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In case you missed it: Temples returning to normal, new general conference guidelines, plus 7 other stories

During the week of March 13-19, the First Presidency announced temples would gradually return to normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions. More details were released about parking, masks and attendance at April 2022 general conference.

President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at the funeral for Sister Donna Edith Smith Packer, wife of the late President Boyd K. Packer. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for the sesquicentennial celebration of Latter-day Saint cadets and the dedication of a new chapel near the academy.

The Relief Society celebrated its 180th anniversary. The Church News released a new video, titled “The Power of Association,” highlighting the relationships Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has with many faith leaders. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared how "Latter-day Saint commitment to religious liberty is rooted in our core religious doctrine."

The Church donated $4 million dollars to help refugees in Europe, and Church members in Eastern Europe are supplying food, shelter and more to refugees leaving Ukraine. BYU's Jerusalem Center will reopen in April after being closed for two years.Find summaries to these stories below.

1. First Presidency announces temples to ‘gradually return’ to normal operations

President Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits with his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor (left), and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor (right), at a press conference in Salt Lake City Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“We are eager to return the temples to full operation as soon as possible,” President Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring wrote in a March 15 letter. “Now that more people are immunized, we are pleased to announce that temples throughout the world will gradually return to more normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions.” 

Find out how the changes will be made

2. What to expect for parking, masks and attendance at April 2022 general conference

Audience members in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City listen to Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speak during the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 3, 2021. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

With construction on and around Temple Square limiting parking and accessibility, those attending general conference April 2-3 in the Conference Center are encouraged to use public transportation.

Currently, wearing face masks will be optional for those attending general conference in the Conference Center, according to the notice.

Learn more about the capacity per session

3. President Nelson remembers Sister Donna Packer as a ‘mother, sister, saint and daughter of the living God’

Elder Allan F. Packer — the oldest son of the late President Boyd K. Packer, who served as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Sister Donna Edith Smith Packer — talks with President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, after funeral services for his mother in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, on Monday, March 14, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Bearing testimony of the temple’s sealing power and of eternal life, President Nelson assured the family of Sister Packer that they would be with their mother and grandmother again some day.

“Thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and thanks to Donna’s exemplary life as a devout covenant-keeper, her future is glorious,” President Nelson said.

See more of his tribute to Sister Packer at her funeral

4. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland visits West Point, dedicating a new chapel and addressing those who protect freedom

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an emotional talk with Cadet Brody Low at the United States Military Academy at West Point in West Point, N.Y., on Friday, March 18, 2022. Holland meet with Latter-day Saint West Point cadets in the Cadet Mess Hall of Washington Hall. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Speaking during a commemoration event marking Latter-day Saints at the United States Military Academy, Elder Holland looked back on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the academy and forward to the continued contributions Church members will make as officers in the United States Army. The world needs resilient leaders who can handle “dissonance, surprise, disappointment and fear,” he said.

His remarks during the sesquicentennial celebration of Latter-day Saint cadets were the capstone of a busy day for the senior Church leader at West Point — including lunch in the cadet mess hall and the dedication of the new chapel near the academy.

Find out what Elder Holland told cadets and who was the first Latter-day Saint cadet

5. Relief Society celebrates 180 years

The Relief Society general presidency shares a message of love and gratitude on the organization's 180th anniversary. | Screenshot from Facebook

When the Relief Society was organized on March 17, 1842, the 20 women gathered upstairs in the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo had two missions — to relieve suffering and to save souls. 

“It’s exactly the same purpose that the Relief Society has today,” Relief Society President Jean B. Bingham said. And women today help each other in many of the same ways.

Read more from President Bingham’s visit to Nauvoo, hear her interview on the Church News podcast, and see what was said on social media for the anniversary

6. Video: Elder Cook, religious leaders model ‘The Power of Association’

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, laughs with Archbishop of New York Michael Dolan while meeting together in New York City on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Elder Paul V. Johnson, right, of the Presidency of the Seventy attends. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Visiting New York City on March 3 and 4, Elder Quentin L. Cook met with religious leaders in the city, talking about the importance of religious freedom and continuing relationships with his friends of many faiths.

“Some people think that those who are religious don’t have any fun,” he said.

Watch the video here

7. Elder Gong shares how religious liberty is seen in the Church’s doctrine, history and global experience

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the Church History Symposium at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 11, 2022. | Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

Commitment to religious liberty is deeply rooted in the doctrine, history and global experience of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Elder Gong during the concluding keynote address of the 2022 Church History Symposium

Learn about his three main conclusions

8. What the Church is doing to help in Eastern Europe

Refugees wrapped in blankets at the Moldova-Ukraine border
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Moldova supply refugees with blankets at the Ukrainian border in this picture from March 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church members in several European countries are helping refugees from Ukraine by making monetary donations and providing shelter, food, supplies and other necessities. Many are opening their own homes. Others are providing support online.

Explore the list of ways the Church and members are helping

9. BYU’s Jerusalem Center to reopen in April following 2-year, pandemic-forced closure

Cassidy Heaton and Chelsea Neubert, students at the BYU Jerusalem Center, look over the view of the Old City in Jerusalem on Friday, April 13, 2018. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Following a two-year, pandemic-forced closure, the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies will soon be open again for students eager to experience the Holy Land’s unique educational and spiritual opportunities.

“We’ve announced that we are reopening our student program at the end of April for the spring/summer terms,” James Kearl, a BYU economics professor and Assistant to the University President for the Jerusalem Center, told the Church News.

See how many students will be able to attend at a time

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