President Nelson became the prophet 2 years ago. What has happened since then?

On Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson was set apart by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Words are inadequate to tell you what it felt like to have my Brethren — Brethren who hold all of the priesthood keys restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation — place their hands upon my head to ordain and set me apart as President of the Church. It was a sacred and humbling experience,” President Nelson said two days later in a telecast from the Salt Lake Temple waiting room — his first public address as President of the Church.

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.
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. Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Church News is taking a brief look back at a few of his milestones two years later.

Global ministries

Days after the April 2018 general conference in which he was sustained as President of the Church by members around the world, President Nelson embarked on a “global ministry tour” with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Patricia Holland. 

“This is a global work,” President Nelson said. “Whenever I’m comfortably situated in my home, I’m in the wrong place. I need to be where the people are. We need to bring them the message of the Savior.”

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during Jerusalem District Conference at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Jerusalem on Saturday, April 14, 2018.
President Russell M. Nelson speaks during Jerusalem District Conference at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Jerusalem on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

During his two years as prophet, President Nelson has visited more than 32 countries and U.S. territories, conducting ministries to South America, the Pacific, Central and South America and Southeast Asia in addition to the eight stops on his international tour in April 2018.

At the end of his October 2018 South America ministry, President Nelson performed his first temple dedication as President of the Church in Concepción, Chile, on Oct. 28.

“We are prophets for the whole world, all of God’s children, not just the members of the Church,” President Nelson said then of his calling to minister to people around the globe.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hugs children after a devotional in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hugs children after a devotional in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

In Southeast Asia, where the Church is small in comparison to many parts of the world, members relished the opportunity to hear from the prophet in person in November 2019. Quang Cao, a Vietnamese member who was baptized seven years ago, said, “His speaking to us is a motivation,” adding that President Nelson brought “important revelation for us to build the Church here, for us to keep trying.”

Sister Nelson, who has accompanied her husband on each of his ministry tours as President of the Church, said of his attitude toward the future, “There is an urgency.”

“I want our members to know that the Restoration is a continuing process,” President Nelson said after a Sept. 1, 2019, meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. “And we have a lot to do before the Lord will come again.”

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Temples

During the closing session of the October 2019 general conference, President Nelson said that “the crowning jewel of the Restoration is the holy temple. Its sacred ordinances and covenants are pivotal to preparing a people who are ready to welcome the Savior at His Second Coming.” 

He then announced a revised list of temple recommend interview questions. “Individual worthiness to enter the Lord’s house requires much individual spiritual preparation,” he said. “But with the Lord’s help, nothing is impossible. In some respects, it is easier to build a temple than it is to build a people prepared for a temple.”

When it comes to temple building, President Nelson is a prophet who has done just that. In the last two years, he has announced 35 temples to be built in coming years — 19 in 2018 and 16 in 2019. Since 2018, eight temples have been dedicated and nine rededicated.

Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors Center in Rome on Monday, March 11, 2019.
Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors Center in Rome on Monday, March 11, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

One of the most notable temple dedications was that of the Rome Italy Temple on March 15, 2019. Each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was in attendance as President Nelson dedicated the sacred edifice.

He described the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple as “a hinge point in the history of the Church. …

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

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General conference

In a general conference address on April 1, 2018, President Nelson announced the retirement of the home and visiting teaching programs in favor of “ministering,” which he called “a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering to others.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center, and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, left, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, enter the Conference Center in Salt Lake City for the morning session of the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center, and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, left, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, enter the Conference Center in Salt Lake City for the morning session of the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News, Deseret News

The shift from home and visiting teaching to ministering allows members more flexibility in determining how to respond to the needs of those to whom they minister. Relief Society and elders quorum ministering efforts are combined, and both young women and young men are encouraged to participate.

Six months later, in general conference on Oct. 6, 2018, President Nelson announced an adjustment to the “balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.” This adjustment included a transition from three hours of Sunday meetings to two hours to allow for a “home-centered Church.”

President Russell M. Nelson, center, waves to the crowd as he enters the Conference Center before the women's session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson, center, waves to the crowd as he enters the Conference Center before the women’s session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Credit: Colter Peterson, Deseret News

With this announcement, Church leaders introduced the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum, which aims to enhance both family and personal religious observance.

“The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith,” President Nelson declared in the final minutes of the October 2018 general conference. “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. … Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.”

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Policy changes

On Sept. 17, 2019, President Nelson stood before thousands of BYU students in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, and thousands more who were tuning in via live broadcast from around the world. To this audience, composed mostly of young adult Latter-day Saints, the prophet spoke on “The Love and Laws of God.”

In this devotional, he addressed the motives behind the 2015 and 2019 policy adjustments regarding LGBT individuals in the Church, stating that the changes “were both motivated by love — the love of our Heavenly Father for His children and the love of the Brethren for those whom we serve.”

President Russell M. Nelson delivers a devotional address at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson delivers a devotional address at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Credit: Jaren Wilkey, BYU photo

On April 4, 2019, during the leadership session of the 189th Annual General Conference, the First Presidency announced that children of parents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptized without First Presidency approval. Additionally, same-gender marriage by a member of the Church will no longer be characterized as apostasy.

“Because we feel the depth of God’s love for His children, we care deeply about every child of God, regardless of age, personal circumstances, gender, sexual orientation, or other unique challenges,” President Nelson said during his BYU devotional address.

Other policy changes during his presidency include removing the 1-year waiting period between a civil ceremony and temple sealing and allowing women, youth and children to serve as witnesses of sealing and baptismal ordinances performed in and out of temples. 

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Videos

From trips crisscrossing the globe to visiting a California town destroyed by fire just after his daughter’s death, President Nelson’s ministry has been captured by Church News cameras. Here are a few highlighted videos featuring the 17th President of the Church.

Video: Sometimes a prophet delivers a sermon. Sometimes he lives one

Video: Sister Wendy Nelson shares her personal witness of President Russell M. Nelson’s prophetic ministry

Video: A look at how President Nelson is ‘building bridges’ with world leaders

Video: ‘Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest,’ says President Nelson on the future of the Church

Video: President Nelson dismissed his interpreter while speaking to Peruvian Latter-day Saints. This is what happened next

Watch more Church News videos here