In case you missed it: Some temples to open baptistries, Youth Music Festival’s special guest, plus 7 more stories

During the week of March 14-20, the First Presidency announced that some temple baptistries will open to small groups, including youth. The Youth Musical Festival included a special guest — President Russell M. Nelson, who played the hymn “Hope of Israel” on the piano. And Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught young adults in the Church’s Asia, Asia North, Pacific and Philippines areas about gratitude.

A Church News article highlighted the new call of area organization advisers and what that means. A new Church News podcast featured Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham in conjunction with the 179th anniversary of the women’s organization, and the Church launched a new Easter initiative using #StartingToday.

An article highlighted the 50th anniversary of the BYU law school while another featured the BYU athletes who claimed a stack of national champion trophies in track and cross country events. And finally, an article included a list of returned missionaries playing in the NCAA tournament.

Find summaries and links to these nine articles below.

1. Some temples to begin opening baptistries

The baptistry in the Frankfurt Germany Temple.
The baptistry in the Frankfurt Germany Temple. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The First Presidency announced Monday, March 15, a new phase for reopening of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — allowing youth and other members with limited-use temple recommends to participate in proxy baptisms. Phase 2-B allows for temple baptistries to open for small groups.

As these temple baptistries begin to open, Church leaders will apply what is learned and then open other temples in Phase 2-B as it is safe to do so, according to a Church press release. Announcements about further temples entering this phase will occur when possible.

Find out which temples will begin operating in Phase 2-B

2. Youth Music Festival takes viewers on ‘worldwide musical tour’

Ysaac Martínez Marrero, front, with a group of dancers, performs “Si Tú Lo Crees” (“If You Believe”) in the Dominican Republic for the Youth Music Festival, which premiered on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
Ysaac Martínez Marrero, front, with a group of dancers, performs “Si Tú Lo Crees” (“If You Believe”) in the Dominican Republic for the Youth Music Festival, which premiered on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

At the close of the 2021 Youth Music Festival on Wednesday evening, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund introduced a special guest — President Russell M. Nelson, who played the hymn “Hope of Israel” on the piano.

The second annual Youth Music Festival on Wednesday, March 17 — a “worldwide musical tour,” as one youth host described it — was streamed in 11 languages. The prerecorded concert included youth hosts from New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, South Africa and the Philippines.

Learn more about this unique event and the performers

3. Be grateful for the goodness of God, Elder Rasband teaches

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center left, speaks during the young adult devotional for Pacific and Asia areas at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square on Saturday, March 13, 2021.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center left, speaks during the young adult devotional for Pacific and Asia areas at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square on Saturday, March 13, 2021. Credit: Annie Barker, Deseret News

More than a mere “thank you,” gratitude is both a heartfelt expression and a commandment, taught Elder Ronald A. Rasband in a March 13 devotional for young adults in the Church’s Asia, Asia North, Pacific and Philippines areas.

Elder Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie T. Rasband, spoke at the live-broadcast devotional originating from the Salt Lake Tabernacle’s orchestra stage at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 13. However, it was viewed live Sunday, March 14, by young adults throughout the four targeted areas.

Read more about Elder and Sister Rasband’s counsel for young adults

4. Women leaders in international areas to provide instruction, mentoring

Attendees listen to a conference with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lima, Peru, on Saturday Oct 20, 2018.
Attendees listen to a conference with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lima, Peru, on Saturday Oct 20, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

With the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world, the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary organizations are “thrilled” to have women leaders in international areas to help provide instruction and mentoring, said Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham.

Several women have been called as area organization advisers in the Europe, Philippines and Caribbean areas. Additional area presidencies are expected to also call women to serve in this capacity. 

Learn more about this new calling

5. President Bingham celebrates 179 years of Relief Society

Episode 22 of the Church News podcast, released during Women’s History Month, features Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham.
Episode 22 of the Church News podcast, released during Women’s History Month, features Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham. Credit: Screenshot

In honor of Relief Society’s 179th anniversary this week, the Church News podcast featured Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, who talks about how the Relief Society motto “Charity Never Faileth” has come to mean even more as Latter-day Saints from around the world have rallied to comfort those who are in need of comfort during the pandemic.

Listen to President Bingham’s insights and testimony regarding Relief Society and women in the Church

6. This Easter, find renewed hope in Christ #StartingToday

A screenshot from the Church's 2021 Easter video "Starting Today" poses the question, "How can He change your life?"
A screenshot from the Church’s 2021 Easter video “Starting Today” poses the question, “How can He change your life?” Credit: Screenshot YouTube

Restart. Repair. Reevaluate. 

As the world begins to emerge from a challenging year of loss, strife and isolation, “this Easter season is a special opportunity to find a renewed sense of hope in Jesus Christ, the living Son of the living God,” said Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department. 

All of God’s children can start again — starting today — because of how one day started 2,000 years ago. That’s the message of the Church’s 2021 Easter initiative launched Sunday, March 14. 

Read more about the Church’s Easter initiative

7. Fifty years of BYU Law School

Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark School of Law is fast approaching its 50th birthday.
Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law is fast approaching its 50th birthday. Credit: BYU LAW SCHOOL

Fifty years ago, President Harold B. Lee announced plans to build a law school at the Church’s Provo, Utah, university. Two years later, the J. Reuben Clark Law School welcomed its first class of future attorneys. Since then, thousands of graduates have left distinctive marks on the global legal community and beyond. 

The Church News recently spoke about the law school’s storied past and its ongoing commitment to train a new generation of attorneys with Law School Dean D. Gordon Smith, Dean of Communications Lynnett Rands and External Relations Dean Michael Middleton.

Find out more about the law school’s unique charge to teach the laws of man in the light of God’s laws

8. BYU athletes claim stack of national champion trophies

BYU Cross Country Team wins the NCAA championships Monday, March 15th 2021 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
BYU Cross Country Team wins the NCAA championships Monday, March 15th 2021 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Credit: Jaren Wilkey, BYU

Someone in Brigham Young University’s athletic department is likely shopping for a bigger trophy case.

Cougar athletes claimed several national championships over the past week. The Church-owned school has long enjoyed a reputation for producing elite track and cross-country athletes — but 2021 already will surely be a year never forgotten by BYU, or its rivals.

Learn more about these Latter-day Saint athletes 

9. NCAA basketball tourneys feature long list of returned missionaries

Brigham Young Cougars guard Connor Harding (44) drives the ball down the court in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
Brigham Young Cougars guard Connor Harding (44) drives the ball down the court in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Credit: Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

Thousands of college athletes are lacing-up their sneakers and competing in the “Big Dance” — the 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Counted among the ballplayers are several Latter-day Saints who stepped away from the court for a season or two to serve full-time missions. Here’s a list of returned missionaries — including a young woman — who will be competing in college hoops’ premier event.

Read the list of returned-missionary athletes