By all accounts 2018 was a whirlwind of a year for Latter-day Saints. So it’s only fitting to take a look back at the stories and news that shaped our year. By no means is this a conclusive list. So hold on to your hats while we take a trip down memory lane.
President Thomas S. Monson passed away on January 2nd at the age of 90. He was called to be an apostle at the ripe old age of 36. 36! I’m 36 and I can’t even begin to fathom what that was like. He also served in the First Presidency for 22 years. His tenure was marked by a lifetime of sacrifice, service, and great stories about almost burning down Provo Canyon, and he was a steady presence throughout the lives of a huge number of Church members.
On January 16th, Russel M. Nelson was announced as the 17th Church President. Dallin H. Oaks was called to serve as 1st Counselor and Henry B. Eyring as 2nd Counselor. I’m not sure any of us knew the impact Pres. Nelson would have on the Church during 2018. We didn’t even know yet that we should have been eating our vitamin pills.
After his release from the first presidency, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf received new assignments. And no, it wasn’t the Church’s official Diet Coke Liaison. Elder Uchtdorf was assigned to be the chair of the Missionary Executive Council and the primary contact for the Europe and Europe East Areas.
At the Pulpit, New Apostles, and Bye, Bye Ward High Priest Group
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Church historians Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook, At the Pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint Women was released in March. The book, which is available on the Gospel Library app, has 54 speeches given by women since the beginning of the Church.
Okay, hold on to your seat cushions, because March didn’t disappoint at the end of the month. Eight new General Authorities were called, including two new apostles. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses S. Soares were called to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In addition Bonnie H. Cordon was called to serve as general Young Women President. Michelle Craig was called to serve as first counselor, with Becky Craven as second counselor.
Then there was the combining of Priesthood Quorums. Boom. Mind blown! I think all of us sitting in Priesthood that day, said a collective, “What?” It was hard to realize the scope and magnitude it all. Honestly though, the High Priest Group just kept getting younger and younger, so this made sense. It also made for busier Elders Quorum Presidents.
Home Teaching Is Dead. Long Live Ministering.
On the heels of the changes to Priesthood Quorums, President Nelson revealed that the programs known as Home and Visiting Teaching would be no more. In their place would be a high and holier approach, termed Ministering. No more Pharisaical checklists, or end of the month guilt-ridden visits to families. It is time for us to take care of each other as Christ had always intended.
If that wasn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the Church also released Saints, a narrative history, which if you haven’t had a chance to read or listen to, is worth your time. To help kick off the book release, Elder Cook held a face-to-face at the feet of the Nauvoo Temple with two Church historians who helped write the book.
Oh, yeah and President Nelson began what could be called his World Tour 2018. Where I can find the shirt for the world tour? Anyone know? We also learned that beyond speaking Mandarin Chinese, President Nelson can also hablo español. Who knew?
We Are Scouts No More (Well in January 2020)
In what might have been a shock move to some, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would be parting ways with the Boy Scouts of America, effective December, 31st 2019. But that’s not all folks. The days of the Cub Scout, Faith in God, and the Young Women’s program are coming to an end as well. All of the programs currently in place for ages eight and up will be replaced by a program to be named later. When I say that out loud though, it sounds more like the NFL draft than a change to our youth programs. But I digress.
June brought us the “Be One” Celebration, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood. If you haven’t watched this yet, you need to! The stories were compelling and the music and performances were fantastic.
Then a few days later, President Nelson challenged the youth to a seven-day social media fast and to enlist in the Lord’s Battalion. We also found out that the Church hymnbook was going to be revised and we would have the opportunity to submit our own music for consideration. They also said we could suggest hymns that should be included. Come on, “Come thou fount” and “Amazing Grace,” I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Not the Mormon Church or the LDS Church
August brought us our first glimpses of President Nelson’s counsel regarding using the proper name of the Church stating,
“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”
This was only the beginning, as this effort to recognize the appropriate name of the Church would be revisited during October General Conference. Still, some here at TWiM wondered whether the edict was about the term “Mormon” overall, including the members of the Church, or if it was something narrower in reference to the name of the Church.
No-mo-Motab, Two-Hour Church, and Optional Ward Mission Leaders?
If you thought April Conference brought change, you haven’t seen anything yet. October, was more like Rocktober, because it rocked our thinking in so many ways. Motab became Notab, or is that Tabcats? Following the direction of President Nelson, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir officially changed its name to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Elder Cook brought his A-game to conference, casting three-hour Church into Outer Darkness and ushering in the era of a two-hour church block. But it wasn’t about less church, it was about putting the study and learning back in the home. We would do it through a home-centered and Church-supported curriculum called “Come Follow Me.” One that I am personally super excited about.
In the midst of all the changes, some may had missed the news that the Ward Mission Leader also became an optional calling (of sorts). The WML roll, if filled, would fall under the direction of the Elders Quorum Presidency. Along with the change to WML, Temple and Family History work would also be under the direction of the EQP. If you thought you thought you were busy before, welcome to 2018, President. You’ve got to be on your toes, and have the reflexes of a mongoose, because you never know what’s coming at you next.
Towards the end of Conference, President Nelson stressed again the need to use the proper name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.What was great about this is that he encouraged patient with each other, knowing fully well it would be a great transition. Mormon has been in our vocabulary for so long, that is easy to use when referring to us as a people. So to that effect, remember, be patient and understanding as we all seek to follow the prophet’s direction.
Missionary Recommendation Changes
November brought changes to the Missionary recommendation process. These changes give more flexibility to missionaries who for one reason or another can’t serve a full-time teaching missions. Depending on the recommendation, a young man or woman can be recommended for a teaching mission, a service mission, or be honorably excused from serving.
You’re too Young to be a Deacon, and Get Yo’ Dress Slacks Handy
If you thought December would slip though without a change, you are dead wrong my friend. December brought us changes to youth age progression from Primary to Young Men/Young Women’s. This change allows youth to enter Sunday School/YM/YW in January of the year that they turn 12. My Deacons Quorum just got a heck of a lot younger, and I just got a heck of a lot more gray hair. But that’s not all, sister missionary dress standards were changed. Sister missionaries in all 407 missions around the world now have the option to wear dress slacks. I think I heard a collective “Hallelujah!” sound around the earth when the announcement was made. Sister missionaries will continue to wear skirts and dresses when attending the temple and during Sunday worship services, mission leadership and zone conferences, and baptismal services.
Wow, I know I missed some stories and highlights, but there was so much to unpack. And if 2018 is any indication of the Church, or more specifically, President Nelson’s speed, 2019 should be something to be a part of.
What do you think was the biggest Latter-day Saint related story of 2019? Did I miss something?