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Read the Church News staff’s favorite stories from 2022

After striving to chronicle a “Living Record of the Restoration” this past year, Church News staffers share their favorite stories, moments or experiences.

Every day, the Church News staff works to chronicle a “Living Record of the Restoration” for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our goal is to share content that amplifies the voices of Church leaders and connects Latter-day Saints to the Savior’s gospel, to Church headquarters and to one another.

In addition to daily web publishing, the Church News staff produces a weekly print newspaper, manages social media accounts and sends daily and weekly newsletters. We also produce a weekly podcast and videos and translate much of our content into Spanish and Portuguese. It is a labor of love by people who love journalism and the Savior’s restored Church. We never forget that the Church’s logo accompanies our work and why that is both an honor and a responsibility.

Following we share a few of our favorite moments from 2022:

Sarah Jane Weaver, editor

Sarah Jane Weaver
Sarah Jane Weaver | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

On Jan. 23, 2022, President Russell M. Nelson shared a powerful message with Latter-day Saints in Europe during a special Europe Area devotional. He promised European Latter-day Saints that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has “an unparalleled future” in the area because of its faithful members. “You have access to the power — God’s power — that will literally change the future of Europe,” he said.

Sister Wendy Nelson and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, also spoke during the broadcast devotional.

As I listened to the messages — recorded at headquarters in Salt Lake City and broadcast to 48 European countries in 22 languages — I was filled with great optimism for the Church in the area. Just two months after that historic broadcast, some of those very nations were faced with war — and its residual impact on families, refugees, economies and stability.

That devotional would be followed throughout the year with other powerful messages from President Nelson, including a devotional broadcast the following month to Latter-day Saints in California; a historic address about identity to young single adults in May; his participation in the rededication of the Washington D.C. Temple and temple groundbreakings in Ephraim and Heber, Utah; significant broadcast addresses to Latter-day Saints in Canada, Nevada and parts of Arizona; and of course his general conference addresses.

Many of those events — including the meeting to European Latter-day Saints — concluded with the closing song, “Let Us All Press On.” Beginning with a prophet’s counsel to Europe, those messages of pressing forward with optimism — amid war, secularism, inflation, uncertainty and much, much more — are what I will remember when I think of 2022.

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The Church has an ‘unparalleled future’ in Europe, President Nelson tells Latter-day Saints from 48 European countries
President Russell M. Nelson speaks while recording a devotional for members of the Church in Europe. His wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar are seated behind him on the stand. The broadcast originated from Church headquarters and was broadcasted on January 23, 2022.  | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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Scott Taylor, managing editor

Scott Taylor poses for a photo at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 3, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

In recent years, President Russell M. Nelson has assigned members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to preside at many temple dedications and rededications. A two-part series examined these important events — with Part 1 acknowledging the historic first of having all 15 Prophets and Apostles preside at least one during the first four-plus years of his presidency.

I witnessed apostles lead in several of these milestone events in 2022 — how Elder Neil L. Andersen’s dedicatory prayer on the Praia temple resulted in “the miracle of the rain,” why Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf called the rededicated Hamilton New Zealand Temple ‘a beacon of light and a place of hope,’ and how Elder Dale G. Renlund tied rivers and ‘pororoca’ to the Belém Brazil Temple dedication.

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Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints greets attendees as they enter the Brazil, Belem, temple prior to the second dedication session on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Jon Ryan Jensen, director of audience

Jon Ryan Jensen | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

At what might have been the largest gathering of religious leaders ever on the earth, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked thousands of faith leaders to “celebrate the dignity of all God’s children and help create a more peaceful world.” He spoke at the seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in September.

Covering the ministry of members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is always humbling and sacred. Listening to Elder Soares speak to a large group of world religious leaders and to those same leaders individually over the course of two days, reinforced my testimony of Apostles’ role as special witnesses of Jesus Christ. 

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addresses the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions on Sept. 14, 2022, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Vanessa Fitzgibbon, Translation Coordinator

Vanessa Fitzgibbon, Translation Coordinator
Vanessa Fitzgibbon, Translation Coordinator | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Soon after being baptized, I witnessed the dedication of the São Paulo Brazil Temple, the first one in South America. I saw people coming from all over the continent — some of them selling everything they had — to be able to go to São Paulo and be sealed to their families. Since then, the temples have become a significant part of my testimony of the Church and the gospel.

One of the greatest stories I contributed this year was for the dedication of the Belém Brazil Temple. The ceremonies and events touched my heart so profoundly that it’s hard to describe with words. This temple — as well as the one in Manaus — is a beacon of light, faith and joy in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth: the Amazon forest and river, where nature itself bears witness to the Lord’s creations.

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The Belém Brazil Temple on November 17, 2022.
The Belém Brazil Temple on November 17, 2022. | Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

David Schneider, copy editor

David Schneider poses for a photo in the Deseret News office in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 3, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

On my way to purchase some supplies for my local ward via the Church’s store website, I stumbled across a list of language editions of the Book or Mormon. I knew that volume of scripture had been translated into more than 100 languages, but as I looked at the list I realized I couldn’t place many of those languages.

My curiosity about that list led me to a project mapping the primary locations where those languages are spoken. And the actual number is 115.

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Map showing where Book of Mormon translation languages are spoken in the Western Hemisphere. | Aaron Thorup, for the Church News

Rachel Sterzer Gibson, reporter

Rachel Sterzer Gibson at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

One of my responsibilities at the Church News is to write the death notices for general Church leaders. It might sound morbid, but it’s my favorite. I am often uplifted and inspired by reading and writing about the lives, accomplishments and faith of these good people. 

Take Sister Merlene M. Featherstone, for example. Her obituary noted how she loved her Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ. “She knew them personally, spoke of them daily and followed them completely.”

Or Elder Paul E. Koelliker, who served as managing director of the Temple Department during a great temple-building period of the Church. He attended the dedications of 69 temples and testified of the sacred covenants and ordinances available in these holy houses of God.

Or, just recently, Sister Marian B. Lindsay, who called her family the “crowning jewel” of her and her husband, Elder Richard P. Lindsay. The two “established a home filled with faith and love that continues to bless three generations of their large family.”

Learning about their lives, you catch a glimpse of how the faith and goodness of these individuals — like Elder and Sister Lindsay — can ripple through generations.

I saw that too when writing a segment of our “Pioneers in every land” series this past July. Wetekia Ruruku Elkington joined the Church in 1892. Her great-granddaughter shared how Wetekia’s life and testimony have provided deep roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ that have nourished now the seventh generation of Church members. It shows just how much of an impact one righteous life can have.

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Pioneers in every land: The ‘beautiful legacy’ of New Zealand pioneer Wetekia Ruruku Elkington
A photo of Wetekia Ruruku Elkington (1879-1957), an early pioneer of the Church in New Zealand. | Provided by Vicki Lee Wihongi

Christine Rappleye, reporter

Christine Rappleye
Christine Rappleye | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

When “Saints, Vol. 3” was released in April, it included stories of hope and faith as Church members found themselves in a pandemic, wars and other challenges. Spanning 1893 to 1955, it was interesting to see how these events parallel today and how they worked through those challenging times with faith. 

I’ve done a terrible job of keeping a journal for many years. The records, such as journals and letters, that the researchers and writers used shared details and conversations that I don’t think I would have considered recording and are an example of what I could be recording.

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Also this year, for the Church News’ “Pioneers in every land” series I was looking for someone in Asia to feature. I was pointed to Sri Anon in Indonesia. Through technology, I could quickly communicate with her and learn about her experiences and challenges and see the Church’s history there through her.

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Sri Anon smiles for a photo in the Bogor 2nd Ward, Jakarta Indonesia Stake, meetinghouse in Bogor, Indonesia, on Sunday, July 4, 2022.
Sri Anon smiles for a photo in the Bogor 2nd Ward, Jakarta Indonesia Stake, meetinghouse in Bogor, Indonesia, on Sunday, July 4, 2022. | Provided by Sri Anon

Mary Richards, reporter

Mary Richards | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Over a period of a few months, I interviewed three sets of parents about their babies’ challenging medical diagnoses. One family’s newborn baby boy died too soon, but years later, they were able to donate in their son’s name to a fetal surgery center at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. That donation has helped doctors in their work to save the lives of other babies, including two featured in my story. Throughout each interview, the parents expressed their faith in God and spoke of how their testimonies blessed their paths. In turn, this increased my own faith and testimony.

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Baby Mavie laughs as she looks up at her father
Mavie Canlas, who was born with spina bifida and a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, laughs as she looks up at her father Carl Canlas at home in Eagle Mountain, Utah, on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Trent Toone, reporter

Trent Toone, 2019
Trent Toone | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

It was difficult for me to narrow it down to just one favorite story in 2022.

I was moved when writing about how Elder Vaiangina Sikahema, a former NFL player who now serves as a General Authority Seventy, changed a young man’s life with a gift of shoes.

I was inspired by the faith of Langi Tuifua, who after a career-ending football injury discovered a talent for acting that led him to be cast as Captain Moroni in the Church’s Book of Mormon video series.

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Former BYU football player Langi Tuifua , who plays Captain Moroni, raises the Title of Liberty.
Former BYU football player Langi Tuifua , who plays Captain Moroni in the Church’s Book of Mormon Video series, raises the Title of Liberty. Tuifua’s football career was cut short by a career-ending neck injury that eventually led him into acting. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I gained appreciation and some understanding of the “complicated euphoria” expressed by one archivist and two historians who found new records for the Joseph Smith Papers.

And I was deeply impressed when I interviewed Sister Tracy Y. Browning last April after she was the first Black woman called to serve in a general presidency.

Each story has taught me something about the Lord’s infinite love and guiding hand in our lives.

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Sydney Walker, reporter

Sydney Walker | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

I was not very familiar with Punjabis or the Sikh faith prior to writing about Latter-day Saints being invited to host a booth at a Sikh festival in Yuba City, California. One of my favorite Church News experiences this year was interviewing Raji Tumber, a member of the Sikh community in Yuba City whose parents sold part of their property to the Church to house a stake center — and now the Feather River California Temple, which is nearing completion. I’ll never forget the genuine joy in her voice as she talked about her relationship with local Church members, which she described as “a bright light” in her life. This beautiful interfaith story inspires me to be a better neighbor and community member.

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Sister Ramya Ramesh of the California Roseville Mission shows a visual of 50 generations of Punjabi family history at a family history booth at the Sikh festival in Yuba City, California, held Nov. 4-6, 2022. | Kohl McCabe

Valerie Walton, reporter

Valerie Walton
Valerie Walton | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The theme of my year — connection — was set by the Watford City Ward of the Glendive Montana Stake. I have pondered and struggled all year long to coalesce what I learned from this ward into words.

At the end of April, Church News translation coordinator Vanessa Fitzgibbon and I flew to North Dakota to interview Sister Rudá Tourinho de Assis Martins. I learned a great deal from this incredible pioneer, even if I had to wait for the translated transcription of the interview. What I did not have the opportunity to share was the unique nature of Watford City.

My uncle Keith Buck briefly explained to me the history of the city and its ward. In the recession of 2008, many people in the United States, including many Latter-day Saints, were without work. Around the same time, oil production boomed in North and South Dakota due to advancements in fracking technology. That meant work.

At first, only men came to work temporarily, or so they claimed. But living alone in practically the middle of nowhere without their wives and/or families resulted in many mental health struggles for them. Man is not meant to be alone, after all. Soon as families began moving to Watford City and other such places in the state, the men’s mental health improved. And the people learned that the only way to survive was to support one another.

That spirit is reflected in the nature of the Watford City Ward. These members minister to one another because it is the way of life in this city. Had this nature not been present in this ward, my aunt Shari Buck would not have gotten to know Sister Martins and her daughter so well that she reached out to me for the Church News to write a story about her.

I couldn’t have written this story without the help of so many people connecting with and ministering to one another. It taught me how badly I need to build connections with my ward members, with my family, with friends and with the people of my community because that is what the gospel is all about.

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Sister Rudá Martins smiles while attending a Brazil Fortaleza Mission reunion in Holladay on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Martins was the mission presidents wife in Brazil. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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