Elder Gary E. Stevenson: ‘A Good Foundation Against the Time to Come’

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Notable quotes:

“How could this extensive renewal of the Salt Lake Temple inspire us to undergo our own spiritual — renewal, reconstruction, rebirth, revitalization or restoration?”
“I don’t think we can overstate the importance of such a firm foundation in our personal lives.”
“During these coming years, may we allow these improvements made to the Salt Lake Temple to move and inspire us, as individuals and families, so that we too — metaphorically — will ‘be built in a manner that will endure the millennium.’ ”

Summary points:

  • The seismic upgrade for the Salt Lake Temple is considered the most state-of-the-art engineering for earthquake protection. 
  • This four-year renovation period can be used as a time for spiritual renewal, reconstruction or restoration. 
  • As Latter-day Saints lay up “a good foundation against the time to come,” they can be strong against the many tumults of life. (1 Timothy 6:19)

Talk summary: 

A rendering of the Salt Lake Temple's base isolation system.
A rendering of the Salt Lake Temple’s base isolation system. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

President Brigham Young said of the Salt Lake Temple, “I want to see [the] temple built in a manner that it will endure through the millennium. This is not the only temple we shall build; there will be hundreds of them built and dedicated to the Lord.”

Like Brigham Young, prophets today look over the Salt Lake Temple and all others with great care. The Salt Lake Temple is currently undergoing a four-year renovation, including a seismic upgrade for earthquake protection to ensure a solid foundation. 

Latter-day Saints might ask themselves, “How could this extensive renewal of the Salt Lake Temple inspire us to undergo our own spiritual — renewal, reconstruction, rebirth, revitalization, or restoration?” 

The best defense against wrestling with questions or doubt, facing adversity or working through personal offenses with Church members or policy lie in one’s spiritual foundation. Principles of gospel living and the first four temple recommend interview questions could serve as “spiritual cornerstones” for reinforcement. 

One example of a Church member who built a strong foundation is a young wife and mother who recently died of cancer. She is often quoted by her social media followers for her famous saying, “God is in the details.”

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Friday night I got on here before my procedure and asked you all to pray for my left lung. Pray that it would inflate. Pray that the procedure would go well. The procedure (bronchoscopy) went smoothly and when I was wheeled back to my room I found this man and his wife chatting with Treagan. For those that don’t know, in my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) we have what is called the quorum of the 12 apostles. We do not worship these men but they are held very close to our hearts. This man is one of them. So to see him in my room was very special. While we were visiting with him Dr. LeClaire showed up letting us know he was going to put a new chest tube in right there and then at my bed. We asked him for a little more time and he said we could have five minutes. For the duration of the five minutes Elder Stevenson gave me a blessing. One of the first things he said was “We add the confluence of divine heavenly power, fasting, prayer and faith.” As I heard this, I couldn’t help but think of all of you. All the thousands of your prayers you have said on my behalf. All the faith you have used to help get me through this. I loved how he used the word confluence. Everyone’s faith and prayers were being added together. As the blessing continued he blessed my lungs that they would respond and react to the things that were happening. And they did. We are at this point where the chest tube is out, I’m breathing a bit better every minute and my lung inflated. There really is a good chance I could go home in the next day or two. Thank you for your faith, prayers, positive energy and everything else you have sent to me during all of this. I know God listens and I know that without it I wouldn’t be here. Thank you. I love you all.

A post shared by K I M W H I T E (@kimcankickit) on

“These are the devoted souls who understand the profound meaning of the lyrics, ‘How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord’ [and] ‘who unto the Savior for refuge have fled.’” 

At an early age Primary children are taught of this truth as they sing, “The wise man built his house upon the rock … And the house on the rock stood still.” The Savior taught the people in the Americas to build upon His rock (3 Nephi 18:12-13). 

In the news:

  • Elder Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, were keynote speakers at RootsTech Family Discovery Day in February. They offered ideas to help Latter-day Saints invite the Spirit of Elijah into their homes and fortify their families. 
  • Sharing a brief testimony during the annual Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction on Feb. 27, Elder Stevenson said, “I think we’ve been taught how we can inoculate ourselves in a spiritual way.”
  • Elder Stevenson addressed the topic “All are alike unto God” while speaking at the 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon in Salt Lake City on Jan. 20. 
  • In December 2019, Elder Stevenson and President M. Russell Ballard shared words of comfort from the First Presidency during the funeral for James D. Hansen Sr., who died in a plane crash while enroute to Idaho Falls. Eight other members of the family died. 
  • While on assignment to the eastern United States in November 2019, Elder Stevenson and President Henry B. Eyring presented Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland with his personal family history. 

About the speaker:

  • Elder Stevenson was sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Oct. 3, 2015.
  • As a young man, Elder Stevenson served in the Japan Fukuoka Mission; he was president of the Japan Nagoya Mission, 2004-2007. 
  • He and Lesa Jean Higley married in 1979. They have four sons.

Recently on Social:

  • Elder Stevenson shared about his experience accompanying President Eyring to the eastern United States in November and showing Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland the JustServe app. 

I had the great honor of accompanying President Henry B. Eyring on a visit to the eastern United States this weekend. We…

Posted by Gary E. Stevenson on Sunday, November 17, 2019
  • On Twitter, Elder Stevenson posted a picture and video of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon in January. He spoke during the event about the second great commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • “How do you use your phone for good?” Elder Stevenson asked on Instagram and shared a video of youth around the world using technology in positive ways. He shared this video during RootsTech Family Discovery Day.
  • Elder Steven posted about an unforgettable moment at the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center with his 4-year-old grandson Liam, whose mother is of Italian descent. He also shared this experience during RootsTech Family Discovery Day. 

As Lesa and I have prepared our remarks for RootsTech this coming Saturday morning, I was reminded of an unforgettable…

Posted by Gary E. Stevenson on Thursday, February 27, 2020