Church leaders respond to President Nelson’s invitation to #GiveThanks

Elder Quentin L. Cook, right, and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, on their wedding day in 1962. Elder Cook shared this photo in a #GiveThanks Facebook post on Nov. 22, 2020, in honor of their upcoming 58th wedding anniversary. Credit: Quentin L. Cook Facebook
President M. Russell Ballard, middle, with his wife, Sister Barbara Ballard. President Ballard shared this photo in a #GiveThanks Facebook post on Nov. 21, 2020. Credit: M. Russell Ballard Facebook
Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, reads with children. She shared this photo in a #GiveThanks post on social media on Nov. 22, 2020. Credit: Lisa L. Harkness Facebook
Elder Dale G. Renlund with his older brother, Gary. Elder Renlund shared this photo in a #GiveThanks Facebook post on Nov. 20, 2020. Gary was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Credit: Dale G. Renlund Facebook
Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, take a walk in a photo he shared on his Facebook page on Nov. 24, 2020. Credit: Elder Gerrit W. Gong Facebook

President Russell M. Nelson’s message on the healing power of gratitude has reached millions worldwide since it was released on YouTube, Facebook and on Friday, Nov. 20. Hundreds of thousands have acted on his invitation to post on social media using #GiveThanks

The Church launched a new webpage,, which features some of the #GiveThanks posts on social media. The site links to options to sign up for daily #LightTheWorld prompts, meet with missionaries to learn more about prayer and build a relationship with the Savior Walk of Christ email series

Since Friday, President Nelson, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders have posted on social media using #GiveThanks. The following are brief summaries and excerpts from some of their posts:

Nov. 20

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posted about his older brother, Gary, who was diagnosed six months ago with pancreatic cancer. When Elder Renlund recently asked him how he was doing, Gary surprised him by responding that he “can’t wait to thank the Savior in person.”

“I am grateful for my older brother who helps me focus more clearly on my divine Older Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Renlund wrote.

Nov. 21

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, expressed gratitude for his late wife, Sister Barbara Ballard, and their family. Though this holiday season may look different from years past due to limited travel, “I encourage each of you to not take your family for granted — do all you can to maintain strong family relationships.” 

“Families are meant to be eternal,” President Ballard continued. “That has been Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning. How grateful I am to know where my precious wife is and that we will be together again, with our family for all eternity.”

Echoing the theme of his message from the most recent general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed gratitude for those who “courageously proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.”

“At this Thanksgiving holiday, let us be grateful for the spiritual witness we have of Jesus Christ,” Elder Andersen wrote. “As we share the light we have received from Him, His light and His transcendent saving power will shine on those willing to open their hearts.”

Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, wrote that she is grateful for the Savior, Jesus Christ, and the constant reminders she receives of His love for her. These glimpses of His love give her “the strength to face the struggles of life.”

Nov. 22

Sharing the Carl Bloch painting “Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda,” President Nelson wrote, “I #GiveThanks for so many things, beginning with my gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for His mercy and kindness and for His love for each of us.

“I marvel at His matchless power to heal us from sadness, from sorrow, and, yes, from sin. He is the Master Healer. It is one of the many sterling attributes of His incomparable life.”

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away in Arkansas. Elder Bednar was able to attend his funeral virtually.

Elder Bednar wrote, “What a blessing technology can be when used for righteous purposes! If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we can be blessed to recognize lessons learned and unexpected blessings received even in constraining and challenging circumstances.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a wedding photo of him and his wife, Sister Mary Cook. “At the end of this month, my sweetheart, Mary, and I will celebrate our 58th anniversary of being sealed to one another,” he wrote. “My heart is full of gratitude and love and appreciation for my precious wife.”

In a recent Zoom training with Church members in the Philippines, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon observed that they are “bright with the happiness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” despite the many natural disasters and COVID-19 hardships they have experienced.

“As you #GiveThanks this time of year … consider giving thanks for this complicated year of 2020,” she wrote in a social media post. “There is a power that comes from the Savior as we are generous with our gratitude, even in times as trying as these.”

Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, expressed gratitude for the ability to read. “It is the vehicle for divine tutoring, realized through the Holy Ghost, and I #HearHim when I read His word,” she wrote. “Reading helps me ‘see’ things I never imagined.”

Nov. 23

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, wrote of the Savior, “Under the plan of the Father, He created the world. …  He came into mortality to teach and show us the way. He suffered and paid the price for our sins if we would repent. He gave up His life, and He conquered death and rose from the grave that we all will live again. … 

“I testify of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer and Creator. For Him, I give thanks today and always.”

Many years ago, President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, gave a priesthood blessing to “a little baby so small that she could fit in my hand.” 

“But more than giving a blessing, I received the blessing myself of a more grateful heart,” President Eyring wrote. “I felt gratitude for the evidence of the Atonement working in the lives of those anxious parents and in mine. … Giving thanks in prayer can allow us to see the magnitude of these blessings and all of our other blessings and so receive the gift of a more grateful heart.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged those who feel that their prayers “don’t get past the ceiling” to ponder on their blessings and then humbly express gratitude for these blessings to Heavenly Father.

“I have found that there is something about expressing sincere gratitude in prayer that brings the Holy Spirit,” Elder Christofferson wrote.

To have 20/20 vision is to see clearly, wrote Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency. As 2020 comes to a close, “I can’t help but think that we’ve been given an opportunity to see more clearly — all of us. … For me, through the lens of gratitude and joy, I can see the blessings, and I see God still hastening His work.”

Nov. 24

The words of 2 Corinthians 9:6–7 are at the heart of Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s feelings on gratitude: “… let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

“I love this concept of being a ‘cheerful giver,’” the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote. “As we continue this special week of giving thanks, I pray that we have an attitude of cheerfulness to accompany our attitude of gratitude.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed gratitude for health. “I truly feel supported by Him,” Elder Gong wrote, referencing Mosiah 2:21. “For all of us who have faced or continue to face health challenges, I am grateful to know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and gives us hope that we may endure all things.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posted, “Today I would like to express my gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has been my constant help and support through life’s ups and downs. So few things in life can be counted on as constant, but I know through my own experience that He is. I testify that He is there for you, just as He has always been there for me.”

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham posted about gratitude for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the beautiful world They created. “I am immeasurably grateful for my knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, which answers universal questions as well as the knowledge that He answers and loves me uniquely,” she wrote.

“I am humbly grateful for the Savior’s gift of His Atonement, which makes that plan operable and provides opportunities to learn and improve each day.”

Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, shared a list of blessings the COVID-19 pandemic cannot take away — including family (because they are eternal), friends, covenants, testimonies, faith, hope and joy.

“I am learning that by staying focused on what matters most, with the Savior at the core, my list of blessings cannot be limited to one single piece of paper,” Sister Craven wrote.

Nov. 25

Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a personal story to illustrate his gratitude for President Nelson. In 1981 when Elder Holland was serving as president of Brigham Young University and negotiating the building of the BYU-Jerusalem Center, he baptized his youngest son, David, while on a trip to the Holy City. Russell Nelson was also on the trip and took photos of the event. Upon his return, he made copies and sent them to the Hollands and to Elder Holland’s mother. 

“Now, who would think of that? There was Alice Holland, a widow who missed this opportunity with her family. Who would stop to think that she needed pictures of that event? Russell Nelson thought of it and sent her a whole packet of photos,” Elder Holland recalled.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank President Nelson for the gift he has been in my life. I suspect that you — like me — will never forget his influence and love as our beloved prophet. #GiveThanks”

In a second #GiveThanks post, President Nelson described his family as “one of the Lord’s greatest gifts to me.” He has dealt with life’s successes and sorrows — including the death of his wife, Dantzel, and losing two daughters to cancer — “but death cannot divide families sealed in the temple.”

“Thanks to the Lord’s great plan of happiness, we can all face the future with great faith and optimism,” he wrote. “And I #GiveThanks that after Dantzel passed away, the Lord led me to meet Wendy Watson, who became my wife. She fills my life with joy. Faith and family are the source of life’s greatest joy.”

Primary General President Joy D. Jones wrote that she is grateful she can have “implicit trust” in God. “He’s always working to refine and polish our souls. He knows perfectly what He is doing with each of us, and He knows me perfectly. As the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 78:18 says, ‘Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.’ I love having him as the perfect tutor. That brings me happiness and peace.”

Nov. 26

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed gratitude for the influence of the Book of Mormon in his life. “This precious book has provided me with many opportunities to learn more about Jesus Christ,” he wrote.

“I am grateful for the invitation and promise the Lord has offered to each of us, and to everyone who reads the Book of Mormon, that by the power of the Holy Ghost, we may know of its truthfulness. The truths you read in it will strengthen your faith and fill your soul with light.”

Along with a picture of a sunset, Sister Cristina B. Franco wrote that she is grateful for color. “Creating art makes me happy and brings me closer to my Savior. I marvel when I think of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, creating this magnificent world filled with such variety, color, and splendor,” wrote the second counselor in the Primary general presidency.

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