In case you missed it: First Presidency mask letter, Tabernacle Choir future, plus 7 more stories

During the week of Feb. 13-19, the First Presidency sent a letter asking local leaders to determine necessary precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic. President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared a message about increasing “lovingkindness.” And at a CES devotional, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of four ways to express love for God.

A Friend to Friend broadcast taught about baptism, the Holy Ghost and the sacrament by ‘exploring’ the covenant path. The Relief Society general presidency issued an invitation to participate in service over the next month before the anniversary of the organization. Leadership of The Tabernacle Choir and Temple Square organization outlined four “high-level objectives” in a meeting that also discussed an oft-postponed tour.

Managers of the Salt Lake Temple renovation project joined this week’s episode of the Church News podcast to describe the work so far, some unexpected discoveries and what still has to be done. The Alabama meetinghouse shooting victim Michael Fauber shared his perspective on the incident, his injuries, his mission and his increased testimony. And tributes poured in for Latter-day Saint aviator, Col. Gail S. Halvorsen — the “Candy Bomber” — who died this week at the age of 101.

Read summaries and find links to these nine articles below.

1. First Presidency says local leaders will determine mask policies

A family receives the sacrament tray while holding their face masks. Many units will be returning to weekly Sabbath-day worship services at meetinghouses if conditions allow. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As governments begin to modify the requirements for travel, masks and other protective measures as part of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked local leaders to determine necessary precautions.

“We are grateful that the Lord has heard the prayers of so many and provided the direction that has allowed us to navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic, which, in some areas of the world, continues,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, in a letter sent to Church leaders worldwide on Feb. 18.

More on the local focus, and what the letter said about temples

2. President Nelson asks for an increase in ‘lovingkindness’

President Russell M. Nelson, seen here with his late wife, Sister Dantzel Nelson, served in the military during the Korean Conflict. Dantzel Nelson unexpectedly died on Feb. 12, 2005. | Saints at War Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU

Noting the mixed emotions that can come as Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world on Feb. 14, President Russell M. Nelson shared his hopes for an increase in “lovingkindness” regardless of relationship status.

In posts on his social media accounts, President Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he knows both the “tender feelings that bind hearts together in love and affection” and the opposite when he felt the holiday was “absolutely painful” following the passing of his late wife, Dantzel.

See President Nelson's message

3. Elder Rasband shares 4 ways you can express your love for God

Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Melanie Rasband greet the audience in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, on Feb. 13, 2022. | Katelyn Brown, BYU–Idaho

Speaking Sunday night, Feb. 13, in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, to the largest group of people he’d stood before since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Elder Rasband centered his CES devotional remarks on Joshua’s final counsel to the Israelites: “Take diligent heed … to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).

Joshua’s final counsel provides four ways each person can express love for God.

Read the full list and see what else Elder Rasband quoted from Joshua about service

4. Friend to Friend broadcast for children

Anthony Parker, 11, left, and Alice Cartwright, 7, host the recording the English broadcast of the Friend to Friend in the Motion Pictures Studio in Provo, Utah, on Dec. 14, 2021. The Friend to Friend will be available in English, Spanish and Portuguese on Feb. 19, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In a 25-minute broadcast aired on Feb. 19, the Primary general presidency — President Camille N. JohnsonSister Susan H. Porter and Sister Amy A. Wright — joined the hosts and explorer to help children learn more about baptism, the Holy Ghost and the sacrament. 

The second Face to Face-style event of its kind, the Friend to Friend originated in English, Spanish and Portuguese and included interactive activities, videos and songs focused on the covenant path. 

Watch the full broadcast

5. Relief Society prepares for 180th anniversary with an invitation

The Relief Society presidency, from left to right, are Sister Sharon Eubank, President Jean B. Bingham and Sister Reyna I. Aburto. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

On March 17, 2022, the Relief Society will celebrate its 180th anniversary. This week, the Relief Society general presidency issued an invitation for women to prepare for that milestone by serving in their communities

“What better way to honor its mission of extending the pure love of Jesus Christ into the world than by joining a service project in your community?” said the social media post.

Learn how to find a service project near you

6. Tabernacle Choir cancels tour, announces 4 objectives

Tabernacle Choir presidency members inside the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square President Mike Leavitt, center, with first counselor President L. Whitney Clayton, left, and second counselor President Gary B. Porter. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In a virtual gathering Thursday, Feb. 17, with members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square organization, choir President Mike Leavitt identified four new “high-level objectives” for the famed organization — while also announcing the cancellation of the oft-postponed international 2022 Heritage Tour.

The four objectives, according to a choir release, “will set a bold and historic direction” for the Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.

More details on the objectives and why the 2022 Heritage Tour was canceled

7. Managers of the Salt Lake Temple renovation project on the Church News podcast

The area where the second large concrete pour was completed as part of the Temple Square renovation project, in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

From its granite foundation to its heavenly spires, the Salt Lake Temple is a landmark and symbol for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Originally dedicated in 1893, the Salt Lake Temple closed for extensive renovations just over two years ago.

Brent Roberts, managing director of the Church’s Special Projects Department, and Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations, joined the Church News podcast to talk about this expansive project.

Listen to the podcast and read more from those overseeing the renovation

8. Released Alabama missionary speaks of his miraculous recovery after meetinghouse shooting

Michael Fauber, right, works on moving his fingers and hand during a physical therapy session in Dayton, Ohio, on Feb. 7, 2022. He has very limited movement in his right hand and arm after being seriously injured in a Dec. 3, 2021, shooting at a Birmingham, Alabama, meetinghouse. | Courtesy of Michael Fauber

Elder Michael Fauber — the full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seriously injured in a Dec. 3, 2021, meetinghouse shooting in Alabama — came away from the incident with remnants of five bullets in his body, limited movement in his right arm and hand, and a strengthened appreciation for and testimony of the gospel.

“It’s definitely a miracle — I guess I’m supposed to keep going,” said the 18-year-old Fauber, recently released from the Alabama Birmingham Mission. “There’s the probability that I could have been instantly paralyzed from the bullet to my spine. I could have bled out with the shot to my liver.”

Read his testimony and perspective

9. Gail S. Halvorsen — the 'Candy Bomber' — passes away

Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, the "Berlin Candy Bomber", poses for a photo in the backyard of his Provo home days before his 100th birthday. Funeral services for Col. Halvorsen were held on Feb. 22, 2022, in Provo, Utah. | Lee Benson, Deseret News

Col. Gail S. Halvorsen — a beloved Latter-day Saint aviator known by legions as “The Berlin Candy Bomber” — died Feb. 16, 2022, at a hospital in Provo, Utah. He was 101.

A fellow Latter-day Saint aviator, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was one of several people remembering Halvorsen as a friend.

See some of the tributes

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