25, 1847, the Saints gathered for an impromptu Sunday outdoor sacrament meeting. Brigham Young, who was sick at the time, opted not to speak at the gathering, and so Apostle George A. Smith gave the first sermon.Fasting for the temple Scaffolding surrounds the Salt Lake Temple during the Saturday morning session of conference. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.“The very first efforts on that temple started with the wall that’s around it right now,” Olmstead said. Although much of it has been repaired or replaced, the wall, which was built primarily of adobe set on a foundation of red sandstone, remains around Temple Square today. Building the wall was a learning opportunity that taught the Saints many things, including how to move large stones from the mountains and transport them to the temple site. But it also afforded Brigham Young an opportunity to gauge the commitment of the Latter-day Saints to building another temple, Olmstead explained.“That moment is what is replicated in all the temple [dedications] today,” Olmstead said. For Joseph Henry Dean, a man who served as a carpenter for the temple, working continually into the last months of construction prior to the dedication, the temple became the true center of his life and his life’s work.Such contentions caused concerns about whether the Saints were worthy to dedicate a temple, one meant to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, and whether the Lord would accept their offering because of their sins against one another. As a response to these worries, a Churchwide fast was held prior to the dedication as the Saints sought forgiveness and apologized for the wrongs they had done to one another, Olmstead explained. As a result, themes of unity and forgiveness were a central focus in the dedicatory prayers of the temple beginning on April 6, 1893, marking the Lord’s acceptance of their sacrifices. It was during the capstone ceremony that Lorenzo Snow first introduced the waving of the white handkerchief and instructed Saints as to the cadence of the shout.
Graphic by Heather Tuttle, Deseret News.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented the Church’s donation to Michael Boulware Moore, president and CEO of the museum. “We want to support the museum and the Center for Family History because we both value the strength that comes from learning about our families,” Elder Bednar said in a prepared statement. “The museum will not only educate its patrons on the important contributions of Africans who came through Gadsden’s Wharf and Charleston, it also will help all who visit to discover and connect with ancestors whose stories previously may not have been known.” Elder Gary E. Stevenson speaks to the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019. An award was given to the NAACP. Elder Gary E. Stevenson congratulates Karen Boykin-Towns, NAACP vice chair, on receiving the award from the BYU Management Society event on May 11, 2019. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, and Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy, middle, greet people attending the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019. Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy, gives remarks at the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019.“I do believe that if more of us begin to talk across communities, across faith, across beliefs, we can heal much of the harm that has been caused [by the current political climate of intolerance] and be a stronger community for it,” he said. “Thank you for this great opportunity.”The gala followed a visit to Salt Lake City last fall by leaders of the NAACP, when the two groups continued their work on a joint education and employment initiative being deployed in Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The Church and the NAACP are customizing the Church’s self-reliance services materials and programs to be most effective for the initiative.“We realize that only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of men and the true sisterhood of women. That understanding inspires us with passionate desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation,” said President Russell M. Nelson during the “Be One” event.Elder Stevenson concluded by quoting a key Book of Mormon scripture that highlights the fundamental equality of all men and women in the eyes of God: “He inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).The NAACP’s visit to Salt Lake City during the May 2018 joint press conference came two weeks before the Church’s 40th anniversary celebration of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, “Be One.”Johnson said the NAACP, founded 110 years ago, believes dialogue across ideological lines can be a healing salve for the nation and the world.Focusing his remarks on the topic, “Be Your Brother’s Keeper,” Elder Stevenson said good people “come together in unity to fulfill one of our core [and] divinely appointed responsibilities, which is to care for the poor and needy. Who does that include? It’s everyone around us. Being your brother’s keeper will lead to bridging divisions rather than creating divisions.”Elder Jack N. Gerard, a General Authority Seventy, who also spoke at the BYU Management Society gala, announced the initiative on behalf of the Church while speaking at the NAACP 109th National Convention held in San Antonio, Texas, on July 15, 2018. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, and Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy, middle, greet people attending the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019.“I hope this will be just the beginning of an important new alliance between friends,” Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of the 2018 event. “The NAACP is certainly one of the most legendary organizations in the black community and one of the most charitable as well. This is an opportunity to have like-minded people with like-minded motives wanting to help each other toward common goals.”Civility, Elder Stevenson said, can become a reality only after people put in the sweat equity to make it happen. “It’s easy to call for civility but it’s harder to do the work of making civility possible,” he said. “The best way for me to distill this was thinking of the words of Jesus Christ: ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). [This] motivates our actions, our behavior.”Elder Stevenson said that the Church’s growing friendship with the NAACP—one that formally began at a May 2018 news conference with a joint call for civility, harmony, and respect—can serve as an inspiration for the membership of the BYU Management Society.In addition to its relationship with the NAACP, the Church has engaged in a concerted effort to strengthen African American individuals and families through genealogy. The Church is helping African Americans trace their roots as far back as possible. In February 2019, the Church presented a $2 million donation to the International African American Museum Center for Family History, which is set to open in 2021 on the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Karen Boykin-Towns, NAACP vice chair, at the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019.During the gala, Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO, thanked Church leaders for their friendship.In December 2016, the Church gave a newly indexed database of the historic Freedmen’s Bureau Records to the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The database contains genealogical information of freed African Americans after the Civil War.“We believe that we are all part of the same divine family,” said Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the BYU Management Society Gala Award Ceremony, held in the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel on May 11. “We truly believe that your well-being is tied to your neighbor’s well-being.”“When I’m asked, ‘Why would you attend or accept an award [from] or be present with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?’ I say, ‘Because that’s our neighbor.’”Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented the database on a flash drive to museum founding director Lonnie G. Bunch III in front of an audience of congressional leaders, genealogical experts, and volunteers who were key to the project’s success.Calling for service, civility, and Christlike love and noting that “all are alike unto God,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson honored the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for the organization’s commitment to advancing equality and justice in society.“I can think of no better way to honor the unprecedented commitment of these volunteers, as well as the bravery and resilience of those whose names have now been found on these records, than to have this database symbolically housed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” said Elder Christofferson. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson speaks to the BYU Management Society event in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2019.Concerning the emulation of Christlike love, Elder Stevenson invited the audience to pattern their lives after Christ’s standard of empathy, compassion and love. “Let us fulfill the invitation of the Savior to ‘love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God’” (1 John 4:7).
Reverend John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, with Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, May 15, 2019, in New York City.Added Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of U.S. programs at the International Rescue Committee: “When refugees first arrive in the United States, they are starting over—building a new life for themselves and their families. Through our partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities, we’re able to ensure that recently resettled refugees have the resources—spanning from furniture in their new apartment and food in the fridge to economic empowerment programs—to start fresh, reclaim their lives, and build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and new communities.”For the third consecutive year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated a $4 million grant to nine national refugee resettlement agencies in the United States.“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is immensely grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the generous gifts of furniture and other in-kind goods for newly arrived refugees, along with self-reliance grants that allow refugees to advance their education and career paths,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO. Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, left, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and Kay Bellor, second from right, vice president for LIRS Programs, welcome Sister Sharon Eubank, second on the left, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, and Elissa McConkie, right, manager of Humanitarian Major Initiatives for the Church. Latter-day Saint Charities provided grants to several East Coast charities on May 14 and 15, 2019.The donation—totalling $1.2 million in cash and in-kind commodities totaling $2.8 million—was given through the Church's Latter-day Saint Charities to the nine East Coast charitable organizations authorized to resettle refugees arriving in the U.S.“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are under a heavenly obligation to love God and love our neighbors in better ways,” said Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and First Counselor in the Church’s Relief Society General Presidency.Sister Eubank visited three resettlement agencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 14, to deliver donations. She continued her visits on Wednesday, May 15, to another three agencies in New York City.Officials of the resettlement agencies expressed appreciation for the donations.
“This is a really, really significant moment in the history of the Church,” Dowdle said. “That’s essential to the Church we see today.” In 1841, Illinois Gov. Thomas Carlin commissioned Joseph Smith as a lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.In a letter dated July 17, 1841, Hyde expresses some homesickness that modern missionaries might be able to relate to, although it’s a little more eloquent than most 18 year olds, Dowdle said.“His letters are a fantastic, descriptive travel log of where he’s visiting and who he’s talking to,” Dowdle said. “You see Orson Hyde’s appreciation of his Americanism grow. Remember this is coming out of Missouri, where he had been through some struggles, but now he’s on these foreign lands and he feels this sense of patriotism and American pride.” John M. Bernhisel, a physician from New York City, joined the church in 1840 and helped the church locate and purchase property in Nauvoo. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.Among the 99 documents in the volume are personal correspondence, revelations, discourses, financial documents, and meeting minutes.Laws wasn’t a member of the Church but had family members who were Latter-day Saints. Laws began to notice a series of newspaper articles that were critical of the Church and knew enough to know they weren’t entirely truthful in their claims. Without urging from anyone, Laws responded by writing three articles in defense of the Saints and arguing against the accusations.While soliciting funds and traveling east, the missionary companions became separated. Hyde, who had the necessary funds, moved on without Page, who didn’t have the funds. While Hyde eventually made it to Europe and Israel, Page never rejoined him. He remained in the eastern states doing missionary work until he was called back to Nauvoo, Illinois.
This document details a religious freedom ordinance passed by the Nauvoo City Council in 1841. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.Report of the First Presidency to the Church circa April 7, 1841:Documents, Volume 8, is the 19th installment of the Joseph Smith Papers series, which launched in 2008. Documents, Volume 9, the 20th installment, is set for release at the end of September.One of the more interesting documents in the collection is a letter to Joseph Smith from a Philadelphia lawyer and politician named John Laws.On May 26, 1841, Joseph Smith wrote to editor Thomas Sharp addressing negative reports about him and the Saints in the newspaper. He cancelled his subscription.
The latest volume of The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 8 covers February to November 1841 of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s life in Nauvoo, Illinois. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.This revelation is really about the faith and sacrifices of Brigham Young’s wife, Mary Ann Angell Young, Dowdle said.“The months covered in Documents, Volume 8 highlight great growth and development in the city of Nauvoo,” Rogers said. “From the increase in church members gathering to the banks of the Mississippi and the beginning efforts to build the temple to the organization of city government, Joseph Smith’s experience in 1841 Nauvoo is fascinating. It is a time of relative calm, hope, and optimism. But the months covered in this volume are not without their difficulties. One can see an approachable and relatable Joseph Smith as he deals with debt repayment and the death of family members—life experiences that continue to resonate today.” Isaac Galland was baptized by Joseph Smith in 1839. In 1841, he was asked to assist Hyrum Smith in property transactions for the Church. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.“I think sometimes we’ve told this story as, look at how unfaithful John E. Page is,” said Brett D. Dowdle, a Joseph Smith Papers editor. “But I think it’s a case where you have two men doing their best under the circumstances with a lack of modern technology and communication is hard because of the distance. It ends up being a misunderstanding.”As Hyde traveled through the cities of Europe on his way to Jerusalem, he met with Jewish congregations whenever possible. He described his journey in a series of letters, Dowdle said.“My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me,” it reads. “I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name. ... Take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever.”This misconception is clarified in the newest volume of the The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 8, February-November 1841. It also offers more details about Hyde’s remarkable mission, “one of the jewels of this volume,” Dowdle said.Documents, Volume 8 is full of interesting statements from early Church leaders and others.“I think it’s instructive that they list all these out. Catholics at this time in American society are pretty maligned, Muslims as well. That they are named specifically amongst these other Protestant Christian groups is pretty telling,” Rogers said. “The city council and Joseph Smith are trying to make a pretty clear point that we are going to permit and have freedom of religion in this place. That isn’t always the case in their experience and for others in various places in the United States even though we often think of freedom of religion as a foundational element of American society, right? But it was not in practice.”But things didn’t quite go as planned. A map showing the missionary travels of apostle Orson Hyde during the early 1840s. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.
John E. Page, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was called to accompany fellow apostle Orson Hyde on a mission to parts of Europe and Jerusalem, but he never left the United States. He did travel through Ohio, New York and Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.“His principal interest was basically what’s happening here is not right,” Dowdle said. “He wanted to defend their religious freedom regardless of whether he agreed with them or not. I think that’s a really neat letter.”John Laws’ letter“P. S. Please publish the above in your contemptible paper.”The revelation tells the senior apostle that he will never be asked to leave his family again.“I think Joseph Smith at this time really means this and he really wants to see religious freedom as something that people generally get to experience because it’s something that had been denied him and denied his fellow religionists,” Rogers said.This volume also starts to show Joseph Smith delegating and placing more trust in members of the Quorum of the Twelve to lead the Church as they return from their missions to England.Instead of going out to proselytize, the two apostles were appointed to travel to “London, Amsterdam, Constantinople, and Jerusalem” to converse with “Elders of the Jews” and collect information about the gathering of the Jews. They were also assigned to publish their findings throughout the United States.Rogers, Dowdle, Mason K. Allred, and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat edited Documents, Volume 8. Nicole Christensen Fernley served as lead production editor.“I thank God my Heavenly Father, that ever I heard the sound of this gospel, and received a part in this priesthood. I received it with greater joy than earthly treasures, than the effervescent praise of man, or all the empty bubbles of earthly honor. And I pray that I may be kept humble, and that I may be able to realize continually the importance of my calling and finish my work with joy.” This document includes construction specifications for the Nauvoo House. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.“Mr. (Thomas) Sharp, Editor of the Warsaw Signal: Sir—You will discontinue my paper—its contents are calculated to pollute me, and to patronize the filthy sheet—that tissue of lies—that sink of iniquity—is disgraceful to any moral man. Yours, with utter contempt, JOSEPH SMITH.On October 18, 1841, Laws wrote to Joseph Smith asking for more information so he could continue to defend their rights, Dowdle said.An overall review of the city council’s work shows an effort by the Latter-day Saints to create a space where constitutional rights are guaranteed, Rogers said.The events of 1841 are not as exciting as other eras in Church history, but Rogers hopes readers will find a new appreciation for it in Documents, Volume 8.“That mission to England was the longest he had served, and during that time Mary Ann Young had really struggled with poverty and having enough to eat,” Dowdle said. This document depicts minutes from a special conference held in August 1841. During the conference, the Nauvoo Saints were informed of the new administrative responsibilities of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.“From what we now witness, we are led to look forward with pleasing anticipation to the future, and soon expect to see the thousands of Israel flocking to this region, in obedience to the heavenly command; numerous habitations of the saints thickly studding the flowery and wide spread prairies of Illinois; temples for the worship of our God erecting in various parts; and great peace resting upon Israel. We would call the attention of the saints more particularly to the erection of the Temple, for on its speedy erection great blessings depend.”Another evidence of Joseph Smith’s innovative thinking during this period is the University of the City of Nauvoo.“The faith and strength of women is seen and it’s the bedrock of the Latter-day Saint experience in Nauvoo and moving forward,” Rogers said. “With these long missions being undertaken by members and church leaders, it really is up to these sisters to take care of the household and find the means to support their own family. And they’re not just looking out for themselves, they are looking out for the good of the community and doing everything they can to help people as they gather at Nauvoo. The building up of the Church couldn’t happen without them, their work and sacrifice.”Hyde’s homesickness“That was pretty common for these amazing women, as their husbands were out on missions, to just keep things going,” Dowdle said. “I think this revelation is a real acknowledgment of the difficulties these women endured so their husbands could spread the gospel and build the kingdom in England.”While her husband was in England, Mary Ann Young, then a mother of six, took a boat across the Mississippi River and asked for some potatoes from the tithing office. It was not mentioned to Brigham, Dowdle said.The feeling in Documents, Volume 8, is one of optimism and renewed hope as Joseph Smith and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints work to set up a safe and protected gathering place in Nauvoo, Illinois, more than a year after fleeing the persecutions in Missouri, said Brent M. Rogers, one of the volume’s editors.Brigham’s revelation
Vilate Murray Kimball is the wife of early Church apostle and missionary Heber C. Kimball. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.The meeting proceeded with other appointments and business matters, including the organization of the Nauvoo Legion, urban planning and city development, and decisions on the vending of liquor, Rogers said.One week after Brigham Young returned from a mission to England in July 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation on his behalf that later became Doctrine and Covenants section 126. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mourned the 1841 death of President William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.Some detractors might say there are only Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, which was true, but this ordinance was intended for all faiths, Rogers said.Excerpt from a letter from John Taylor, dated February 3, 1841:Religious freedom This letter from Adolphus Allen, dated July 13, 1841, offers to sell land in the area to Joseph Smith. Photo courtesy of the Joseph Smith Papers.The U. of NauvooOn February 3, 1841, the Nauvoo City Council meeting started at 6 p.m. with John C. Bennett being sworn into office as mayor by Justice of the Peace Dan H. Wells.One of the university’s purposes was to oversee and ensure equal education throughout the area, Dowdle said.About a month later, the Nauvoo City Council passed “An Ordinance in relation to religious Societies” granting all religious sects and denominations free toleration and equal privileges in Nauvoo. This legislation demonstrated a commitment to protecting the religious rights of all people as set forth in the United States constitution. Among the faiths listed on the document are Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopalians, Universalists, Unitarians, and Mahommedans (Muslims), Rogers said.Visit josephsmithpapers.org to learn more about Documents, Volume 8 and the rest of the project.“You see someone who’s out on a mission on his own and is worried, am I ever going to get home again? Am I ever going to see my wife and family again?” Dowdle said. “Then he has this spiritual reassurance that it’s going to be OK. He will be able to return home. I love these letters because of his description of the places he visits, but also the amount of heart and emotion that he puts in to it that describes what it is to be a missionary, and in his case, a missionary without a companion in a foreign land.”Delegation and “Flyover period”“This is all coming out of the Missouri experience where constitutional rights and pleas that Joseph is making as far up as the president of the United States prior to this were not being granted,” Rogers said. “So the city council in 1841 is setting laws in motion and passing them to make Nauvoo a place where constitutional rights are guaranteed.”“Joseph is thinking in terms of administrative matters for schools and other things in a way that most Americans aren’t thinking,” Dowdle said. “Most schools in this period are set up and teach what they teach. So this is kind of a profound social idea that Joseph has in this period.”Joseph Smith followed with an opening prayer.“I think the city council minutes are very interesting,” Rogers said. “Among the first ordinances raised and passed by the city council is an ordinance to organize the Nauvoo Legion. There’s a bill to organize the University of City of Nauvoo. They vote to tender a vote of thanks to the citizens of Quincy, Illinois, for their help during the trying time of the year before.”Interesting quotesNauvoo City Council minutesMayor Bennett then “gave notice that Henry G. Sherwood had been appointed City Marshal and requested the public respect and obey him as such,” according to city council minutes.In addition to insights about Page’s mission, Rogers and Dowdle shared eight highlights from the new volume in a recent interview with the Deseret News.At a Church conference in April 1840, Latter-day Saint apostles Orson Hyde and John E. Page were called to a special mission.“Though now far separated from you; and also from her, who with me, has suffered the chilling blasts of adversity, yet hope lingers in this bosom, brightened almost into certainty by the implicit confidence reposed in the virtue of that call which was borne on the gentle breeze of the spirit of God through the dark shades of midnight gloom, ’till it found a mansion in my anxious and enquiring heart, that my feet shall once more press the American soil; and under the shade of her streaming banner embrace again the friends I love,” Hyde wrote.Vilate Murray Kimball, wife of apostle Heber C. Kimball, opened her home to a young woman convert recently arrived from England, who had nowhere else to go, Rogers said.“It’s kind of a flyover period—1841 gets glossed over because there isn’t anything super spectacular. It’s more of the every-day,” Roger said. “But there’s a lot going on. It’s one of those seasons in the life of Joseph Smith and the Saints where they’re struggling to find ways to pay the bills. But it’s also an everyday life that brings a lot of hope and optimism. ... Seeing his dedication to the things that the Lord wants him to do is very inspiring to me.”
Elder Gong spoke of the impact President Nelson’s calling has had for greater emphasis on the worldwide use of the Church’s official name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Earl Veloria, a member of Kohala Ward and a former president of the Kona Hawaii Temple, said of President Nelson’s visit: “His message really touched home because he knows how to reach people. He also shared things about Hawaii that makes us feel warm. Of course, he also reminds us of the promises we need to keep.”Faith Meyer Bean, a member of the Holualoa Ward, described the devotional as a “blessing—it was wonderful and so inspirational.”3. “We are created in the image of our Father and of His Son,” President Nelson continued. Drawing examples from his career as a cardiac surgeon, he pointed out the body can heal and regulate itself. “It’s guaranteed. It’s God’s gift to us.”His wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, accompanied the 94-year-old prophet-president, as did Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, all of whom also spoke during the special devotional Thursday, May 16, in the Kona Hawaii Stake Center in Kailua next to the Kona Hawaii Temple.2. “Jesus is the Christ, the Beloved Son of His Heavenly Father. He came into the world to do the will of His Father. He was lifted up on the cross, and that would be the way of granting for us immortality. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, every one of us will be resurrected from the grave.”In leading to his apostolic blessing, President Nelson said, “Bless you, my beloved brothers and sisters in Hawaii. You are the Lord’s choicest children. He loves you and wants you to be happy.”5. “The scriptures are true,” he said. “They comprise a rich reservoir of divine doctrine.”Another missionary, Elder Samuel Bass from Bluffdale, Utah, said, “I definitely felt the Spirit, and I thought it was interesting how President Nelson broke everything down into 10 points of what everyone should know, including nonmembers.”KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii8. “The youth of Zion today are a chosen generation,” President Nelson said. “Before these young people in today’s generation were born, they received their first lessons in the world of spirits. They were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in His vineyard for the salvation and souls of men.” A Tongan interfaith choir sings one of its several numbers performed during President Russell M. Nelson’s devotional in the Kona Hawaii Stake Center on May 16, 2019. Photo by Mike Foley.Audrey Veloria, his wife, added: “He told the simple pure truths of the gospel. It was like Christ the Savior was standing before us in old Hawaii, calling us the House of Israel and letting us know of his great love for the people of the isles of the sea. I am so grateful he came.” Approximately 1,200 Latter-day Saints, community leaders, and a Tongan interfaith choir sing during a May 16, 2019, devotional at the Kona Hawaii Stake Center with President Russell M. Nelson, his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and his wife, Sister Susan Gong. Photo by Mike Foley.4. “God communicates with His children on the earth through prophets. This has been the method of instruction from the time of Adam,” he said, listing other prophets as well. “Joseph Smith is the prophet of this dispensation.”Her husband, Joseph Bean, added that the devotional was the first time he had seen the prophet in person, as did Elder Benjamin Shupe, a recently arrived full-time missionary from Chandler, Arizona.After tracing some of the highlights of his large family, professional medical career, and long life, President Nelson shared ten things he has learned:9. “Joy comes from keeping the commandments. ... Keeping the commandments of God are enabling. They are ennobling. They are protective.”10. “Salvation is an individual matter. Exaltation is a little more, it is a family matter,” including the sealing in the temple, “and when death comes, you have the assurance of knowing that it is temporary.”6. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It is the restoration of Christ’s New Testament Church, and the gospel is the same that God taught to Adam and Noah” and so forth. “The gospel is ancient, and the restoration of that gospel is so precious.”Earlier in the devotional, Sister Nelson charmed the Kona saints by telling how her grandparents served as missionaries on the island of Kauai, and how their love led her to attend the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. She also spoke of the need for individuals to eliminate contention from their lives.“Ours is unique,” he said, explaining the others all ended in apostasy. “This dispensation will not end in apostasy, and it will fill the earth.” President Russell M. Nelson addresses a capacity crowd in the Kona Hawaii Stake Center on May 16, 2019, on the first stop on his nine-day Pacific ministry tour. Photo by Mike Foley.“And I bless you with my testimony that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church restored in these latter days to accomplish its great purpose, the gathering of Israel; and having those families of gathered Israel sealed in the temple in preparing the world for the second coming of the Lord.”
President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson greet children in the congregation following the May 16, 2019, Pacific Tour devotional in the Kona Hawaii Stake Center. Photo by Mike Foley.
Ulalia Ka’ai Berman—a revered kumu hula (hula master), Hawaii studies teacher in Kona, and an active Catholic—dances an impromptu hula for President Nelson and his party during a special reception for community leaders before his May 16, 2019, devotional in the Kona Hawaii Stake Center. She is accompanied vocally by the Rev. Danny Akaka Jr., left, son of Hawaii’s late U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and himself a well-known Hawaiian entertainer, historian, and storyteller; and Lono Ikuwa, second from left, a Latter-day Saint. Photo by Mike Foley.Now in his “10th decade of life,” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared 10 spiritual truths he has learned and left an apostolic blessing on the approximately 1,200 Latter-day Saints, community leaders, and an interfaith Tongan choir attending the first stop of his current Pacific ministry tour.As the prophet and party left the stake center, the members sang “Aloha Oe,” the traditional Hawaiian farewell song.He then blessed the congregation that they would desire to feast on the Lord’s words, have success in their occupational and educational endeavors, and have love at home and no contention, among several other things.1. “God is our Father. He loves us and He wants us to have joy. He does want us to have immortality and eternal life, but He wants us to choose this course. He honors our agency.”7. “Satan is allowed to function … and I’ve learned that if you want to be miserable, follow Satan’s ways. If you want to have joy in life, follow the Savior’s way.”The four continued the nine-day ministry tour, leaving Hawaii the next day for additional stops in Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, and Tahiti.Sister Gong explained her husband’s family ties to Hawaii. She then asked the question: How do you say “thank you” to your ancestors? Learn and record their stories, she said. Live good lives. Walk in truth, and bring temple blessings to them.
President Russell M. Nelson has embarked on a nine-day, seven-nation tour of the Pacific—lands of deep spirituality, beautiful music, and multi-generational Latter-day Saint families.
Kicking off the tour with a Thursday, May 16, devotional in Kona Hawaii, President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson—traveling with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong—will visit Apia, Samoa; Sydney, Australia; Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand; Suva, Fiji; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; and Papeete, Tahiti.
“Members in these isles of the sea are full of faith,” said Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Pacific Area. “The gospel gives them and their families a vision of who they are and who they can become. … They will go the extra mile and give their best to extend their hospitality to guests who come to their villages and homes.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a rich history in the “Isles of the Sea,” where in 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith sent missionaries. Their converts numbered in the hundreds.
“Three years before the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, there was a branch of the Church in Sydney, Australia, which speaks of the longevity of the Church there,” said Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy and a member of the Pacific Area Presidency. “The first missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in New Zealand in 1854, two years before the handcart companies made their way to Salt Lake City.”
The gospel took root in the Pacific, growing in both numbers and strength, said Elder Ardern, who is from New Zealand.
Tonga, where 60 percent of the population is comprised of Latter-day Saints, has the highest percent of Church membership of any nation on earth.
Almost a half-million members live in the region, belonging to more than 100 stakes. And 10 temples dot the area map, stretching from Perth, Australia, to Papeete, Tahiti, with additional temples announced for American Samoa, Tonga, Guam, and New Zealand.
“The presence of the Church is a tribute to those early missionaries who answered the call, gave their lives, and made great sacrifices to leave their families and travel great distances taking months and years to bring the message of the restored gospel to our ancestors,” said Elder Haleck.
Elder Haleck, who was born in Utulei, American Samoa, said President Nelson’s Pacific tour is an indication that “the Lord knows and loves his children who live upon the ‘Isles of the Sea.’”
Elder Ardern said Latter-day Saints in the Pacific come from a wide cultural and socio-economic diversity but are one.
“The Saints of the Pacific love President Nelson, they pray for him individually and as families, they listen to him via the internet and read his counsel in the Ensign and Liahona and now many will get to see him in person,” he said. “This experience will become a lifelong memory for them. I can see now, written in personal journals across the Pacific, ‘Today, I saw President Nelson and had confirmed within me by the Holy Ghost that he is the living prophet of God. I felt his love for me.’”
Elder K. Brent Nattress, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area Presidency, agreed. “The Saints in the Pacific love the Lord, and they love the Lord’s prophet,” he said. “We are so grateful for the ministering visit of President Nelson and Elder Gong to the Pacific Area.”
People of “inherent spirituality,” Polynesian and Melanesian Latter-day Saints “have a deep and abiding love for the Savior,” said Elder Nattress. “This is seen in their beautiful music, in their beautiful families, and in their faithfulness.”
President David O. McKay (1873–1970) dedicated the Oakland California Temple in 1964 as the 13th operating temple in the Church. In the dedicatory prayer, President McKay expressed appreciation to the committee who chose the temple site in 1934, and stated that the temple is “a monument testifying to the faith and loyalty of the members of Thy Church in the payment of their tithes and offerings.” The Oakland California Temple has a variety of artistic details. An instruction room in the Oakland California Temple. An instruction room in the Oakland California Temple. Entry into the Oakland California Temple through the recommend desk. The baptistry in the Oakland California Temple. A sealing room in the Oakland California Temple. A waiting room in the Oakland California Temple.The renovation of the temple incorporated the original 1960s design that includes a rectified original waterfall feature that flows from the second level garden terrace into the reflection pool.The Bay Area was home to Elder Cook and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, for over 30 years. “It’s a real thrill to see [the Oakland California Temple] be rededicated, to see it be refurbished,” Elder Cook said. “And it has a place in my heart that’s very, very special, so I’m very grateful for it.” A sealing room in the Oakland California Temple. The bride’s room in the Oakland California Temple.President McKay also blessed those who had labored in the building of the temple or in any way aided in its completion.This week, Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are leading tours of the renovated temple for local community leaders.The public is invited to tour the newly renovated Oakland California Temple of the Church. The open house will be held between May 11 and June 1, with the formal dedication held on Sunday, June 16, according to Newsroom.Windows were also added to the windowless temple in the renovation. The temple was originally designed without windows to create a “theater-like setting” because the Oakland temple was one of the first to use film rather than a live presentation during its instruction. An outside wall of the Oakland California Temple. The celestial room in the Oakland California Temple. One of the two chapels in the Oakland California Temple. This is the north chapel.“May peace abide in the homes of Thy people everywhere, and may sickness and disease be rebuked from their midst,” he said. The celestial room in the Oakland California Temple.
“The intent of the Church is to promote sound principles to encourage discussion and action in legislatures that reflect fairness for all,” the statement continued. “Our society’s information environment steers the public to view conflicts as just a part of a bigger culture war, a battle of winner-takes-all in which there is only ever one right and one wrong, and where the only answer to any question is either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”And if such a time were to come when the predominant culture no longer sufficiently valued such freedoms, said Elder Christofferon in 2017, “even constitutions will not be sufficient to sustain and preserve them.”“The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all,” the statement said.Additionally, a proposal to negate any use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in defense of any such organizations, businesses, or individuals in judicial cases against discrimination is seen by many as a threat to the protection of religious freedom, which has been long upheld by the U.S. Constitution and courts in accordance with that and similar acts.What made the 2015 legislation in Utah unique—and perhaps a good model for similar issues moving forward—is that both sides worked to protect each others values and beliefs and found ways to respect both without compromising, Sen. Adams added.Fairness without compromiseSpeaking in 2016, at the Regional Religious Freedom conference in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “We deny any intent to compromise our doctrine or religious belief or to invite any others to compromise theirs.”“First, try to view others through a lens of fairness. … Second, let fairness guide your treatment of others. … Third, I would encourage you to stand up for fairness if you see another’s rights being impeded.”“It’s kind of cool when both sides try to protect each other. It’s a really significant thing … and when that happens, it helps everyone in society.”It’s no secret some of the core doctrinal beliefs of the Church and many other religious organizations are in many ways opposed to the practices of the LGBT communities. But as Church leaders made clear during a 2015 press conference explaining the Church’s stance of “fairness for all,” the beliefs and the rights of one citizen should not outweigh another’s.As the Equality Act—a bill proposing increased LGBT protections on a national level—is put before Congress, the Church voiced concerns for how the proposed increased protections for LGBT rights could potentially harm existing protections for religious freedom.In a May 13 statement expressing opposition to the Equality Act, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reemphasized its stance that “fairness for all” plays an important role in protecting both LGBT community rights and the right to freedom of religion.At the time, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sought to defend the idea that “fairness for all,” did not entail any form of compromise of beliefs from either the religious or LGBT sides during the legislative discussions in Utah the year prior, which had led to what the media dubbed the “Utah Compromise.”Sen. Adams underscored the importance of protecting one another.As Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained during the 2015 press conference, the Church seeks to find “a way forward in which those with different views on these complex issues can together seek for solutions that will be fair to everyone.”Such opposition expressed by the Church is not directed at the increased protections for the LGBT communities. On numerous occasions, the Church has expressed support for protecting LGBT rights. Rather, its opposition comes due to the threat the proposed bill poses to the continuing protection of religious freedom.“We must find ways to show respect for others whose beliefs, values, and behaviors differ from our own while never being forced to deny or abandon our own beliefs, values, and behaviors in the process,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Every citizen’s rights are best guarded when each person and group guards for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves.”As legislation and culture continue to sporadically propose changes that challenge the freedom of religion upon which the United States of America was established, the Church will continue to defend such rights. And they will do so in the same manner they always have: working to protect their rights, as well as those of others.“The key to what we did in Utah is that no one compromised any of their values or positions,” said Utah State Senator Stuart Adams in a recent interview with the Church News. “The LGBT community stayed with their same positions, and so did the religious communities. Their deep-seated religious beliefs were not compromised.”Protections for both religious liberties and LGBT rights can can be reached without either side having to compromise its values, the statement added, but the Equality Act does not offer that harmonious conclusion.While the majority of the changes proposed by the Equality Act align with changes made during the 2015 legislation in Utah concerning the same topics, some of the proposed changes would limit the ability of religiously affiliated institutions, organizations, businesses, or individuals to act according to their religious beliefs and conscience.The Church asserted then, as it has echoed again in its most recent statement, that “protecting the conscience of religious people and affirming the right of LGBT people to lead a dignified life—can be compatible.”In an interview with the Church News following the 2015 press conference, Elder Christofferson said, “We are troubled by the position of some absolutists that nondiscrimination must trump all other values and considerations. … But tolerance does not mean forcing someone to condone what they in good conscience cannot condone.”He further explained that the Church’s call for “fairness to all” would lead to an end to discrimination while simultaneously protecting the liberty of people to live according to their conscience.Freedom and fairness for allA history of fairnessIn March of that year, Utah State Legislators had just passed Senate Bill 296, which asserted antidiscriminatory protections for LGBT people in areas of housing, employment, and public spaces in Utah. Following the bill’s passing, Church leaders—who worked closely with state legislators to develop the bill in a way that did not impinge upon the freedom of religion protected by the Constitution—issued the 2015 statement regarding its involvement.“Everybody’s rights should be protected—whether you have deep-seated religious beliefs or whether you’re gay. And if you try to just protect one or the other, that’s not the American way,” he said in reference to the Equality Act and the Church’s decision to oppose it.In 2015, after working on similar issues specific to the state of Utah, a Church statement read, “Rights work best when sought and shared by everyone. And since we all live and breathe and move in the same public space, there is no acceptable alternative to working out our differences.”Both the Church and its members have a civic responsibility to be involved in protecting their own rights and the rights of others, Elder Rasband added, offering advice on how to do so.The 2015 Utah legislation on LGBT rights and religious freedom, as Elder Oaks explained a year later, was not, in fact, a compromise at all. Rather, it exemplified efforts to resolve differences through mutual understanding, accommodation, and practice of civility.Stating then, as it recently did again in opposing the Equality Act, the Church reiterated its favor for taking reasonable measures to protect the rights of the LGBT community to live and act according to their consciences and in ensuring fair access to housing, employment, and public spaces. However, it also expressed the need to similarly protect faith communities and individuals in their rights for freedom of expression and religious practice.Such is the significant difference between the Equality Act and the Church’s proposal for “fairness for all,” he said, adding the Equality Act only safeguards the LGBT community and dismisses protections for the religious communities.After the Church launched its website for religious freedom in September 2016, Elder Oaks explained that because the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights was “established to give favored constitutional treatment to religion, speech, press, and assembly,” the weakening of any part of the amendment would weaken the whole.“We believe in freedom for all, we believe in fairness for all, we believe that everyone has unalienable rights, and those rights ought to be protected. And when they overlap, we ought to do it in a way that doesn’t wash away somebody else’s rights.”Balancing the opposition“The opportunity to be involved in the political process is a privilege given to every citizen,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, in a 2015 BYU devotional. “Our laws and legislation play an important teaching role in shaping our social and moral culture. We need every individual in society to take an active role in engaging in civic dialogue that helps frame laws and legislation that are fair for everyone.”Why the Equality Act isn’t fair for all
Latter-day Saints are the Lord’s covenant people; therefore, “LDS” or “Latter-day Saint” should not be used to qualify objects such as temples, scriptures, or doctrine that belong to the Lord or His Church and not to Church members. Instead of referring to “Latter-day Saint temples,” for example, the more appropriate reference would be “temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”