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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.

New Website Launched to Recruit Senior Mormon Missionaries

LDS News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a new website designed to recruit senior missionaries and help them find opportunities to serve.

Seniormissionary.lds.org aims to better connect potential senior missionaries with volunteer opportunities that best suit their lifestyles and preferences.

This is also part of an effort by the Church to better utilize technology in missionary work — in this case, helping members identify the right missionary opportunities for them.

“The website that we've created is a wonderful thing for us because we've taken all of the departments in the Church that need senior missionaries and who have been recruiting senior missionaries, and we've brought them all together on one website,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the Missionary Department.

“Senior missionaries are absolutely critical to our work, and we have thousands of them serving. But we only have about half of what we need,” explained Elder Nielson. “We hope that in the retirement plans of senior couples and their plans for what they want to do in their life, that included in that is the opportunity to go serve a mission.”

The new site is easy to use and interactive, allowing members to compile an online wish list of service opportunities. Candidates use tools to input their preferences, including how long they want to serve, the level of expenses they can afford each month and where they would like to live. They can also indicate special language skills, preferred assignments and any medical needs that could impact their service.

After searching, users can browse lists of available service opportunities that match the detailed criteria. They add their choices to a cart and submit them to their local Church leaders, who are responsible for forwarding their recommendation to serve to Church headquarters.

While finding these opportunities can greatly help Church leaders in making appropriate assignments for individuals and couples, the call to serve full-time ultimately comes from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“What we're trying to do is to allow a couple, in their very own home, to sit down at their own computer,” said Elder Nielson. “They can see at a glance all the opportunities all around the world — and technology has just opened up to us the ability to do that — and then to match their abilities with the needs that we have.”

For those unable to leave home to serve as full-time missionaries, opportunities for part-time and full-time Church-service missions are also listed on the website. These opportunities allow missionaries to live at home while serving in assignments within their own communities.

Missionaries serve voluntarily and at their own expense. Church leaders have regularly encouraged couples and single sisters to consider serving as senior missionaries. Opportunities for service include humanitarian work, family history, teaching, leadership training, public affairs, health and education and other areas.

President Nelson Reaches India on Global Ministry Tour

LDS News

“The influence of the temple will be felt not only by the people here in this particular part of India, but it will bless the people of the entire nation and neighboring nations,” said President Russell M. Nelson as he reached Bengaluru, India, Thursday, April 19, 2018.

During the recent general conference, President Nelson announced that a new temple would be built in Bengaluru, the first Mormon temple to be built in India, a country with more than 1.3 billion people of many faiths, including Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.

“It was a thrill for me to receive the real impression that I should announce that there will be a temple here in India,” he explained in an interview. “The temple is our ultimate destination here on planet earth. All the blessings that God has in store for His faithful people come in the temple.”

Bengaluru, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, is the fifth of eight cities on his global ministry tour. The Latter-day Saint prophet traveled to Asia following a series of meetings in Europe and Africa.

President Nelson is joined on the worldwide tour by his wife, Wendy, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Patricia.

“In a way, it’s easier for us to build a temple than it is to build a people who are ready for the ordinances and covenants of the temple,” said President Nelson at a meeting for Latter-day Saints, missionaries, and visitors in Bengaluru. “It’s going to take you a little while to get ready. It will take us a little while to build it as well. … Now, I’m 93 years old. You better hurry.”

Prior to the meeting, the delegation looked at potential sites in the area for the new sacred structure.

“It’s going to be a national treasure,” added Elder Holland. “It will be revered and admired and loved by these millions of people and bless them in a wonderful, wonderful way.”

“I think our Church is growing fast in our country, and this will bring many blessings to our nation,” said Paul Vijayakumar, who served a mission in the area in 1988. “Those days here, very few people [were] able to bless the sacrament and pass the sacrament and partake [of] the sacrament. So today I’m happy that this hall was filled with a lot of members. And it was a dream for us that our prophet, President Nelson, came here.”

“The temple is coming. I’m so happy,” said Mercy Lyuas, who also expressed her excitement to see President Nelson.

“I’m really excited to see the prophet myself, in my own eyes, in [the] India Bangalore Mission,” said her brother, Jerry Lyuas.

“It was wonderful to meet up with him and shake hands and say, ‘Welcome to India,’” said Pericho Prabhu of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights. “Keeping him in our special prayers, and he’s globetrotting, he’s traveling today, tomorrow, the day after.”

Prabhu continued, “It’s been a great thing being amidst all of you and meeting some of your officials here and the brothers, sisters, and bishops.”

There are nearly 1.2 million Latter-day Saints in Asia. 

The Church has 159 temples worldwide with 30 others announced or under construction, which includes the newly announced temple in Bengaluru.

India is home to more than 13,500 Mormons in 43 congregations. Unofficial missionary work began in India in the 1850s. The country’s first meetinghouse was dedicated in February 2002.

“They love God, and I love them,” expressed President Nelson, who first came to India in 1966 as an experienced cardiologist to attend a professional meeting in New Delhi. In 1992, he returned to India as an apostle.

“I met President Nelson in the year 1992, and with Elder Neal A. Maxwell,” said Joshua Thamizhmaran. “That time, there was only one branch in Bangalore. Now a stake.”

“Our approach is to take the poverty out of the people, not the people out of the poverty, as we teach them that God loves them and that if they’ll keep His commandments, they will have joy in life,” said the prophet.

Elder Holland first visited the country in 1977 as the Church’s commissioner of education. “The glory of the gospel comes, and they become motivated and industrious and seek for education, and they yearn for better employment and they want a better life for their children,” he said.

Global Ministry Tour

The senior Mormon leaders are traveling to eight cities on three continents in 11 days. The tour began in the United Kingdom with a stop in London on April 12. Other cities have included Jerusalem, Israel, and the African destinations of Nairobi, Kenya, and Harare, Zimbabwe.

This is the first official trip for President Nelson outside of the United States since he was named the Church’s 17th prophet in January.

The global ministry tour runs April 10–23, 2018. The next stop on the tour is Bangkok, Thailand, where President Nelson will meet with members. Other destinations include Hong Kong, China, and Honolulu, Hawaii, United States.

 

Church to Celebrate Revelation on the Priesthood

LDS News

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a celebration will be held in Salt Lake City marking the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood. 

Nearly 40 years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that the blessings of the priesthood would be extended to all of God's children everywhere in the world. In June 1978 the First Presidency announced, “that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple.”  We invite Church members, their families and friends to commemorate the 40th anniversary of this revelation.

A worldwide broadcast will originate from the Conference Center on Temple Square on Friday, June 1, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. The program will include a message from Church leadership and music from a variety of choirs. The broadcast will be live on the Church satellite system, LDS.org, and other media. A broadcast schedule listing available languages and other details will be sent approximately three weeks before the event.

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Elder Nelson Cuts Trip Short After Missile Attack on Syria

LDS News

LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson was on the second stop of his world tour, Jerusalem.  He left his scheduled trip due to “concerns pertaining to tension in the region and available airspace,” the LDS Church announced Saturday.

The United States together with France and Great Britain launched airstrikes in Syria early Saturday in retaliation for a reported chemical weapons attack. 

President Nelson and his wife Wendy, together with Elder Holland and his wife left Utah on Tuesday for an 11-day, eight nation trip, to reach Latter-day Saints in distant countries. Their first stop was in London and then in the Holy Land, where President Nelson addressed a “district conference” of local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“As the new president to the church, I felt that there were two messages that I would like to convey to our people,” President Nelson told a group  Saturday gathered at Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. “One is that Jesus is the Christ and he has a message for all of God’s children. And the second is that his is a global invitation. We invite all of God’s children to come unto their savior.”

 

 

First Presidency Statement on Utah Marijuana Initiative

LDS News

We commend the Utah Medical Association for its statement of March 30, 2018, cautioning that the proposed Utah marijuana initiative would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities. We respect the wise counsel of the medical doctors of Utah.

The public interest is best served when all new drugs designed to relieve suffering and illness and the procedures by which they are made available to the public undergo the scrutiny of medical scientists and official approval bodies.

LDS Church Reaches 16 Million Members

LDS News

It's official. There are now more than 16 million members of the Church.

The Church releases a statistical report once a year, in April, with data from the previous year.

The new report released during the Saturday afternoon session of the 188th Annual General Conference showed the Church had 340,500 baptisms in 2017—with 233,729 convert baptisms and 106,771 baptisms of children who were born in the Church.

According to Mormon Newsroom, it took 117 years—until 1947—for the Church to grow from the initial six members to one million. The two-million-member mark was reached just 16 years later, in 1963, and the three-million mark eight years after.

The 16 million Church members are organized into 3,341 stakes, 553 districts, and 30,506 wards and branches throughout the world.

The number of full-time missionaries is 67,049, with another 36,172 serving as Church-service missionaries.

Four new temples were dedicated in 2017—Paris France, Tucson Arizona, Meridian Idaho, and Cedar City Utah, while the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was rededicated.

The Church now has 159 temples in operation.

Statistical Report Given at 2018 April LDS General Conference

LDS News

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following statistical report concerning the membership, growth and status of the Church as of December 31, 2017.

CHURCH UNITS

Stakes: 3,341

Missions: 421

Districts: 553

Wards and branches: 30,506

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Total membership: 16,118,169

New children of record: 106,771

Converts baptized: 233,729

MISSIONARIES

Full-time missionaries: 67,049

Church-service missionaries: 36,172

TEMPLES

Temples dedicated during 2017
(Paris France, Tucson Arizona, Meridian Idaho, Cedar City Utah) 4

Temples rededicated during 2017
(Idaho Falls Idaho) 1

Temples in operation at the end of 2017: 159

 

High Priests Group and Elders Quorum Will Now Be Combined

LDS News

During the general priesthood session Saturday evening, President Russell M. Nelson announced that the ward (or branch) high priests group and elders quorum will now be combined into one elders quorum. Stake high priests quorums will be based on current priesthood callings.

The ward elders quorum will be led by a presidency that may be comprised of elders and high priests, explained Elder Christofferson. The elders quorum president will report to the stake president and meet regularly with the bishop. Priesthood offices will remain the same. The current elders quorum presidency will be released and the stake president will call a new elders quorum presidency, explained Elder Rasband.

The stake high priests quorum will continue to function, with the stake presidency continuing to serve as the presidency of that quorum. However, this quorum will include only those high priests currently serving in the stake presidency, in bishoprics, on the high council, and as functioning patriarchs, Elder Rasband said.

Latter-day Saints Sustain New First Presidency in Solemn Assembly

LDS News

President Russell M. Nelson was sustained Saturday as prophet, seer, revelator and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a solemn assembly of Church members worldwide on March 31, 2018.

Dallin H. Oaks was sustained as first counselor and Henry B. Eyring as second counselor in the First Presidency — the Church’s highest governing body.

The new First Presidency was named and introduced to the media on January 16, but the Saturday morning session of the Church’s annual general conference, originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, was the first opportunity for the entire membership of the Church to formally sustain their new leadership.

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Two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were also announced during the Saturday morning solemn assembly. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares were sustained as the newest members of that quorum. They fill the vacancies left by the deaths of President Thomas S. Monson and Elder Robert D. Hales.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong

Elder Gerrit W. Gong was serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. He became a General Authority Seventy of the Church in April 2010. He was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on October 6, 2015. From 2011 to 2015, Elder Gong was a member of the Asia Area Presidency, headquartered in Hong Kong, and concluded that service as the Area President. 

Elder Gong received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and university studies from Brigham Young University in 1977. In 1979, he received a Master of Philosophy degree and in 1981 a doctorate in in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1985 he served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department and in 1987 as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. From 1989 he served in several positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was assistant to the president for planning and assessment at Brigham Young University until April 2010.

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Elder Ulisses Soares

Elder Ulisses Soares was also serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. He has been serving as a General Authority Seventy of the Church since April 2005 and was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on January 6, 2013. He served previously as a counselor in the Africa Southeast Area, President of the Brazil Area and as a counselor in the Brazil South Area. 

Elder Soares received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and economics from the São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science in 1985 and later received a Master of Business Administration degree. He was an accountant and auditor for multinational corporations in Brazil and director for temporal affairs in the Church area office in São Paulo, Brazil. At the time of his call as a General Authority, he was serving on a special assignment for the Presiding Bishopric of the Church in Salt Lake City.

Eight New General Authority Announced at April 2018 General Conference

LDS News

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the calls of eight General Authority Seventies and 55 Area Seventies during the Saturday afternoon session of the April 2018 general conference. He also announced that Elder Carl B. Cook and Elder Robert C. Gay will serve in the Presidency of the Seventy, filling the vacancies left by the calls of Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses S. Soares to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

General Authority Seventies serve in the Presidency of the Seventy, in area presidencies, and in other headquarters administrative functions. Under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, they travel frequently to meet with and teach Church leaders, missionaries and members of the Church in local congregations. They have authority to serve anywhere in the world, while the authority of Area Seventies is generally limited to the area where they serve.

Below are links to biographical information for new members of the Presidency of the Seventy and new General Authority Seventies, as well as the names of newly called Area Seventies:

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New Members of the Presidency of the Seventy

Elder Carl B. Cook

Elder Carl B. Cook was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 2011. Elder Cook received a bachelor of arts from Weber State College in 1981 and a master of business administration from Utah State University in 1982. Prior to his call he worked in commercial real estate development.

Elder Robert C. Gay

Elder Robert C. Gay was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2012. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Southeast Area. He recently served at Church headquarters as chairman of the Self-Reliance Services/Perpetual Education Fund Committee with responsibilities for worldwide self-reliance services.

General Authority Seventies

Elder Steven R. Bangerter

Elder Steven R. Bangerter was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 56. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area.

Elder Bangerter received a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from Arizona State University in 1989. In 1993, he received a juris doctor degree from the Western State University College of Law. He practiced law with Cooksey, Toolen, Gage, Duffy & Woog from 1993 to 2003. Since that time, he has served as managing partner for Bangerter Frazier & Graff, PC. His legal career has focused on representing churches and other faith-based organizations.

Elder Matthew L. Carpenter

Elder Matthew L. Carpenter was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 58. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Central Area.

Elder Carpenter received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Brigham Young University in 1983. In 1987 he received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. During his career, he has worked as CEO of Bay View Commercial Financial Group and most recently as managing director of Genesis Financial Services Fund and Foundation Specialty Financing Fund.

Elder Jack N. Gerard

Elder Jack N. Gerard was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 60. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a Gospel Doctrine teacher and Sunday School president. He served as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy from 2010 to 2016.

Elder Gerard received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a juris doctor degree, both from George Washington University. During his career, he has worked as president and CEO for several entities, including McClure, Gerard & Neuenschwander, Inc.; National Mining Association; America Chemistry Council; and most recently, American Petroleum Institute.

Elder Mathias Held

Elder Mathias Held was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 57. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Fourth Quorum of the Seventy in the South America Northwest Area.

Elder Held received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá in 1983. In 1985, he received a master’s degree in business administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business. He worked for more than 25 years for Daimler AG in different countries such as Germany, Guatemala, Brazil and most recently in Colombia as general manager of Daimler Colombia. In 2017, he began working as general manager to LED Industrial Group Colombia.

Elder David P. Homer

Elder David P. Homer was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 56. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy in the Europe Area. He previously served as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Northeast Area from 2013 to 2014.

Elder Homer received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Utah in 1985. In 1987, he received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania. For 31 years he worked at General Mills, Inc., including assignments in the United States, Latin America, Australasia, Canada and Europe. When he retired, he was CEO of Cereal Partners Worldwide, a global joint venture between General Mills and Nestlé S.A.

Elder Kyle S. McKay

Elder Kyle S. McKay was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 58. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah North Area.

Elder McKay received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Brigham Young University in 1984. In 1987, he received a juris doctor degree from Brigham Young University. From 1987 to 2018, Elder McKay practiced law in Oregon and Utah.

Elder Juan Pablo Villar

Elder Juan Pablo Villar was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 48. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Seventh Quorum of the Seventy in the South America South Area.

Elder Villar received a bachelor’s degree in social communications and public relations in 1994 and a master’s degree in marketing in 2002. He also obtained a Master of Business Administration from Brigham Young University in 2007. His work experience includes commercial and marketing positions in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. He also worked in the mining industry for Orica in 2008, running business improvement programs in Latin America, and most recently working as a senior manager.

Elder Takashi Wada

Elder Takashi Wada was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 31, 2018, at age 53. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a Gospel Doctrine teacher.

Elder Wada received a Bachelor of Arts degree in linguistics in 1990 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1996, both from Brigham Young University. His professional career has included several positions for multinational corporations in the United States and Japan, as well as the position of director for temporal affairs for the Church in the North America West, Northwest and Asia North Areas.

Area Seventies

Richard K. Ahadjie
Alberto A. Álvarez
Duane D. Bell
Glenn Burgess
Víctor R. Calderón
Ariel E. Chaparro
Daniel Córdova
John N. Craig
Michael Cziesla
William H. Davis
Richard J. DeVries
Kylar G. Dominguez
Sean Douglas
Michael A. Dunn
Kenneth J. Firmage
Edgar Flores
Silvio Flores
Saulo G. Franco
Carlos A. Genaro
Mark A. Gilmour
Sergio A. Gómez
Roberto Gonzalez
Virgilio Gonzalez
Spencer R. Griffin
Matthew S. Harding
David J. Harris
Kevin J. Hathaway
Richard Holzapfel
Eustache Ilunga
Okechukwu I. Imo
Peter M. Johnson
Michael D. Jones
Pungwe S. Kongolo
George Kenneth G. Lee
Aretemio C. Maligon
Edgar A. Mantilla
Lincoln P. Martins
Clement M. Matswagothata
Carl R. Maurer
Daniel S. Mehr II
Glen D. Mella
Isaac K. Morrison
Yutaka Nagatomo
Allistair B. Odgers
R. Jeffrey Parker
Victor P. Patrick
Denis E. Pineda
Henrique S. Simplicio
Jeffrey H. Singer
Michael L. Staheli
Djarot Subiantoro
Jeffrey K. Wetzel
Michael S. Wilstead
Helmut Wondra
David L. Wright

How to Take Part in LDS General Conference Around the World

LDS News

Listening to General Conference has become easier - all over the world:  

Millions of Latter-day Saints around the world will participate in the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church this weekend, the first time President Russell M. Nelson will preside after becoming the 17th President on January 14.

Broadcast live from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and interpreted live into more than 80 languages, the five sessions March 31 and April 1 will be available via television, radio, satellite, and internet. 

Live Viewing Times and Options

Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 (MDT)

   Saturday Morning Session: 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
   Saturday Afternoon Session: 2:00–4:00 p.m.
   General Priesthood Session: 6:00–7:30 p.m.
   Sunday Morning Session: 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
   Sunday Afternoon Session: 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Digital Viewing Options

LDS.org
Mormon Channel YouTube
Mormon Channel App
Mormon Channel Roku
Mormon Channel Apple TV
Mormon Channel Fire TV
Mormon Channel Android TV
Mormon Channel Website
BYUtv
BYUtv International

Digital Listening Options

Mormon Channel App
Mormon Channel Roku
Mormon Channel Apple TV
Mormon Channel Fire TV
Mormon Channel Android TV
Mormon Channel Website
BYU Radio

Meetinghouse Viewing

To view at meetinghouses, check with local leaders for availability. Find nearby meetinghouse locations and local leader contact information.


Conference Center

Tickets are required to attend at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Standby seating may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit the Temple Square Events page.


 

LDS Church to Allow Parents in Youth Bishop Meetings

LDS News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The LDS Church is changing its guidelines for how local leaders handle sexual abuse reports and one-on-one meetings with youth a week after a former prominent missionary leader was accused of sexually assaulting two women in the 1980s.

The changes announced Monday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints direct lay leaders never to disregard a report of abuse, a more direct instruction than previous guidelines.

A key new rule allows children to bring a parent or adult with them during one-one-one interviews with local church Bishop. Parents were only allowed in a hallway or adjacent room under old rules. Youth can still go in alone if they choose.

Critics say the changes still don’t go far enough.

The guidelines also tell leaders to never encourage a person to stay in a home or situation where abuse is suspected, guidance not in there before. An introduction to the guidelines says most, but not all, “allegations of abuse made by assault victims are true, and should be taken seriously and handled with great care.”

The meetings with children usually happen twice a year starting at age 12. Bishops ask about topics such as school, sports, hobbies, education goals and family issues. The questions sometimes delve into sexual behavior because of the church’s strict teachings on abstinence before marriage.

Last year, a group of Mormons and ex-Mormons demanded an end to the one-on-one interviews and a prohibition on all sexual questions.

Sam Young, a Latter-day Saint father from Houston who is leading the campaign, said Tuesday the changes don’t go far enough. He said a parent or adult should be required for all meetings. He said sexual questions often become explicit and argues children should only be asked if they are obeying the faith’s law of chastity.

The group plans a protest march Friday in Salt Lake City and expects to deliver 50,000 signatures to church headquarters.

“Our march is even more important than it’s ever been because we know the church is listening,” said Young, 65, a former bishop and missionary. “I care about the church. This is my church. What are we’re doing harming these children gives my church a horrid name.”

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins on Tuesday pointed to previous comments that the interviews allow bishops to get to know youth better and determine their religious habits and obedience to God. The bishops are instructed how to handle the meetings and swear to keep the conversations confidential, he said.

“They are counseled to not be unnecessarily probing or invasive in their questions, but should allow a young person to share their experiences, struggles and feelings,” Hawkins said.

Former Mormon Amy Hall, 56, compared the changes to “putting a Band-Aid on open surgery.”

She said she was molested around the age of 12 by a bishop in Bakersfield, California, causing her a lifetime of shame and leading her to leave the faith in her 20s. The Associated Press doesn’t normally name alleged victims of sexual abuse, but Hall agreed to share her story to support Young’s campaign and said she hopes other Mormon children don’t have to endure similar abuse.

She never reported her abuse and only recently confronted how it impacted her life, adding she is in therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. “Asking children about sexual things is perverted,” Hall said.

A letter sent by new LDS Church president Russell M. Nelson to local and regional leaders in the U.S. and Canada announced the changes. “This global issue continues to be of great concern to us today,” Nelson wrote.

The changes come as the church investigates two allegations of sexual abuse against a former missionary leader in the 1980s. Joseph L. Bishop has denied the allegations through his adult son but he acknowledged in a police interview that he asked one of the women to expose her breasts at a time when he was president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Bishop is also heard apologizing on a secretly recorded conversation made by one of the victims. He is heard saying he molested the second woman during a massage that he said got “too frisky.”

The church said it knew previously about both claims but declined to discipline Bishop because the allegations couldn’t be verified.

Mormon Youth Interviews with Bishops Under Scrutiny

LDS News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group demanding an end to one-on-one interviews between Mormon youth and their leaders and the sexual questions that sometimes arise during the meetings plan to march to church headquarters Friday to show they're not satisfied despite a rule change this week that allows children to bring parents with them.

Group organizer Sam Young, a Mormon father from Houston, Texas says a parent or adult should be required for all meetings that usually happen twice a year starting at age 12. He said sexual questions often become explicit and argues children should only be asked if they are obeying the faith's law of chastity.

Young is expecting several hundred people at the event that comes one day before a twice-annual conference put on by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They plan to deliver petition with 55,000 signatures supporting the cause.

LDS Charities $1M in Aid Will Help Those Suffering in DR Congo Crisis

LDS News

LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church’s Welfare Department, donates $1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) in its ongoing support to help feed people who are hungry across the globe.

“The outstanding work of WFP has enabled us to send critical aid to some of the most challenging places in the world — places we may never have reached without their efforts," said Bishop Gérald Caussé, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The funds will provide much needed nutritious food staples such as cereals, salt and cooking oil for the most vulnerable people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Thanks to the continued generosity from members and friends of the Church,” said Bishop Caussé, “we have been able to channel humanitarian aid to thousands of people impacted by the conflict in the Kasai Region of DR Congo.”

Nearly 8 million people in the DRC struggle to find food amidst warring factions. Some of the worst conflicts have raged in the Kasai region for over two years, causing widespread food shortages and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. More than 3 million hungry people are in Kasai, and 300,000 of those are children at risk of dying because of severe acute malnutrition.

Many humanitarian agencies call it a “mega-crisis” and list DRC as the most severely impacted area in the world by conflict and displacement.

“This donation by the LDS Church will save many people’s lives and will provide them with hope for a better future,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s country director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Director Jibidar said the livelihood of most families in Kasai is farming. The conflicts have disrupted three consecutive farming seasons and left them virtually starving.

“The food that they will receive through this contribution, in combination with the tools and seeds provided by other partners like the Food and Agricultural Organization, will allow them to resume farming and ultimately help improve the food security situation in the region,” he said.

The partnership with WFP that began in 2014 and spans 11 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East reached a significant milestone of feeding those who are hungry.

This contribution means many lives will be saved in Kasai,” said Prerana Issar, director of private partnerships at WFP. “Since our partnership began, the members and leadership of the LDS Church have now donated more than $10 million to WFP. Thanks to this generosity, we have been able to feed more than 1.26 million people in emergencies across the globe, people whose lives were at risk because of hunger.”

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

WFP is one of dozens of philanthropic organizations that partners with LDS Charities. More than $2 billion in monetary donations, as well as countless hours of volunteer work, have been provided by the Church, its members and friends in 191 countries and territories since 1985.

The guiding principles of LDS Charities follow the teachings of Jesus Christ by caring for and empowering those in need regardless of their race, religion or nationality. These beliefs inspired over 2,500 projects with more than 1,800 partners in 2017 alone.

Millions of people benefit from LDS Charities initiatives such as emergency response, food, vision care, maternal and newborn care, immunization, community projects, clean water, wheelchairs and refugee response.

Church Announces Two Missionary Training Centers to Close

LDS News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced it will close two missionary training centers. The training centers in Santiago, Chile, and Madrid, Spain, will close in January 2019. This decision comes as Church leaders continue to seek the best use of resources worldwide according to the needs and demands of each area.

Following the closures, missionaries who would have attended either of these centers will be trained at one of the remaining 13 missionary training centers around the world.

Both the Chile and Spain training centers are in Church-owned buildings that also serve other Church functions, such as temple patron housing. The Church will decide the best use of this space in the future.

Church Issues Statement About Alleged Sexual Assault by Former Mission President

LDS News

In response to questions from multiple media outlets about allegations that a former Church mission president committed sexual assault, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

 

These allegations are very serious and deeply disturbing. If the allegations of sexual assault are true, it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by the Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.

 

This matter was brought to the attention of the Church in 2010, when this former Church member, who served briefly as a missionary in 1984, told leaders of the Pleasant Grove Utah West Stake that she had been sexually assaulted by the president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, Joseph Bishop, 25 years earlier. They listened carefully to the claims being made and then this was immediately reported to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, and the police interviewed her at that time. The Church does not know what she said in that interview, but the Church received no further communication from the police concerning the matter.

 

At the same time, the Church referred these allegations to the local ecclesiastical leaders of Joseph Bishop. Those leaders met with Mr. Bishop, who denied the allegations. Unable to verify the allegations, they did not impose any formal Church discipline on Mr. Bishop at that time.

 

The matter resurfaced in 2016 when the same individual contacted a stake president in Pueblo, Colorado, and then again a few weeks ago in January 2018, when the Church was contacted by a lawyer representing her. He provided a copy of a recording that she had made of a conversation between her and 85-year-old Joseph Bishop in December 2017. Since that time, the Church has engaged in an investigation of this individual’s allegations. In the course of that investigation, both she and Mr. Bishop have been interviewed by outside legal counsel. Not surprisingly, the stories, timelines and recollections of those involved are dramatically different. This woman reaffirmed her allegations, and Mr. Bishop has again denied them. We have no record of an interview between Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926-1999) and this individual.

 

The Church, as a religious organization, does not have the investigative tools available to law enforcement agencies. Nor can the Church substitute for the courts in adjudicating legal claims. The Church has great faith in the judicial system to determine the truth of these claims. Nevertheless, the Church takes seriously its responsibility to hold its members accountable for their conduct with respect of the laws of God and man. To that end, the Church is continuing its investigation of this individual's claims and will act consistent with its long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse.

 

 

Updated Statement

March 23, 2018

 

We share the anger and distress Church members and others feel to learn of incidents where those entrusted with sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments and harm others. Such behavior is repulsive and sinful. The Church is looking into all aspects of the assertions on the recording of Joseph Bishop. This includes the work of outside legal counsel, who are interviewing priesthood leaders, family members, law enforcement officials and others with knowledge of these incidents.

We are aware of one other woman (who is referenced in the December recording) who informed her local ecclesiastical leaders that she was sexually abused by Joseph Bishop while he served as president of the Missionary Training Center. When she reported the alleged abuse to her local Church leaders in 2010, they provided emotional support as well as professional counseling services. Mr. Bishop’s local ecclesiastical leaders were contacted and they confronted him with her claims, which he denied, and local leaders did not feel they could pursue church discipline for Mr. Bishop.

On Wednesday, the Church, along with media outlets, received the unredacted police report from BYU Police, which included an admission of inappropriate sexual conduct. We are committed to bringing accountability for what has occurred.

Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the Church. We continue to urge our leaders to take reports of abuse very seriously. Leaders should call the Church's abuse helpline, which has been established to assure that victims are cared for and that abuse reporting laws are strictly obeyed.

 

 

 

 

 

LDS Church Releases Artist Rendering for Bangkok Thailand Temple

LDS News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an artistic rendering of the Bangkok Thailand Temple on March 19. The rendering features a majestic 44,405-square-foot, six-story temple with multiple spires reaching heavenward. The temple will be built with the finest materials and workmanship available and be aesthetically pleasing to the community as a religious house of worship.

President Russell M. Nelson said, “The Bangkok Temple will be a blessing to all the people of this area. It will be a symbol of faith to tens of thousands of members of the Church throughout the region and their commitment to follow Jesus Christ. It will also stand as a reminder that God loves and cares for all of His children. All we do in the Church points to the Lord and His holy house.”

An additional 91,370-square-foot religious building will feature two religious meetinghouses, a service center, seminary, and institute facilities and mission offices and housing. Substantial underground parking is also planned at the site located on Petchaburi Road in the center of a residential and business area in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Thailand Temple will be the first in this Asian nation and will serve members of the LDS Church in Thailand and all of Southeast Asia. Before the temple was announced in April 2015, the nearest Church temple was in Hong Kong, over 1,000 miles away.

There are currently 159 operating temples worldwide with 23 temples announced or under construction. Construction of the Bangkok Thailand Temple is expected to take between three and four years.

Ensign Magazine to discontinue monthly 'First Presidency Message'

LDS News

The Ensign magazine published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has featured the “First Presidency Message”  for nearly a half-century.  It has been announced by the LDS Church that the feature is being discontinued.

The announcement was made in the April 2018 edition, stating future messages from the First Presidency will be delivered through the church’s various media channels, including print magazines and online resources.

The Ensign first began publishing the “First Presidency Message” in its January 1971 debut issue. The First Presidency then was President Joseph Fielding Smith and his counselors, Presidents Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner.  In addition to the printed message,  a flexible vinyl record was also included in the magazine.  The “First Presidency Message” in the Ensign has included the last eight LDS Church presidents. 

 

LDS First Presidency: Utah Citizen Participation Among Lowest in Nation

LDS News

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a letter to be read to members throughout Utah urging them to be more active in politics, including attending party caucus meetings in Utah next week. 

“Our Utah communities and our state are best served when Utah citizens fully engage in the political process through caucus meetings, primaries and other political mechanisms." the letter stated,  "We are concerned that citizen participation rates in Utah are among the lowest in the nation, and urge greater involvement by members of the church in the 2018 election cycle.”

The letter calls on leaders to not schedule church meetings on March 20, “so that members may participate in a caucus meeting of their choice.”  

It concluded with the reminder “It is important to remember that engaging in the election process is both a privilege and a significant responsibility regardless of one’s political inclinations, and that principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of each of the various political parties.”

LDS First Presidency Letter.jpg

 

 

See the full letter below:

LDS Church Releases Statement on Leaders Interviewing Youth

LDS News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following statement regarding Church leaders conducting one-on-one interviews with youth members:

Personal interviews are an important part of ministering to those in a congregation. They offer an opportunity for a leader to know an individual better and to help them live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leaders are instructed to prepare spiritually so they can be guided by the Holy Ghost during these interviews. Leaders are provided with instructions in leadership resources and are asked to review them regularly.

Interviews are held for a number of reasons, including for temple recommends, priesthood quorum or Young Women class advancement, callings to serve in the Church or when a member requests to meet with a priesthood leader for personal guidance or to help them to repent from serious sin.

For youth, a bishop meets with a young person at least annually to teach, express confidence and support, and listen carefully. These interviews should be characterized by great love and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. They speak together about the testimony of the young woman or young man, their religious habits (such as prayer, church attendance and personal study of the scriptures) and their obedience to God’s commandments. They may review together these teachings in the scriptures or other Church resources, such as For the Strength of Youth.

In these interviews, Church leaders are instructed to be sensitive to the character, circumstances and understanding of the young man or young woman. They are counseled to not be unnecessarily probing or invasive in their questions, but should allow a young person to share their experiences, struggles and feelings.

There are times when a discussion of moral cleanliness is appropriate —particularly if a young man or young woman feels a need to repent. In these instances leaders are counseled to adapt the discussion to the understanding of the individual and to exercise care not to encourage curiosity or experimentation.

Church leaders have a solemn responsibility to keep confidential all information they receive in confessions and interviews. When a young person is faced with serious sin or temptation, a bishop will likely encourage them to share (as appropriate) their struggles with their parents so they can pray for, teach and encourage the young man or young woman.

When a Church leader meets with a child, youth or woman, they are encouraged to ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer or hall, and to avoid circumstances that may be misunderstood.

If, during an interview, a leader becomes aware of incidents of abuse, they are directed to call the Church’s 24-hour help line to seek guidance from professional counselors and legal professionals in how to identify, report and respond to abuse. The leader may also refer them to professional counseling services, as needed.

When counseling with parents, leaders encourage them to remain close to their children, to regularly teach and counsel with them, asking questions about their growth, progress and worthiness. This allows leaders to act in a supporting role to the family and individual.

Our belief is that interviews should be meaningful and sacred opportunities for an individual to counsel with priesthood leaders, who represent the Savior in their ministry.