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2002 year in review

Dedication of the reconstructed temple in Nauvoo, Ill., in June crowned the Church's triumphal re-emerging presence in its former headquarters city where it was oppressed and from which it was driven in the 1840s. The shining new edifice overlooking the Mississippi River was a tangible indication of the ongoing fulfillment of the prophesied destiny of the Church in the latter days. (See Doctrine and Covenants 5:14; 105:31; 109:73.)

As Salt Lake City welcomed the world in February for the 2002 Winter Olympics thousands of visitors to the city and hundreds of millions of watchers worldwide were exposed to Latter-day Saint history, doctrine and culture. Remaining true to a pledge not to engage in proselytizing during the Games, the Church and its members joined with other Utah residents in being gracious and helpful hosts.

These and other Church-related events from 2002 are summarized below.

January 2002

Jan. 19: In response to expected growth at BYU-Idaho, its board of trustees authorized the design phase of five building or remodeling projects.

Jan. 19: The first meetinghouse in Serbia was dedicated in Belgrade by Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy and Europe East Area president.

February 2002

Feb. 2: The first meetinghouse in India, housing the Rajahmundry Branch, was dedicated by Elder H. Bryan Richards of the Seventy and president of the Asia Area.

Feb. 7: The Church's major theatrical offering for the 2002 Winter Olympics, "Light of the World — A Celebration of Life," opened with a cast of more than 1,000 actors, dancers and singers, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, performing in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on a domed stage that represented the world.

The Opening Ceremonies of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday, Feb
The Opening Ceremonies of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday, February 8, 2002. Photo by Scott G. Winterton | Photo by Scott G. Winterton

Feb. 7: A crowd, estimated between 20,000 to 30,000, jammed the street in front of the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City to witness the Olympic torch arrive on the steps of the building and into the hands of President Hinckley.

Feb. 8: The opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8, with a TV viewing audience of an estimated 3.5 billion people, cast the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and hundreds of Latter-day Saints into the worldwide limelight. It was estimated about 70 percent of the performers in the opening ceremonies — singers, dancers, ice skaters — were members of the Church. The ceremonies were held at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Feb. 8: During his brief visit to Salt Lake City to formally open the 2002 Winter Games, U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, visited President Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, at the Church Administration Building.

Feb. 9: As part of the 2002 Cultural Olympiad that ran concurrently with the Olympic Games, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square performed the first of four concerts in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, sharing the stage with special guests.

Feb. 9: Members of the First Presidency met with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was in Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics.

Feb. 9: Primary General President Coleen K. Menlove participated in a panel discussion in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on helping disadvantaged children. Among other panelists were United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Feb. 11: The president of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, in Salt Lake City to support the Finnish team in the Winter Olympics, met with President Hinckley at a private reception prior to the official Olympic Banquet of Finland in Sandy, Utah. Other heads of state also visited during the Olympics.

Feb. 22: An interview with President Hinckley by NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw was aired during prime time Olympic coverage and showed pictures of the Salt Lake Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Welfare Square, as well as members and missionaries attending Church meetings around the world.

Feb. 23: Ground was broken for the Aba Nigeria Temple by Elder H. Bruce Stucki of the Seventy and Africa West Area president.

Feb. 28: Changes in the missionary program on the stake and ward levels were announced by the First Presidency in a letter to priesthood leaders. The changes placed ward missionary work under the direction of the bishop rather than the stake president. With the changes, the stake mission presidency and secretary were to be released and missionaries serving in a ward would be referred to as ward missionaries.

March 2002

March 3: The 108th operating temple of the Church and the second in Arizona was dedicated at Snowflake by President Hinckley. Eleven thousand members attended the four dedicatory sessions.

March 7: On the day of the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, the First Presidency received the Paralympic torch from Carrie Snoddy of Park City, Utah.

March 9: Seven new missions of the Church and the consolidation of five others — allowing more missionaries to serve in areas where there is a greater need for them — were announced by the First Presidency. The new missions are: Cape Verde Praia, off the coast of western Africa; Nigeria Ibadan; Nigeria Uyo; Colorado Colorado Springs; Washington Kennewick; Arizona Mesa; and Texas Lubbock. The changes were effective July 1.

March 30: President Thomas S. Monson encouraged young women of the Church to seek and stay on the "pathway that leads to perfection" during the annual General Young Women Meeting in the Conference Center, which was telecast over the Church satellite system. The Young Women general presidency also spoke.

April 2002

April 6: Two additional members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and a new Relief Society general presidency were sustained in general conference. Called as new members of the Seventy were Elder Gerald N. Lund and Elder William R. Walker. The new presidency of the Relief Society includes Bonnie D. Parkin, president; Kathleen H. Hughes, first counselor; and Anne C. Pingree, second counselor.

April 9: The First Presidency announced that two members of the Quorum of the Twelve would be assigned for a year outside the United States, the first time in nearly half a century that such senior leaders have lived and presided in international areas of the Church. On Aug. 15, 2002, Elder Dallin H. Oaks began serving as area president in the Philippines and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as area president in Chile.

April 13: The Milton A. Barlow Center, a newly renovated building in the heart of Washington, D.C., that serves several functions for the Church and BYU, was dedicated by Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and president of BYU.

April 21: The 109th temple in the Church and the third in Texas was dedicated in four sessions by President Hinckley in Lubbock, Texas.

April 27: President Hinckley addressed the 2,497 graduates of BYU-Idaho, the first graduating class since Ricks College became a baccalaureate-granting university in August 2001.

April 28: The Monterrey Mexico Temple, the first temple to be announced for Mexico after the opening of the Mexico City Temple and the 11th to be built in Mexico since then, was dedicated by President Hinckley.

April 29: President Hinckley and Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve met with Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, at his Los Pios residence in Mexico City.

May 2002

May 15: En route to two temple dedications in South America, President Hinckley, accompanied by President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, stopped in Kingston, Jamaica, where he addressed 2,000 people gathered in a fireside at an outdoor amphitheater.

May 16: Ground for a new building on the BYU campus that will bear the name of the sixth president of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith, was broken by President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.

May 16: Presiding Bishop H. David Burton testified before a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C., explaining why the Church is interested in buying Martin's Cove in central Wyoming. On June 17, 2002, a bill, enabling the Church to buy the cove, located on federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, was adopted by the House of Representatives, but by November, the bill appeared dead.

May 17: The fourth temple in Brazil and the 111th in the Church was dedicated in the industrial city of Campinas by President Hinckley.

May 19: The Asuncion Paraguay Temple was dedicated by President Hinckley. With the dedication, every Spanish-speaking country in South America has an operating temple.

May 20: Returning home after dedicating temples in Brazil and Paraguay, President Hinckley stopped off on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where he spoke to 900 people at a member meeting in St. Anns. President Hinckley and President Faust met with Patrick Manning, prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago.

May 22: The first missionary training center in Africa opened its doors May 22 in Tema, Ghana, to 54 missionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Uganda and Togo.

June 2002

On June 27, the 158th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, President Hinckley dedicated the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Thirteen dedicatory sessions, which continued through June 30, were held, with the first session beginning at the same hour of the day that Joseph and Hyrum were martyred in the nearby Carthage Jail.

The Nauvoo Temple at sunset on Monday April 29, 2002.
The Nauvoo Temple at sunset on Monday April 29, 2002. | Photo by Scott G. Winterton

It was the first time that a temple dedication, translated into 36 languages, was broadcast by satellite outside of North America. Some 2.3 million members viewed proceedings at 3,025 sites in 72 countries.

June: Two fires in eastern Arizona that merged to become Arizona's worst wildfire in history burned nearly a half million acres and threatened the small towns in its path — most founded in the late 1800s by Mormon pioneers. The fire destroyed 467 homes, including 37 full-time residences and summer homes belonging to Latter-day Saints. It also forced the evacuation of 35,000 people, including 14,000 members of the Church. The Church responded with humanitarian aid.

June 9: The first branch of the Church in the Republic of Georgia was formed in the capital city of Tbilisi by Elder Robert F. Orton of the Seventy, second counselor in the Europe East Area.

June 10: Upon her arrival in Salt Lake City to attend a national conference of community service and volunteer leaders, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush was presented a package containing Church literacy materials by Relief Society General President Bonnie D. Parkin.

June 12: President Hinckley spoke on volunteer service in the Church as he addressed 2,000 people at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. It was the third time that he had been invited to speak at the gathering.

June 22: The First Presidency announced that Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf had been called to the Presidency of the Seventy, effective Aug. 15, 2002, succeeding Elder Ben B. Banks.

June 22: Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was presented a framed copy of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" and a copy of "The Mission" by public affairs officers of the Cape Town South Africa Stake.

June 25-29: Open house of three new or restored historic sites in Kirtland, Ohio, was held. The sites — a new visitors center, the rebuilt John Johnson Inn and the restored Newel K. Whitney home — were completed earlier in the month.

The Nauvoo LDS Temple June  2002. Allred/photo (Submission date: 07/03/2002)
The Nauvoo LDS Temple June 2002. Allred/photo (Submission date: 07/03/2002) | Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred

June 27: President Hinckley and W. Grant McMurray, president of the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), participated in services honoring Joseph and Hyrum Smith at the Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo, Ill.

June 28: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir presented a benefit concert in Quincy, Ill., in remembrance of the kind reception and refuge Latter-day Saints found in 1839 in the city of Quincy as they were driven from their homes in Missouri and threatened with extermination.

July 2002

July 1: President Hinckley dedicated a new visitors center at the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, N.Y., on July 5. Included in the new center were exhibits of the Restoration and a 100-seat theater where a new film about the Restoration will be shown. The film is expected to be completed by January 2003.

July 21: The Church's Pioneer Day Commemoration, held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, featured an address by President Hinckley and a concert, rich in pioneer hymns and other musical numbers, by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.

August 2002

Aug. 7: The First Presidency announced that a temple, similar in concept to the Hong Kong China Temple, would be constructed in Manhattan in New York City in an existing six-story building owned by the Church across the street from Lincoln Center at 65th Street. The 20,000-square-foot Manhattan temple will occupy the top floors of the building. Completion of the temple is scheduled for February 2004.

Aug. 16: The Church purchased land between the Isaac Hale home site, in an area once known as Harmony, Pa., and the Susquehanna River, where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist in 1829. The Hale home was where Joseph and Emma Smith lived while the Prophet translated much of the Book of Mormon.

Aug. 23: The First Presidency announced in letters to local priesthood leaders two new temples, to be built in Curitiba, Brazil and Panama City, Panama.

Aug. 24: The Church's Humanitarian Service donated $635,000 to assist in the clean-up efforts caused by the worst flooding in a century of record keeping in central Europe. The funds were used in nine cities: Steyr and Krems, Austria; Passau, Regensburg, Eilenburg, Dessau, Magdeburg and Dresden, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic.

September 2002

Sept. 5: The prime minister of Australia, John Howard, launched his "Tough on Drugs" campaign at a meeting held in the cultural hall of the Ipswich Australia Stake center and attended by an estimated 600 Church, political, business and community leaders. This was the first time an Australian prime minister had visited a Church building in this country.

Sept. 7: The Freiberg Germany Temple, originally dedicated in 1985, was rededicated by President Hinckley in one session. The temple had undergone extensive remodeling that resulted in nearly doubling the size of the temple.

Sept. 8: The Hague Netherlands Temple, which serves the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of France, was dedicated in four sessions by President Hinckley. The temple is the 114th temple in the Church.

Sept 9-10: After dedicating temples in the Netherlands and Germany, President Hinckley traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, on Sept. 9 and to Moscow, Russia, on Sept. 10 — the first Church president to visit these former republics of what was once the Soviet Union. While in those cities, he met with government dignitaries.

Sept. 11: President Hinckley traveled to Reykjavik, Iceland, where he spoke to about 220 people gathered for a fireside at the Church meetinghouse. Earlier in the day, he met with the president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. It was President Hinckley's first trip to Iceland and the first time a Church president visited the Nordic island-nation.

Sept. 11: President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust addressed two separate memorial services in Salt Lake City to honor the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sept. 16: Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and Commissioner of Church Education presided over groundbreaking ceremonies for the Student-Athlete Center and Indoor Practice Facility at BYU. The two buildings are expected to be completed by fall of 2003.

Sept. 17: The president of the Republic of Ghana, John A. Kufuor, met with the First Presidency in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City and expressed appreciation for the Church's humanitarian and religious contributions to his country.

Sept. 17: A new comprehensive study of religion in the United States conducted by the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville, Tenn., a Catholic research and social service organization, shows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the fastest-growing faith in the nation during the 1990s, it was announced.

Sept. 22-23: Some 800 LDS families were forced from their homes in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as Hurricane Isidore, with winds in excess of 125 mph, thrashed the southeast Mexico peninsula and caused extensive damage.

Sept. 28: President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, told the women of the Church at the annual Relief Society General Meeting that their "influence can be marvelously far reaching."

October 2002

Oct. 5-6: Changes in Church policy regarding temple recommends, missionary service and worthiness were announced in semiannual general conference Oct. 5-6, which was broadcast in 58 languages to most of the world.

Temple recommends will remain valid for two years instead of one. Missionary farewells, homecomings and open houses will be discontinued. Also standards for missionary worthiness will be raised. President Hinckley emphasized family home evenings and asked outside organizations to respect Monday evenings.

Also at the conference:

Elder Ben B. Banks was named an emeritus General Authority and released from the Presidency of the Seventy.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was sustained to the Presidency of the Seventy.

Sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy were Elder Craig C. Christensen, Elder James M. Dunn, Elder D. Rex Gerratt, Elder Daryl H. Garn and Elder Spencer V. Jones.

Five members of Second Quorum of the Seventy were released: Elder Richard D. Allred, Elder Athos M. Amorim, Elder L. Edward Brown, Elder Earl M. Monson and Elder Jerald L. Taylor.

A new Young Women general presidency was sustained: Susan W. Tanner, president; Julie B. Beck, first counselor; and Elaine S. Dalton, second counselor.

Released after five years of service as the Young Women presidency were Margaret D. Nadauld, Carol B. Thomas and Sharon G. Larsen.

Elder Richard J. Maynes was released as second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency. Called to replace him was Elder Val R. Christensen.

Twenty-one Area Authority Seventies were released.

Oct. 9: The United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district court ruling in a lawsuit pertaining to the Church's new plaza between Temple Square and the Church Office Building block in downtown Salt Lake City. The decision had the effect of nullifying public behavioral regulations on an easement portion of the plaza.

Oct. 22: A recently completed 54,000-square-foot building at BYU-Idaho, to be used for Sunday services for 12 wards, as well as for weekday religion classes and other classes and activities, was named after President Gordon B. Hinckley and was dedicated by the Church president.

Oct. 23: Three important census databases were placed on the Church's FamilySearch Internet site: the 1880 U.S. Census, the 1881 Canadian Census and the 1881 British Census. An announcement of the database additions was made simultaneously in 27 U.S. and Canadian cities by President Hinckley.

Oct. 25: President Hinckley joined U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney and educational leaders in dedicating a $140 million academic business building named in honor of Elder Jon M. Huntsman, Area Authority Seventy. The eight-story building is on the campus of the University of Pensnsylvania.

November 2002

Nov. 5: Mitt Romney, a Church member who distinguished himself as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in February, won a close race for governor of Massachusetts. In elections accross the United States, one Latter-day Saint was re-elected to the U.S. senate and 10 were elected or re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Nov. 9: The International Genealogical Index, a massive database of more than 750 million names, was updated with additional information on the Church's FamilySearch Internet site. It now shows all events, such as births, christenings, deaths and burials as submitted by members of the Church.

Nov. 14: The new plaza connecting Temple Square with Church headquarters should remain "a place of peace — an oasis in the midst of this bustling city," President Hinckley wrote in a letter to Salt Lake area residents. It was a cover letter for an information packet with respect to local controversy regarding the plaza's future. (See item above for Oct. 9.)

Nov. 17: President Hinckley re-dedicated the expanded Monticello Utah Temple. Originally dedicated July 26-27, 1998, the temple was the first of a new generation of smaller-size edifices.

December 2002

Dec. 13-14: Walter Cronkite, a renowned jounalist and longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News, was the special guest at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concerts.

Dec. 15: President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed a gathering of missionaries in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

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