In case you missed it: A look at the first 3 years with the current First Presidency leading the Church

During the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3, the Church News took a closer look at all that has been accomplished in the three years since President Russell M. Nelson became president of the Church.

Along with his counselors in the First Presidency — President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor — President Nelson has led the Church with a fast-paced global ministry by connecting with members around the world and guiding them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are summaries and links to nine articles published this week on the members of the First Presidency and their three-year ministry so far:

1. President Russell M. Nelson’s first three years as president of the Church

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, walk through the South visitors' center prior to a press conference in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 19, 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, walk through the South visitors’ center prior to a press conference in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 19, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In his first public address as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivered almost three years ago, President Russell M. Nelson humbly directed attention away from himself to Jesus Christ and then characteristically looked forward.  

“The Lord always has and always will instruct and inspire His prophets,” he declared. “The Lord is at the helm! We who have been ordained to bear witness of His holy name throughout the world will continue to seek to know His will and follow it.”

A look at President Russell M. Nelson’s first 3 years leading the Church

2. The fast-paced ministry of President Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints waves to attendees after a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints waves to attendees after a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Launching his global ministry as the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson stood before reporters in London, England, and proclaimed his desire to circle the globe.

“Whenever I’m comfortably situated in my home, I’m in the wrong place,” he said in April 2018. “I need to be where the people are.”

Read about President Nelson’s fast-paced global ministry

3. The life of President Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson shared photos of his family in honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, May 10, 2020. From left, a picture of Sister Dantzel Nelson, Wendy, Marsha and President Nelson taken in 1951 in Washington D.C.
President Russell M. Nelson shared photos of his family in honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10, 2020. From left, a picture of Sister Dantzel Nelson, Wendy, Marsha and President Nelson taken in 1951 in Washington D.C. Credit: Russell M. Nelson Facebook

When President Russell M. Nelson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 7, 1984, he was at the height of his career as a world-renowned and awar- winning heart surgeon. Without hesitation, Dr. Nelson accepted the call and became Elder Nelson, shifting the focus of his life from medicine to full-time Church service.

“I didn’t even ask President [Gordon B.] Hinckley, ‘Are you sure?’” President Nelson told the Church News. “My faith is just that profound and simple. When the Lord speaks through His prophet, my mind puts an exclamation point behind it, not a question mark.”

Prophet, physician, husband and father: A look at the life of President Nelson

4. Announcements and changes during President Nelson’s ministry

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

Paraphrasing Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the closing session of April 2018 general conference, “The most memorable moments in life are those in which we feel the rush of revelation.”

“President Nelson, I don’t know how many more ‘rushes’ we can handle this weekend. Some of us have weak hearts,” Elder Holland continued with characteristic jest. “But as I think about it, you can take care of that too. What a prophet!”

39+ announcements and changes in the Church since President Nelson became Prophet 3 years ago

5. A focus on temples

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claps during the cornerstone ceremony for the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claps during the cornerstone ceremony for the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

Temples and temple worship have been an integral focus of President Russell M. Nelson in his three-year tenure as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ranging from the memorable dedication of the Rome Italy Temple to the closure of all operating temples — and the careful, cautious reopening since — due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

But it goes beyond just totals of temples and listings of locations. Each focus on temples provided President Nelson — along with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — ample opportunity to teach principles, to remind of recommitments, to invite action and to promise blessings.

Temple focus during President Nelson’s tenure: More than numbers, it’s about principles, invitations and promises

6. President Oaks’ ministry

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of the audience at a Face to Face event that was broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, greets members of the audience at a Face to Face event that was broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In his first public statement as a newly called member of the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks left no doubt that he enthusiastically sustained the Church’s 17th president — his friend and fellow apostle, President Russell M. Nelson.

“With all my heart, I pledge my loyalty and support for President Nelson’s loving and inspired leadership. … I feel privileged to be called as a counselor to President Nelson in the First Presidency,” said President Oaks during a live telecast on Jan. 16, 2018.

President Oaks’ First Presidency ministry defined by commitment and compassion

7. President Eyring’s ministry

President Russell M. Nelson, the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, left, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor, right, share in a laugh 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, and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, left, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor, right, share in a laugh at a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

On the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson stood in the annex of the Salt Lake Temple as the newest ordained President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and announced his counselors in the First Presidency — President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring

Prior to that call, President Eyring had served as second counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley and then as first counselor to President Thomas S. Monson. President Nelson called that service “magnificent” and described President Eyring — and President Monson’s other counselor, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf —  as “totally capable, devoted and inspired.”

President Henry B. Eyring’s Church service reflects that the ‘crucial thing’ is to ‘connect with God’

8. President Nelson’s greatest quality

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets Linwood mosque victim Ahmed Jahangir and imams in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Jahangir is recovering from his injuries from the attack. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshippers were gunned down March 15, 2019, in Christchurch.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets Linwood mosque victim Ahmed Jahangir and imams in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, 2019. Jahangir is recovering from his injuries from the attack. Two imams represented the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where innocent worshippers were gunned down March 15, 2019, in Christchurch. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Preparing to write a profile on President Russell M. Nelson days before he was sustained as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver learned as much as she could about his life and legacy.

He had graduated first in his class from medical school at age 22, helped develop an artificial heart-lung machine that made open-heart surgery possible and performed thousands of life-saving operations.

Sarah Jane Weaver: What I have observed about President Nelson’s greatest quality

9. Analyzing President Nelson’s invitations

Screenshot of President Russell M. Nelson from a series of #HearHim videos done in 2020 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Screenshot of President Russell M. Nelson from a series of #HearHim videos done in 2020 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson was recently interviewed by Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver for the weekly Church News Podcast. The focus of the episode was on “observations about invitations” from President Russell M. Nelson.

In the year 2020 alone President Nelson has issued numerous stirring, inspiring and challenging invitations to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to the people of the world.

Boyd Matheson: Why President Nelson has issued so many invitations over the past 3 years