In case you missed it: New mission leaders, Sister Nelson on Church News podcast, plus 7 more stories

During the week of Jan. 4-10, the list of new mission leaders for 2021 was released. The Church News republished a video on President M. Russell Ballard’s invitation to pray for the United States, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband participated in the Utah Inauguration Ceremony.

Sister Sheri Dew interviewed Sister Wendy Nelson on the Church News podcast, the Primary general presidency released a video message on creating at-home Primary experiences, and the Church News published an article on virtual tours at Church history sites.

The three new Church magazines were unveiled — including a renamed magazine for youth — and a new BYU study found performing service can improve mental health.

Here are summaries and links to those nine articles below:

1. New mission leadership assignments

The First Presidency has called 105 new mission presidents and companions. Their service will begin in July.
The First Presidency has called 105 new mission presidents and companions. Their service will begin in July. Credit: Church News graphic

The First Presidency has called 105 couples of new mission presidents and companions who will begin their service in July 2021. The list includes one new mission — the Mozambique Beira Mission.

Read the complete list of new mission leadership for 2021 here

2. President Ballard’s invitation to pray for the U.S. has new relevance

Speaking to a crowd of 12,000 in Worcester, Massachusetts, in October 2019, President M. Russell Ballard encouraged his listeners to pray for the United States, its leaders and families.

The invitation from the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has new relevance after the House and Senate certified the electoral vote in the United States on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The U.S. Capitol was locked down as protesters clashed with police. Protesters breached the Capitol in the riot that left one dead, shook lawmakers and damaged government property.

Read more: ‘Our nation was founded on prayer, it was preserved by prayer, and we need prayer again’

3. Elder Rasband participates in Utah Inauguration Ceremony

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers the benediction during the Utah Inauguration Ceremony for Governor Spencer Cox on Monday, January 4, 2021, in Ivins, Utah.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers the benediction during the Utah Inauguration Ceremony for Governor Spencer Cox on Monday, January 4, 2021, in Ivins, Utah. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered the benediction during the Utah Inauguration Ceremony for Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday, Jan. 4.

During the prayer, the Apostle gave thanks for liberty and freedom. He asked that Gov. Cox be blessed with “wisdom, integrity and courage” to face the future with “certainty and strength.”

Here’s more about the inauguration ceremony on the 125th anniversary of Utah statehood

4. Sister Sheri Dew interviews Sister Wendy Nelson

In Episode 12 of the Church News podcast, Sister Wendy Nelson speaks about witnessing President Nelson’s prophetic calling in the first three years of his service.
In Episode 12 of the Church News podcast, Sister Wendy Nelson speaks about witnessing President Nelson’s prophetic calling in the first three years of his service. Credit: Screenshot

In January 2021, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrates the third anniversary of President Russell M. Nelson serving as the leader of the Church.

In this Church News podcast, we celebrate this milestone as guest host Sister Sheri Dew interviews President Nelson’s wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. They explore the life and ministry of the Prophet over the past three years. 

Listen to what Sister Nelson said about her husband’s prophetic calling

5. Primary general presidency releases video message

In a video message on Jan. 3, 2020, the Primary general presidency encouraged children, parents and leaders to create at-home Primary experiences.
In a video message on Jan. 3, 2020, the Primary general presidency encouraged children, parents and leaders to create at-home Primary experiences. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

“While there may be some things we can’t do in Primary right now, prayerfully consider what you can do,” Primary General President Joy D. Jones said.

In the Jan. 3 video, President Jones was joined by her counselors, Sister Lisa L. Harkness and Sister Cristina B. Franco, to encourage children, parents and Primary leaders to create Primary experiences at home. 

Watch: How to create at-home Primary experiences

6. Church historic sites offering tours during the pandemic

Sister Daicee Smuin and Sister Sheila Cabuquing, missionaries serving at the Nauvoo Historic Sites, stop to show virtual visitors the Wilford Woodruff home in Nauvoo. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed to in-person visitors since March 2020.
Sister Daicee Smuin and Sister Sheila Cabuquing, missionaries serving at the Nauvoo Historic Sites, stop to show virtual visitors the Wilford Woodruff home in Nauvoo. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed to in-person visitors since March 2020. Credit: Courtesy the Nauvoo Historic Sites

As Sister Abby Jefferies prepared to return to the Nauvoo Illinois Historic Site as a full-time missionary last summer, she was faced with many unanswered questions. When she had served there the summer of 2019, the small city steeped in Latter-day Saint history had attracted throngs of people. In 2020, however, the usually vibrant site, which is nestled in a curve of the Mississippi River, was desolate. COVID-19 had closed the site to visitors.  

“I remember wondering to myself, ‘What is my purpose in being here right now if we’re not being able to share the message like we did the previous summer, when people would come all the time? Why am I here?’” recalled Sister Jefferies, who has since returned from her mission.

Read how Sister Jeffries and other missionaries are continuing to share the message of the Restoration

7. New Church magazines were released this month

Starting in January 2021, the Friend, For the Strength of Youth and the Liahona will serve as the three worldwide Church Magazines and will be printed in 47 languages.
Starting in January 2021, the Friend, For the Strength of Youth and the Liahona will serve as the three worldwide Church Magazines and will be printed in 47 languages. Credit: Intelectual Reserve Inc.

New Church magazines unveiled this month will deliver messages from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are “relevant and timely,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

The new magazines for children, youth and adults “will have a spiritual and doctrinal power,” said Elder Cook, chairman of the Church’s Priesthood and Family Executive Council. “The topics will support the Church curriculum and address relevant issues. Many of the articles will be prepared by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.” 

How the Church magazines can be a valuable resource individuals and families

8. How For the Strength of Youth magazine can help youth find joy in Christ, year-round

Two young women read in the New Era, a magazine that will be replaced by a global young adult magazine, For the Strength of Youth starting in January 2021. (Note: This picture was taken before social distancing measures had been established.)
Two young women read in the New Era, a magazine that will be replaced by a global young adult magazine, For the Strength of Youth starting in January 2021. (Note: This picture was taken before social distancing measures had been established.) Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In January, youth all over the world will open a new international youth magazine called For the Strength of Youth. They will notice its new look and feel. The articles are shorter and more readable. It is filled with voices of young people from all over the globe.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said he hopes one thing the youth will notice is the tagline on the cover: “Finding Joy in Christ.” 

Read more of what Brother Wilcox said about the new youth magazine

9. Looking for a remedy for loneliness? Serve your neighbor

A young woman clears off a neighbor's walk following a snowstorm. A BYU-partnered study reveals that people often overcome loneliness by providing small acts of kindness around their neighborhoods.
A young woman clears off a neighbor’s walk following a snowstorm. A BYU-partnered study reveals that people often overcome loneliness by providing small acts of kindness around their neighborhoods. Credit: Jaren S. Wilkey/BYU Photo

A study involving researchers at Brigham Young University found that performing small acts of kindness for neighbors can improve the mental health of the giver of service. Over a four-week period, the study tracked loneliness levels of participants before and after providing small acts of kindness to everyday folks in their neighborhood.

Even seemingly small “service gifts” — dropping off a plate of cookies or helping a neighbor locate a reliable doctor  — typically lowered levels of loneliness and social isolation in the service provider.

Here’s more on the results of the study