President Nelson: ‘a hinge point in the history of the Church’

During a historic interview in Rome — the ancient and great city where two millennia ago Peter and Paul preached and died — President Russell M. Nelson called the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple “a hinge point in the history of the Church.”

“Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace,” said President Nelson. “The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”

President Nelson’s words followed a historic weekend March 9–12 in which the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the Rome Italy Templeaddressed youth in the temple district, and met with Pope Francis — becoming the first prophet to have a formal audience with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet attendees after a youth devotional in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet attendees after a youth devotional in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

He was also joined by every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, one of the most influential cities in the history of Christianity. The Church leaders stood together on March 11 in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center for iconic photographs — symbols of their unified testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

After the photographs, President Nelson looked forward with characteristic energy and optimism. The many historic firsts of the weekend were “only the beginning,” he said.

Since becoming president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson has logged well over 115,000 miles to six continents, 32 nations and territories and 49 cities. He has met with members in large and small settings — often addressing them in their own language — and with world leaders. He has also reached out to victims of crime, comforted those grieving and acknowledged dozens of children.

In addition, he has announced policy changes for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under his direction, senior Church leaders have dedicated or rededicated 13 temples, held 11 groundbreaking ceremonies,  identified 11 future temple sites and announced plans to build 16 new temples. And the Church has made changes for missionaries, including a new handbook and a policy allowing missionaries to call home weekly. Latter-day Saints leaders also set in motion humanitarian efforts — including large and small examples of “generous hearts” and “helping hands” in the year 2019.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, talk with 86-year-old Tumini as he meets with multigenerational families in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, talk with 86-year-old Tumini as he meets with multigenerational families in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

During a press interview in Brasilia, Brazil, on Aug. 30 — just before President Nelson’s 95th birthday — Sister Wendy Nelson said the older her husband gets the more he is “enchanted with the future.”

“There is an urgency,” she said. “Yes, there’s an urgency.”

“There are exciting things ahead,” said President Nelson. “This work is moving forward at an accelerated pace. I can hardly wait to bounce out of bed each morning and see what the day will bring.”

President Nelson reflected again on the future of the Church on Nov. 21 in Jakarta, Indonesia, after speaking to a capacity crowd of 1,765 and experiencing “one of those moments that you never forget.”

“You can’t put words to it very well, but it is the Lord telling you that this is His work and He is directing it and we get to participate,” said President Nelson.

Here’s a look at the year 2019 in review: