In case you missed it: President Oaks at BYU, Elder Gong at temple groundbreaking, Elder Soares on religious freedom

During the week of Oct. 26-Nov. 1, President Dallin H. Oaks spoke in a BYU devotional about racism, Elder Gerrit W. Gong presided at the Taylorsville Utah Temple groundbreaking and Elder Ulisses Soares spoke about universal human dignity at the annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom.

BYU-Pathway Worldwide enrollment surpassed 50,000 students, and the Church announced an updated referral experience for connecting friends with the missionaries.

The Church News also published articles about its second podcast episode, the Church’s peanut butter cannery in Texas and the Woman’s Exponent, an early Relief Society magazine. October 2020 marks five years since Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson and Elder Renlund were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Here are summaries and links to those nine articles below:

1. President Oaks repeats call to ‘root out’ racism, unite in Christ

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, addresses students gathered in the Marriott Center on BYU campus on Oct. 27, 2020, for the first small gathering since the outbreak of COVID-19.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, addresses students gathered in the Marriott Center on BYU campus on Oct. 27, 2020, for the first small gathering since the outbreak of COVID-19. Credit: BYU photo

At a moment in America defined by racial division and other historical challenges, the Church’s second-most senior leader challenged students at Brigham Young University and beyond to discover unity through Christ’s timeless love and in His gospel.

“Since I cannot meet with you individually as I would love to do, I must try to help you through teaching correct principles and trying to help you follow them,” President Dallin H. Oaks said at the beginning of his Tuesday, Oct. 27, morning devotional at Brigham Young University. 

Read what President Oaks said about not quarreling over the past but improving the future

2. Elder Gong presides at Taylorsville Utah Temple groundbreaking

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is interviewed at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is interviewed at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Gerrit W. Gong is California-born — but he has deep connections to the diverse, history-rich city of Taylorsville located near the center of the Salt Lake Valley. His wife, Sister Susan Lindsay Gong, is a Taylorsville native, and his in-laws — the late Elder Richard P. and Sister Marian Bangerter Lindsay — are beloved members of this community and represent a legacy of local ecclesiastical leadership.

“It’s a very special blessing to participate in any temple groundbreaking and site dedication,” Elder Gong said after presiding at Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple. “But for us here, particularly with multiple generations in our own family, this is a special privilege. … This is a great community, and it represents such a wonderful part of the Church.”

Read how the future Taylorsville temple is already connecting people across generations and cultures

3. Elder Soares outlines foundations and fruits of religious freedom

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasizes a point as he tapes his Oct. 28, 2020, keynote address for the annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasizes a point as he tapes his Oct. 28, 2020, keynote address for the annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Religious freedom and religion itself are critical to fostering the foundational principles of human dignity and human rights, with the fruits of religious freedom including increased civil discourse and compassion and connection during times of crisis, said Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Soares’ prerecorded remarks served as the opening keynote address for the 2020 Annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom, with the Oct. 28-30 event streamed online for an hour each of the three mornings.

Read a summary of Elder Soares’ remarks on human dignity and the value of human rights

4. Elder Rasband, Eder Stevenson and Elder Renlund called 5 years ago

Elder Dale G. Renlund, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, middle, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk prior to the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018.
Elder Dale G. Renlund, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, middle, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk prior to the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Five years have passed since Elder Ronald A. RasbandElder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Dale G. Renlund were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2015 general conference.

Since then, they have met with and ministered to Church members, missionaries, government leaders and others as they have traveled around the world.

Here’s an overview of the highlights from each of their apostolic ministries 

5. Sarah Jane Weaver interviews Katherine Kitterman and Rebekah Ryan Clark

Portrait of Emmeline B. Wells. Better Days’ historical director Katherine Kitterman and historical research associate Rebekah Ryan Clark join Sarah Jane Weaver in Episode 2 of the Church News podcast.
Portrait of Emmeline B. Wells. Better Days’ historical director Katherine Kitterman and historical research associate Rebekah Ryan Clark join Sarah Jane Weaver in Episode 2 of the Church News podcast. Credit: Screenshot

In 1842 the Prophet Joseph Smith formed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ first women’s organization known today as the Relief Society, stating, “this is the beginning of better days.” That promise was fulfilled as Latter-day Saint women continued to serve their community and advocated for the equal voting rights of women in Utah and the United States.

In Episode 2 of the Church News podcast, Better Days’ historical director Katherine Kitterman and historical research associate Rebekah Ryan Clark looked at the privilege and duty of voting and share the story of the pioneering suffragettes who bravely blazed the path for the right to participate in elections. 

Listen here to learn more about the pioneering suffragettes who bravely blazed the path

6. BYU-Pathway Worldwide enrollment surpassed 50,000 students

A group of BYU-Pathway students and their friends gather to work on course assignments.
A group of BYU-Pathway students and their friends gather to work on course assignments. Credit: BYU-Pathway Worldwide

When BYU-Pathway Worldwide first began in 2009, it offered a small university-preparation pilot program run by BYU-Idaho with just 50 students. This year, just three years after being launched as a separate institution for higher education within the Church Educational System, BYU-Pathway Worldwide has reached a new milestone as student enrollment for the year exceeded 50,000

“Crossing the 50,000 students milestone in 10 years is a significant growth milestone,” said BYU-Pathway Worldwide President Clark Gilbert. “But more importantly, it signals to those students that BYU-Pathway Worldwide is here to stay and that it is an important part of the Church Educational System.”

Read more about what President Gilbert said of this historic milestone

7. Church spreads peanut butter across storehouses and food banks nationwide

Jars of peanut butter are shown at the Houston Cannery on Oct. 23, 2020. An estimated 1.65 million jars will be produced in 2020.
Jars of peanut butter are shown at the Houston Cannery on Oct. 23, 2020. An estimated 1.65 million jars will be produced in 2020. Credit: Kelly Foss

The Church has owned and operated a peanut butter cannery in Texas since the early 1950s. Peanuts have been grown on a Church welfare farm near San Antonio since 1973.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the community volunteer workforce in recent months, local Church members and missionaries have continued to fill in on the production line — helping the cannery to produce an estimated 1.97 million pounds of peanut butter in 2020 to help those in need. 

Read more about the Church’s peanut butter story and its impact on humanitarian organizations

8. The Woman’s Exponent: What it was to women then, what it means to women today

Emmeline B. Wells served as editor of the Woman's Exponent from 1877 to 1914.
Emmeline B. Wells served as editor of the Woman’s Exponent from 1877 to 1914. Credit: Church History Library

Historians will tell you how difficult it can be to find women’s voices in historical records. If you’re lucky, you might find letters or journals or passing references found in secondary sources, which were most often recorded by men.

And yet in the pages of the Woman’s Exponent, displayed in vivid detail like the account above, are firsthand accounts of the thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences of women in early Church history.

Here’s more on how the Woman’s Exponent served as a ‘standard bearer’ for the women of the Church

9. Updated referral experience helps connect friends with the missionaries

A screenshot of a video about recent updates to the missionary referral tool on referrals.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
A screenshot of a video about recent updates to the missionary referral tool on referrals.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Credit: Screenshot

When your friend or acquaintance agrees to meet with missionaries, you simply need to fill out a referral form through the Member Tools app (available for Apple or Android) or referrals.churchofjesuschrist.org. You can also leave your contact information and a note for the missionaries.

The local missionaries will also receive your contact information and you will receive theirs. This enables you to discuss the situation and needs of your friend with the local missionaries. You can talk to them about how to help your friend have a great experience. Additionally, you are invited to participate in missionary lessons through technology as much as desired.

Read how one Church member helped his friend meet with the missionaries using this referral experience