In case you missed it: 10 leadership lessons from the Prophet, Elder Cook on finding joy and 7 other stories

During the week of Jan. 25-31, Church News editor Sarah Weaver wrote about 10 lessons she’s learned about leadership from President Russell M. Nelson, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urged BYU–Idaho students to stay “On the Sunny Side of the Street” by focusing on Jesus Christ.

As a follow-up to Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s Worldwide Devotional, the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited 100 young adults to join a Zoom meeting to share insights

In a Seminaries and Institutes of Religion training broadcast for instructors, a panel of Church administrators gave insights into recent changes in the program while President Jean B. Bingham invited teachers to provide “spiritual meat” to their students.

In the latest podcast, Church News managing editor R. Scott Taylor provided insights into the Church’s temples during the pandemic and, despite all of the disruptions of the pandemic, leaders of the Tabernacle Choir are looking forward to 2021.

The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies discussed opportunities awaiting youth in 2021

Church members continue to find ways to serve in their communities, including a group in Riverside, California, who helped to provide homeless people with showers, and a woman and her children in Menlo Park who set up a neighborhood food locker where people can donate food.

Below are summaries and links to these nine articles. 

1. Sarah Jane Weaver: 10 lessons in leadership from President Russell M. Nelson

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.

In a recent column, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver wrote what she has learned about leadership from observing the ministry of President Nelson.

For example, President Nelson’s leadership promotes unity. In October 2018, as President Nelson was leaving Peru’s Government Palace, he intentionally linked arms with Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Enrique Falabella, a General Authority Seventy. In July 2019, President Nelson spoke at the NAACP national convention in Detroit. Following his example, NAACP leaders spoke first of “linking arms” and then “locking arms” with the Church and President Nelson.

Read the other nine lessons here

2. Elder Cook to BYU-Idaho students: Focus on the Savior to find yourself on the ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ and have joy

In a devotional message, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told BYU-Idaho students if they focus their life on the Savior, they will find themselves on the “Sunny Side of the Street” and have joy — just like his wife, Sister Mary Cook, above.
In a devotional message, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told BYU-Idaho students if they focus their life on the Savior, they will find themselves on the “Sunny Side of the Street” and have joy — just like his wife, Sister Mary Cook, above.

Elder Quentin L. Cook first saw his future wife, Mary, when they were in the seventh grade at Logan Junior High School. With a “rich, mature, alto voice,” she performed in the school talent assembly an incredible rendition of the popular song “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” Elder Cook told a virtual gathering of BYU-Idaho students during a campus devotional on Wednesday, Jan. 27.   

Elder Cook, 80, celebrated his 58th wedding anniversary last November with Sister Cook — whom he described as warm, kind, friendly and righteous. “In Mary’s honor, and because I think it is an important message for you, I want to share some thoughts on living on the sunny side of the street. I want you to be optimistic, joyful, of good cheer, and also to be united in and through the gospel of Jesus Christ to be one with the Savior.”

Read more about his counsel to students

3. What Elder Gong and 100 young adults learned about deepening their relationship with God

Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong, take a picture with 100 young adults on Zoom after their worldwide devotional address on Jan. 10, 2021.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong, take a picture with 100 young adults on Zoom after their worldwide devotional address on Jan. 10, 2021. Credit: Screenshot YouTube

To help foster an ongoing conversation following their worldwide devotional on Jan. 10, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Sister Susan Gong tried something new: They invited 100 young adults to join a Zoom meeting to share insights and further discuss deepening their relationship with God. 

Elder Gong shared a video of the Zoom recording on his Facebook page on Jan. 17. “I invite you to watch and share with me your impressions,” he wrote.

From Hawaii to Florida and Canada to Texas, the young adult participants came from two countries and 14 U.S. states. 

Find out about the young adults’ insights and the Apostle’s counsel here

4. Annual training broadcast for Seminaries and Institutes instructors

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham speaks to Seminary and Institute instructors during an online training broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.
Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham speaks to Seminary and Institute instructors during an online training broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Credit: Screengrab ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Youth and young adults today need the spiritual meat of the gospel to answer questions that arise and to help them withstand the pressures that would push them from the covenant path, President Jean B. Bingham told seminary and institute instructors on Jan. 26. “They can handle it. They need it! … We can answer the call: ‘I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat’ (Matthew 25:35).”

In that same broadcast, Church Seminaries and Institutes administrators explained how recent changes to the program will help to gather Israel.

“We need to move: from talking and telling to engaging and inviting; from telling students where to be to meeting them where they are; from only praising the ideal to also honoring the struggle; from social activities to meaningful social interaction; from a focus on class credit and graduation to a focus on spiritual growth and becoming; from passive learners who are acted upon to active participants who are instruments of the Holy Ghost,” said Chad H. Webb, the Church’s administrator of Seminaries and Institutes. 

Learn more about the annual training broadcast and read about President Bingham’s counsel

5. This week’s podcast about temples during the pandemic

In Episode 15,  R. Scott Taylor, managing editor of the Church News, discusses how the Church handled temples during the global pandemic — first closures and then the phased reopening of temples — and the resulting greater appreciation for the blessings temples bring into the lives of members, families and communities worldwide.

Listen to his insights on temples here

6. Expect 2021 to be a ‘go’ for resilient Tabernacle Choir

Mack Wilberg, music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, left, and Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, pose for a portrait at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.
Mack Wilberg, music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, left, and Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, pose for a portrait at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Despite the historic pandemic disruptions of 2020, Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square leaders are grateful for a year marked by achievement and growth.

Looking forward, choir president Ron Jarrett expects 2021 to again be rich in history for both the choir and orchestra.

The musical term “fermata” — meaning a pause or hold  — seems an apt description of where the organizations have been for much of the past year. 

“Now we’re anxious to come back together,” he said. “We’ve recognized how much we’ve missed one another — and the opportunity of having music so prominent in our weekly lives.”

Read more about the choir’s plans for 2021

7. Young Men and Young Women general leaders on what youth learned in 2020, moving forward in 2021

President Bonnie H. Cordon, president of the Young Women general presidency, talks about the For the Strength of Youth magazine at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
President Bonnie H. Cordon, president of the Young Women general presidency, talks about the For the Strength of Youth magazine at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Credit: Intelectual Reserve Inc.

The Church News recently spoke with the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies about lessons learned during 2020 — and the opportunities awaiting youth in 2021.

In 2020, youth learned how to gather virtually, and that will continue, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon said. We will need the class presidencies and quorum presidencies and their creative thinking so we know how to best gather.”

President Cordon’s counterpart in the Young Men general presidency, President Steven J. Lund, added that the circumstances of the past year prompted historic changes.

Find out about what awaits youth during 2021

8. Offering dignity to Riverside’s homeless population

"Latter-day Saint Showers" volunteers hand out donated clothing to people in need from the Riverside, California, community prior to the pandemic.
“Latter-day Saint Showers” volunteers hand out donated clothing to people in need from the Riverside, California, community prior to the pandemic. Credit: Photo courtesy of John Plocher

Members of the Riverside California Stake could conjure up a quick list of “Things I’m looking forward to doing when the pandemic ends” items that would likely be familiar to Latter-day Saints worldwide.

A few would include worshipping with fellow members and friends, shoulder to shoulder, in a capacity-filled meetinghouse and enjoying a traditional ward dinner, Church ball game or a youth encampment sans COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

As for Riverside stake members, they are also eager to return to serving in “Latter-day Saint Showers” — a Church-sponsored service project that provides showers to homeless people in their community.

Learn more about this unique service project here

9. A free food locker for the hungry

Xan Craven's 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son are pictured in front of a free food locker the Craven family set up in Menlo Park, California, in January 2021.
Xan Craven’s 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son are pictured in front of a free food locker the Craven family set up in Menlo Park, California, in January 2021. Credit: Xan Craven

After food was recently stolen from her family’s carport in Menlo Park, California, Xan Craven grabbed a storage bin and her young children, and together, they went through their pantry. They added several food items to the bin. She wrote on the bin in permanent ink: “Neighborhood Free Food Bin. Donate if you can. Take what you need.”

They placed the bin on the corner of two cross streets near their home. Xan Craven took a photo of the bin and posted it online.

This time, she said, “I was flooded with kind comments and supportive people, not only cheering me on, but asking if they could contribute to the food bin as well.” By the end of the day, boxes of food surrounded her storage bin. 

Read about this mother’s experience