In case you missed it: New mission leader assignments, President Ballard’s message of optimism, plus 7 more stories

During the week of Jan. 2-8, the First Presidency announced the calling of 164 new mission leaders. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared a message of optimism two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. And a Church News article shared nine lessons the Church Educational System learned during the pandemic.

The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies shared how to make the most of the Children and Youth program in 2022. The Sunday School general presidency reflected on how the home-centered curriculum has blessed the worldwide Church. And a Church News article described the last two years at Church historic sites as “unprecedented,” “crazy” and “inspiring.”

Another article looked at the Church’s humanitarian efforts through the pandemic and what Latter-day Saint Charities has learned. The Church News podcast featured Deanna Lampson, the founder of WhiteRibbonWeek.com who spoke about media literacy and protecting children online. And ticketing began for the Washington D.C. Temple open house, which runs April 28 through June 4, excluding Sundays.

Read summaries and find links to these nine article below.

1. See the complete list of 164 new mission leadership assignments for 2022

The First Presidency has called 164 new mission presidents and companions. Most will begin their service in July 2022.
The First Presidency has called 164 new mission presidents and companions. Most will begin their service in July 2022. Credit: Church News graphic

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has called 164 new mission presidents and companions; most will begin their service in July. 

Read the complete list for 2022 here

2. 2 years of COVID-19: President Ballard’s message of optimism

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, waves towards the audience as he leaves after the Saturday evening session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.
President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, waves towards the audience as he leaves after the Saturday evening session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Credit: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Nearly two years after President M. Russell Ballard declared the world will win the war on COVID-19, the 93-year-old Church leader spoke from his office in Salt Lake City about the ongoing pandemic with identical optimism. 

“Just keep smiling,” said the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The pandemic will wear itself out, but don’t let it wear you out. Just keep getting up in the morning and keep raising your families. Things will be OK.”

Read more about President Ballard’s observations and counsel

3. 9 lessons the Church Educational System learned through COVID-19 

BYU–Hawaii graduates applaud during commencement services held in the Cannon Activities Center in Laie, Hawaii, on Friday, Dec. 7, 2021. Fall 2021 graduation marked the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in-person graduation was held.
BYU–Hawaii graduates applaud during commencement services held in the Cannon Activities Center in Laie, Hawaii, on Friday, Dec. 7, 2021. Fall 2021 graduation marked the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in-person graduation was held. Credit: Mark Gatus, BYU–Hawaii

Now almost two years after the threat of the coronavirus shut down colleges, the Church’s campuses and seminary and institute buildings are once again welcoming students, and for the most part, daily operations have resumed but with COVID-19 protocols in place. 

While the last 20-plus months have certainly been challenging, they have also been a time of discovery and innovation. Some of those discoveries have been overarching, while others have been distinct to the institutions, but all of them have been valuable.

Here are 9 lessons from the pandemic within the Church Educational System

4. How to make the most of the Children and Youth program in 2022

 Koria Black, 15, navigates a ropes course at Badger Mountain in Ephraim Canyon for the Snow Fun! Youth Conference on Thursday, June 3, 2021.
Koria Black, 15, navigates a ropes course at Badger Mountain in Ephraim Canyon for the Snow Fun! Youth Conference on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Credit: Annie Barker, Deseret News

In January, wards and branches across the Church begin their third year of the Children and Youth program. The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies recently discussed with the Church News how youth, children, their families and their leaders can make the most of it this year. 

Find out more about how to make the program a success

5. How ‘Come, Follow Me’ is changing the Church home by home

Melvin, Heiron John, Job Tyler and Evelyn Rondilla of the Quirino 1st Ward, Philippines Quezon City South Stake, study "Come, Follow Me" after the Sunday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference on April 5, 2020.
Melvin, Heiron John, Job Tyler and Evelyn Rondilla of the Quirino 1st Ward, Philippines Quezon City South Stake, study “Come, Follow Me” after the Sunday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference on April 5, 2020. Credit: Melvin V. Rondilla

Study of the Old Testament starting in January kicks off year four of “Come, Follow Me” for individuals and families and completes the rotation of the standard works. In 2019, Church members studied the New Testament, followed by the Book of Mormon in 2020 and last year’s study of the Doctrine and Covenants.

How has “Come, Follow Me” and home-centered gospel learning blessed the worldwide Church, particularly during a time defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and other hardships?

Read the Sunday School general presidency’s reflections 

6. What the pandemic has meant for the Church’s historic sites

Sister Caelie Noall and Sister Isabella Rich show virtual visitors some of the artifacts found in the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed to in-person visitors since March 2020.
Sister Caelie Noall and Sister Isabella Rich show virtual visitors some of the artifacts found in the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. Because of COVID-19, Church historic sites have been closed to in-person visitors since March 2020. Credit: Courtesy Mormon Battalion Historic Site

When Gary Boatright, who has worked with the Church’s historic sites for roughly 15 years, thinks over the last 20-plus months of the pandemic, the first word that comes to his mind is “crazy.”

“It just really has been a crazy, crazy year,” Boatright recently told the Church News.

As the operations manager for the historic sites, Boatright has had a front row seat to the uncertainty and challenges presented from the COVID-19 pandemic but also to the miracles, resilience and innovations that have emerged as a result — which is why the second word that comes to his mind to describe the last two years is “inspiring.”

Learn more about what the pandemic has meant for the Church’s historic sites

7. How responding to the pandemic changed the Church’s humanitarian efforts going forward

Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints send aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Respirator masks, protective goggles and protective suits were sent.
Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints send aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Respirator masks, protective goggles and protective suits were sent. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Responding to the pandemic for the past two years challenged the Church’s humanitarian arm — but that response led to new skill sets and collaborative relationships around the world.

“I have said many times that COVID-19, I think, was the ultimate pressure test on the Church’s humanitarian efforts,” said Shawn Johnson, the vice president and director of operations for Latter-day Saint Charities. 

Learn more about how the Church will change its response going forward

8. Episode 64: Using critical conversation to empower and protect children online

Church News podcast features Deanna Lambson, a Latter-day Saint educator and founder of WhiteRibbonWeek.org. She discusses a gospel-centered approach to starting age-appropriate conversations about digital citizenship and internet safety and tackling less-comfortable subjects.
Church News podcast features Deanna Lambson, a Latter-day Saint educator and founder of WhiteRibbonWeek.org. She discusses a gospel-centered approach to starting age-appropriate conversations about digital citizenship and internet safety and tackling less-comfortable subjects. Credit: Church News graphic

This episode of the Church News podcast features Deanna Lambson, a Latter-day Saint educator and founder of WhiteRibbonWeek.org. She discusses a gospel-centered approach to starting age-appropriate conversations about digital citizenship and internet safety and tackling less-comfortable subjects. Lambson also offers a road map for becoming trusted adults who facilitate conversations and listen with love and attention.

Listen to the podcast

9. Washington D.C. Temple open-house reservations begin online

The Washington D.C. Temple at dusk, July 2021.
The Washington D.C. Temple at dusk, July 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Online reservations for parking and shuttle tickets for the upcoming Washington D.C. Temple open house are underway.

The open house — marking the first public tour since the temple’s 1974 dedication — will highlight the iconic temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the grounds and the on-site visitors’ center.

Find out what you need to know about the open house reservations