During the week of Dec. 7-Dec. 13, the First Presidency announced the first four temples moving to Phase 3, and President M. Russell Ballard spoke to Latter-day Saints in South America and was featured in a Church News video about a new monument honoring Joseph Smith’s ancestors.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke to BYU-Pathway Worldwide students, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf and her daughter helped organized a service project to help Navajo Nation and general officers recently held virtual visits to the Philippines, Caribbean and Europe East areas. Ground was broken for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple.
Here are summaries and links to those nine articles below:
1. First 4 temples moving to Phase 3
Four temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon open for proxy work for the dead, nine months after all temples were closed in late March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the First Presidency announced Monday, Dec. 7.
The Apia Samoa Temple, Brisbane Australia Temple, Nuku’aolfa Tonga Temple and Taipei Taiwan Temple will be the first of the Church’s 168 dedicated temples to advance to Phase 3 of the Church’s four-phase reopening plan. They will reopen for proxy work as soon as Dec. 21.
Watch videos from three Apostles explaining principles, adjusted procedures and protocols for Phase 3
2. President Ballard speaks to Church members in South America
Almost a century ago, on Christmas Day in 1925, Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited a park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and dedicated all of South America for the preaching of the gospel.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Latter-day Saints in Argentina and beyond once again gathered to hear the prophetic words of another latter-day Apostle named Ballard — President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Melvin J. Ballard’s grandson.
3. New monument honoring Joseph Smith’s ancestors
About 20 miles northeast of Boston’s frenetic pace sits a quiet, well-kept New England village adorned with colonial architecture and rolling hills. Today, the quaint town of Topsfield, Massachusetts, is home to some 6,500 residents.
Almost four centuries ago, Robert Smith — the Prophet Joseph Smith’s third great-grandfather — settled on a farm in Topsfield after emigrating from England. The next four generations of Smiths would live, serve and worship in Topsfield. The Prophet’s father, Joseph Smith Sr., would be born here.
4. Elder Stevenson speaks to BYU-Pathway Worldwide students
Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s message to BYU-Pathway Worldwide students was encapsulated by a promise. “If you hear Him, if you listen to the voice of the Lord and listen to the promptings that the Lord is giving you, … you will be blessed,” he said during a devotional broadcast to the student body of the Church’s online university.
In a prerecorded message that was broadcast on Tuesday, Dec. 8, Elder Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reiterated and emphasized President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to “Hear Him” and discussed with the students how they can hear the voice of the Savior Jesus Christ.
5. Ground broken for Zimbabwe’s first temple
With the president of Zimbabwe joining the selected number of leaders and invited guests, ground was broken Saturday, Dec. 12, for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple, the first in that nation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of 13 on the African continent.
Elder Edward Dube, an Area Seventy and Zimbabwe native who serves as first counselor in the Africa South Area presidency, presided at the groundbreaking. He offered remarks and a dedicatory prayer on the property and construction process.
6. Sister Uchtdorf and daughter participate in service project for Navajo Nation
As Antje Uchtdorf Evans thought about the many challenges that have emerged in 2020, she said simply, “It’s been a tough year.”
Evans, who is the daughter of Church Apostle Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, recently joined her mother and others in the community in turning some disappointment from this year into an uplifting experience as they helped to organize and execute a large service project to bless the Navajo Nation.
7. How general leaders are connecting to Church members virtually
Thanks to technology and the ability to meet with large groups of people from various places virtually, Church leaders are able to regularly conduct devotionals, focus groups, trainings, and even occasional home visits with specific families and members, much the same way they would if they were traveling from country to country and city to city.
Throughout November and December, general leaders — including President Joy D. Jones, Primary general president; President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president; Sister Sharon Eubank and Sister Reyna I. Aburto of the Relief Society general presidency; and Sister Michelle D. Craig and Sister Becky L. Craven of the Young Women general presidency — joined with area leaders in the Caribbean, Europe East and Philippines areas of the Church to meet with members and missionaries virtually.
8. Gospel learning has not stopped for Primary children amid COVID-19
For the last several months, members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have navigated the challenging task of creating a Sabbath-day worship experience for children in the home, as well as resuming Primary activities in accordance with local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.
The Primary general presidency expressed their hope that families with children will create a simple at-home Primary experience, in conjunction with the family’s weekly “Come, Follow Me” lesson.
9. Mack Wilberg joins Sarah Jane Weaver in Church News podcast
For many audiences around the world, the annual Christmas concerts hosted by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square have been a cherished way to celebrate the Christmas season each year. But with the current coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 holiday season will be a bit non-traditional, even for “America’s Choir.”
In the latest episode of the Church News Podcast, Tabernacle Choir Music Director Mack Wilberg and Choir President Ron Jarrett explore the extensive history of the choir and how their award-winning melodies can continue to warm listeners’ hearts this winter, despite the precautions that have canceled live concerts this year.