Week in review: First podcast episode, 2 Apostles speak in devotionals and 6 more stories

During the week of Oct. 19-25, the Church News published its first podcast episode; two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a general officer spoke to students of Church-owned colleges; and translated portions of the General Handbook were released.

The Church News also published articles about a project to restore abandoned Black cemeteries in Houston; a BYU study about teens during COVID-19; the 21 temple groundbreakings that will occur in 2020; and a look at why the Church is politically neutral and socially engaged.

Here are summaries and links to those articles below:

1. Sarah Jane Weaver interviews President Ballard

President M. Russell Ballard joins Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver on Episode 1 of the Church News podcast.
President M. Russell Ballard joins Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver on Episode 1 of the Church News podcast. Credit: Church News

The first episode of the Church News podcast was released on Tuesday, Oct. 20. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, discussed his 35 years serving as an Apostle.

“Simplicity is powerful,” he said during the interview. “Complexity is dangerous. I think Lucifer is the master of complexity and the Lord is the master of simplicity. The gospel is simple and it is simply beautiful.”

Listen here to learn more about President Ballard’s 35 years as an Apostle

2. Elder Rasband speaks at BYU–Hawaii

Elder Ronald A. Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot

Since being called as an Apostle five years ago, Elder Ronald A. Rasband has compiled over 200 names and titles of Jesus Christ. During a BYU–Hawaii devotional on Tuesday, Oct. 20, he told students studying the names of Christ is not reserved for Apostles.

“I encourage you to know Him not only through His teachings, His miracles and His parables, but to know Him by His many names.”

Read more: What Elder Rasband learned from studying the names of Christ

3. Elder Gong speaks at BYU–Idaho

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offers three suggestions during a broadcast to BYU-Idaho students for the weekly campus devotional on Oct. 20, 2020.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offers three suggestions during a broadcast to BYU-Idaho students for the weekly campus devotional on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot from BYU-Idaho devotional

In his first assignment since recovering from COVID-19, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared five student leadership and learning principles during a BYU-Idaho campus devotional on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

“Please remember there are no limits to what faith can bring,” Elder Gong said, “and hence, no limits to how fast or how deep or how many students can ultimately be blessed, on and off a physical campus.”

Read more: Elder Gong explains what ‘Les Miserables’ and HALO parachuting have to do with sharing the gospel

4. Sister Craig speaks to BYU-Pathway Worldwide students

Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, records a devotional for BYU-Pathway Worldwide on the grounds of Temple Square. The devotional was broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020.
Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, records a devotional for BYU-Pathway Worldwide on the grounds of Temple Square. The devotional was broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot from BYU-Pathway

Flanked by fences, cranes and other construction equipment, Sister Michelle Craig of the Young Women general presidency recorded a devotional address to students of BYU-Pathway Worldwide from the grounds of Temple Square.

The Salt Lake Temple renovation process can be time consuming, expensive and messy. “Do you ever feel like your life is a bit like this?” Sister Craig asked in her remarks broadcast to students on Tuesday, Oct. 20. “You want to be the very best possible version of yourself and that renovation process can be messy as well.”

Read more: 5 lessons Sister Craig learned from the Salt Lake Temple renovation

5. Translated portions of General Handbook released

The Church released translated portions of the General Handbook in 22 languages on Oct. 21, 2020.
The Church released translated portions of the General Handbook in 22 languages on Oct. 21, 2020. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Two portions of the new “General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” previously published in English are now available in 22 languages in the Gospel Library app and online: Chapter 32 (Repentance and Church Membership Councils) and several parts of section 38.6 (Policies on Moral Issues).

Both portions were published in English in the handbook’s initial release in February

See the list of 22 languages and learn more about the ongoing handbook updates

6. Restoring abandoned Black cemeteries

MacGregor Ward Bishop Victor Migenes, left, and Elder Nicholas, right, a Church service missionary, repair a grave plot at Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery in Houston, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.
MacGregor Ward Bishop Victor Migenes, left, and Elder Nicholas, right, a Church service missionary, repair a grave plot at Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery in Houston, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Credit: Cristo Woodworth

Several young service missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with their families and leaders, participated in an ongoing service project at a Houston cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 17. 

The project is more than pruning and trimming trees, leveling sunken ground and restoring broken headstones at the Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery. It’s about preserving lost history by identifying those buried there and building their family history.

Read more: What a Houston community is doing to restore abandoned Black cemeteries — and how Latter-day Saints are helping

7. BYU study finds teens faring well during COVID-19

A family in South Africa plays a game together.
A family in South Africa plays a game together. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

A common (and evidently false) narrative is that today’s teens are fragile and ill-equipped to deal with tough times. The research tells a different story.

“We found that teens fared relatively well during quarantine,” noted the authors of the BYU study “Teens in Quarantine: Mental Health, Screen Time and Family Connection.” “Depression and loneliness were actually lower among teens in 2020 than in 2018, and unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life were only slightly higher.”

Read more: How family support — and a good night’s sleep — are helping teens navigate pandemic

8. 21 temple groundbreakings in 2020

Rendering of the Richmond Virginia Temple.
Rendering of the Richmond Virginia Temple. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In April 2020 general conference, the projection was made that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would break ground for and begin construction on 18 new temples by the end of the year. In the recent October 2020 general conference, that number was increased to 20.

However, if all goes as scheduled, the actual total of temples getting started in 2020 will be 21. That’s the Church’s second-highest total of temple groundbreakings in a single year, topped only by the 32 done in 1999 as part of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s late 20th-century push to have 100 temples by the end of the year 2000.

See the list of 21 temples that had — or will have — groundbreakings in 2020

9. The Church’s political neutrality

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Church Administration Building is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church Administration Building is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Prior to nearly every big election in the United States, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issues a letter reaffirming its political neutrality as an institution. 

In each letter, the First Presidency clarifies that the Church takes no sides or stances in support of or against political parties and candidates and encourages individual members of the Church to participate and engage in the political process.

Read more: Why the Church is both politically neutral and socially engaged