2019, where did the year go? We’re all another year older and hopefully a little wiser. This year was certainly chock full of change for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So without further ado, I give you the 2019 Latter-day Saint Year in Review!

January

Without going into too much detail, temple attending Latter-day Saints saw a marked change in temple worship. You can read the article from our fearless leader, Geoff. Also for those desiring to better understand the temple experience, there is a great article by Mark Matthews (a recent guest on the Leading Saints podcast) that you can read here.

Hey there, future missionaries! We know planning for a mission can be a bit overwhelming. Lucky for you, there are now new planning tools for prospective missionaries! You can now look at release date and submission date to help you plan for your future.

‘Father Eubank’

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society Presidency, traveled to Baghdad to speak about religious freedom. Her visit left us with this fun little nugget.

“Recently I traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, to meet with religious leaders and politicians to find practical actions to end religious persecution. When it came time for my panel, I was announced as ‘Father Eubank.” I walked up to the dais along with my co-panelists from a variety of faiths and there was an audible gasp from the audience, who were not expecting a female leader. After the surprise receded, this panel spoke movingly about why freedom of religion and conscious is perhaps the great relevant issue of the 21st century.”

We see your hard work Sister Eubank, and we love and sustain you!

February

February brought a major change to how missionaries communicate with their families. Missionaries are now allowed to call or video chat their families weekly. Elder Uchtdorf said the following of the changes:

“We encourage missionaries to communicate with their families each week using whatever approved method missionaries decide…. This may vary based on their circumstances, locations and schedules for that week. It is not expected that all missionaries will call or video chat with their parents every week. The precise manner of communication is left up to the missionary as he or she decides what will best meet their needs.”

In an not insignificant move, the Church was officially recognized in Kuwait. Nearly 300 members of the the Church live and work in Kuwait.

The fabric of our lives

And in what may have been more exciting for me than anyone else, the Church introduced new men’s stretch cotton garments.  Three cheers for breathable fabric! Below may or may not be an accurate representation of my excitement for the change.

March

March 11th brought us a rare and precious event.  All 15 living apostles attended the Rome Italy temple dedication, making it the first time all have been outside the United States at the same time. If you want a virtual tour of the beautiful temple, look not further than Elders Rasband and Bednar to be your tour guides. I can’t think of anyone better than an Apostle of Jesus Christ to give you a tour of the Lord’s house.

In the continued alignment of the Church’s internet properties with the Church’s true name, the domain name of the Church’s main site was changed from LDS.org to churchofjesuschrist.org. Don’t worry lazy web-surfers, me included, for now and the foreseeable future, LDS.org redirects to the new domain. Along with the changes to the Church’s home page, the aptly named, Newsroom also had some changes.

Be safe!

The guys from BYU Sports Nation helped out with new missionary safety training videos, and our editor-in-chief, Geoff, isn’t sure whether he is a fan or not. You can read his tirade against safety here.

April

Probably the biggest news from April was the policy change regarding baptism of children of same-sex marriages. The change allows Bishop’s to have discretion over baptisms, rather than having to obtain First Presidency approval.

For those attending or teaching seminary, seminary curriculum was adjusted to somewhat follow the Come Follow Me curriculum for any given year. In lesser known news, a new Church Historian and CES Commissioner were announced.

And did we mention that plans for Salt Lake Temple renovation were revealed. You can watch a video about the proposed changes below. The temple will be closed for 4 years while work is undertaken and in 2024 it will reopen for a public open house before rededication.

May

May brought us a change to the mandatory year long wait period between civil marriage and temple sealing. The first presidency issued the following statement.

“Where possible, leaders should encourage couples to be both married and sealed in the temple. Where a licensed marriage is not permitted in the temple, or when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded, a civil ceremony followed by a temple sealing is authorized.We anticipate this change will provide more opportunities for families to come together in love and unity during the special time of marriage and sealing of a man and woman.”

To help out in the transition out of a mission, all returned missionaries are now eligible and will be accepted into BYU Pathway Connect. If you are unfamiliar with Pathway, it’s a very affordable way to get a quality college education for all ages.

June

For those who have read Saints volume 1, the much anticipated first chapter of Saints volume 2 was released. Saints volume 2 follows the Saints during their exile from Nauvoo following the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The entire volume will be published digitally and in print in February 2020.

July

At the NAACP’s 109th annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, President Nelson spoke about unity, saying the following:

“I pray that we may increasingly call each other dear friends. May we go forward doing our best to exemplify the two great commandments — to love God and love each of His children. Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can. This world will never be the same.”

August

EFY, more like EF Bye Bye Bye. Okay, enough with the bad puns. In an effort to align the Church’s youth program globally, EFY as we know it, is being discontinued. In it’s place, all stakes will participate in regional For The Strength of Youth Conferences.

In August we said goodbye to the old BSA Youth Protection training, and hello to new child protection training requirements for any member involved with youth.

September

It may not have been big news, but a New Era article taught and clarified some parts about Word of Wisdom.

Over in the deserts of Utah, the Book of Mormon stories are being played out in real life. In September we got our first look at the new Book of Mormon video series.

October

Before General Conference even began, leaders received a letter detailing changes in baptismal and sealing witnesses. The changes allow any baptized member to witness for live baptisms, and anyone with a recommend to witness proxy work. This is probably one of my favorite adjustments, as my wife and I were able to sit as the witness couple as each of our grandparents were sealed to their respective families. I’ve also witnessed the youth finding greater joy in serving in the temple as witnesses.

General Conference Changes

October General Conference seemed to be chock full of changes for us to digest. First off, Young Men’s presidencies were being retired, with the refocus of Aaronic Priesthood leadership back on the Presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood, i.e, the Bishopric. Next came the changes to young women classes and the young women’s theme. We can truly call them the Once I was a Beehive’s now. Okay, lame joke. But what do you expect from me.

Women’s session also brought the announcement of more temples. President Nelson rounded everything out with reminding us about the importance of temple worship and then announced changes to the temple recommend questions. Mixed into all that was the change from auxiliaries to organizations, a slipped in reference to Young Men/Young Women curriculum aligning with Come Follow Me. Whew! I know I probably missed something.

November

Leading off November was the letter announcing that Sacrament attendance would be counted and recorded weekly. So long Reporting Month!

In the much waited for Face to Face, we learned the new Aaronic Priesthood theme, and found out about the emblems youth would receive as they advanced through the youth program. Along with the announcement of the new AP theme, came the announcement of the Gospel Living app which is meant to help youth, and better facilitate communication between them. The new app will debut in the new year.

December

That reference to Young Men/Young Women curriculum came to fruition, and is now available online and in the Gospel Library App. These lessons tie in with the doctrines and principles taught in Come Follow Me lessons taught in Sunday School and at Home.

Barring any new announcements at the end of the year, that is your Year in Review. I know I probably missed something. Let us know what your favorite thing that happened this year was.