One day, while he was teaching an organ lesson in the rear loft at St. Mark’s, veteran Tabernacle organist Cundick appeared and asked to speak with him. “We’ve received permission to appoint another Tabernacle organist, and we would like to have you,” he said.“Then, of course, there’s accompanying the Tabernacle Choir and playing for the unique Music and the Spoken Word broadcast.”In addition to playing for the Church's general conference sessions and the funerals for Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, another career highlight for Christiansen was his involvement with fellow Tabernacle organists John Longhurst and Richard Elliott in the selection and design of the organ for the Conference Center, completed in 2000. Carried on between 2000 and 2003, the organ construction and installation were chronicled in a book Longhurst wrote called Magnum Opus.How much: Free, no tickets required; for ages 8 and upBut the celebrated organist’s influence reached Christiansen long before that. Born February 28, 1949, Christiansen spent the first 13 years of his life in the small, southeastern Utah town of Emery, where he “was always attracted to music and to the sound of choir, particularly the Tabernacle Choir when [he] would hear it over the radio.” Schreiner’s renowned organ virtuosity was inseparable from the choir’s broadcasts at that time.No one seemed to be bothered by a Latter-day Saint occupying the organist’s post at an Episcopal cathedral.He even put on a local radio program, “Concert from St. Mark’s,” during the last 5 of his 10 years as organist there. Tabernacle organist Clay Christiansen, now retired, plays the organ inside of the Tabernacle on Temple Square. He says he wants to teach more now that he’s retired. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Also on that impressive roster of past Tabernacle organists is the legendary Alexander Schreiner, a mentor of Christiansen’s.He would commute to Provo to continue the lessons after the family moved first to Salt Lake City and then to Morgan. After graduating from Morgan High School, he enrolled at BYU and continued learning from Keeler.While an undergraduate at the school, he played piano for a longstanding dance band, the Bud Hutchings Orchestra, from 1970 to 1971.“I knew it was a half-hour or so before I would be needed at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral for a service at midnight, when all the lights come on after a long Easter vigil service that didn’t have any music in it.”Thus began nearly 36 years of a tenure in which no two days were the same.“The dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. Robert M. Anderson, was a great guy with a sense of humor,” he said. “He referred to me as ‘the Mormon apostle to the Gentiles.’”Looking forward, retirement plans for Christiansen include returning to teaching—a beloved endeavor for which he hasn’t had time since his days at St. Mark’s—spending time with his sizable posterity that includes 60 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and indulging his passion for vegetable gardening.His father, Rellus, died when Christiansen was 13, and his mother, Lila, took him and his four younger sisters to Provo so she could attend Brigham Young University. There, Christiansen began to study organ with Joseph J. Keeler, a luminary in the Latter-day Saint music world who established the organ program at BYU. He also composed the music for the Latter-day Saint hymn “Men Are That They Might Have Joy.”“That was an unprecedented space in which to put a pipe organ of that size and sort,” he said. “We didn’t know how successful it would be, but it has really surpassed our dreams and even those of the organ builder. That instrument is the only thing that can function in that building without being amplified through the PA system.”“I was his last master’s candidate in organ performance at the University of Utah,” Christiansen said.“Schreiner was a great inspiration,” he continued. “After I began teaching, I would always leave that noon slot free, and I would come over here and sit behind him while he played his recital. Then we’d go back to the organists’ room, which is now a janitor’s closet, and chat for a while until he was through, and then we would part company. And so I had the chance not only to absorb his musical ideas through watching him but to be taught by him as well.”“I’m panicking, thinking if I’m not at St. Mark’s when the Easter service starts, I’ll be in deep trouble,” he recalled in a recent interview while seated next to the Tabernacle’s organ console. “I looked up at those gates, thinking, ‘They’re a little high to scale.’ Finally, security came and let me out.”Piano lessons helped nurture Christiansen’s musical aspirations.About this time, the brand-new instrument at St. Mark’s in Salt Lake City was the talk of the organists’ community in Utah. The cathedral organist invited Keeler to send up one of his students to play a recital, and that privilege went to Christiansen.Where: Tabernacle, Temple Square Retired Tabernacle organist Clay Christiansen sits at the organ inside of the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Christiansen also served members of the Jewish faith, as organist for Congregation Kol Ami during the first five years of their then-new synagogue in Salt Lake City, 1977–1982. His wife, Diane, even sang in the choir on their High Holy Days.Years in advance of his September 15, 1982, appointment as one of the three Salt Lake Tabernacle organists, Christiansen had already established a frequent presence in the Tabernacle as a guest artist filling in for the principal organists on some of the daily noon recitals presented free to tourists.Beyond that, Christiansen was on the Musical Instruments Selection Committee at Church headquarters, approving builders or vendors of organs and pianos at meetinghouses around the world.This was in 1968, when the Vietnam War was in full engagement, and, in consequence of the military draft, the Church was restricted in the number of young missionaries who could be sent out. So while a sophomore at BYU, Christiansen elected to marry his sweetheart, Diane Francom, in the Salt Lake Temple on June 12 of that year and start a family of 13 children, 12 of whom are living today. Tabernacle organist Clay Christiansen sits at the organ inside of the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 9, 2018. He retired that month after 36 years. Photo by Adam Fondren, Deseret News.Serving the communityIf you go …“There is the duty of maintaining this unique, daily recital series that we have here,” he said, a tradition of nearly 100 years in which each full-time organist plays two days a week.And then there’s the new organ in his home, a digital, state-of-the-art instrument custom-built by a friend in Southern California. “That will allow me to stay in shape so I can keep playing, helping out occasionally for noon recitals and other engagements.”A Tabernacle organistBy the time the organist position became open at the cathedral, Christiansen had done some substituting there. He was interviewed by a search committee and at age 23 got the job, playing his first recital as organist five years to the day since he had played his student recital there.“I would ride my bike to Dixon Junior High in Provo and, after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, would pedal over to lower campus where his studio and classes were,” Christiansen recalled. “I joined the college kids for those organ classes in addition to my private lessons.”He’d already begun to make his mark as an organist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, playing organ at age 19 in the Church’s Young Artists Music Festival.“I have the duty of approving organists to play various events and concerts in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, as well as organists here in the Tabernacle for special concerts,” he said. “And we all audition the guest organists who are eventually called to help with the noon recitals.”And last year in April, after 36 years, Christiansen joined those men on the roster of former Tabernacle organists when he retired. On Friday, February 22, former students and colleagues—including current Tabernacle organists Richard Elliott, Andrew Unsworth, Brian Mathias, Linda Margetts, and Bonnie Goodliffe—will honor Christiansen with a performance in the Tabernacle.The appointment four years later at the cathedral gave him not only “the income to help raise a burgeoning family, but a place also of quality to teach organ and piano and to hold my student recitals.”Christiansen was employed at the time as the cathedral’s organist and choirmaster.Web: thetabernaclechoir.orgNow, on this eve of Easter Sunday, he had stayed a bit too long in the historic building, rehearsing for his next recital. When he finally did leave and approached the Temple Square west gate, he was stunned to find it locked with not a soul around to open it for him.Along the way, he attained a doctorate in organ composition from the University of Utah. Much of the work, in fact, involved composing and arranging pieces for the broadcast and other purposes—one of his many published pieces is the Latter-day Saint hymn “In Fasting We Approach Thee.”Clay Christiansen was on the verge of desperation—the kind that makes a person contemplate crazy things like trying to scale one of the gates of Temple Square.Later, at age 33, Christiansen would forsake the position at St. Mark’s to become one of the three full-time Tabernacle organists, replacing the retiring Roy Darley and joining Robert Cundick and John Longhurst.What: Clay Christiansen Tribute Organ Concert“I think they respected it,” he said, adding that at social gatherings in the fellowship hall, they watched out for him, making sure he knew which was the nonalcoholic punch bowl.When: Friday, February 22, 7:30 p.m.
If you are unable to attend RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City, you have two remote viewing options.If you’re social media savvy, you can follow or join real-time conversations happening on social media using #NotAtRootsTech.In addition to the select free classes broadcasted, RootsTech is offering a virtual pass, which provides access to 18 online recorded sessions from the conference. You can watch playbacks from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone device whenever and however you’d like—for just $129. Go to virtual pass for more information.
Speaker or Speakers
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
What’s New at FamilySearch?
Explore the latest features and capabilities released on FamilySearch. See the future of FamilySearch.
Ron Tanner of FamilySearch
Hear Them Sing! Social History and Family Narrative
Discover how the addition of social history enhances family narratives and clarifies the songs of our ancestors. She will discuss how to contextualize ancestors’ lives with social history research.
Uncovering Family Stories with British and Irish Historic Newspapers (Sponsored by Findmypast)
Search the numerous digitized collections of millions of pages of local and national historic newspapers, covering 300 years of history from every county in Britain and Ireland.
Connecting Your DNA Matches
Find out how to go through your DNA match list and how to use the Shared Matches tool. Learn how to create and employ a number of tools to boost your confidence in your genetic genealogy skills.
Wednesday General Session and Opening Event
Explore the connections that come through genealogy. Entertainment will be provided by the world-renowned a cappella group The Edge Effect.
Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Making the Leap—Becoming a Professional Genealogist (Power Hour)
Explore how to make a successful transition from hobbyist to a career as a professional. Learn about the importance of diversifying your talents, and discover the ways to earn income as a genealogist.
Luana Darby, Valerie Elkins, and Anne Teerlink
Finally! German Church Records and How to Use Them on FamilySearch
Explore the German Church records that are now being published on FamilySearch. These are records rich in centuries of history and contain baptisms, marriages, burials, and even confirmations.
Thursday General Session
Nobody knows family quite like Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton. Known for her humorous roles as a typical American housewife in big hit television series like Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle.
What You Don’t Know about Ancestry (Sponsored by Ancestry)
Preview Ancestry’s cool new tools that are geared to improve and accelerate your family history research.
“Jumping the Broom,” Oil, Inheritance, and African American Marriage in the South
Explore the tradition of jumping the broom, the informal marriage ceremony for the enslaved.
Perilous Assumptions: Revisiting Those First Finds
Despite the best of intentions, many family history researchers make incorrect assumptions about records that don’t quite fit. Explore false assumptions, revisiting those mistakes and the family history discoveries that may await.
Friday, March 1, 2019
Why and How to Put Yourself into Your Family History (Power Hour)
Explore why putting yourself into your family history is so important. Learn how you can include yourself without getting overwhelmed.
Curt Witcher, Amy Johnson Crow, and Scott Fisher
Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence
Learn how to use DNA evidence correctly and correlated with documentary evidence and examine some of the considerations, limitations, and pitfalls we should consider when using DNA evidence.
Friday General Session
Perhaps no one knows the joy that comes from connecting with family better than Saroo Brierley. Saroo will share his remarkable story of how he used technology to reconnect with the land of his childhood and rediscover his family.
Getting the Most Out of Billions of Records on MyHeritage SuperSearch (Sponsored by MyHeritage)
One of the best ways to maximize MyHeritage is to host your tree at MyHeritage, where the systems will automatically help you find new records, fill gaps in your existing tree, and provide matches.
Discover Your Japanese Ancestors
Learn how to find your Japanese ancestors in Japan. Discover how to obtain your family’s vital records from Japan and climb your family tree.
The Research Road Map: Your Path to Success
Why having a research plan is more than making a to-do list. See how having a good plan is essential to making progress in your research and making it less frustrating.
Amy Johnson Crow
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Trace the Story of Immigrant Ancestors in 3 Steps (Power Hour)
Explore three key steps to unlocking the story of your immigrant ancestors with the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.
Susan Miller, D. Joshua Taylor, and Frederick Wertz
Examining Your DNA Matches with DNA Painter
DNA Painter is a website that can help interpret and demystify your autosomal DNA results. Using practical examples, Learn how DNA Painter can be used for a variety of activities, including chromosome mapping.
Saturday General Session
World-renowned ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro will be the keynote speaker. Get ready to hear Jake’s inspiring story, and listen to the one-of-a-kind ukulele musician play the instrument like you’ve never heard it before.
Leading with Science at 23andMe (Sponsored by 23andMe)
Walk through how research works at 23andMe and how you can contribute to scientific discoveries.
The Silent Language of the Stones: Reading Gravestones through Symbols and Carvings
Symbols and icons have been used on tombstones for centuries, but it was not until the mid-1800s that this secret language on the stones became popular. Explore these symbols and statues that tell stories.
Joy NeighborsBrowse the RootsTech 2019 Salt Lake City schedule below. Attendees enter the Expo Hall during the RootsTech family history conference on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The RootsTech daily general sessions will be broadcast live and for free. They include keynote addresses by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International; Patricia Heaton, popular actress from Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle; Saroo Brierley, whose incredible family reunification story inspired the movie Lion; and Jake Shimabukuro, world-renowned ukulele master. Attendees walk through the halls during the RootsTech family history conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Some of the show’s sessions will be streamed live for free at RootsTech.org (see the broadcast schedule below). If you want more, you can purchase a virtual pass to view additional sessions from the conference.RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City runs February 27 to March 3, 2019. Go to RootsTech.org to view the entire schedule of events. Attendees walk through the booths of the Expo Hall during RootsTech family history conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
About FamilySearchAbout the Ontario Genealogical SocietyThe mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social, and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates cooperation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation, and diffusion of knowledge and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. Follow Library and Archives Canada on Twitter (@LibraryArchives), Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.The Ontario Genealogical Society, an Ontario registered nonprofit corporation and a registered Canadian charity, is Canada’s largest member-supported genealogical organization. Founded in 1961, with the vision of being recognized as the authority and leader in all aspects of Ontario-related family history research, preservation, and communication, the mission of the OGS is to encourage, bring together, and assist those interested in the pursuit of family history and to preserve Ontario’s genealogical heritage. Visit their website at https://ogs.on.ca for more information.The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) are working with FamilySearch International to digitize the historical Vernon directories for the province of Ontario. The initiative will begin immediately to preserve and make the directories freely searchable online for family historians, researchers, and Canadians.About Library and Archives Canada
Vernon directories were published yearly, by city, from the 1890s to 2014, except 2010, when the company’s ownership changed. They cover most of Ontario, including the province’s capital city of Toronto. The name “Vernon directories” is derived from the name of the publisher. The initiative will encompass an estimated 1,875 directories.
OGS approached Vernon to request rights to digitize the historical publications. The publisher granted noncommercial permission to digitize the directories. The nonprofit organization FamilySearch quickly emerged as a logical partner, namely due to its optical character recognition scanning technology that will make every word searchable. As well, OGS approached LAC for the project, as LAC holds one of the biggest collections of Vernon directories in Ontario. In addition to providing access to its collection, LAC will be hosting the digitization project.
According to Steve Fulton, UE, president of the Ontario Genealogical Society, the directories are a rich resource for researchers because “they list the names of local residents, their spouses, addresses, and sometimes even an individual’s title or position held at work.” Fulton explained that the directories were personally helpful to him in trying to determine when his grandfather passed away. “Through the directories, I determined he died between 1956 and 1957. I was then able to turn to newspaper obituaries for the area at that time to find him.”
This project will allow OGS and LAC to offer a very complete collection of directories for Ontario. The intent is also to reach out to local libraries for any missing directories that might be found in their collections.FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Elder Brennan Conrad, 18, of Hyde Park, Utah, passed away Wednesday, February 20, 2019, after falling from the roof of his apartment building. He was serving at the time as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission. Photo courtesy of the Conrad family.Elder Brennan Conrad, of Hyde Park, Utah, was serving in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission at the time of the incident.An 18-year-old missionary from Utah serving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic passed away Wednesday morning after falling from the roof of his apartment building.
Elder Brennan Conrad, 18, of Hyde Park, Utah, holds the country flag of the Dominican Republic, having been called to serve in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission. Elder Conrad passed away Wednesday, February 20, 2019, after falling from the roof of his apartment building. Photo courtesy of the Conrad family.“Our deepest condolences go out to his family,” said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff in releasing the details to the media. “We pray they will be comforted as they deal with this tragedy and mourn Elder Conrad’s passing.“
Fueled by the popularity of DNA genealogy, social networking platforms, and related mobile apps, RootsTech 2018 had over 50,000 in-person and online attendees. Hosted by FamilySearch International, this year’s conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 27 through March 2, and select content is broadcast live online.Saroo Brierley, whose story is recounted in the international bestselling autobiography A Long Way Home, will be the featured keynote speaker on Friday, March 1. Brierley’s remarkable family reunification story was depicted in the 2016 film Lion.RootsTech 2019 kicks off on Wednesday, February 27, with classes on topics such as DNA research, photo preservation, and using social media to preserve family legacies. Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, will be the featured keynote speaker on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. mountain standard time.Keynote speakersRootsTech 2019 offers more than 300 classes and activities for families and individuals with varying interests and skills. Select classes will be broadcast live. RootsTech also offers a virtual pass, which provides access to additional online recorded sessions from the conference. Learn more or register for the event at RootsTech.org.Derek Hough, professional ballroom dancer and choreographer, will perform during the Friday evening event, Connecting through Music and Dance. Hough is widely recognized for his work on the ABC dance-competition series Dancing with the Stars, where he has won a record six seasons.On Saturday, March 2, world-renowned ukulele musician and composer Jake Shimabukuro will take the stage. Shimabukuro’s records have repeatedly topped Billboard world music charts. Shimabukuro will speak about his efforts to honor his heritage through music and will perform live for the RootsTech audience.Young adult after-partyEmmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton takes the stage on Thursday to share stories of faith and family. Heaton is most recognized for her role as Deborah Barone on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005) and more recently as Frankie Heck in The Middle (2009–2018). Heaton is also the author of two books. Her most recent, a recipe book, is Patricia Heaton’s Food for Family and Friends: 100 Favorite Recipes for a Busy, Happy Life, and her humorous collection of essays about life and family, published in 2003, is Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get a Job Like Mine.About RootsTechFollowing the closing event on Friday, March 1, featuring Derek Hough and the BYU Ballroom Dance Team, young adults who attended the conference as well as others are encouraged to join Hough beginning at 7 p.m. for an after-party, where they can connect through music, dance, and games, comedy, and service opportunities. The event is free and registration is not required. Learn more.ClassesRootsTech 2019, the world’s largest family history conference, announced its full lineup of keynote speakers and entertainers, including Saroo Brierley, Patricia Heaton, Derek Hough, Jake Shimabukuro, and Steve Rockwood.RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
Sister Glazier is a ward Primary president and a former stake and ward Primary presidency secretary, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Salt Lake City to Raymond Andersen and Nancy Sue Bolton Andersen.Sister Richter is a ward Relief Society president and a former ward Primary president, stake Young Women presidency counselor, public affairs director, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, to Arthur Richard VanderStek and Grace Hattie Bruss.Brother Pangan is a stake president and a former stake presidency counselor, branch president, high councilor, bishopric counselor, institute teacher, and missionary in the Philippines Cebu Mission. He was born in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, to Benjamin Valledor Pangan and Catalina Penaso Pelin.David L. Chandler, 47, and Stacy A. Chandler, six children, Pinehurst Ward, Fayetteville North Carolina West Stake: Poland Warsaw Mission, succeeding President Mateusz Turek and Sister Adrienne Turek. Australia Brisbane MissionSister Redd is a stake Young Women president and a former ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, and a ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor. She was born in Gooding, Idaho, to Ken Dixon and Dixie Gardner Dixon.Gustavo A. Cristales, 53, and Videlmina Cristales, four children, Monte María Ward, Guatemala City Mariscal Stake: Honduras San Pedro Sula West Mission, succeeding President Douglas R. Bush and Sister Ann Bush. Sister Cristales is a stake Primary president and a former ward Primary president, ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor, family history center director, seminary teacher, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, to Arturo Pimentel and Maria Celeste Cobaquil García.Poland Warsaw MissionSister Featherstone is a Sunday School teacher and a former Young Women general board member, stake Young Women presidency counselor, stake Young Women camp director, ward Young Women and Primary president, and Young Women adviser. She was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Larry Marvin Christensen and Bonnie Kay Welch Christensen.
Mark B. and Sherrie K. GoaslindBrother Thomas is a mission presidency counselor and a former stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, gospel doctrine teacher, ward mission leader, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Gordon Kent Thomas and Mary Catherine Center Thomas.Philippines Iloilo MissionJeffrey N. Redd, 61, and Janeen D. Redd, five children, La Habra Ward, Fullerton California Stake: México Aguascalientes Mission, succeeding President Francisco J. Hernández Rivero and Sister Kini Marcelo de Hernández. Scott Featherstone, 61, and Lori L. Featherstone, six children, East Mill Creek 7th Ward, Salt Lake East Mill Creek North Stake: Washington Vancouver Mission, succeeding President Dennis A. McAteer and Sister Susan McAteer.
J. Kevin and Debbie Ence
Jeffrey N. and Janeen D. ReddBrother Cristales is an elders quorum president and institute teacher, and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, and missionary in the Colombia Barranquilla Mission. He was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, to Miguel Ángel Cristales López and Nicolaza Archila Carranza.Sister Mdletshe is a Sunday School teacher and a former ward Relief Society and Primary president, and ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary presidency counselor. She was born in Durban, South Africa, to Siphiwe Emmanual Hlongwane and Gcinaphi Getrude Hlongwane.Chile Concepción MissionPerú Limatambo MissionMéxico Hermosillo Mission
Scott and Lori L. FeatherstoneWashington Vancouver MissionNew Mexico Albuquerque MissionSister Wahlen is a regional public affairs director and a former stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Primary president, ward Young Women presidency counselor, Sunday School teacher, and institute teacher. She was born in Ogden, Utah, to John Beus and Fay Hadley Beus.Craig S. Olson, 63, and Kris Olson, five children, Brentwood Ward, Idaho Falls West Stake: Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission, succeeding President Rosendo Santos Camargo and Sister Maria del Rosario Mercado de Santos.
Jane A. and Ernest K. RichterSister Chandler is a Relief Society teacher and stake seminary supervisor, and a former stake Young Women president, stake Young Women and Primary presidency counselor, stake Young Women camp director, ward Relief Society president, and missionary in the Poland Warsaw Mission. She was born in Provo, Utah, to Steven Lynn Sorenson and Susan Lucille Taylor Sorenson.Brother Redd is an elders quorum president and a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, YSA branch president, ward mission leader, institute teacher, Sunday School teacher, and missionary in the Peru Lima North Mission. He was born in Los Angeles, California, to Earl William Redd and Rose Marie Robinson Redd.Brother Featherstone is a ward Young Men presidency counselor and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Arizona Holbrook Mission. He was born in Boise, Idaho, to Vaughn J. Featherstone and Merlene M Miner Featherstone.Brother Mdletshe is an Area Seventy and a former mission presidency counselor, stake presidency counselor, stake Young Men president, high councilor, branch president, bishopric counselor, and missionary in the England London South Mission. He was born in Kwa Mashu, South Africa, to Soka John Mdletshe and Qondeni Florence Mdletshe.Brother Zepeda is a Sunday School teacher and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, branch president, bishopric counselor, and missionary in the México Veracruz Mission. He was born in México City, México, to Nazario Zepeda Peña and Carmen Reynaga Irayola.
Khumbulani and Futhi MdletsheDaryl S. Glazier, 47, and Amy Glazier, five children, Hobble Creek 6th Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek West Stake: Perú Limatambo Mission. Canada Vancouver MissionMark B. Goaslind, 59, and Sherrie K. Goaslind, seven children, River Oaks 4th Ward, West Jordan Utah River Oaks Stake: Arizona Tempe Mission, succeeding President Spencer Christensen and Sister Carolyn T Christensen. Ecuador Guayaquil West MissionSister Allred is a Primary teacher and a former ward Young Women presidency counselor, Young Women adviser, and gospel doctrine teacher. She was born in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, to Michael Robert Lund and Mildred Rebecca Lasson Lund.México Aguascalientes MissionGiovanni P. Pangan, 46, and Nenette Pangan, two children, Legazpi Ward, Legazpi Stake: Philippines Iloilo Mission, succeeding President Hermenegildo Cruz and Sister Emily Cruz.
Jana Lee and G. Blake Wahlen
David L. and Stacy A. ChandlerChristopher L. Thomas, 49, and Sheryn L. Thomas, four children, Saddle Ranch Ward, Highlands Ranch Colorado Stake: México México City Northwest Mission, succeeding President President Daniel D. De Leon and Sister Evelia De Leon. Sister Olson is a former stake Young Women presidency secretary, ward Primary president, ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor, Young Women adviser, and Primary activity days leader. She was born in Salt Lake City to Horace Legrande Lewis and Shirley Laura Lewis.
Chad W and Melanie AllredBrother Chandler is a stake president and a former bishop, bishopric counselor, elders quorum presidency counselor, and missionary in the Poland Warsaw Mission. He was born in Provo, Utah, to Timothy Kent Chandler and Ann Elizabeth Simmons Chandler.
Kris and Craig S. Olson
Gustavo A. and Videlmina CristalesJ. Kevin Ence, 63, and Debbie Ence, seven children, St. George 16th Ward, St. George Utah East Stake: Australia Brisbane Mission, succeeding President Mark E McSwain and Sister Yvonne McSwain.
Nenette and Giovanni P. PanganBrother Weathersby is a Sunday School teacher and a former stake president, bishop, branch president, and stake Young Men president. He was born in Safford, Arizona, to Neuel Junior Weathersby and Clarissa Jane Knudsen Weathersby.Brother Richter is an elders quorum presidency counselor and stake self-reliance specialist, and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, and missionary in the Bolivia La Paz Mission. He was born in Brawley, California, to Roy Fred Richter and Louise Adelaide Clark.Sister Goaslind is a stake temple and family history coordinator, and a former stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary presidency counselor, and Primary activity days leader. She was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, to Richard Irving Knaphus and Barbara Joyce Jones.Brother Olson is a former stake presidency counselor, stake mission president, bishopric counselor, elders quorum president, ward Young Men president, Sunday School teacher, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Earl Eidswold Olson and Verene Ellen Stott Olson.Sister Weathersby is a Sunday School teacher and a former seminary teacher, temple ordinance worker, ward Relief Society compassionate service leader, and nursery leader. She was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Kay Brunt Steele and Maxine Ruth Thomas Steele.The following new mission presidents and their wives have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July of 2019. Biographies of other mission presidency couples will be published throughout 2019 on news.lds.org. (See other published biographies.)Alabama Birmingham MissionBrother Ence is an Area Seventy and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, stake Young Men president, stake Young Men presidency counselor, bishop, and missionary in the New Zealand Auckland Mission. He was born in St. George, Utah, to John Harmon Ence and Janice Esplin Ence.
Daryl S. and Amy GlazierArizona Tempe Mission
N. Edwin and Cheryl A. WeathersbyMéxico México City Northwest MissionChad W Allred, 59, and Melanie Allred, four children, Nelson Peak Ward, Erda Utah Stake: Alabama Birmingham Mission, succeeding President Stanford C. Sainsbury and Sister Melanee Sainsbury. Sister Ence is a Church-service missionary and temple ordinance worker, and a former stake Young Women and Primary presidency counselor, ward Primary president, Young Women adviser, and gospel doctrine teacher. She was born in St. George, Utah, to Howard Clark Houston and Mary Grace Houston.Brother Wahlen is a regional public affairs director and a former stake president, high councilor, stake Young Men presidency counselor, bishop, bishopric counselor, institute teacher, and missionary in the Canada Calgary Mission. He was born in Fort Ord, California, to George Edward Wahlen and Melba Holley Wahlen.Honduras San Pedro Sula West MissionBrother Glazier is a ward Young Men presidency counselor and a former bishop, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, stake clerk, and missionary in the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission. He was born in Van Nuys, California, to Stewart Elwood Glazier and Sandra Lee Rushton Glazier.
Carlos and Silvia Vergara de ZepedaKenya Nairobi MissionBrother Goaslind is a temple sealer and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Italy Padova Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Jack H Goaslind and Gwen Caroline Bradford Goaslind.Ernest K. Richter, 62, and Jane A. Richter, eight children, Boerne Ward, San Antonio Texas La Cantera Stake: Chile Concepción Mission, succeeding President Nelson Catala and Sister Liang-Fan Catala. Sister Thomas is a former ward Relief Society president, Young Women adviser, ward family history consultant, Primary teacher, and seminary teacher. She was born in Fullerton, California, to Charles Vermeule Lippincott and Bonnie Jean Lippincott.
Sheryn L. and Christopher L. ThomasBrother Allred is a Sunday School teacher and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the England London East Mission. He was born in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, to Jennis Blaine Allred and Dellene Anderson.Khumbulani Mdletshe, 54, and Futhi Mdletshe, four children, Florida 1st Ward, Soweto South Africa Stake: Kenya Nairobi Mission, succeeding President S. Ephraim Msane and Sister Nomthi Msane. Sister Pangan is a stake Young Women presidency counselor and a former stake Relief Society president and presidency counselor, ward Relief Society and Primary president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Legazpi City, Philippines, to Gonzalo Luna Mantes and Nemesia Marjalino Locsin.Carlos Zepeda, 60, and Silvia Vergara de Zepeda, two children, Saucillo Ward, Pachuca México Centro Stake: México Hermosillo Mission, succeeding President Shaun S. Myers and Sister Christina L. Myers. G. Blake Wahlen, 60, and Jana Lee Wahlen, six children, Adams Park Ward, Layton Utah East Stake: Canada Vancouver Mission, succeeding President President Chi Hong (Sam) Wong and Sister Carol Lu Wong. Sister Zepeda is a ward Young Women presidency counselor and a former stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Relief Society and Primary president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, gospel doctrine teacher, and Relief Society teacher. She was born in Pachuca, México, to Bartolome Vergara Morales and Aurora Vite Rojas.N. Edwin Weathersby, 62, and Cheryl A. Weathersby, four children, Pinnacle Vista Ward, Phoenix Arizona Desert Hills Stake: New Mexico Albuquerque Mission, succeeding President Timothy B. Guffey and Sister Kandis M. Guffey.
How to purchaseThe completely redesigned maternity chemise-style top features gathers down both sides and no underbust seams, allowing for an expanding belly without excess fabric. Two bust sizes are available.For nursing mothers, the crossover top and signature stretch provide for easy access while the mesh side panels help keep the wearer cool and dry. Two bust sizes are available.The extra-wide stretch mesh front panel on the maternity bottom also accommodates growth.All four new garment products will replace the cotton-poly garment products currently available.All stretch cotton options for women will be available in all areas by April 2019, except for Brazil, where they will be available later in the year.Updated midcalf garment bottomThe women’s stretch cotton garment line is being extended to include maternity styles, a nursing top, and a midcalf bottom, available immediately in the U.S. and Canada.To purchase these new garment styles, visit a Distribution Services store or store.lds.org.Stretch cotton, the popular breathable cotton–spandex fabric first introduced to the women’s line of garments in February of 2018, provides a soft cottony feel and a comfortable, close fit. Stretch polyester mesh panels on the sides and inner legs help to increase airflow and decrease drying time.Maternity and nursing garmentsThe new redesigned midcalf bottom has an extra wide “yoga”-style waistband made of stretch mesh that sits at the natural waist. The leg cuffs are made of the same stretch mesh fabric as the inner-leg panels.Midcalf bottoms provide extra warmth, cleaner lines beneath clothing, and full-body comfort and work especially well under maxi skirts, jeans, and leggings.The stretch cotton nursing and maternity garments—designed to be snug and more in line with modern clothing—provide a new and comfortable option for pregnant and nursing sisters.
Young women from the Grove Park Ward ask questions of their young Muslim hosts during a visit to a Knoxville, Tennessee, mosque in April 2018. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hughes.The hijab, they added, is a symbol of modesty and chastity anchored to their Islamic beliefs and tenets.Anna decided to enlist the Relief Society sisters and young women from her ward in a “hijab drive” to gather scarves that would be harmonious with Islamic standards of modesty.So Anna felt an immediate kinship with a group of other Knoxville-area young women who, at first glance, might appear on opposite ends of the religious spectrum.Hamed added the Knoxville Muslim community’s friendship with the Latter-day Saint community actually began in 2017 when Anna Hughes’s older brother, Harrison, organized an online interfaith project that promoted understanding and interaction between the local faith communities. The project also championed religious freedom.The 16-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee, resident lives in an area where she and her fellow Latter-day Saints are religious minorities. Occasionally, she’s been stereotyped and misunderstood because of her gospel beliefs.Since then, Knoxville-area Muslims have hosted visiting Latter-day Saints at their mosque and also toured Latter-day Saint meetinghouses.Last year, Anna and several other young women from the Grove Park Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Cumberland Stake, were visiting the Annoor Mosque to learn more about other religious congregations in their community.The project was simple. It didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. It didn’t require months of planning. But friendships between two religious groups were solidified at a moment in time often defined by division and distrust.On February 3, in observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week, Anna and a fellow Laurel, Emma Strickland, delivered the collected scarves to the Pearls of Knoxville, the local Muslim young women’s group, during one of their Sunday gatherings at the mosque.The Grove Park Ward responded enthusiastically. “I had multiple women give me multiple scarves to donate,” she said.Each scarf was pressed, folded, and wrapped with a bow and a favorite quote. They were a welcome gift. One young Muslim woman had forgotten her hijab and immediately used one of the new scarves.Harrison Hughes is serving a mission in Brazil.The high school junior recognized and admired the Knoxville Muslim girls’ integrity and commitment to their beliefs. “I wanted to do something to show them that I appreciated them even when others might mock them,” she said.Amira Hamed, the leader of the Pearls of Knoxville, said the recent gift “was really beautiful. It’s touching a lot of the Muslim community’s hearts.”Now the Muslim girls are planning to share some sort of gift in the near future with their Latter-day Saint friends.“I wanted to let these young women know they are never alone and that I respect their values and who they are,” said Anna.“But the hijab has also made them a target because they stand out,” said Anna. “We spoke to 12- and 13-year-old girls who had been told horrible things simply because they choose to wear their hijabs.”Their hosts were eager to answer, explaining that they wore hijabs whenever they interacted with people who were not of their immediate family.After touring the mosque, the Latter-day Saint girls were invited to ask questions of their Muslim counterparts. No surprise, they wanted to know about their hijabs—the traditional veils or scarves worn by Muslim women.Anna Hughes knows the sting of religious discrimination and bigotry.
Emma Strickland, left, and Anna Hughes visited a mosque in Knoxville, Tennessee, on February 3, 2019, to pass out scarves donated by members of their ward. The scarves were gifts to the young Muslim women at the mosque and strengthened friendship between the two faith groups. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hughes.
Consisting of dozens of islands, New Caledonia—which includes the largest island of the same name—is a French territory in the South Pacific.All four missionaries, serving in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission, are expected to recover from the collision, during which at least one of the three people in the other vehicle died, said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.“We invite people of faith everywhere to pray for all those involved in this accident, particularly for the family and loved ones of the individual who passed away,” said Woodruff.The missionaries involved in the accident are Elder Jacob Hable from Jakarta, Indonesia; Elder Jérémie Champoux from Drummondville, Canada; Elder Gordon Kimball from Bluffdale, Utah; and Elder Atepa Temaiana from Mo’orea, French Polynesia.
Increased communication can help to unify missionaries and their families in this “great and marvelous work,” said Elder Uchtdorf. Missionaries can share with their families “the wonderful experiences they have in the field.”The significant adaptations to missionary communication are the result of the “options, possibilities, and technologies now offered in some parts of the world,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council.In addition to weekly communication, missionaries are also encouraged to contact family on other special occasions such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, parents’ birthdays, and other culturally significant holidays.Church leaders trust the missionaries, he said. “They do this very well on Christmas or whatever the occasion is. We are confident that this will be very nicely done among the missionary companionships.”Elder Uchtdorf called this communication—made possible by technology—a wonderful thing. “We communicate with our Heavenly Father every day, and we would like to have our families communicate with the missionaries every week—maybe by letter or maybe by email, or now maybe by video chats or phone calls. This is an addition which brings more confidence, more peace.”With the new advances in technology, this communication should take place at little or no cost to the Church, the missionaries, or their families.Communication should occur on the missionary’s preparation day and be initiated by the missionary. Missionaries are asked to use good judgment in determining the length of phone calls and video chats and to be considerate of their companions.He rejected the philosophy that calling home more than twice a year will weaken or distract missionaries.Further, Elder Uchtdorf said new options of communication with home will be a motivating force, not a distraction. After their communication with families—in whatever form the missionaries select—they can “go out there and serve the Lord with even a brighter heart, a more joyful countenance.” They can smile at the people they meet and teach and say, “‘I just talked to my parents. They send their greetings and they send their love.’” In those few locations where families or missionaries do not have access to computers or phones, missionaries are encouraged to continue using their current means of communication.“Our missionaries are pretty tough,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “They receive rejection every day. They have tough weather conditions. They have to learn a lot. They have to work with new cultures, with new circumstances. But above all, they know in their hearts and minds that they are servants and representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.”To avoid disruption to missionary schedules, family members are asked not to initiate calls or chats but instead wait for the missionary to contact them on his or her weekly preparation day. If a missionary’s parents live in different locations, he or she may contact each parent separately. Missionaries in Uruguay attend a 2018 devotional. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Regular communication with their families is an important part of a missionary’s service,” said the First Presidency in a statement. “One of the major purposes of this adjustment is to encourage families to be more involved in their missionary’s efforts and experiences.”Effective immediately, the Church’s 65,000 missionaries are authorized to communicate with their families each week on preparation day by text messages, online messaging, phone calls, and video chats, in addition to letters and emails.
Missionaries pose for a photo in front of the Hyde Park Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Deseret News. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.Elder Uchtdorf added, “The Lord loves the missionaries and their families. We are confident that the expanded ways of weekly communication between missionaries and their families by letters, emails, online messaging, video chats, or phone calls will have a positive effect on the efforts to gather Israel, both in the mission field and at home.” Missionaries await the arrival of President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dale G. Renlund at a missionary meeting in September of 2018, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rex Warner.Increased communication may also help missionaries who are homesick and could benefit from the “comforting voice of their parents,” said Elder Uchtdorf.The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday an update to guidelines regarding communication between full-time missionaries and their families.Elder Uchtdorf said the new guidelines offer several additional benefits, including accommodating varied family circumstances, as well as better supporting those missionaries who would benefit from increased personal contact with family at home.Parents should remember that the missionaries have an important work to do. “They are called to bring the gospel message to all the world. They are called to find, teach, baptize, and help people to become disciples of Jesus Christ. They are the ones in charge of communication.”“As families, we love our missionaries,” he said. “Missionaries love their families. They want to communicate with them.”Missionaries “initiate the call to their parents because they have a schedule they want to fulfill. Missionaries and parents can plan ahead to find a time convenient to both. On preparation day, missionaries want to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for the rest of the week. They know best which time would be best for them to call home.”“We encourage missionaries to communicate with their families each week using whatever approved method missionaries decide,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “This may vary based on their circumstances, locations, and schedules for that week. It is not expected that all missionaries will call or video chat with their parents every week. The precise manner of communication is left up to the missionary as he or she decides what will best meet their needs.”
Missions: 6Barney hoped his two teenage sons—18-year-old Bryson and 15-year-old Bronson—would have a testimony-building experience as they occupied two of the 9,000 chairs set aside on the stadium floor for youth and young single adults.Temples: 3From shuttling propane tanks for outdoor heaters on a chilly February evening to overseeing the production and sale of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, Bishop Waldo was kept plenty busy before the prophet’s arrival. He paused to talk about how the members in his congregation were looking forward to President Nelson’s devotional.Members viewing broadcast at meetinghouses: 64,000“We have 40 youth, so I was focused more on giving them to the youth and to the families,” he said. “The others will watch at the chapel.”Planning committee members: 16Fast forward nearly a century and a half later, as one of his great-great-grandsons—Elder C. Dale Willis Jr., an Area Seventy from Mesa, Arizona, whose profession is in commercial real estate and land development—heads the planning committee to organize the February 10 member devotional.The February 10 devotionalBarney was integral in helping arrange a venue for President Nelson’s devotional since his county position had him involved in related board assignments with the Chase Field baseball facility in downtown Phoenix and the football-oriented State Farm Stadium in Glendale on the metro area’s west side. Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium—an open-air venue—was ruled out because of uncertain winter weather.Putting two and two togetherTemples: 6And like Jarvis, she anticipated the potential impact on her 15-year-old son, Gray.“That,” he said, “is what gets me the most excited, the most emotional.”Stakes: 117Tickets for special guests: 1,200As a token of appreciation and an opportunity to share a message, Elder Willis, Jarvis, and others arranged for hard-back, name-embossed copies of the Book of Mormon for each stadium official involved in the planning and organization of the devotional. “We had many come up to us and thank us for the gift of the Book of Mormon,” said Jarvis, adding “they were very pleased and gracious.”Tickets distributed: 70,000Total planning man-hours: 3,500The result was a devotional planned in under three months—or less than half the time for the 2018 devotionals in Seattle, Washington, and San Antonio, Texas. The 16-member planning committee met weekly for about 90 minutes at a time, with nearly each committee member overseeing a subcommittee tasked with music, security, ushering, parking, publicity, and the like.In 1878, Brigham Young called John Henry Willis to take his family—which eventually totaled two wives, 14 sons, and four daughters—from their Kanarraville, Utah, home to help settle in what was then the territory of Arizona. Willis crossed the Colorado on Lee’s Ferry en route first to Winslow, then the Tonto Basin, then the Salt River Valley (now metro Phoenix), and finally on to Snowflake in eastern Arizona to begin ranching and farming efforts there.“It’s a very humbling experience as I think of what my great-great-grandfather went through in 1878, accepting that assignment from the prophet Brigham Young to help colonize northern Arizona in Snowflake,” said Elder Willis, whose great-grandfather in the 1910s homesteaded in Chandler, south of Mesa and Gilbert. “To see where the family has come since then in the Church as well as in our communities here in Arizona has just been humbling.”Tickets per stake: 850Stakes: 78“Almost on a nightly occurrence, at 3:00 in the morning, I wake up,” said Willis. “There are strong impressions that I need to do this or that. For that I am so grateful, that the Lord has communicated with him in such a holy and sacred way to help me with this assignment.”BY THE NUMBERSThe Church in Arizona“To have them sit, even in a large venue like this, and be in the presence of the prophet and to hear him testify—that’s what we want,” he said, “to cement the hearts of our children to this great man who is a prophet of God.”In the same roomChurch members: nearly 430,000While he has attended previous leadership and training meetings led by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Phoenix devotional was the first time Bishop Waldo has been in the presence of a Church President.“I want him to feel the strength of the youth and of the prophet, to help solidify his testimony,” she said. “We live in an area where there aren’t very many members of the Church, so this will be a unique experience for him to sit with 9,000 youth who are members and feel that strength that comes from other people with shared values and a shared understanding of Christ’s role.”No sites were available for an initially proposed date in mid-January. With all eyes now on February, Chase Field was booked for the proposed date, and Barney reached out to the Bidwill family that owns the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL team that plays in the State Farm Stadium with its retractable roof and retractable grass playing surface.Bishop Waldo’s two oldest children also helped provide Spanish translation for the devotional. Listening to the words of the Church’s two top leaders and their wives in his native tongue, via the efforts of his children, was something he was especially looking forward to. Elder C. Dale Willis, left, an Area Seventy and chairman of the planning committee for the February 10 member devotional at State Farm Stadium, visits with committee member Denny Barney as the devotional rostrum is put in place on Thursday, February 7, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.When her husband returned home, she asked, “So when is the prophet coming?” and James Jarvis could neither confirm nor deny, never sharing any details until they were approved for public dissemination. President Russell M. Nelson walks into the State Farm Stadium with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in Phoenix on Sunday, February 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.However, only a fraction of his ward members was able to attend the event at the stadium, since his ward received only 93 devotional tickets.“I hope my great-great-grandfather and my great-grandfather are proud,” he said, “and I look forward to the day of sitting down and visiting with them about it, comparing notes and making sure I have not soiled their name in any way or brought dishonor to the family.” Elder C. Dale Willis, an Area Seventy and chairman of the Phoenix member devotional planning committee, visits with committee members, stadium managers, and officials in an on-site meeting on February 7, 2019. Photo by Scott Taylor.Cementing a venueFloor seats for youth, YSAs: 9,000YSA ushers: 400One of the first individuals Elder Willis reached out to for his committee was Denny Barney, a sixth-generation Arizonan who at the time was a longtime elected Maricopa County supervisor (he resigned earlier this month to head a local coalition of civic, business, education, and political leaders).When she couldn’t locate him one day, she used a smartphone app to see where he was at—it showed State Farm Stadium. “I started putting two and two together, and I thought, ‘I know why he’s so busy; I know why he’s so excited.’”About five miles away from the stadium in a parking lot off Grand Avenue, Hector Waldo, bishop of the La Joya Ward in the Phoenix Arizona Stake, had his taco truck positioned for another six-hour stretch on a Saturday night. Waldo’s Tacos has been a west-side mainstay since 2005 for the family business.Jennifer Wheeler of the Phoenix Arizona North Stake’s Royal Palm Ward serves on the Greater Phoenix Public Affairs Council and is a point person for the devotional planning committee on handling media inquiries.One Church President. Two First Presidency members. A Sunday night devotional drawing some 65,000 at an indoor football stadium in metro Phoenix, with another 64,000 watching a live broadcast in meetinghouses across the state.State Farm Stadium seating: 63,400Devotional attendance: About 65,000 A training meeting is held on Saturday, February 9, 2019, in a bottom-floor conference area of the State Farm Stadium for the 400 young single adults volunteering as ushers in advance of the February 10 Phoenix member devotional to be held at the same site. Photo by Scott Taylor.Coming full circleTacos, tickets, and translatingThose are just some of the numbers that start to tell the story of the February 10 devotional featuring President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his First Counselor, President Dallin H. Oaks, at the State Farm Stadium.“They are very excited, very happy, very enthusiastic that the prophet has come,” he said in Spanish.Every person attending or watching has at least one story of preparation concerning the prophet’s visit to Arizona—making for tens of thousands of anecdotes. Here are just a handful that represent the preparation that went into the Arizona member devotional.Notified in late November 2018 of a desire to have a Phoenix devotional as early as mid-January, Elder Willis described the assignment as “a revelatory experience.” From the immediate promptings of names of who to call to the planning committee to settling on a preliminary devotional plan in less than two weeks, everything came together in a miraculous way.“Within 24 hours, we had secured a date that fit with the prophet’s schedule—it came together so quickly,” he said. “The stadium people have remarked several times that to pull together this type of event in the amount of time we’re doing it has been pretty unique.”Missions: 5“We were here over the holidays with my parents, counting out 70,000 tickets on our dining room table,” recalled Christy Jarvis, sharing how her family separated and packaged an allotted 850 tickets for each of the 78 stakes. “We sat there with the bowl games on—we had football and food and counting tickets. And it was really fun.”PHOENIX, ARIZONAAnd it now has gone full circle—from a Willis sent by a prophet to help settle Arizona to a Willis welcoming a prophet to speak in Arizona, where the Latter-day Saint membership is nearly 430,000 strong.The Church in the Greater Phoenix AreaChurch members: 242,000But family members noticed something was a bit off—he seemed a little distracted, a little preoccupied, and a lot busier. “He was very excited about something, and it definitely piqued my interested and I was watching very closely to see what was going on,” said his wife, Christy.“A lot of the media have asked me, ‘Why is President Nelson coming to Phoenix?’” she said. “And it hit me—for many of these members, even though we are so close to Utah, this will be the only time in their lives when they will sit in the same room as the prophet.”James Jarvis acknowledged the role of stadium managers and directors in organizing the devotional. “The people here at the stadium have been absolutely incredible to work with,” he said. “They’ve made our lives pretty easy.”Tabbed early as the committee’s executive secretary, James Jarvis of the Salt River Ward in the Mesa Arizona Alta Mesa Stake was all but sworn to secrecy in making initial inquiries and arrangements.
At the same time, though, that same technology also gave a way for Satan to destroy spiritual learning, especially with the evil of pornography.Underscoring his call as an Apostle of the Lord, President Ballard counseled listeners who are doing anything wrong in their lives or have succumbed to temptation. “Fix it. It’s called repentance. … Perfection is attainable, but it’s a long ways away. But we can get there.”“You’ll start to see, the older you get, what matters most in life,” said President Ballard, adding that it won’t be how much money one makes or other worldly possessions.“The best answer that I know of was given to us through the life and the ministry and the Atonement of the Son of God.”Like Watkins, William Ray Burk of the Riverside Ward, Salt Lake Pioneer YSA Stake, has moved from one community to another and found belonging. By attending institute, he’s found a sense of community. “Everyone is so open and willing to reach out to each other and so kind to each other,” he said.Belonging and community matter to all, especially students, she said. “Students succeed when they feel they are welcome. Students succeed when they feel they belong. Students succeed when they feel welcome in a community.”There are answers to life’s questions that are found in the Restoration of the gospel that are found in no other place. “There are answers in the scriptures; there are answers in the teachings of apostles and prophets who hold the same keys and authority and power as did Peter, James, and John and the other apostles in their day.”“I’d really never seen anything like that,” she said. “And one thing that I learned very quickly, there was an incredible community where we, by accident, wound up living that were incredible supporters of the University of Utah and, much more importantly, incredible supporters of each other.”Technological advances over the last two centuries or so have come about because the Church needed them. “Now, some people just cringe when I say that,” President Ballard said.“I’m sure the Lord wants you to be happy. I think He wants you to be successful. I think He wants you to accomplish your objectives in life. But He wants you to stay focused on what matters most—that is, the continual education of your eternal part of your being.”“Every student at the U should be able to find their faith community here, where they share values, the opportunity to learn and to grow. We at the U recognize the important role that the institute plays in attracting people to the U and supporting students through their success, in fostering graduation rates, in helping us build community. We’re very, very grateful for the work at the institute.”“I think I am talking with a group who clearly believes in community as I look at this gathering tonight and your partnership and your community and your engagement in the collective good with each other,” she said.Too often he hears of students who suffer from anxiety or depression, he said. “It saddens us when we hear that anyone would be so discouraged that they would be even thinking of such a thing as suicide. What can we do? How can we help anyone who is struggling with some of life’s problems?Watkins focused her remarks on the importance and value of community.
University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins speaks to students gathered in the Salt Lake Institute for a devotional on Sunday, February 10, 2019. She spoke about the importance of developing community. Photo by Valerie Johnson.“I really appreciated the president’s words and her devotion to the cause of bringing us together as a community and not just as a school,” said Karen Gill of the Riverside Ward, Salt Lake Pioneer YSA Stake. “I like that she said that students succeed when they have a sense of community and a sense of purpose.”And second: “If you have a problem or if you’re struggling, you have a Father in Heaven. You have a Savior. Take it up with Them.”However, computers and the internet gave the Church the “capacity to do the great work that the Lord has placed on us in preparing and building temples where the blessings of eternity can be bestowed upon our kindred dead.”
President M. Russell Ballard waves to students as he leaves the Salt Lake Institute following a devotional on Sunday, February 10, 2019. Photo by Valerie Johnson.Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand the responsibility to live exemplary lives “because we have a prophet of God who restored the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, under the hands of direction of the Lord Jesus Christ and our Eternal Father,” he said. “The teachings, the principles, the covenants, the ordinances of eternal salvation have been reignited and restated in clear terms.”While the education of one’s mind regarding things of the world is important, of greater importance is the education of one’s spirit and the things of eternity, President M. Russell Ballard told students gathered at the Salt Lake Institute on Sunday, February 10.President Ballard advised students to keep their antennas up: “Watch for those opportunities where somebody may be a little discouraged.”President Ballard, the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, joined University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins in speaking to students during the evening devotional.The University of Utah brings together people from all faiths and backgrounds. Watkins said that it is important that the university support students’ growth in their faith.Two things in the devotional stood out to Lisa Richardson of the Madison YSA Ward, Salt Lake Pioneer YSA Stake. First: “The education of your spirit is more important than the education of your mind.”Gill also expressed gratitude for President Ballard’s encouragement to stay focused on the things that matter. “He reminded us that we have a Father in Heaven and a Savior that loves us. And if we have any questions, we can take it up with Them.”But soon, one by one, their neighbors came with food, introduced themselves, and welcomed the Watkinses to the neighborhood.President Ballard’s message reminded him to focus on the spiritual side of education, as well as to remember who he is and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ “are rooting for you.”“That helps me a lot with all the things that I need to do, whether it be education or knowing how I can minister to someone.”Watkins was reminded of when she and her husband, Bob Watkins, had first moved to Utah from Illinois in 2013. Relocating caused them both some measure of anxiety as they worried about whether or not they would be accepted or belong.He then left the students with a blessing of peace for whatever concerns or struggles they have. “You have a Father in Heaven; you have a Savior who loves you. Take it up with Them. Lean on Them. Listen. Learn. Be obedient to the things that matter most, and you’ll be protected.”
They, like all of God’s children, need the Spirit to help them learn.Students from around the world who participate in the BYU–Pathway Worldwide programs have one thing in common, said Brother Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency.Brother Ashton listed seven steps to accomplish learning by the Spirit:To help clarify the difference between learning and learning by the Spirit, Brother Ashton shared four key principles pulled from scriptures and the words of the prophets: Students and faculty at BYU–Idaho gather on February 12 to hear the words of Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency. Photo by Sarah Jones, BYU–Idaho.Sharing two examples from his own past, Brother Ashton contrasted what it is like to learn with the Spirit and what it is like to attempt to learn without the Spirit.
Change in Church leadershipThat year, Brigham Young established the Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association, later renamed the Young Women Mutual Improvement Association, in the Lion House. The first president of the organization, Elmina Shepherd Taylor, was called in 1880.Missionary workOne century laterYoung WomenIn November 1969—50 years ago—the Southeast Asia Mission formally opened with headquarters in Singapore. The following year, the first missionaries traveled to Indonesia, which was part of the mission.In November 1869—150 years ago—the Church founded the forerunner for today’s Young Women program.The property deeds listed the date June 27, 1944, marking the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom.The martyrdom is one of several notable dates and anniversaries for the Church in 2019. The list includes milestones in the Young Women program, a historic site in northern Utah, the first temple built outside the continental United States, and significant moments in the history of missionary work, among others.TemplesIn April 1844—175 years ago—Addison Pratt, Benjamin F. Grouard, and Noah Rogers landed on Tubuai, 350 miles south of Tahiti, and opened missionary work in the South Pacific.One century after Joseph and Hyrum were killed, the Church purchased land in Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri. The property is more commonly known to Latter-day Saints as Adam-ondi-Ahman (see Doctrine and Covenants 116).President Joseph F. Smith, the son of Hyrum Smith and the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recorded these feelings about the martyrdom: “The martyrdom has always been an inspiration to the people of the Lord. It has helped them in their individual trials; has given them courage to pursue a course in righteousness and to know and to live truth, and must ever be held in sacred memory by the Latter-day Saints who have learned the great truths that God revealed through his servant, Joseph Smith” (in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, chapter 46).In 1944, a plaque dedicated by President Heber J. Grant was placed in the Lion House to celebrate the 75th anniversary.In May 1994—25 years ago—President Ezra Taft Benson died at age 94 after more than eight years of service as Church President. A short time later, President Hunter was set apart as the new President. He selected President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson as his counselors.The following list, which draws from timelines at thechurchnews.com and history.lds.org, is not all-inclusive.Additionally, Church members commemorated the 100th anniversary by holding memorial services. A special service was held at Carthage Jail.In November 1919—100 years ago—President Grant dedicated a new temple in Laie, Hawaii, the fifth temple in the Church and the first to be built outside the continental United States.Golden spike One century after Joseph and Hyrum were killed, the Church purchased land in Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri—commonly called Adam-ondi-Ahman by Church members. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mays, Deseret News Archives. The ceremony commemorating the driving of the golden spike on the first transcontinental railroad in North America, May 10, 1869. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. One hundred years ago, in November 1919, the Laie Hawaii Temple became the first temple built outside the continental United States. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Mays, Deseret News Archives.President Howard W. Hunter and other Church leaders visited Carthage Jail and delivered remarks in a special meeting in 1994 to commemorate the 150th anniversary.In May 1869—150 years ago—workers completed the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County. The wedding of the rails strengthened the general economy of the Church in Utah and had a significant impact on immigration. (See related story.)On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed Carthage Jail in Illinois and shot the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith.This year marks the 175th anniversary of that monumental event.In February 1994—25 years ago—the First Presidency announced plans to renovate the Uintah Stake Tabernacle into a temple. When dedicated in 1997, the Vernal Utah Temple, the first existing building to be renovated into a temple, became the state’s 10th temple.
Primary General President Sister Joy D. Jones was in Manhattan February 12 to deliver checks of funds raised through the Light the World campaign to the offices of CARE, WaterAid America, and UNICEF USA. Watch more of her visit in this video.“Just think of how many soccer teams are out there having fun and experiencing the joy of childhood thanks to the giving machines,” said Goldman.“I feel like our values are very aligned, that the focus is really on the mission of what we’re trying to achieve together,” said Sarina Prabasi, CEO of WaterAid America.“Now I’m completely blown away,” he said of the generosity from the Church-led effort. “I never thought we’d see these kinds of results. It’s going to go a long way to feed people—for every dollar we get, we’ll be able to provide seven meals. So nearly a half-million meals will come out of this giving machine here in Gilbert to help those in our community who are food-insecure.”“Just a huge, huge thank you,” expressed Lina Bonova, executive director of CARE’s northeast region. “I think it’s really important for each and every person [who] made the trip and selected the chicken and the goat. It’s so important, so humble just to see this huge support, and it makes a huge difference in the field every day.”The Church also unveiled a piece of commemorative artwork to the mayor and town council—a colorful, brushed-aluminum plaque highlighting the 2018 giving campaign and the city’s participation in it.“Thank you for the partnership,” said Caryl Stern, president and CEO of UNICEF USA. “Thank you for the spirit with which these machines were placed and for being with us today to present a check that’s truly going to make a difference in the lives of children all over the globe.”Gratitude from the Grand Canyon StateGilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels noted when Deseret Industries opened a store several months ago in Gilbert, Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishop during his dedicatory prayer pronounced a blessing on the town of Gilbert. “The giving machines were a manifestation of the blessings he left on us,” said the mayor as she thanked Gilbert residents and those of neighboring cities for their generous participation. A giving machine was set up in Gilbert, Arizona, during the Church’s December Light the World campaign. From left to right, the recipients include Dave Richins, president and CEO of the United Food Bank; Mike Hughes, president and CEO of A New Leaf; Katie Pompay, executive director of Helen’s Hope Chest; and Tom Kertis, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. Photo by Terri Moore.Tom Kertis, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank, said when he first heard of the giving machines, he thought it was a great concept but remained skeptical of the impact.Oversized commemorative checks signifying the donation amounts were also given to leaders of four Arizona-based charities—$60,980 to A New Leaf, which offers domestic violence, homeless, behavioral health, and youth programs; $54,410 to Helen’s Hope Chest, which provides foster youth with quality clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, books, and gifts; and identical donations of $67,196.50 each to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and the United Food Bank.“I am grateful to be able to say as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that we honor the Savior Jesus Christ through service,” said Sister Jones. “And at this Christmastime, it was so remarkable to be able to see what happened with this giving through the Light the World campaign as people recognized the sweet opportunity to give.”“It’s made a difference to children,” said Leslie Goldman, vice president of global cause partnerships at UNICEF USA, who reported that the donation will be used to vaccinate 320,000 children against polio, as well as buy jump ropes and more than 3,500 soccer balls.Monica Merlis Matthews, director of community partnerships at CARE, finds the giving machines an innovative approach to fundraising. “To see really how it has resonated with people and brought people in and introduced people to philanthropy and in new ways, it’s so exciting, and so we’re honored and privileged to be a part of it.”Scott Taylor contributed to story.
With the closures, the Church now has 11 missionary training centers—the aforementioned in Provo, Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, Ghana, and New Zealand, as well as the Argentina, Colombia, England, Guatemala, Peru, and South Africa MTCs.The other large international training center is the Ghana MTC, which like the Philippines MTC also expanded in 2017; those two share similar facility designs and aesthetics to the Provo MTC buildings added that same year. The Ghana MTC has a capacity of 320 missionaries and trained 1,817 in 2018.This year, international MTCs are expected to collectively train their highest percentage of missionaries when compared to the Provo MTC. “Each year it has gone up about 1 percent,” said Lane Steinagel, the Missionary Department’s director of international MTCs, noting that last year, 53 percent of new missionaries were trained outside of the United States, compared to the Provo MTC’s 47 percent. Missionaries study at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Newly constructed training buildings were added to accommodate more missionaries. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. The Provo Missionary Training Center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
The Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Newly constructed training buildings were added to accommodate more missionaries. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Steinagel underscored another benefit of fewer MTCs. “We’ll spend more resources and more time with these more established MTCs now,” he said, “and we may visit them more because they’re going to be getting more missionaries there.”“We have the capacity of 1,100 missionaries at a time, and right now, we usually have about 250 or 300,” Elder Nielson said. “We can triple the size of missionaries going to Mexico.”The three international missionary training centers closed in January 2019 were in Santiago, Chile, and Madrid, Spain, as announced in March 2018; and in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as announced in December 2018. The Argentina MTC in Buenos Aires is scheduled to close in July (see related story). The announcements cited Church leaders continuing to seek the best use of resources worldwide, with plans for the future use of the facilities and space still being determined. Sister Graziele Lima Alves and Sister Fátima Luis Ndava work on a lesson together at the Brazil Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.“It’s not only saving costs; it’s making us more efficient in training the missionaries,” Elder Nielson said, adding that the decisions have nothing to do with the number of missionaries worldwide but taking advantage of available resources. “It’s been a good change.”
The Brazil Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, Brazil, is photographed on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.The closing of MTCs is nothing new—other previous training centers that have since been shuttered include those in Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea.“And this year, it’s going to be 1 or 2 percent higher again.”And then there is the Mexico MTC, which moved into the Church’s Benemerito de las Americas school campus in 2013. It boasts some 80 buildings over 88 acres and trails only Provo among the current 12 MTCs with a capacity of 1,160 and a 2018 training total of 4,902 missionaries. Newly arriving missionaries say goodbye to family and friends and are aided by assisting missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center on January 16, 2019, in the MTC’s underground parking. Photo by Scott Taylor, Church News.With its roots dating back to the Language Training Mission of the early 1960s, the Provo MTC has a capacity of hosting 4,800 missionaries at a time, ending up having trained nearly 20,000 during 2018.“We have actually learned that it is often less expensive to bring a missionary to Provo than to maintain an MTC in their home country,” said Elder Nielson. “And they can come here and have a good experience, they can go to Temple Square, they can see the Church’s headquarters. … We’re always looking at the best and most efficient ways possible.” Missionaries study the three-dimensional map of the Mexico Missionary Training Center in August 2013. Photo by Jason Swensen, Deseret News.After expanding several times in the past eight years, the Philippines MTC in Manila can host 280 at time, having totaled 1,537 missionaries last year.
Nicole Luz, a youth singer from Brazil, performs a song in Portuguese at the 2019 Mutual theme album concert on January 15, 2019.The power of music to build testimonyIndeed—over 18,000 viewers tuned in to the 2019 Mutual album concert via Facebook live alone, leaving almost 500 comments of praise: “This music is beautiful!” wrote one youth; “I can feel God’s love through these songs. Thank youuu!!!” commented another. Youth even left comments in other languages: “Gracias por esto, lo necesitaba” (Thank you for this, I needed it).The 2019 Mutual album concert on January 15 showcased music from the 2019 Mutual album, If We Love Him. The album is one of the Mutual theme resources available for Latter-day Saint youth as they learn more about the 2019 theme in John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”Youth, leaders, and other Church members are welcome to explore the following free 2019 Mutual theme resources on the 2019 youth theme homepage:Thousands more youth as far away as the Philippines, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia were tuning in via Facebook live, sharing their excitement for the concert through Facebook comments with smiling and waving emoji.Seeing other youth on stage performing faith-building songs about Christ and the Church was powerful for the youth watching the concert, said Temple Square Performances administrator Judy Alba.For Camilo, the songs on the Mutual album can serve as reminders of testimonies youth already have about gospel principles. “The Spirit touches them in a way that reminds them of the truth of the principle in the song, and the good melodies just help to carry the message through.”More than anything, Breinholt pointed out, the 2019 Mutual album and concert are meant to help youth know that there are positive, uplifting resources for them to access through the Church.
Talin Everett sings his song, “Forget,” from the 2019 Mutual album at a dress rehearsal for the Mutual album concert. Photo by Judy Alba.Although Temple Square Performances coordinator Stephen Breinholt suspected some youth attended the Tuesday-night concert somewhat reluctantly (as Breinholt, his own ward’s Young Men president, would know), he saw their attitudes shift the moment the music began.“Music is the quickest way to touch somebody’s soul,” she said. “It just seems to be something that can immediately give a feeling or bear testimony of the words that are spoken. It’s a really strong driving force, especially for youth that are looking for things that are positive in the world today.”Mutual theme product manager Fernando Camilo said the theme has a special unifying power for youth across the globe. From sharing the same 2019 theme T-shirts at For the Strength of Youth conferences to singing the same theme song in their native language, he said the single message creates a camaraderie between youth everywhere in their journey to learn about the Mutual theme scripture.Youth were also invited to participate during the concert via social media by sending Instagram messages to @ldsyouth explaining how the gospel has brought them happiness. Youth artists from the 2019 Mutual theme album take a bow after the Mutual album concert on January 15, 2019, in the Tabernacle at Temple Square.
Jordan James sings his song, “Merciful,” from the 2019 Mutual album at a dress rehearsal for the Mutual album concert. Photo by Judy Alba.Many of the youth leaders in attendance were surprised as well, Breinholt said. After all, most of the songs aren’t exactly the sort you’d expect to find in a typical sacrament meeting. “In some ways, that’s a real bonus,” he said. “It’s the kind of music youth want to listen to during their week to get them pumped up and jazzed up.”Youth started filling the Tabernacle pews at Temple Square, smiling and chattering as their ward leaders shuffled them along to settle in their seats before the concert began. But those few hundred Sunday-dress-clad youth weren’t the only ones about to watch the 2019 Mutual theme album concert.A unified message for youth everywhere
Read more about the 2019 theme from the Young Women General Presidency.
Find more inspiring content for youth on the LDS.org youth homepage.
Download 2019 Mutual theme posters, T-shirt designs, and logos.
Download and share the “If We Love Him” music video.
Claire Westcott sings her song, “His Name,” from the 2019 Mutual album at a dress rehearsal for the Mutual album concert. Photo by Judy Alba.Each year, the Mutual theme song is translated into over 30 languages. Often, the song is performed and recorded by Church members all over the world. The entire album is translated in Spanish and Portuguese, though some local areas in Europe and other countries also translate and record songs themselves.“We want to help the youth—wherever they are,” Breinholt said. “Since we have powerful music that's been created, my hope is to get that music out so that people know it's there and know that this is a resource to help them out.” Youth artists from the 2019 Mutual theme album sing at a dress rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Judy Alba.“They didn’t realize that these songs were so tailored to them and to what they’re going through,” she said. “Some of them had never even heard the songs before they came, so they were excited to know that there was something out there especially for them.”But more than that, the songs are geared toward giving youth a testimony-building resource to turn to amid the negative media pervading their daily routines. Music, Alba said, can be an especially poignant tool for good.
Elica Moore sings her song, “Rest,” from the 2019 Mutual album at a dress rehearsal for the Mutual album concert. Photo by Judy Alba.“Our audience is way out there in other places across the world,” Breinholt said of the concert’s intended international audience, “and they really appreciate this concert. They’re looking for these kinds of resources and connection.”One of many responders, a young man named Marshall wrote: “There’s one thing I can always, always rely on: the grace of God. He hears us, He knows us, but most importantly, He loves us. Hearing these singers and the Spirit that has been here so far has brought me so much joy and happiness. Christ truly does live, and, by His grace, loves us more than we will ever know.” Church composer Nik Day and guitarist Brady Bills accompany youth performers at a dress rehearsal for the 2019 Mutual theme album concert. Photo by Judy Alba.2019 Mutual theme resourcesThe Mutual album concert—now in its second year—featured performances from youth singers who helped record and write songs on this year’s Mutual album, including the 2019 theme song, “If We Love Him.” The album (available for free download) is now in its seventh year and features a variety of uplifting, modern songs by youth, for youth worldwide. The video of the concert is another good resource to help youth learn and appreciate the 2019 Mutual theme.
The fact that the acronym exists explains that people are trying to find ways to signal their commitment, Pixton said, but whether or not it actually happens or when it should happen is often less clear.“Secure commitments are clearly signaled … but ambiguity is the flavor of the age,” he said. The results are a phenomenon of ambiguous and often asymmetrical relationships where one partner is more clearly committed than the other. Guest speaker Dr. Scott Stanley of the University of Denver speaks about the challenges of dating and marriage during the 15th Annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture. Photo by Aislynn Edwards, BYU Photo.But there have been dramatic changes in the last few decades in terms of the ways relationships, marriages, and families do or don’t form, explained Dr. Stanley during his presentation at the 15th Annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture.Listing three main types of people in play on the relationship fields of today’s world, Dr. Stanley explained: there’s the seekers, those actively looking to find a partner—which he joked was likely most of the BYU student population; the delayers, those who are determined to not get tied down to any one person or relationship; and the wanderers, or those who are just in and out of the dating scene without giving much thought to what they want. Students attending the 15th Annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture on February 7, 2019, listen to guest speaker Dr. Scott Stanley in the Hinckley building on the BYU campus. Photo by Aislynn Edwards, BYU Photo.But even among those who are actively seeking committed relationships, fewer people overall are getting married nowadays, and those who are getting married are doing so at later ages than ever before—a phenomenon he referred to as “The Big Delay.”Looking back 40 years ago or so, there were pretty clear steps or stages that signaled where a couple was in their relationship with one another.For some of the students in attendance at that the lecture, Dr. Stanley’s research felt spot on for their college dating experiences so far.Advice for singles who are searchingWhere social norms or patterns used to exist to help signal and define the status of relationships as they progressed, there now exists a seemingly purposeful lack of defining signals in dating. Both fear and a lack of skill in communicating clearly have become driving factors in creating ambiguous, or not clearly defined, relationships, Dr. Stanley noted, so people often fail to communicate what they want or don’t want from their relationships.In many ways, on the broader scale, marriage is becoming less common, but it is increasing in status. Marriage is viewed as a somewhat unattainable gold-standard, particularly by populations unlikely to feel economically and culturally secure enough to attain it. And while Dr. Stanley noted that exceptions are found primarily in highly educated or highly religious environments or cultures—like those created at BYU or by members of the Church in general—where belief systems regarding the importance of marriage tend to outweigh the social trends of the day, many of the current dating phenomenons can still appear even in societies where marriage is still a common practice or goal.“I feel like I’m already starting to look back on relationships and think, ‘What was I doing there?’” Pixton said. “Most of the reasons I was probably ambiguous are reasons [Dr. Stanley] stated. Being afraid of rejection—I really don’t like rejection. … It’s difficult to open myself up emotionally and be vulnerable there. Most people tend to be ambiguous because they are hoping to avoid pain.”Noting the types dating “signals” at play in the BYU dating culture, sophomore Micah Pixton added, “I think there’s at least a tacit agreement that you should DTR (define the relationship) at some point.”In his conclusion, Dr. Stanley described how marriage will continue to become a stronger and more powerful signal of the best relationships over time, and as such, working toward it is still an economically and socially wise goal, particularly for those guided by their beliefs toward it.“In my day … you asked a girl out, and you went out a few times on dates,” Dr. Stanley said. “The next thing was one of you would say, ‘You want to go steady?’ ‘Sure.’ And that’s the whole discussion.”Leaving tips for those still in the dating scene, Dr. Stanley concluded with the following dating advice:Dr. Stanley’s research has helped shape much of the academic dialogue surrounding the topics of marriage and families in the U.S., and his theories about the effects of ambiguity among those searching for relationships in today’s dating environment heavily stress the negative effects of asymmetrical commitments.For Dr. Scott Stanley, a research professor of marital and family studies from the University of Denver, that's the metaphor of choice when describing what he calls “asymmetrically committed relationships.”Dating, relationships, and marriage aren’t quite what they used to be, Dr. Stanley said while speaking to students, faculty, and alumni on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, February 7.Be realistic about potential mates; don’t look for perfection, Dr. Stanley said, because it’s highly unlikely that perfection is what you can offer them. Rather, look for someone who can be a good partner and match, he said.Imagine you are on a playground and you spot a giant, old-school teeter-totter. It's bright yellow and it rises well above your head on the upside. You look around the playground, find someone who looks well suited to be your partner, and together you climb onto your opposing seats. Rising and falling, you bounce up and down, enjoying the ride. Feeling confident that you and your partner have found a good rhythm, you tuck your feet up off the ground, trusting that the balance and rhythm will continue. Then, just as you begin to relax in your new position, your partner, across from you and on their way back to the ground, turns their legs to the side, and casually rolls off their seat as they touch the ground. High in the air on the other side it hits you: you're about to come crashing down.Signaling, ambiguity, and the big delay
Consistent for 100 years“There’s never been any hesitation. You don’t have to prequalify for her generosity, it’s just given. No questions asked,” Roe said. “She believes in love, and that’s her guiding light.”“I think it’s unusual to have a missionary reach the age of 100. I can’t name another missionary who has reached that,” said Rick Turley, Leighton’s close friend, former Church historian, and current managing director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department. “When you add up her total years of missionary service, it’s phenomenal. But she’s an example of how, if you have a desire and your health and abilities allow it, you can continue to serve.”For Leighton, serving as a senior missionary gives her a sense of purpose each day.At the library, Leighton’s main role is to sit at the third floor visitors’ desk two days a week where she greets visitors and points them in the right direction if they are looking for help with family history research.Leighton explained that the library was redone a few years ago and the visitors’ desk was moved from the first floor to the third floor. But even with the change, Leighton said, “It sure beats sitting at home and doing nothing.”“I don’t even have a scar,” she said, turning her head to show the right side of her face where she was shot by the gunman. “I was the first one shot. He shot me right in the face … but somehow, I wasn’t afraid. I just kept praying and asking Heavenly Father for help, and I guess when talking to Heavenly Father, you can’t be afraid.” Nellie Leighton, 99, wheels to her missionary work at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.At 99 years old, there aren’t a lot of things Nellie Leighton hasn’t seen or experienced.“She’s a wonderful mother, and she just continues to support everyone. She tries to keep up with everybody, and she likes to run things,” Bailey said, noting that despite protests from her children and grandchildren, Leighton has tried to be involved in all the plans for her upcoming 100th birthday bash.Nearly 20 years ago, on April 15, 1999, a lone gunman entered the library on West Temple and opened fire, killing two and injuring another three—including Leighton. But if you ask her about that incident today, there is no animosity in her voice. Nellie Leighton, 99, uses a magnifying glass for her missionary work at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Leighton will celebrate her 100th birthday in February. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.By all who know her, Leighton is described as a kind, joyful, service-oriented, slightly stubborn, spiritual, and strong woman. And when asked what is most important to her, Leighton doesn’t hesitate in her answer.For the past 20 years, she has served as a senior missionary in the Church’s Family History Library, and, with any luck, that’s exactly what she’ll be doing when her birthday comes around this month.
Nellie Leighton, 99, welcomes visitors to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Leighton has served as a senior missionary for 20 years. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“I didn’t know Nellie on a personal level at that point,” he said. “I got to know her afterwards … and when I learned later on that she went through repair surgery and then went right back to her post, I instantly had admiration for this 80-year-old woman. … To me, it was just a model of brave behavior, and she became my hero.”For Turley, it’s Leighton’s ability to forgive and forget that make her such a remarkable person.Leighton added, “She’s the best medicine I’ve ever had. She makes me laugh.”“She genuinely cares about people. She has a great desire to serve,” Turley said.Stephan laughed as she described how Leighton gets back and forth to the library or church each week. “Nellie uses her Jazzy. And if you could see her roaring down West Temple … she has no fear. She just charges along, and I can’t keep up with her.”“I’ve learned to forgive and be kind. I never had any animosity towards him,” Leighton said of the shooter, Sergei Barbarin. “I just felt sorry for him and his family.”“I just love being a missionary and serving Heavenly Father there, but also serving the people that come into the library,” Leighton said. “For 17 years I sat at the front door and greeted everybody that came in and went out, and I miss that.” Nellie Leighton, 99, left, talks with fellow missionary Carolyn Woodman at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Yeah, we’re a good pair,” Stephan agreed. Nellie Leighton, 99, talks with a fellow missionary at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Leighton wants to keep serving as a missionary as long as she’s able. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“That’s why she’s my hero,” Turley said. “She tends to take life’s challenges and just make the best of them. If there’s an obstacle, she just finds a way around it and keeps going.”Although surprising that no physical damage from the bullet is visible, it’s even more surprising that Leighton seems to have no emotional scars from the incident. She discussed the shooting in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, only showing the slightest hint of emotion when she mentioned the death of her friend John Thomas, who worked as a security guard at the library and died during the shooting, or when she notes that there were angels standing watch over her and the others spared in the library that day.“We didn’t want to go up, but Mom said, ‘I came all this way and I’m doing it,’” Bailey said. So they helped her climb the steps to the top. Nellie Leighton, 99, wheels to her missionary work at the Family History Library with her friend Beverley Stephan and daughter Kathleen Bailey in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“I was practically raised by her … and I never saw her get angry; she never held a grudge and was always very quick to forgive everything,” Roe said. “She never changes as a person. Her personality has been consistent for 100 years.”A pattern of faith and forgivenessDetermined not to slow downAs Stephan described her, Leighton is a great neighbor and a great example of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.“I look forward to going over there to greet and meet people. I have so many friends,” she said. “So I just enjoy getting up, getting dressed and looking nice, and being able to smile. You don’t often get to laugh by yourself at home.” A birthday party invitation for Nellie Leighton’s 100th birthday is looked over in Salt Lake City on January 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.As her 100th birthday approaches, Leighton said there is nothing she would rather be doing with her time than serving the Lord as a missionary in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Matching this 99-year-old’s energy level can be a feat. “I get tired, you know, but she is 99 and she’s still running around like a spring chicken,” Stephan said. Nellie Leighton, 99, right, laughs with her friend and neighbor Beverley Stephan at her home on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Stephan says Leighton is a great example of Christlike behavior. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Nellie Leighton, 99, talks with a friend at her home in Salt Lake City on January 22, 2019. Leighton is turning 100 in February. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.With her deteriorating eyesight, Leighton is now legally blind, but her mind is as sharp as ever. If you ask her the phone number of one of her children or grandchildren, she chimes out the memorized number as if she were reading it out of the directory. And since she can no longer see to read, she spends much of her time continuing to learn and study with the help of audiobooks.Up until now, her whole life has been about serving others and serving God, and if you ask her what she wants for the rest of the time she has left, the answer is the same.Sitting across from each other in Leighton’s West Temple apartment overlooking Temple Square, Leighton and her long-time friend and neighbor Beverley Stephan, 91, joke about their old age.“We’re a good pair,” Leighton said laughing. “She can’t hear, and I can’t see.”“Her spirituality is without measure. It is so strong,” Stephan said. “And it is so important for her to go over every first Sunday of the month and give her testimony. Even if she doesn’t feel good, she goes over in the Jazzy and gets up there and gives her testimony, and it’s such a sweet testimony.”
A wedding photo of Nellie Leighton and her husband displayed at her home in Salt Lake City. Leighton celebrates her 100th birthday in February. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“I just want to serve my Heavenly Father,” she says, smiling.“It’s coming so fast,” Leighton said of her birthday. “I just want to be a 100-year-old missionary and live that long, if Heavenly Father lets me.”She’s been through a lot in her 100 years of life, but with each speed bump she encounters, she gets up and moves on, Bailey said.20 years of missionary serviceBorn February 18, 1919, in Provo, Utah, she grew up in a small home with no plumbing, partial electricity, and a large coal-burning stove for heat. Her teenage years were marked by the Great Depression, and her early years of marriage and motherhood were similarly colored by the effects of World War II. In the 1950s and 60s, following the trend of many women, she joined the workforce when she took a job selling Tupperware. And, in 1999, a little over a year into her time serving as a senior missionary at the Family History Library at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, Leighton was shot in the head by an intruder who took the lives of two others.That’s one of the amazing things about Leighton, explained her granddaughter Julie Roe. She couldn’t hold a grudge if she tried.But that’s just the way she’s always been, said Leighton’s daughter Kathleen Bailey. Sharing a story from 1996 when Leighton was busy traveling around the world with her siblings and children, Bailey recounted her mother’s reaction when faced with the challenge of climbing stairs to the top on the Great Wall of China at the age of 77.Recalling a poignant moment in their shared history, Roe recounted a time when she was staying with her grandmother and walked past her bedroom door before turning in for the night. “She was in her 70s … and I saw her kneeling to pray,” Roe said. “At a time when most people probably wouldn’t be kneeling, that stood out to me. That was dedication.”Leighton is never focused on herself. Anytime a family member or a friend needs anything, Leighton is the first one there to help provide it, Roe explained.
Sister Eubank began her afternoon by making a stop at the Utah Food Bank warehouse in South Salt Lake, where she presented the organization’s president and CEO, Ginette Bott, with a check for $163,718.If you visited the Joseph Smith Memorial Building anytime from late November through the end of December, you likely saw “giving machines”—those large, red vending machines where people donated money to purchase food, clothing, eyeglasses, medicine, livestock, or even sporting equipment to help families and individuals in need across the globe.It’s estimated that one in four children need some kind of corrective eyewear.“Anybody can do anything to help someone else,” she said. “We are all givers and receivers at the same time.”Other giving machines were placed in the Water Tower Plaza in Gilbert, Arizona; on the site of the Manhattan New York Temple in New York City; in the Hyde Park Visitors’ Center in London; and in the SM Mega Mall in Manila, Philippines.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented cash donations February 7 to the Utah Food Bank, Eye Care 4 Kids, and the Utah Refugee Connection. All the money was raised through Church-sponsored “giving machines” during its Light the World holiday service campaign.Sister Eubank then moved on to the Midvale office of Eye Care 4 Kids, where she presented a donation of almost $94,000.The Light the World campaign, she said, allowed legions to exercise their faith in Jesus Christ by serving others. The local donations were also reminders that charity-minded people in Utah need not travel to another corner of the world to serve others in need.The giving machine funds will provide the refugees—many who come from war-torn regions of Africa and the Middle East—with gas cards, bus passes, cleaning kits, diapers, and other essential items.The “giving machine” gift will buy more than 600,000 meals, said Bott. “It will make a huge difference for multiple families—not just in Salt Lake, but across the entire state.” Sister Sharon Eubank chats with Eye Care 4 Kids bookkeeper Christie Allred at Eye Care 4 Kids in Midvale, Utah, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News. Abrile Vale tries on glasses at Eye Care 4 Kids in Midvale on Thursday, February 7, 2019. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 2018 Light the World campaign raised more than $93,000 for Eye Care 4 Kids. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.“We are humbled and grateful to the thousands who donated funds to this global project,” says Joseph Carbone, Eye Care 4 Kids founder and president. “We anticipate these funds will directly benefit nearly 4,000 children who desperately need glasses and, beyond that, will provide a new world of vision, understanding, and hope as these children see things more clearly for the first time.”Serving and befriending refugees who have settled in the Beehive State can be, at once, simple and life changing, she added.In all, giving machine “customers” donated more than $2.3 million in 2018.Bott added she was uplifted knowing so many of the giving machine donors were children. A new generation of compassion is being built as young people discover the joy of caring for others.The afternoon of giving ended at the Utah Refugee Connection headquarters, where Sister Eubank presented executive director Amy Harmer with a donation of more than $40,000.Harmer said the gift would help many in Utah’s growing refugee communities as they make homes in their new communities and connect with new neighbors.On February 7, Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, delivered checks to the Salt Lake-area organizations. She admits passing along the donated funds was a lot of fun. She knows many of her fellow Utahns would soon be the beneficiaries of the giving machines.The festive lights and ornaments were likely stashed away weeks ago—but the holiday season stretched into mid-February for a trio of Utah humanitarian organizations. Sister Sharon Eubank; Tohid Shokouhi, Eye Care 4 Kids optician and lab manager; and Joseph Carbone, president and founder of Eye Care 4 Kids, chat at Eye Care 4 Kids on Thursday, February 7, 2019. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 2018 Light the World campaign raised more than $93,000 for Eye Care 4 Kids. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.“For many refugees, their most important need is a friend.”