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LDS News & Events

LDS News & Events features stories shared from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world.  This includes official Church news releases and contributed articles by LDS authors and writers as well as events & stories from YOU.

LDS Singles at Church: “The Unexpected Life Is No Less a Life”

LDS News

LDS NEWS: have a vested interest in single adults because I spent so much of my life as a single woman. My name is Kristen Meredith McMain Oaks. I married President Dallin H. Oaks, now of the First Presidency and then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, when I was almost 53 years old.

I rejoiced during my single years, and I suffered through them too, while I was discovering what Heavenly Father wanted for me. He was blessing me with adequate time and experience to build a solid and sure testimony.

“To remain active, a single member has to develop a deep and abiding testimony of gospel truths rather than depending solely on Church programs for happiness,” wrote one Church member from Los Angeles, California.

When we are single, our Church associations become especially meaningful to us. We look to our wards to provide not only a place to worship but also a place to socialize and be part of a ward family. Single members hold high expectations that their wards will be places of refuge, of personal growth, and of spiritual renewal. The expectations for fellowship are high because we live in a world where social isolation is increasing. As Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, sees it, “America is fraying as people spend more time alone and we are becoming a nation of loners” (Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, 212, 235).

There is no separate Church for singles. There may be wards, branches, or classes, but we are all part of the same Church. What the singles ward does provide is an environment to associate with others of similar interests and age, where being single is the norm. It is easy to feel accepted when our lives are so much like those around us. More importantly, in singles units there are often increased opportunities for leadership, callings to teach, social activities, service projects, and spiritual guidance.

Singles faced with the necessity of returning to a residential ward may find the change uncomfortable and traumatic. There is often a period of adjustment, and it takes time and effort to develop new relationships and discover ways to make meaningful contributions.

Our residential wards are valuable because they bring together people of different ages and backgrounds, interests, and varied economic and educational levels.

The very diversity that makes a residential ward so vital and strengthening to some makes others feel they have just entered a church where there is no place for them. Entering this new environment can be lonely and intimidating.

The transition is frequently difficult. Singles often feel more comfortable in the company of other singles. They know that certain questions and conversations are off limits. For some, a move to a family ward can seem like a separation from a surrogate family and close friends. It is exacerbated by entering a residential ward and searching for a place to fit in. I personally remember how difficult it was for me as a single to sit alone in church every Sunday.

Bishops can make transitions so much less traumatic by providing callings and welcoming singles who transition into their wards. President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “We speak of the fellowship of the Saints. This is and must be a very real thing.” He added: “We must never permit this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to weaken. We must constantly cultivate it. It is an important aspect of the gospel” (“Fear Not to Do Good,“ Apr. 1983 general conference).

An equally important aspect of the gospel is that we are to be “anxiously engaged” in good works. I have learned from happy and sad experience that if we wish for our ward experience to be a positive one, we have to make it so.

For me, service and callings made all the difference. As one close friend commented: “Nursery children do not look to see if you have a ring on your finger as you wipe away their tears. It doesn’t take a wedding license to feed hungry Scouts or missionaries or shut-ins. Nowhere on the tithing slip do you indicate marital status as you contribute to the Church’s humanitarian service or Perpetual Education Fund. And they don’t have two doors at the temple—one for couples and one for singles. We are a Church that needs faithful workers. I’ve been blessed because I had priesthood leaders who knew this.”

The bottom line is that we are a covenant people. I can testify that if we believe, we should we put that belief into action. “It is not enough to know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the gospel is true. We must take the high road by acting upon that knowledge. It is not enough to know [we are led by] God’s prophet. We must put his teachings into our lives. We must fulfill our responsibilities” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Be Not Deceived,” Oct. 2004 general conference). Our righteous acts cement our testimonies, bring the Spirit into our lives, and make any ward we attend the one where we can become the person our Heavenly Father wishes us to become.

LDS News & Events:

Elder Stevenson Speaks Japanese in Face to Face LDS Broadcast in Asia

LDS News

LDS News:  Youth in Japan received a special gift from Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the first regional Face to Face broadcast in their country on August 15—the Apostle spoke entirely in Japanese.

“It’s the language of their heart and it’s kind of become the language of my heart as well,” said Elder Stevenson, in a MormonNewsroom.org release. “I felt it a great privilege to be able to testify of Jesus Christ and of His role as our Savior and Redeemer in Japanese to our Japanese saints, especially these special young people. … They are the treasure of Japan.”

The broadcast, originating in Osaka, Japan, covered topics such as marriage, social media use, and finding balance, and was the second Face to Face event with Elder Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, in Asia, the first occurring in the Philippines just a few days prior. 

“I hope [the youth] realize how strong they are and how loved they are and how they are so important to the rise and the growth of this country and the Church in Japan,” said Sister Stevenson.

As a young man, Elder Stevenson served in Japan as a missionary and later traveled there often for his business career. The Stevenson family lived in the country for seven years while Elder Stevenson served as mission president of the Japan Nagoya Mission from 2004–2007, as well as when he as a counselor and president in the Asia North Area Presidency during his call as a General Authority Seventy.

Joining Elder and Sister Stevenson for the event was Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Tazuko Yamashita, and two youth hosts, Miyu Nakiatania and Mashahiro Yoshikawa.

“It is great, great blessing to have Elder and Sister Stevenson here,” Elder Yamashita said. “We feel how our Heavenly Father loves these young men and young women.”

For the one of the co-hosts, Miyu Nakatinia, being with the Church leaders made her “really happy.”

“This event will be one of the top experiences of my life,” she said.

Youth around the country submitted questions prior to the event through social media channels, and then tuned in to the broadcast from their various locations.

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After 80 Years, LDS Church Owned Deseret Industries Still Giving New Life to More Than Things

LDS News

LDS News: Working as a 25-year-old police officer in Texas, Mo Jarmin was directing traffic one day when a semi-trailer truck going 60 mph struck him, leaving him severely injured and barely alive.

The report from doctors was grim—they never expected him to walk, or even talk, again.

“I should be dead, but I’m not,” Jarmin said of the experience.

Jarmin spent the next 30 days in a coma and endured 39 surgeries—including one to remove his leg.

“I was a police officer, and after the accident I wasn’t able to be in that line of work anymore,” he told the Church News. “I was kind of scared to even talk to people and didn’t know what to do.”

His employment—and life as he knew it—was over; not only did he lose his leg, he lost his self-confidence.

Recognizing he needed to do something for work, Jarmin decided to try a suggestion from his bishop and to go to work at Deseret Industries.

“I worked in the collectibles section and then moved up to the cashiers where I got to interact with people and talk to them on a normal basis,” he said. “Just the interaction with people built my confidence up.”

While working at the Deseret Industries, Jarmin learned he was going to be OK.

“I was in a wheelchair at the time and I had to realize ‘I am still me,’” he said. “I could do what I wanted to do, and they wanted me and supported me with everything. That was a big burden off of my shoulders just knowing that.”

Jarmin, who now lives in the Mountain Shadows 6th Ward in West Jordan, Utah, worked at the Deseret Industries for about 10 months before transitioning to a job in security. He has been working in the security business ever since.

“I am serving the citizens,” he said.

As he found employment, Jarmin realized he has much to offer.

“It might take me a little bit longer, but I can still help out.”

Jarmin is only one example of the thousands of lives that have been changed through Deseret Industries.

Eighty years after the first Deseret Industries store opened in 1938, people—as well as commodities—are getting a chance at a new life.

A history of helping

In August of 1938, the first Deseret Industries store opened in downtown Salt Lake City. The goal of the new store: to provide job training and low-cost goods.

It was toward the end of the Depression, and the First Presidency announced in a letter dated August 14, 1938, an effort to “provide opportunities for individuals to become self-sustaining.”

Read in sacrament meetings throughout the Salt Lake region, the letter issued a call from Church leaders for contributions of “clothing, papers, magazines, articles of furniture, electrical fixtures, metal, and glassware.”

The store would employ men and women who would sort, process, and repair the donated goods, preparing them to be sold at a nominal cost.

Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was serving as a General Authority at the time Deseret Industries opened, established four guiding purposes:

“First, those who have will be given another type of opportunity to help those who have not. Second, waste will be reduced by keeping our possessions in use as long as possible. Third, the work of renovation will employ many now unemployed. Fourth, articles in common use, of good quality, will be available at a low cost” (“Editorial: Deseret Industries,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1938).

More than two decades later, in the 1960s and 1970s, Deseret Industries added another element to its purpose—rather than just focusing on second chances for commodities, the program would offer second chances to people.

Whether helping to train people with disabilities, those who were experiencing hard times, or those who never had an opportunity for training or vocational skills, the job training went beyond those needing employment during the Depression.

Now 80 years later, the same purpose remains.

“Our product is people,” said Lisa Leavitt, manager of retail operations and awareness for Deseret Industries. “People think the DI is a place for people to bring their used [commodities], but people are actually why we exist. We can open a thrift store and we have Deseret Manufacturing, but our product is people.”

More than two decades later, in the 1960s and 1970s, Deseret Industries added another element to its purpose—rather than just focusing on second chances for commodities, the program would offer second chances to people.

Whether helping to train people with disabilities, those who were experiencing hard times, or those who never had an opportunity for training or vocational skills, the job training went beyond those needing employment during the Depression.

Now 80 years later, the same purpose remains.

“Our product is people,” said Lisa Leavitt, manager of retail operations and awareness for Deseret Industries. “People think the DI is a place for people to bring their used [commodities], but people are actually why we exist. We can open a thrift store and we have Deseret Manufacturing, but our product is people.”

Although many benefit from working in a Deseret Industries store, a person doesn’t have to work at a store in order to benefit from services offered through Deseret Industries.

Career and technical education comes through partnerships with community colleges, applied technology centers, and other institutions that offer training courses, certificates, and vocational skills.

Some associates are paid by Deseret Industries to work at a local business.

“Business partnerships are internship-type experiences where Deseret Industries pays the associates’ wages while they are working for another organization to get skills and experience,” said Denya Palmer, communications specialist in the Church’s Welfare Department. “[We] send someone to another business, organization, or company to get some skills and experience. Sometimes they end up getting hired at that business if they have an opening and it is a good fit.”

The Community Partnership Program began in 1999 and offers vouchers to non-LDS, nonprofit charitable agencies that go toward helping people in the area. Vouchers allow individuals and families in need to select items at Deseret Industries stores.

“When people donate to DI they can know that their donation is going to go wherever it is most needed or makes the most difference,” said Palmer. “Whether that is being sold to someone in the store and going to have a new life that way, or going to humanitarian aid in their community or somewhere around the world, or some items are recycled. Whatever happens to your donation, something good is happening.”

Purchases make it possible to provide services, Palmer said. “You should feel good either shopping or donating.”

A place of understanding, nurturing, and encouragement

Located in South Salt Lake is the Deseret Manufacturing warehouse. At first glance the gray building looks like any other building on the block—large and industrial.

But within a few steps inside, individuals are greeted with images of the Savior and smiling faces.

Unlike Deseret Industries, where used items are donated, all of the commodities made at the Deseret Manufacturing warehouse are new and include mattresses, wood beds, dressers, and kitchen tables.

Like Deseret Industries stores, associates are building their future as they work there.

Many of the employees are working through addictions, have language barriers, or have been handed a tough situation in life, said Dan Colvin, welfare processing facility manager at the Deseret Manufacturing facility.

No matter their background, each associate has access to a job coach, who works with the associate side by side and helps set and evaluate goals, as well as a development counselor who helps determine what other services—and if an individual qualifies for those services—a person needs.

“There is a broad spectrum of individuals that can be helped,” said Brenda Smith, a product manager in the Welfare Department. “Whether it is a mom returning to work, a young person preparing to serve a mission, someone who has experienced social challenges or recently lost their job, we provide a stepping-stone to reenter the workforce and learn employable skills. … For many, it is a safe space for people to land.”

After 80 years of serving people and communities, the mission of Deseret Industries remains the same—helping people move forward in employment, hope, and understanding their divine identity.

“In this facility and others like it you will find some of the finest people this world has to offer,” said President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency during a Deseret Industries dedication in 2013. “Often those who come here have journeyed through dark valleys of suffering and distress, persecution, and failure. No matter the path they have walked, here they are offered safety and blessed hope—a place of understanding, nurturing, and encouragement.”

LDS NEWS - NAUVOO

 

    Latter-day Saint Women Leaders Visit America’s Heartland

    LDS News

    LDS News:  Brigham Young was sustained as the second president of the Church in the Kanesville Tabernaclein Council Bluffs, Iowa, located across the Missouri River from Winter Quarters. The area would serve as the temporary headquarters of the Church. Hundreds of Mormon pioneers died from illness due to the harsh conditions and are buried in local cemeteries.

    Community Outreach

    Sister Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, and first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, joined local Latter-day Saint leaders in Omaha, Nebraska, for a meeting with Mayor Jean Stothert, Thursday, August 9, 2018.

    The Church, in partnership with Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, provides relief for Omaha’s large refugee population.

    Local Latter-day Saint women are volunteering in the community to help these new residents become self-sufficient. They shared their experiences during a meeting with Stacy Martin, president and CEO of Lutheran Family Services, Friday, August 10.

    “I’m delighted that you’re here, and on behalf of all of Lutheran Family Services, just a warm welcome and a sincere word of thanks to the many ways you’ve impacted lives and impacted the larger shared mission of making sure that no one goes without an invitation to contribute to the community, and no one can contribute without access to shelter and food and education,” Martin told the volunteers.

    “We're going to run our welfare facilities at full capacity,” said Sister Eubank, who explored additional ways to partner with Lutheran Family Services. “It will make more goods than our system needs, but we will then continue to donate more to programs like Family Services.”

    In 2016, the Relief Society called on members to support refugees through the “I Was a Stranger” initiative. Much like today’s new residents, hundreds of Mormon pioneers found themselves refugees in Iowa and Nebraska from 1846 to 1851 while awaiting word from early Church leaders to travel west.

    “We have small, simple ways that we can minister, and we can show them the love of Christ whether we're directly talking about the gospel or we're just working shoulder to shoulder to help those in our community,” said Erin Evans, an Omaha physician and a regional Relief Society leader.

    “It was amazing to have [Sister Eubank] come and be a part of that and for us as women in the local area to sit alongside her and to say this is who we are, we are Latter-day Saint women who love Jesus Christ and love our families and love this community that we live in,” expressed Carrie Derrick, a member of the Relief Society in Omaha.

    “I found it enlightening and encouraging and very hopeful that there are other people out there in our communities who want to love and to express God's love to other people of all faiths,” said Nicole Sweeney, an Omaha regional Relief Society leader.

    Area Broadcasts

    Friday night, Sister Eubank spoke with Omaha youth about missionary work and temple service at a meetinghouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

    “You are the next leaders of the Church,” she told the youth. “You have a lot of pressure on you, but the Lord will help you overcome your weaknesses.”

    Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, spoke in Wichita, Kansas. Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, was in Iowa City, Iowa.

    The women leaders hosted a training broadcast from several different locations on Saturday morning. Sister Eubank was with Relief Society sisters in the Omaha area at a meetinghouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was joined by Sister Harkness in Iowa City, Iowa. Sister Craven was in Wichita, Kansas, for the broadcast.

    Sister Harkness told the audience that singing hymns is one of the best ways to learn the gospel.

    In the evening, the sisters also held evening devotional meetings for single adults and youth. Sister Eubank stayed in the Omaha area while Sister Harkness moved to St. Louis, Missouri.

    Sister Harkness encouraged members not to blend into their environment. “We are designed to stand out,” she said. “If we stay on the covenant path, the fear of standing out goes away.”

    Sister Craven traveled to a meetinghouse next to the Kansas City Missouri Temple and close to Liberty Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith was once imprisoned.

    “I love the humidity,” said Sister Craven, who grew up in the Kansas City area. “I have reflected back on the times in the past when I was a young woman and the things that happened to me during that time. … So to me this is sacred ground.”

    Sister Craven expressed her appreciation for the Church’s missionary program during a Sunday morning sacrament meeting in Kansas City. “I’m a product of missionary work,” she said. When she was a girl living in Texas, Latter-day Saint missionaries knocked on her family’s door and her father let them in.

    LDS News - Nauvoo News

    LDS Church Announces Digital Ellis Island Immigration Records Now Available

    LDS News

    LDS Church has released a statement regarding records on Family Search: The entire collection of Ellis Island New York Passenger Arrival Lists from 1820 to 1957 is now available online at FamilySearch.org and the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation. This online database contains family connections for more than 100 million Americans living today.

    Originally preserved on microfilm, 9.3 million images of historical New York passenger records spanning 130 years were digitized and indexed in a massive effort by 165,590 online FamilySearch volunteers. The result is a free and searchable database containing 63.7 million names, including immigrants, crew and other passengers traveling to and from the United States through Ellis Island, the nation’s largest port of entry.

    “The foundation is delighted to make these immigration records accessible to the public for free for the first time,” said Stephen A. Briganti, president and CEO of the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation. “This completes the circle of our decades-long collaboration with the team from FamilySearch, which began with providing the public with unprecedented access to their genealogy and sparking a worldwide phenomenon linking past and present.”

    The expanded collections can be searched at the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation’s website or at FamilySearch in three collections, representing three distinct periods of migration history:

    Inside the Quorum of the Twelve: Misconceptions about an Apostle’s Service

    LDS News

    Editor’s note: The following is the fifth article in aChurch News series on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. See the related links for the previous article.

    After the Savior’s death and Resurrection, He instructed His disciples for 40 days and then ascended into heaven. Left with a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—created by the betrayal and death of Judas Iscariot—members of the quorum gathered and petitioned the Lord.

    Two men, Matthias and Barsabas, were identified and “the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:23–26).

    Then and now, “being called as an Apostle is not an accomplishment or achievement,” explained Elder Dale G. Renlund. “It’s not a calling that is earned. Matthias, in Acts chapter one, was selected by God instead of Barsabas. God didn’t tell us why. But the thing we should know is that Barsabas’s testimony honoring the Savior and His Resurrection was equal to that of Matthias.”

    God chose, he explained. “If Barsabas fulfilled whatever calling he had, his reward was no different from that which Matthias would have received, provided he magnified his calling.”

    The Church is not a business and is not run like one; Church leaders do not climb a corporate ladder or seek position or recognition. Their callings require extensive travel, but sightseeing opportunities are scarce. And they are not immune from challenges. Those are just some misconceptions, say members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

    Just as Barsabas’s testimony was equal to Matthias’s testimony, every member of the Church is entitled to and can “develop an apostolic-like relationship with the Lord,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

    “You do what the Lord asks you to do and you are grateful,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

    Service to the Lord and the Church is “a privilege and a blessing. It is an honor,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “The Lord shows His love for us, and we can show our love to the Lord by doing whatever He asks us to do.”

    “Shepherds and witnesses”

    There are perceptions that the Church is corporate and institutional, said Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

    “There is a misconception that we come out of a professional and business life and we are basically corporate-style leaders,” he said. “In reality, we are shepherds and witnesses. We draw upon our past experiences and any skills and talents we developed, but that's not the focus. The focus is on what the Lord wants and how He wants us to do that.”

    In the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles there are no factions, lobbying, or power centers, said Elder Neil L. Andersen. There are “differing opinions,” but “there are no egos.”

    Dnews confsatam.cit

    “The Lord puts a lot of people together who are not that alike in many things—their professions, how they grew up, where they come from,” said Elder Andersen. “They are alike in their testimony of the Savior and in their humility. They don’t seek position; they are not trying to be the smartest person in the room. The Lord can work with that. I have never seen anyone show anger, and I have never seen anyone put anyone down.”

    Elder Gary E. Stevenson described two perspectives by which he comes to the apostleship—his own background as a business executive and his background as the Church’s Presiding Bishop directing temporal affairs.

    The apostleship “is not like being a business executive; it is quite different than an executive role in a business,” he said. “The role of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ is really a ministerial, pastoral role,” he said.

    The role of being a witness of Jesus Christ to the world, he explained, “informs and defines us.”

    Challenges

    While some may think general Church leaders live a “charmed life,” the fact is that, just as with all of God’s faithful children, life is filled with “great blessings and challenges,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook.

    One great blessing of the apostleship is the responsibility to travel the globe and bear witness of Jesus Christ, he said. But travel does not take leaders to the exotic locations of the globe. Often it takes them to humble villages and into the homes of sweet, faithful members of the Church. It requires long hours on airplanes and many nights in hotels. “We go where the members are,” Elder Cook said.

    Often, said Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Apostles have to add extra time to local and international travel so they can greet members and others. “It’s not about me,” he said. “It is about the deference and the honor the members of this Church hold for the office.”

    Some members of the Church may think members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and their wives and their families “receive a special dispensation from heaven” and “are safeguarded from illness and family tragedy and other kinds of very normal experiences in mortality,” said Elder David A. Bednar. “That isn’t true.”

    Dnews confpriesthood.cit

    Elder Bednar has watched his senior Brethren deal with physical ailments and the limitations of advancing age. The natural consequences of growing older can in fact become remarkable sources of spiritual learning and insight. Inability to do many things can direct focus to the things of greatest importance, he said.

    Elder Renlund said some believe the rewards for such effort are greater than other service opportunities in the Church.

    “Some say, or think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to be an Apostle?’ because it appears that your rewards would be greater,” said Elder Renlund. In response, however, he compared President Thomas S. Monson to his father, Mats Åke Renlund.

    President Monson received keys of presidency when he was ordained a bishop at age 22. He received keys when he served as a mission president in his early 30s and again when he was ordained an Apostle at age 36. He became the only man on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys when he became President of the Church.

    Elder Renlund’s father joined the Church at age 24. He accepted every calling he ever received and was a simple, plainspoken carpenter. “He never received keys of presidency in any calling.”

    How does Mats Åke Renlund’s service compare to that of President Thomas S. Monson? asked Elder Renlund. “They are the same.”

     

    “Your Voice Matters” on Social Media to Share Truth, Clarify Beliefs, Seventy Says

    LDS News

    So what are the greatest challenges of all time? And what is a Latter-day Saint’s “sacred and imperative duty” regarding such challenges?

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy, offered answers to both questions Friday on the last day of the 2018 Fair Mormon Conference.

    A key essential challenge, he began, is “taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world. The gathering of all scattered Israel is the greatest and most powerful force for good on earth.

    “And, in the end, it will succeed miraculously and powerfully.”

    Our sacred and imperative duty

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson speaks about the opportunities that individual members have to teach key gospel truths through various social media platforms during the annual FairMormon Conference in Provo, Utah, on August 3, 2018.

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson, right, speaks with attendees of the 2018 FairMormon Conference on August 3, 2018, following his presentation calling on individual Latter-day Saints to utilize social media to share the gospel. Photo by Jason Swensen.

    Modern-day prophets such as President Russell M. Nelson have revealed that Christ will perform some of His “mightiest works” between now and when He comes again.

    God the Father and His Son preside over the Church “in majesty and glory.” But Latter-day Saints have a sacred duty to do their part in the work.

    “There has never been a better time to be alive and to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ,” said Elder Pearson. “Notwithstanding, we also live in a time of great turmoil and confusion. Many are struggling to find purpose and peace. The world is suffering from moral and spiritual decay. There are so many conflicting and contentious voices and influences competing for our attention. We all have an important role to play in helping others find peace amid the confusion.”

    As one’s understanding of Christ’s Atonement grows, the desire to share the gospel also increases. “Our duty is anchored in the first two great commandments: to love God and love others as ourselves.”

    So just what is the message that is both sacred and imperative to share? Read the words of President Nelson: “Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.”

    Awareness and understanding

    Two key obstacles stand in the way of delivering this “vital message to the world,” said Elder Pearson.

    • “The first obstacle is being unknown.
    • “The second is being misunderstood.

    “In other words, awareness and understanding are the key obstacles to us meeting our sacred and imperative duty. The scale and magnitude of this challenge is beyond anything the corporate world has ever encountered.”

    Estimates suggest as many as 6.6 billion people in the world today have not heard of the restored Church. Of the remaining inhabitants who have heard of the Church, about half of those have an unfavorable impression of the religion, he said.

    Meanwhile, over half of the world’s inhabitants have access to the internet, and many of those use a mobile phone. Obviously, technology will play a central role in overcoming the challenge of awareness.

    Even while awaiting more revelation on how the Lord plans to make this great and marvelous work known to all the inhabitants of the earth, Latter-day Saints must ensure that the honest in heart can efficiently find and embrace the restored gospel online. There is much work to be done. However, if misunderstanding grows faster than awareness, that will be difficult. Members must do better in addressing the second obstacle of understanding, he said. It deserves their very best collective efforts.

    Hundreds of FairMormon Conference attendees listen to Elder Kevin W. Pearson August 3, 2018, as he talks about the need for members to utilize social media platforms to share the gospel.

    Elder Pearson said a typical, socially conscious person who begins investigating the Church will likely search for information or answers to questions about the Church on, say, Google or YouTube. During his or her initial online searches, that investigator will likely be offered an abundance of potentially slanted and biased information about the Church.

    “Good content does exist, but it can be very difficult to find and often does not address key questions in consistent and engaging ways,” he said.

    It is essential, he added, that members create and promote online content that effectively communicates what the Church believes in clear, authentic, and engaging ways—especially on some of the most prevalent search topics.

    “The internet has become the most powerful and dominant source for information on virtually any topic or question,” he said. “The inherent problem with this reality is that much inaccuracy comes from limited experience, understanding, or viewpoint. … The internet can either lead individuals to the truth or away from it.”

    Independent organizations like FairMormon—along with faithful individual members—can make significant contributions.

    “Church-produced content might appear more polished and professional, but yours will be viewed as more authentic,” he told audience members. “Because what you say comes with your personal experience and unique perspective, it enlivens content produced by the Church.”

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson speaks about the opportunities that individual members have to teach key gospel truths through various social media platforms during the annual FairMormon Conference in Provo, Utah, on August 3, 2018.

    Most misunderstanding about the Church can be tied to a relatively few key topics like Church history, temples, garments, Joseph Smith, polygamy, prophets, women, LGBT, and transparency. Information, both positive and negative, about these topics is accessed via search engines and on YouTube.

    “These platforms are the primary sources of information in our time,” he said. “We simply need more effective, engaging, and faithful content in more languages and cultures that can be easily found on these platforms—content that clearly communicates what we believe and why it is important in a positive and personal way. The Church can’t possibly produce all the content needed. We need your help and your voices.”

    Elder Pearson reminded his audience that addressing any gospel topic more effectively would not, in and of itself, build faith in the Savior. “Developing faith is an individual spiritual process. However, access to understandable answers to critical questions and concerns can help correct misunderstandings about the Church and remove stumbling blocks to faith. It can also level the playing field for the sincere truth seeker to find and recognize truth in a world increasingly hostile to faith.”

    Lessons from a black box

    No Latter-day Saint is immune from occasionally questioning their faith or feeling doubts. Elder Pearson said there have been times in his own life when he asked questions about “certain historical issues” or abstract doctrinal questions. But he always tried to focus on the personal revelations he had received from the Holy Ghost on the “questions that matter most.”

    He keeps a black box into which he puts issues, concerns, and questions that he can’t resolve. Occasionally he opens the box and thinks about its contents.

    “Over time, as I have had more life experience; studied, pondered, and prayed more about the doctrines and principles contained in the restored gospel; listened and learned from apostles and prophets, from those who know, I have come to know and experience more about personal revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost and come to know Heavenly Father and the Savior more intimately.”

    He still has the black box.

    “Most all of the contents have been resolved. Some I see very differently now, and others just don’t seem to matter anymore. But still, others are still there. But they don’t prevent me from moving forward with faith.”

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson speaks with attendees of the 2018 FairMormon Conference on August 3, 2018, following his presentation calling on individual Latter-day Saints to utilize social media to share the gospel.

    Daily habits

    Praying daily, reading the Book of Mormon, and attending church will not solve all challenges and concerns, said Elder Pearson. But there remains great spiritual power in those simple daily habits—and God blesses those who diligently seek to keep His commandments.

    “There is no one beyond the reach of the Savior’s Atonement,” he said. “There are answers, there is hope, and there is power to heal. The Savior has prepared a way for all to be able to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Each person has a unique journey of faith. But there are eternal principles and spiritual power given to assist those who ask and seek.”

    Remember, Elder Pearson concluded, “your voice matters.”

    “We must be a voice for truth. We must have the faith and courage to speak up and engage in social media in a positive, responsible, noncontentious, and effective way. We can simply share what we know and believe with others.”

    Mormon Pioneers by the Numbers - Breakdown

    LDS News

    On February 4, 1846, the Latter-day Saints were forced to flee Nauvoo, Illinois, leaving behind their homes, their temple, and a few caretakers. Crossing the Mississippi River and into the Iowa Territory, they needed 131 days before settling at Winter Quarters.

    Ten months later, on April 5, 1847, Brigham Young led a vanguard wagon company across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains into the Great Salt Lake Valley, with Brother Brigham uttering his landmark statement, “This is the right place. Drive on,” while overlooking the valley on his July 24, 1847, arrival.

     

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    Mormon Pioneer Women Exemplified Unwavering Faith

    LDS News

    There are many well-known pioneer stories about women, but the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database lists over 28,000 women as crossing the plains to reach Utah.

    In an act of great faith, many of these women left their homes and families and lost loved ones along the way. Each of the thousands of women, young and old, who made the journey have a story to tell.

    Few records survive to tell the stories of these women, but birth and death records, passenger lists, census records, and surviving diaries of those who encountered them give a peek into what their journeys were like. Here are a few you may not have heard.

    Mary Ann Price was 36 when she pulled her own handcart across the plains. There were three other women in her company who did the same: Elmira Pond Miller, Sarah Maria Chaffin, and Electa Briggs Williams. Williams’s journal entries describe the nearly three-month journey before arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on September 25, 1852.

    Not much is known about Martha Ann Wiscombe Sainsbury. She was born in Sussex, England, and was only 20 years old when she made the journey to Utah and gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, on the way.

    Mary Kaisa and Caroline Ekstrom were sisters who traveled from Norway to Utah when they were just 16 and 14 years old. Mary’s diary tells the story of the two girls traveling with some Church elders. It took seven weeks to cross the ocean and arrive in New York. From there, it was another three weeks to arrive in Kansas and begin the trip to Utah.

    Mary didn’t speak much English and “understood even less.” In her journal she recalls that many people asked her if she was married while they were traveling.

    “To my ear it sounded as though they asked if my name was Mary,” she wrote. “I always smiled and nodded in answer to the question and pointed to the wagons. One day, another emigrant told me in my own language what people asked.”

    Tragedy struck Sarah Bigler Lyons before her family embarked on the journey west. Her husband was killed in an explosion in 1848 while working as a deck hand on the steamship Edward Bates.

    When the time came, Lyons decided to move west with her four children. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on March 21, 1857.

    At the April 2011 general conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook talked about the strength of pioneer women and what members can learn from them.

    “The faith of the sisters in being willing to leave their homes to cross the plains for the unknown was inspiring,” Elder Cook said. “If one had to characterize their most significant attribute, it would be their unwavering faith in the restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“LDS Women Are Incredible!”).

    LDS church shooting leaves 1 dead, 1 injured in Fallon, Nevada

    LDS News

    RENO, Nev. — One person is dead and another was injured after a man allegedly opened fire Sunday in Fallon, Nevada, at the Fallon Church of Latter-Day Saints, according to officials. 

    At an evening news conference, officials said Charles E. "Bert" Miller, 61, died from his wounds. A second male victim, whose name was not released, was treated and released at an area hospital.

    Kaitlin Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the city, said earlier in the day that a motive for the shooting was unclear, but it appeared that the suspect, John O'Connor, 48, was targeting a specific person inside the church.

    "It looks like he was actually going after one of the victims, but it is a little too early to understand," she said. 

    Miller is survived by a wife, three children, and "many grandchildren," officials said.

    "This is a very deep time for us, and a time of mourning for our community," said Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford at the news conference.

    O'Connor is a member of the church and had been attending church services prior to the shooting. 

    After the shooting, O'Connor fled the scene on foot and returned to his nearby house, officials said.

    Police surrounded the home and called a hostage negotiator to the scene. After a call to the home, O'Connor exited and surrendered to officers. Police on Sunday sought a search warrant for O'Connor's home. 

    LDS Youth Interviews - First Presidency Releases New Guidelines

    LDS News

    The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following letter to General Authorities; Area Seventies; General Auxiliary Presidencies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents; and Stake and Ward Young Women and Young Men Presidencies.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters:

    Guidelines for Interviewing Youth

    Bishops have a sacred responsibility to lead, teach, and inspire youth. Effective personal interviews are one important way they do this. These interviews provide opportunities to help youth become disciples of the Savior, repent of transgressions, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Those who conduct interviews with youth should prepare themselves spiritually to be guided by the Holy Ghost. As part of that preparation, we encourage them to carefully review the guidelines for interviews and counseling in chapter 7 of Handbook 1. Section 7.1.7 of that chapter, “Guidelines for Youth Interviews,” has been updated in the enclosure and will soon be updated online and in the Gospel Library. Also, the language in question 7 for limited-use recommends has been simplified.

    To help ensure that youth and parents are aware of the topics and questions covered in these interviews, the bishop should share the enclosed guidelines with them before the first interview.

    Generally, children younger than 11 are not interviewed except in preparation for baptism or to be sealed to their parents in the temple. These interviews are different in nature from youth interviews, and parents are typically present.

    Thank you for your faithful efforts to help strengthen youth spiritually and to prepare them to make and keep sacred covenants.

    Russell M. Nelson
    Dallin H. Oaks
    Henry B. Eyring

    The First Presidency

    Guidelines for Interviewing Youth
    June 20, 2018

    These guidelines should be shared with youth and their parents before the first interviews held by a bishop, branch president, or counselor in the bishopric or branch presidency. References to a bishop and his counselors may also include a stake, district, or mission president and his counselors. See the First Presidency letter “Guidelines for Interviewing Youth,” dated June 20, 2018.

    From Handbook 1, 7.1.7, “Guidelines for Youth Interviews”

    Role of Parents

    Parents have the primary responsibility for teaching their children the gospel of Jesus Christ. They help their children grow spiritually and prepare to make and keep sacred covenants. Parents also counsel with their children regarding worthiness and help them repent and improve. Bishops and other Church leaders support parents in these efforts.

    The Bishop’s Communication about Interviews

    As a young woman prepares to become part of the Young Women organization, and as a young man prepares to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, the bishop shares with youth and their parents the following information about interviews. He could do this as part of the annual Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting or at other times as needed.

    • Parents have the primary responsibility to teach and nurture their children.
    • Typically, the bishop or one of his counselors will interview the young man or young woman at least twice a year for the reasons outlined in “Purposes of Interviews” below. A bishopric member may also meet with youth to answer questions, give support, or extend assignments.
    • To help youth prepare spiritually, interviews are required for sacred matters such as temple recommends, priesthood ordinations, and mission calls. Leaders work with parents to help youth prepare for these interviews.
    • Parents encourage their children to meet with the bishop when they need his help with spiritual guidance or with repentance.
    • If a youth desires, he or she may invite a parent or another adult to be present when meeting with the bishop or one of his counselors.

    Purposes of Interviews

    Bishops and their counselors have a sacred responsibility to lead, teach, and inspire youth. Effective personal interviews are one important way they do this. During these interviews, the bishop and his counselors teach youth about becoming disciples of the Savior. They help youth consider how well they are following the Savior and His teachings. Interviews should be uplifting spiritual experiences.

    Interviews provide an opportunity to reaffirm each youth’s limitless potential as a child of God. Interviews also provide an opportunity to inspire youth to develop plans to draw closer to Heavenly Father and to improve in all areas of their lives.

    As representatives of the Savior, bishops are divinely appointed judges in Israel. In this role, they conduct interviews to determine worthiness and to help youth repent of transgressions.

    Those who conduct interviews express love and listen carefully. They encourage youth to talk rather than doing most of the talking themselves.

    Frequency of Interviews

    The bishop typically interviews each young man and young woman at least annually. If possible, he interviews each 16- and 17-year-old twice a year. If this is not possible, he assigns a counselor to conduct some of these interviews.

    Six months after the annual interview with the bishop, each young man and young woman ages 12 through 15 usually has an interview with the counselor in the bishopric who oversees the Aaronic Priesthood quorum or Young Women class in which the youth participates.

    Acting with inspiration and wisdom, bishops may adjust the frequency of interviews. Some youth may need added attention, while others may need less frequent interviews than are suggested, though all should be interviewed at least annually. Ward size, geography, schedules, and other circumstances may also affect the frequency of interviews.

    Matters for Discussion

    Key matters for discussion include the growth of the young person’s testimony of Heavenly Father, the mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel. The bishop and his counselors emphasize the importance of keeping baptismal covenants. They teach youth to prepare to make and keep temple covenants through daily righteous living. Bishopric members encourage youth to pray regularly in private and with their family and to study the scriptures. They also encourage youth to stay close to their parents.

    When discussing obedience to the commandments, the bishop and his counselors make appropriate use of the limited-use temple recommend interview questions and the standards and explanations in For the Strength of Youth. Leaders adapt the discussion to the understanding and questions of the youth. They ensure that discussions about moral cleanliness do not encourage curiosity or experimentation.

    The bishop and his counselors may also address the matters listed below:

    Priesthood ordination. With young men, they discuss the blessings and duties of holding the Aaronic Priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:46–60; 84:31–48; recent general conference addresses on the subject; and Handbook 2, 8.1.1 and 8.1.3).

    Seminary. For youth of the appropriate age, they encourage regular seminary attendance and emphasize the blessings that come from regular participation.

    Missionary service. They give special attention to preparing youth to serve a full-time mission (see 4.2). Young men are encouraged to serve (see 4.3.1), and young women may be recommended to serve (see 4.3.2). They discuss preparing spiritually by being worthy, studying the gospel, and building a testimony. They also discuss preparing physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

    Standard interview questions for full-time missionary candidates are available at lds.org/mss. The bishop reviews these questions with the candidates and their parents before the mission interview.

    Members of the bishopric should be sensitive to the circumstances under which young men are honorably excused from full-time missionary service (see 4.5.3). The bishop discusses opportunities for young Church-service missions with young men and young women, as applicable (see 4.12).

    Temple. They ensure that youth understand the blessings of temple covenants and temple marriage and the requirements for receiving these blessings. To issue or renew a temple recommend, they ask the standard limited-use temple recommend questions. As needed, they adapt the questions to the age and circumstances of youth.

    Interview Questions for a Limited-Use Temple Recommend

    1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
    2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?
    3. Do you have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel in these, the latter days?
    4. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
    5. Do you live the law of chastity?
    6. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
    7. Do you support any group or person whose teachings oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
    8. Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and priesthood meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
    9. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
    10. Are you a full-tithe payer?
    11. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
    12. Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?
    13. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?

    From Handbook 1, 7.4, “Protecting against Misunderstandings”

    When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to be present during the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood.

     

    A ‘spectacular success’: How sister missionaries have dispelled myths for 120 years

    LDS News

    SALT LAKE CITY — As one of the first single sister missionaries in the LDS Church, Josephine Booth sometimes felt like an alien.

    Walking the streets of Scotland in 1899, people didn't expect to greet a refined, educated "lady missionary," and more than once Booth felt people "at a distance eyeing us as though we were creatures belonging to another sphere," she wrote in her journal. Seeing these poised, articulate sister missionaries was so peculiar that when Booth spoke in meetings, people often "came in off the street to see a Mormon woman."

    But that's why the sisters were there.

    To counter anti-Mormon efforts in Europe and America, where the popular perception was Mormon women were polygamous slaves and young men were secretly recruiting plural wives, then-LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff felt inspired to break with a 68-year tradition of male-only missionaries. He called upon single young women to help dispel these misconceptions and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    This April marks 120 years since those first single sisters were called and sent into the mission field. It's an underappreciated and untold story, according to Matthew McBride, a web content producer for the Church History Department who has researched the history of sister missionaries.

    Temple Square missionaries enjoy the April 2011 general conference. Temple Square missionaries spend about one-third of their time in online teaching.

    "I don't think we appreciate how important or how revolutionary it was in spite of the fact that it kind of happens in this almost mundane, humdrum way," McBride said. "It was viewed as an experiment at first, but it was a big deal."

    Today, there are about 67,000 full-time missionaries serving worldwide in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of those, about 30 percent — more than 20,000 — are sisters, a figure that has increased 17 percent since the age-change announcement in 2012, said Elder Brent H. Nielson, a General Authority Seventy and the Missionary Department's executive director.

    "I think there are places that sister missionaries can get into that our elders can't. They have made a wonderful addition to the work," Elder Nielson said. "We're all so grateful to have them serving. They are amazing."

    Continue reading on Deseret News by clicking the source link below

    LDS Church's FamilySearch database to add same-sex families to Family Tree feature

    LDS News

    SALT LAKE CITY — The world's largest genealogy organization is redesigning FamilySearch.org so the LDS Church-sponsored database can store and provide records of same-sex families.

    The major overhaul to the website's system should be ready by 2019, according to a brief news release posted online Wednesday.

    The announcement said FamilySearch.org's goal is to capture accurate genealogy "that represents past, present and future families of the world."

    "To support this goal," the release continued, "same-sex relationships, including same-sex parents and same-sex couples, will be provided in FamilySearch Family Tree. Several systems that surround Family Tree, such as tree and record searching, must be significantly redesigned to support same-sex relationships before Family Tree can release this capability."

    FamilySearch International is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Click the "Source" link below for further reading of this article at Deseret News

    Redevelopment Plans Announced for Area Near Mesa Arizona Temple

    LDS News

    Plans have been announced to redevelop 4.5 acres of land along the Main Street light rail corridor in Mesa, Arizona, an area located just west of the Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A new mixed-use community will replace vacant lots and buildings near the temple, which is currently closed for renovation.

    “We’ve been planning this project for years,” said Matt Baldwin, real estate development director for City Creek Reserve (CCRI), an investment affiliate of the Church. “We’ve talked with city and county government leaders, city planning staff and other local developers. We want to enhance and beautify this block, but we also want to make sure what we’re proposing is what downtown Mesa needs,” he added.

    The revitalization, located between Mesa Drive and LeSueur Street, will include 240 apartments, 12 townhomes, 70,000 square feet of landscaped open space, ground floor retail space and underground parking.  CCRI worked with Scottsdale-based Dale Gordon Design to create a plan for a vibrant, transit-oriented neighborhood using diverse residential unit sizes, comfortably scaled buildings, Mesa-authentic architecture and landscaped streets and gardens.

    “What CCRI has envisioned is exactly right for downtown Mesa right now,” observed Mike Hutchinson, executive vice president of the East Valley Partnership and former Mesa city manager. “They’ve done their homework. This project will bring renewed vitality to this key block on Main Street.”

    The new apartments will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom floorplans. The townhomes will feature three-bedroom plans. Amenities will include a business center and conference room, garden areas, outdoor cooking and fire pits, an outdoor games area, property security, a package concierge and gated parking access.

    Retail tenants will be accommodated in up to 12,500 square feet of ground floor space. Underground parking with 450 stalls will serve both residential and retail users.

    Renovation plans for the adjacent Mesa Temple block call for demolishing and relocating the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center. A new 18,000 square foot visitors’ center and interactive Family History Discovery Center will be built on the corner of Main and LeSueur as part of CCRI’s project.

    After reviewing CCRI’s plans, Mesa developer Tony Wall said, “There’s no doubting City Creek’s commitment to downtown Mesa. Their investment will encourage other developers to be a part of forging a new future for downtown.”

    Pending rezoning and permit approvals, City Creek expects to begin construction in September of this year, with completion projected in 24–30 months in late 2020 or early 2021.

    City Creek Reserve, Inc. (CCRI) is a real estate investment affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. CCRI is the master developer of City Creek, a sustainably-designed, 23-acre, walkable urban community of residences, offices and retail stores in downtown Salt Lake City, which has renewed and revitalized the heart of the city.

     

    Born to be mild: Mormon motorcycle club holds southern Utah rally

    LDS News

    ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A Mormon motorcycle club is holding its biennial gathering in southern Utah, where about 125 members from across the country are riding together through scenic parts of the region.

    "You don't have to be LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to ride with the group," said Bart Howell, the national director of the Temple Riders Association. "If you feel comfortable with the values, feel free to join."

    A highlight of the rally, which began Friday, is when the group stops at Bryce Canyon National Park and takes part in community-based service projects and regular park duties, Howell said.

    The group rode through the area Saturday and has another organized ride scheduled for Tuesday.

    The riders plan to break up into smaller groups to keep from imposing on drivers along the route.

    "We try to be very courteous and law-abiding on all our rides, so if you see a group of 20 or 30 bikes riding down the road, please do the same for us," Howell said. "Feel free to honk and wave when you see us."

    The club was founded in 1988 by two couples who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who wanted to enjoy the freedom of motorcycling without the typical "biker" image.

    "They thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to ride to a temple instead of a bar?' " Howell said

    The Temple Riders Association boasts more than 500 members and 22 chapters nationwide, with more chapters forming in other countries, Howell said.

    Associated Press 

    LDS FamilySearch brings American Revolution museum to Philadelphia

    LDS News

    The Museum of the American Revolution is up and running in Philadelphia after four years of collaboration with FamilySearch.

    The exhibit, which opened June 9, was developed in an effort to allow guests to find their own connection to the American Revolution — whether they're American or not.

    "Maybe your family is from Asia. It seems as though there's nothing in the Revolution that connects to your heritage," Turdo explained. "But then you find there was active trade and it does affect the Americans and there is this connection."

    Just few minutes away from the Church's Philadelphia temple, the museum began talking to FamilySearch about working together on the exhibit as early as 2011. That relationship was formalized around 2013 and was well into production when Mark Turdo, curator of the museum, joined the planning in 2016.

    "Revolution Place" is a different kind of family-friendly experience. It's meant to be interactive for both children and adults — a place where groups could spend hours if desired.

    The experience is immersive, with almost no area that is "off-limits." Guests are encouraged to sit in the tavern and read a revolution-era newspaper, try on authentic-style clothing and even sign up to fight in the war.

    "I think it's safe to say that this is the only space like this in southeastern Pennsylvania," Turdo said. "To my knowledge, no history museum has put in a program like this."

    In a press release, Elder Milan F. Kunz, an Area Seventy in Philadelphia, said the exhibit is "a wonderful way to help promote the idea that we're all one big part of God's family."

    The nature of "Revolution Place" encourages conversation to happen naturally. Certain spots have "conversation cards" that encourage guests to talk to their group about a question or topic. Turdo has already noticed that groups tend to "linger longer," and that there's more talking and interaction than in the core exhibit of the museum.

    By immersing themselves in history, guests can become a part of the revolution and see a part of history that isn't always talked about in the typical "big, sweeping way."

    Although the ability to spend lots of time in each part of "Revolution Place" may change after the official opening, Turdo thinks that the immersive "barriers-free" experience changes the guest's approach to history.

    "I think that taking down a lot of the barriers physically also removes a lot of mental barriers that people have to thinking and talking about history," he said.

    Even though many of the developers at FamilySearch who worked on the digital interactive parts of the exhibit haven't been able to make the trip to see it in action, Turdo said he hopes one day they'll be able to.

    "They've done a lot to build that moment," Turdo said. "I wish they could come and see it being enjoyed."

    Each individual has a slightly different "free-choice learning" experience, but Turdo hopes visitors leave feeling a little more connected to this part of history and to each other.

    "It's less about content and more about experience when you're in Revolution Place," Turdo said. "But it does the same thing to really engage every modern American and help them find their tie to the Revolution."

    President Nelson Honored for His Work in the Medical Field

    LDS News

    President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received the Lifetime Achievement Award Wednesday in Salt Lake City for his career as a pioneering heart surgeon and cardiac medical researcher whose work continues to influence the medical world. He and three others were winners of Utah’s 2018 Governor's Medals for Science and Technology.

    Prior to his call as an apostle in 1984, President Nelson was a research professor of surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at the University of Utah and chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. In 1955, he performed the first open-heart surgery in Utah, and he completed more than 7,000 surgeries throughout his career. He is the author of numerous publications and chapters in medical textbooks. He lectured and visited professionally throughout the United States and in many other nations.

    In addition to Wednesday’s award, President Nelson has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah; the Heart of Gold Award from the American Heart Association; a citation for International Service from the American Heart Association; and the Golden Plate Award, presented by the American Academy of Achievement. He has also been awarded honorary professorships from three universities in the People’s Republic of China.

    Harvard Professor Announced as New Dean for BYU Marriott School of Business

    LDS News

    Harvard University professor Brigitte C. Madrian will become the ninth dean of the BYU Marriott School of Business beginning in 2019.

    Madrian, who is the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management and chairwoman of the Markets, Business, and Government Area in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, will begin her five-year term on January 1, 2019. She is the first woman to this post.

    The announcement was made by Brigham Young University Academic Vice President James R. Rasband on May 24.

    “Dr. Madrian has a distinguished record of scholarship, teaching, and public service,” said Rasband in a release. “She pairs her impressive record with wise judgment, deep roots at BYU, and a commitment to the mission and aims of the university. I am confident that she will lead the BYU Marriott School of Business with wisdom, energy, and vision.”

    Current dean, Lee T. Perry, has been dean since 2013, and will return to the Department of Management as a strategy professor after his term is complete.

    “I am grateful to Dean Perry for his dedicated service and outstanding leadership of the BYU Marriott School of Business,” Rasband said. “He has sacrificed much, not just during his deanship but throughout his career, to build the college. I admire his long record of setting aside his own passion for teaching and research to instead focus on providing opportunities for his colleagues and for our students. His committed service leaves behind a stronger college.”

    Madrian received a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a master’s and bachelor’s degree in economics from BYU.

    Before working at Harvard in 2006, Madrian was on the faculty at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (2003–2006), the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1995–2003), and the Harvard University Economics Department (1993–1995).

    Madrian is an expert on behavioral economics and household finance, with a particular focus on household saving and investment behavior. Her work in this area has impacted the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation both in the U.S. and abroad. Madrian also uses the lens of behavioral economics in her research to understand health behaviors and to improve health outcomes.

    harvard-professor-announced-as-new-dean-for-byu-marriotts-sc_1.jpg

    As a result of her work, she has received the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and is a three-time recipient of the TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011, and 2017).

    Madrian is also currently serving as the co-director of the Household Finance working group at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Board of Governors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Academic Research Council, and numerous additional advisory boards.

    The BYU Marriott School of Business prepares men and women of faith, character, and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. BYU Marriott School has four graduate and ten undergraduate programs, with a total enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.

     

    LDS Church Releases Its Financial Details of Worldwide Faith

    LDS News

    The LDS Church has spent "billions of dollars over the past few years" according to one of two documents about the faith's finances released Tuesday through its official websites.

    The Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says the Church has a singular purpose: to invite all people to come unto Christ. The Church is not a financial or profit-making institution; it uses resources to carry out its divinely appointed mission. The Church is a steward of the tithes and generous donations provided by its members, and it practices the principles it teaches — avoiding debt, living within a budget and preparing for the future.

    Following sound financial principles over an extended period of time, the Church has grown from meager beginnings into a worldwide organization able to support its divine mission. Its current relative prosperity only reflects the faith of its members in keeping the law of tithing and the accomplishment in their lives of the Lord’s often-repeated promise that “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land” (Alma 9:13).

    The Church uses its resources to pursue the Lord’s work by:

    • Sharing the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
    • Building and maintaining places of worship to strengthen individuals and communities (stakes, districts, wards and branches).
    • Providing welfare, humanitarian assistance and emergency response to alleviate suffering and help people achieve self-reliance.
    • Promoting spiritual and secular learning through the Church Educational System (seminaries, institutes, universities and other higher education initiatives).
    • Building and operating temples and sustaining family history work to strengthen families.
    • Supporting general institutional administration.

    Resources used to carry out this work come principally from the tithing donations of Church members. A small portion of funds comes from businesses maintained by the Church.

    Budget and Expenditures

    The Church’s Council on the Disposition of the Tithes is composed of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presiding Bishopric. Together, they establish and administer the specific policies and budgets guiding the use of Church resources (see D&C 120:1). Those policies embody the following principles:

    • Expenditures will not exceed forecasted revenue.
    • The budget for operating expenses will not increase at a more rapid rate than anticipated tithing contributions.

    Budgets for the Church’s efforts are specifically approved and funds are appropriated by the Church’s Budget and Appropriations Committee, a subcommittee of the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes. Additionally, the Church Auditing Department, which is independent from all other Church departments, employs credentialed professionals to ensure that Church funds are administered and recorded in accordance with Church policies and standard accounting practices.

    Church Reserves

    Church members are taught to “gradually build a financial reserve by regularly saving [a portion of their income]” (Providing in the Lord’s Way: Summary of a Leader’s Guide to Welfare [booklet, 2009], 2). The Church applies this same principle in its own savings and investments. In addition to food and emergency supplies, the Church also sets aside funds each year for future needs. These funds are added to Church reserves, which include stocks and bonds, taxable businesses, agricultural interests and commercial and residential property. Investments can be accessed in times of hardship or to meet the emerging needs of a growing, global faith in its mission to preach the gospel to all nations and prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Gérald Caussé, “In the Lord’s Way: The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance,” Mormon Newsroom, Mar. 2, 2018).

    Some investments serve a dual purpose. For example, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “we have felt that good farms, over a long period, represent a safe investment where the assets of the Church may be preserved and enhanced, while at the same time they are available as an agricultural resource to feed people should there come a time of need” (“The State of the Church,” Ensign, May 1991, 54). Another example is the Church’s participation in the development of downtown Salt Lake City. With its investment in the City Creek Center (a mixed-use development that includes retail space, residential units, office space and parking), the Church enhanced the environs of Temple Square and underscored a commitment to Salt Lake City, Utah, where it is headquartered. The investment increased local economic activity during a financial downturn and attracted visitors and residents to Salt Lake City’s historic downtown.

    The Church’s reserves are overseen by Church leaders and managed by professional advisers, consistent with wise and prudent stewardship and modern investment management principles. Ultimately, all funds earned by the Church’s investments go back to supporting its mission to invite souls to come unto Christ.

    Commercial Businesses

    While the vast majority of its financial resources comes from the tithes and offerings of Church members, the Church also holds business interests that help in accomplishing its mission.

    “Essentially,” President Gordon B. Hinckley explained, “the business assets which the Church has today are an outgrowth of enterprises which were begun in the pioneer era of our history when we were isolated in the valleys of the mountains of western America.”

    President Hinckley noted the sugar beet industry, the Hotel Utah, media and merchandising interests as examples of early Church enterprises. “The Church has maintained certain real estate holdings,” he continued, “particularly those contiguous to Temple Square, to help preserve the beauty and the integrity of the core of the city. All of these commercial properties are tax-paying entities.” He observed that “the combined income from all of these business interests is relatively small and would not keep the work going for longer than a very brief period” (“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 49).
     

    Taxes

    Latter-day Saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12). Accordingly, the Church and its affiliated entities pay taxes and other governmental levies as required by the laws of each country in which the Church functions. In the United States, where churches and other nonprofit organizations are generally exempt from federal and state income tax, the Church pays taxes on any income it derives from revenue-producing activities that are regularly carried on and are not substantially related to its tax-exempt purposes. Church-affiliated entities that are organized as for-profit corporations pay regular federal and state corporate income taxes on their net income. The Church and its affiliated entities also pay property taxes on property that is not used for religious, educational, or charitable purposes, including taxes on undeveloped land and properties held for investment or commercial purposes. Government fees, levies and assessments are paid in connection with the development of Church property. The Church also pays federal and state employer taxes and withholds and remits employee payroll taxes. Where applicable, the Church and its affiliated entities pay state and local sales and use taxes.

    Conclusion

    Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé has said, “We are the Church of Jesus Christ, and this Church has no other objective than that which the Lord Himself assigned to it; namely, to invite all to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32), by ‘helping members to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathering Israel through missionary work, caring for the poor and needy, and enabling the salvation of the dead by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances’” (“In the Lord’s Way: The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance,” Mormon Newsroom, Mar. 2, 2018).

     

    Questions & Answers

     

    Q: How does the Church use tithes and other funds? Why does the Church need financial resources?

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and invite all to follow Him. This is a broad, worldwide work that requires considerable resources. The Church supports more than 30,000 congregations and maintains thousands of chapels and meetinghouses; it operates employment centers, storehouses, family history centers, seminaries and institutes, schools, universities and other higher education initiatives, and 159 temples around the world (with another 30 announced or under construction). The Church oversees approximately 70,000 missionaries in hundreds of proselytizing, service and humanitarian missions. This work continues to grow, often in areas with significant temporal needs. To accomplish this work, the Church follows the financial principles it teaches: living within a budget, avoiding debt and saving and investing for the future.

     

    Q: Why doesn’t the Church publish its financial information? 

    The Church is not a financial institution or a commercial corporation. It has no other objective than preaching the gospel and inviting all to come unto Christ. While the Church chooses not to publish the details of its finances, the Church does provide public information on the financial principles it follows, the financial controls in place to protect Church funds and the source and use of these funds. The Church also provides all financial information required by law.

     

    Q: Is the Church a rich church?

    Some people occasionally describe the Church as a prosperous organization. However, the strength of the Church cannot be measured by its financial holdings or real estate assets. As President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When all is said and done, the only real wealth of the Church is in the faith of its people” (“The State of the Church,” 54). The relative current prosperity of the Church only reflects the faith of its members in observing the law of tithing and other guiding principles such as provident living and self-reliance. It is based on the Lord’s promise that “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land.” This promise appears in 18 verses of the Book of Mormon, and Latter-day Saints believe it continues to apply today.

    Additionally, some people may try to attach a monetary value to the Church in the same way they would assess the assets of a commercial corporation. Such comparisons simply do not hold up. For instance, a corporation’s branch offices or retail outlets have to be financially justified as a source of profit. But every time the Church builds a place of worship, the building becomes a consumer of assets and a financial obligation that has to be met through worldwide member donations. The ongoing maintenance and upkeep, utilities and use of the building can only be achieved as long as faithful members continue to support the Church.

     

    Q: Does the Church pay taxes?

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pays all taxes that are required by law. Latter-day Saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12). Worldwide, the Church and its affiliated entities pay applicable taxes and other governmental levies. In the United States, where churches and other nonprofit organizations are generally exempt from federal and state income tax, the Church pays taxes on any income it derives from revenue-producing activities that are regularly carried on and are not substantially related to its tax-exempt purposes. Church-affiliated entities that are organized as for-profit corporations pay regular federal and state corporate income taxes on their net income. The Church and its affiliated entities also pay property taxes on property that is not used for religious, educational or charitable purposes, including taxes on undeveloped land and properties held for investment or commercial purposes. Government fees, levies and assessments are paid in connection with the development of Church property. The Church also pays federal and state employer taxes and withholds and remits employee payroll taxes. Where applicable, the Church and its affiliated entities pay state and local sales and use taxes.

     

    Q: What controls are in place to prevent the misuse of funds?

    Church leadership is very aware of the sacred nature of Church resources and takes great care to ensure that tithes and other funds are used prudently and are protected from misuse. Any person found misusing sacred tithes or other donations is subject to Church discipline.

    The expenditure of Church funds is approved by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presiding Bishopric. These senior leaders counsel together and make decisions to allocate funds. Additionally, certified professionals perform regular audits to ensure strict adherence to standard accounting principles and Church policies. Auditors are also called locally to perform periodic audits in wards and branches following detailed guidelines and processes provided by the Church.

     

    Q: Does the Church have investment reserves? What kinds of investments does the Church possess? 

    The Church maintains diversified reserves — including common stocks and bonds, interests in taxable businesses, commercial and residential real estate and agricultural properties — to provide financial support for the Church’s ongoing and future operations. These funds are invested solely to support the Church’s mission to preach the gospel to all nations and prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming. Some Church investments, such as agricultural interests, preserve and enhance Church resources but may also be deployed to meet acute needs.

     

    Q: Does the Church have resources invested in the stock market? 

    Yes. These funds are part of the financial reserves that allow the Church to address needs as it continues to grow and administer programs around the world. Each year, the Church sets aside a portion of its funds to save and invest.

     

    Q: How does the Church choose stocks and bonds in which to invest?

    The Church strives to be a good steward of these resources and has certified professionals invest Church funds in a broad and diversified manner. Professional financial advisers select and manage specific investments.

     

    Q: Where does the money for the Church’s reserves come from?

    The vast majority of Church operations are funded through the sacred tithes and offerings given by members. The Church operates within its means and sets aside a portion of its funds each year. The Church follows the financial principles it teaches: living within a budget, avoiding debt, and saving and investing for the future.

     

    Q: Why does the Church maintain financial reserves when there are so many unmet humanitarian needs currently in the world? 

    The Church has spent billions of dollars over the past few years to meet welfare and humanitarian needs around the world. We anticipate that these needs will continue to increase over time. Church affiliated, for-profit entities also contribute to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, which gives to various charitable causes. Church members donate their own time and resources to support many other charitable endeavors. This is part of the Church’s divine mission.

    In addition to humanitarian and welfare efforts, Church financial reserves provide resources to sustain the Church’s future growth as prophecy is fulfilled that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be taught and the Church established in all nations of the earth until the Savior’s return. Ever-increasing financial means are needed to preach the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world, build and operate a fast-growing number of temples and houses of worship, and provide educational and other opportunities to lift people out of poverty and promote self-reliance.

     

    Q: Why does the Church ask members with limited means to donate 10 percent of their income as tithing?

    Latter-day Saints believe that God promises and provides spiritual and temporal blessings to those who follow His commandments, including the commandment to tithe. Tithing is a spiritual principle through which the Lord funds His Church. The Church is acutely concerned with helping individuals rise out of poverty; it dedicates significant resources toward educational, humanitarian and welfare efforts aimed at helping people achieve personal self-reliance. Paying a full tithe is an act of faith and obedience to God’s commandments. Those who choose to pay tithing often attest to the blessings that come from their decision.

     

    Q: How and when are Church reserve funds used?

    Historically, when resources have been scarce or when there have been demands associated with growth, reserve funds have been available to assist in supporting the operations of the Church.

    Reserve funds provide for the future. Church financial reserves assure resources will be available to sustain the Church’s future growth as prophecy is fulfilled that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be taught and the Church established in all nations of the earth until the Savior’s return. The Church anticipates building additional chapels and temples. Welfare and humanitarian efforts will continue to increase. Missionary work, education needs and other programs to benefit people around the world will require additional resources. Whether Church funds are from reserves or directly from the tithes of members, all are used for the singular purpose of supporting the mission of the Church. Reserve funds exist for no other reason.