Read the Church News staff’s favorite stories from 2023

Members of the Church News staff each share a favorite story, moment or experience from the past year

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.

This year the Church News recorded many important and memorable moments as part of our efforts to create a living record of the restoration.

Following the Church News staff each shares their favorite:

Sarah Jane Weaver: ‘I am planning on eternity’

On Jan. 8, 2023, President Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia T. Holland addressed Latter-day Saint young adults in a worldwide devotional — asking them to look to a “future filled with hope.”

“Refuse to accept the world for what it appears to be,” said President Holland, now acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Shine the brightness of your hope on it and make it what it ought to be.”

Before the historic meeting in the Holland’s hometown of St. George, the couple attended sacrament meeting. Standing in the back of the chapel, I caught Sister Holland’s eye at the end of the meeting.

She greeted me with a hello and a hug, expressed gratitude I would drive to St. George, and went on her way. It is hard to describe what it meant to me that I did not escape her notice.

It was the last interaction I had with Sister Holland before her death on July 20.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints touches the casket of Sister Patricia Terry Holland following a graveside service in St. George, Utah, on Saturday, July 29, 2023. Nick Adams, for the Deseret News | Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

I remember similar experiences with Sister Mary Crandall Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, and Sister Kathleen Johnson Eyring, the wife of President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, who died Oct. 15.

In 2023, the Church also lost President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who died on Nov. 12. Working until his final days, President Ballard rededicated the Columbus Ohio Temple this year. Two days before the dedication, he traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, where he sat in the historic Kirtland Temple and testified of the sealing power and of the sure knowledge that he would again be with his own spouse, Sister Barbara Bowen Ballard — who died in October of 2018.

President Holland — who began the year in St. George — returned to his hometown in July to bury Sister Holland and then in December to rededicate the St. George Utah Temple.

His participation in the temple rededication came after his own health struggles and miraculous recovery.

The temple’s promise of eternity is real, he said. “I am filled with a lot of emotion and a lot of happiness. I am planning on eternity. I am collecting on the promises of this temple.”

It was my favorite moment of 2023 — one of millions of threads that create the fabric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The St. George Utah Temple was the first dedicated in the Western United States; it was renovated and rededicated at a time when temples dot the earth. In 2023 alone, President Russell M. Nelson announced 35 new temples.

President Holland explained why temples matter, ending the year just as he began it — proclaiming hope in the Savior and the promises of His restored Church.

“The more we can get to a temple, the closer we are in living worthy of it, the better this Church is going to be and the stronger we as a people are going to be for eternity,” he said.

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Kaitlyn Bancroft: The McAllen Texas Temple dedication

I joined Church News in April 2023 and spent the subsequent months listening with awe (and a little bit of envy) to my new colleagues describing their global reporting adventures. I especially loved their temple dedication stories — what they saw, who was there, what they learned from the incredible faith of local members.

So when Sarah Jane Weaver invited me on my first-ever temple dedication trip in October 2023, I jumped. The destination wasn’t a foreign country or a big city — it was McAllen, Texas, a U.S.-Mexico border town I knew practically nothing about. And I was thrilled to visit it.

Every bit of the trip felt like an adventure, from Sarah picking me up at 3 a.m. to catch a brutally early flight to meeting Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf. I loved immersing myself, however briefly, in a place that was entirely new to me.

While there, I was especially touched by Elder and Sister Uchtdorf’s visit to the border wall. Knowing that Elder Uchtdorf was once himself an immigrant and a refugee, it seemed particularly appropriate that he should dedicate a temple — a symbol of unity — in a place so often divided by borders.

The border wall “is a sign of individual problems and challenges, but here at the temple you are in a place of peace,” Elder Uchtdorf said prior to the McAllen temple’s dedication on Oct. 8. “The Spirit and your love for one another have no borders.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in white, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, left, talk with Gabrielle and Christylee Jara and their children — Gabrielle, 10, Sarai, and Jasmine — prior to the the McAllen Texas Temple’s dedication on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in white, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, left, talk with Gabrielle and Christylee Jara and their children — Gabrielle, 10, Sarai, and Jasmine — prior to the the McAllen Texas Temple’s dedication on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Vanessa Fitzgibbon: My testimony of an Apostle

One of the greatest blessings I have experienced since working for Church News is the opportunity to cover some stories related to Elder Ulisses Soares and Brazil. He was already a great leader in our native country, and his call to Apostleship, a calling coming from God to His living prophet, impacted my testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is interviewed by David Godoy at his house in North Salt Lake on March 19, 2023.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is interviewed by David Godoy at his house in North Salt Lake on March 19, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

This year, I had the opportunity to write about Elder Soares' interview with Brazilian YouTuber David Godoy. Just a few hours earlier, Elder Soares had arrived from a ministering trip of several days to the Pacific Area. Despite the time difference and visible tiredness, as he started explaining the gospel, the Church doctrine, and our beliefs to an unknown audience, the light and power invested in him was undeniable. It was nothing as intense and robust as thunder or a storm. It was through the simple and quiet voice the Spirit brought us through the Lord’s tender love. What I witnessed was not a Brazilian Apostle, as some may say, but the Lord’s Apostle to the world, speaking from his heart and by the power of His Spirit.

Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Front center are President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Also included are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

I learned and relearned many things just by listening and observing. Words don’t seem appropriate to describe that day and experience and my gratitude for witnessing it. After that, I felt a significant change in my testimony, not coming from the words but from a humble understanding that I was in the presence of a special witness of the Lord Himself.

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Nadia Gavarret: Legacy of faith

This year I had the opportunity to write a story about a pioneer in my family for the Church News “Pioneers in our families” series.

When I heard the theme for the series, I knew right away that I had to write about my mother’s conversion and the story related to it.

Norma Gavarret as a teenager in Minas, Uruguay, in the 1970s. She is Nadia Gavarret’s mother. | Provided by Nadia Gavarret

To gather the related facts, I looked for photographs and had several remote conversations with my parents, especially my mother. This search took me back to the late 1970s and the way missionaries taught the gospel to investigators, those we now call friends of the Church.

My mother told me about her love for the Book of Mormon and how as a young girl she lived the experiences recounted in it.

That search left a deep mark on my heart, firstly, because I did not know all the details of my mother’s conversion and the circumstances of her life. This also led me to reflect on my own experiences and personal conversion journey.

The love for my ancestors and the knowledge of their sacrifices that inherently belong to my heritage surfaced. This experience not only deepened but also fortified the roots of my faith in the gospel.

I was deeply moved by the additional pioneer stories that were shared. Each account deepened my gratitude for the sacrifices and faith that led our pioneers to move forward and embrace the gospel despite opposition and difficulties.

How grateful I am for my ancestors and for all those who, with unwavering faith, have embraced the gospel. Their enduring commitment serves as a source of inspiration, helping me to remain steadfast today. This commitment is rooted in recognizing the inherent worth of individuals and aligning with the divine purpose of our Heavenly Father for each of us, which is, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

This painting depicts pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley through Emigration Canyon in July 1847. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Learning about my mother’s conversion story and reading the stories shared in the “Pioneers in our families” series left me with a profound sense of “standing on the shoulders of giants.” It strengthened my belief that my purpose in this life is to rise even higher, leaving a legacy for future generations.

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Rachel Sterzer Gibson: College nostalgia

Earlier this year, I drove up to Rexburg, Idaho, to cover the inauguration of BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III. Walking around campus, grabbing lunch in the student center and having my hair tossed by boisterous wind all brought back happy memories of my own student experience there roughly 15 years ago.

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Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder D. Todd Christofferson applaud after installing President Alvin F. Meredith as the 18th president of BYU–Idaho.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, applaud after installing President Alvin F. Meredith as the 18th president of BYU–Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. | Nicolette Muhlestein, BYU–Idaho

The occasion was doubly sweet for me because I was able to connect with my niece, who was just a few weeks into her first semester of college. After finishing my work assignment, I offered to take her and a roommate to dinner and discover how she was faring during her first experience away from home.

As we chatted over sandwiches and milkshakes, my niece told me how she had recently been having some symptoms that worried her doctor, who had ordered some further medical tests. Somewhere, the word “cancer” was introduced. Instead of being preoccupied by classes and making friends and flirting with boys, this sweet 18-year-old was feeling burdened by a scary prospect.

Soon afterward, one of her professors during class shared about his own experience with cancer — the kind of cancer she was soon going to be tested for. After class, with tears in her eyes, my niece told this professor the situation she was facing. Not only was he able to offer counsel as someone who knew, but, seeing her distress, offered to give her a priesthood blessing.

That blessing gave her comfort, peace and the reassurance that God knew her and loved her, she told me. Fortunately, the medical tests came back negative, and my niece had a wonderful first semester. But seeing how my niece’s faith, in addition to her skills, are being strengthened through her education has caused me to reflect on my own “Church education” experience. Looking back, I can see clearly how my own testimony was refined and expanded during those years, in addition to my abilities.

I’m grateful — both for the opportunity I had to attend a Church school and to now cover Church education for the Church News. I continue to marvel at how places like BYU, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, Ensign College and BYU–Pathway Worldwide help individuals reach their potential, both earthly and eternal. 

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Ryan Jensen: President Eyring on insights, testimony — and painting

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, had just finished another meeting. He entered his office and spoke with the Church News team who was finishing setting up for an interview with him. After taking a minute to talk about his upcoming 90th birthday, he sat down with his trademark ear-to-ear smile, ready to share some insights from nine decades of life.

President Henry B. Eyring shows some of his recent watercolor paintings in his office in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

That time with him felt sacred as he shared tender feelings about his love for his wife, Sister Kathleen J. Eyring, who would pass away a few months later.

He also shared his admiration for members of the Church around the world and their faith in Jesus Christ.

“The faith of the average Latter-day Saint is absolutely remarkable,” he said. “Everywhere you go in the world, it is incredible.”

The challenging circumstances of life notwithstanding, President Eyring said he sees individuals exercising faith in God and trusting in His plan in inspiring ways.

President Eyring shared about his scripture study, watching prophets and apostles receive revelation, insights into raising a family, and the peace he finds when he sits down with a paintbrush in his hand. As the interview concluded, he bore a short and sweet testimony.

“God is real. He is loving. He answers prayers… Jesus is the Christ. There really was an Atonement. There really was. He loves you, and He loves me. I know that, I know that.”

William Matheson: A new edition of ‘Preach My Gospel’

I joined the Church News staff as an intern in late September after returning from serving a full-time mission in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission. On June 22, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the second edition of “Preach My Gospel.”

A copy of the second edition of the “Preach My Gospel” manual on a table.
The second edition of “Preach My Gospel,” an updated guide for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, is pictured at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, June 22, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The new edition of “Preach My Gospel” was impactful not for large changes that were made but rather for the small adjustments between additions. The new addition impacted the last few months of my missionary service as I was able to learn how to more effectively plan, teach and serve as a missionary.

Those benefits were brought to the background however as I noticed that this edition ushered the reader even more fully to Jesus Christ. Every section was purposefully placed so that the missionary and the friends they would teach could be converted to an ever increasing degree.

As stated in a First Presidency letter released the same day as the new edition, “‘Preach My Gospel’ helps missionaries and those they teach to center their lives on Jesus Christ and the covenants of His gospel. This edition is available to all and contains inspired words and teachings of prophets and apostles given since the manual’s introduction.”

I found it no mistake the letter emphasized that everyone, not just missionaries, could read the manual in order to draw nearer to Jesus Christ, for inspired words will bring the Spirit to all people.

Joel Randall: Connecting ancient to modern temples

As a temple preparation teacher in my ward, I relish the Church’s efforts to help others better understand and love the house of the Lord. The recent Tabernacle Experience exhibit that toured Utah for a year and a half gave the added bonus of getting the youth involved.

This project consisted of moving a full-size replica of the tabernacle of Moses to 32 sites around Utah. Those of all faiths were welcomed to tour the imagery described in Exodus 25-30, from the Camp of Israel to the table of shewbread to the Holy of Holies. The exhibit’s season in the Utah Area concluded Oct. 12 after seeing a combined 525,000 visitors.

Several objectives were brought to pass in the Tabernacle Experience, such as bringing others closer to the Savior, connecting the ancient and the modern temples, strengthening the rising generation, building interfaith relations, preparing Saints for temple attendance, testifying of the Restoration of the gospel, and engaging in love, share and invite.

A young man wearing a white shirt and striped tie talking with visitors in front of a replica of the tabernacle of Moses.
Ethan Shepherd, 19, of the Roy Utah North Stake talks with visitors at a full-size replica of the tabernacle of Moses on display in Syracuse, Utah, on May 7, 2022. The project concluded in Utah on Oct. 12, 2023, after visiting 32 sites. | Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

More than 35,000 youth were trained to man the various stations of the replica and teach the public about the tabernacle’s sights and symbols. What an ingenious idea to let the rising generation — those preparing to enter the temple to receive the endowment — lead the project’s teaching efforts.

Youth who taught about ancient washing and anointing will one day find such sacred symbolism in modern temples. Youth who testified how the lampstand, veil and brazen serpent point to the Savior will one day find His presence in the house of the Lord for themselves.

The tabernacle of Moses is a reminder to put Christ at the center of our lives, and it shows how Latter-day Saints strive to do that through meaningful temple worship. For those preparing to receive the temple endowment or seeking to better understand it, I highly recommend a richer study of the tabernacle.

In ancient times, only the high priest could enter the holiest place of the tabernacle. Yet today, our Father has extended the privilege to all Latter-day Saints who strive to be worthy and prepare to serve His Son with all their heart and might.

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Christine Rappleye: The connecting power of music

Many times, The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square’s performances double as recording sessions, and the audience is given specific instructions on being quiet during the recording. 

No such instructions were given when the choir and orchestra performed in Mexico City’s National Auditorium for the first stop on its multiyear, multicity “Hope” tour in June. 

From the beginning of the concert to the encores, the audience was enthusiastic. 

At one point, as the choir began to sing a hymn in Spanish, I realized that some of the 10,000 audience members were singing along. And all were singing by the time the choir sang “Cielito Lindo,” an unofficial anthem in Mexico. 

Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, who has led performances for a variety of audiences in many venues, observed that there was “a special energy and electricity” and that “the audience could not have been more enthusiastic.” 

A view of both the audience, left, and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and Orchestra at Temple Square on stage, right, as they perform at the National Auditorium.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and Orchestra at Temple Square perform at the National Auditorium in Mexico City on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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Earlier in the tour, the choir and orchestra performed in the Toluca Cathedral — a place of worship designed to bring people unto Jesus Christ. There, their music rose and filled the space in a different way than in the National Auditorium, but no less impactful. 

One morning during the tour, I tagged along with a group of 30 choir and orchestra members who visited a shelter for refugees. There in a courtyard, they sang together a few songs, a couple from the concert, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Happy Birthday,” and, with the help of local missionaries, visited with families there. It was a different audience and experience that left an impression on those who went, including me. 

These performances in different venues and for widely different audiences left an impression on me of the power of music and how it can transcend languages and cultures.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and Orchestra at Temple Square perform in the Toluca Cathedral in Toluca, Mexico
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and Orchestra at Temple Square perform in the Toluca Cathedral in Toluca, Mexico on Thursday, June 15, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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Mary Richards: Faith through the Lahaina fires

In August, I stood on the beautiful beaches on the Hawaiian island of Maui and heard story after heartbreaking story from members of the Lahaina 1st and 2nd wards. They had lost many things in that month’s deadly wildfires, but they had not lost not their faith. 

“Our faith and prayers made us strong, but I’m not going to minimize the fear,” Noni Mirkovich said, about spending hours in the ocean to escape the flames. “I know God was with us at all times. Heavenly Father was with us, and He sent His angels to minister to us and help us.”

A woman displaced by the Maui fires becomes emotional while talking about it in Lahaina.
Elder Mark A. Bragg, General Authority Seventy and president of the North America West Area talks with a woman as she talks about the fire and begins to get emotional during a gathering at Hanakao’o Beach Park in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

I saw the way the Kahului and Kahului West stakes rallied to help each other and their neighbors. I heard them sing in Tongan and in English the hymns of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt their love and concern for their neighbors. 

“I know that my Savior lives. I know that through all these trials will help us to be stronger than ever,” Unaloto Taukeiaho told me. “I’m grateful that I grew up in a community like this, that it doesn’t matter who you are and what you do in life, you are all brothers and sisters in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then through His Atonement we can overcome all of this.”

David Schneider: Saratoga Springs Utah Temple dedication

Most of my duties as a member of the Church News staff are accomplished in the office and not at events. So, while I have edited many accounts of temple dedications, and as a member of the Church have attended several temple dedications, either in the temple or via remote broadcast, I had not been the reporter at a temple dedication.

This year, I had the opportunity to attend and write about the dedication of a new house of the Lord — the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple — by President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, waves to a crowd gathered outside the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, waves to a crowd gathered outside the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple following the second session of its dedication, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

I was inspired by, ahead of the dedication, reading accounts from wards and stakes in the new-temple district of pre-dedication activities organized to point members’ attention to temple participation. And between the two dedicatory sessions Aug. 13, the excitement of local members to having a temple in their community was contagious as I interviewed several for the Church News article.

It was the Church’s 179th dedicated temple at the time, and in the four months since that number has grown to 186. One of my jobs is maintaining the Church News’ maps of 335 total temple locations, and I thrill at the increased access to temples for Church members as the markings on the maps progress from “announced” to “under construction” to “dedicated.”

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Scott Taylor: A latter-day apostle in the Holy Land

A latter-day apostle in the Holy Land.”

That was the headline of one of a half-dozen Church News reports photographer Jeff Allred and I filed in April from Israel and Cairo, Egypt, while covering the 11-day ministry there of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, spoke in a combined sacrament meeting of Cairo’s English and Arabic branches, evidence of “the universal gospel of Jesus Christ and the global Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. And visiting Cairo’s antiquities, he described the restored gospel as “more solid and more firm than the Giza pyramids. It is real to us, and we can trust it.”

Besides a student devotional and district conference at the BYU Jerusalem Center, Elder Uchtdorf found opportunities to teach and testify of the Savior, and interact and minister throughout the Holy Land — from the hillsides of Nazareth and Bethlehem to the waters of Caesarea Philippi, the Sea of Galilee and River Jordan.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriett Uchtdorf, pause on the grounds at the BYU Jerusalem Center.
With the Temple Mount and Old City behind them, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Harriett Uchtdorf, pause on the grounds at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Jerusalem, Israel, on Saturday, April 22, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

And on into Jerusalem — overlooking the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, visiting the Church of the Last Supper and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, pausing and pondering in a grove of olive trees near where the Garden of Gethsemane would have been and at the door and inside the representative Garden Tomb.

“I bear witness of Him. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ,” the Apostle testified.

In an emotional whisper, he continued, “I need to be ready so I can fall on my knees before Him, kiss His feet, thank Him for His sacrifice, for His gift to help me become perfect in Him. That is what we need the most — to be perfected in Him. We through our own strength will not be able to become perfect. Only through Christ, who is our strength. By His grace, by our Heavenly Father’s grace, we will be perfected through Him.”

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Trent Toone: Appreciating a ‘remarkable revelatory season’

One of my favorite 2023 experiences with the Church News came in Kirtland, Ohio, as Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles dedicated the restored home of Joseph and Emma Smith in late August.

Spending time with a Latter-day Saint Apostle in that historic setting helped me gain a deeper appreciation of the sacred events that transpired in Kirtland, including the following:

  • Joseph received many revelations to guide the Church and more heavenly manifestations occurred there than any other place.
  • Joseph oversaw printing of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and printing of the second edition of the Book of Mormon. He also made his Bible translation and largely translated the Pearl of Great Price.
Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, look over an Emma Smith-organized hymn book at the Joseph and Emma Smith Home.
Elder David A. Bednar of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, look over an Emma Smith organized hymn book at the Joseph and Emma Smith home in Kirtland, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
  • The School of the Prophets started as part of an educational period for Latter-day Saint leaders.
  • Emma completed her work on the first Latter-day Saint hymnal.
  • Joseph oversaw construction of the Church’s first temple and heavenly messengers restored significant keys.
  • The Smiths raised their family while caring for each other and many others.

“This dedication is an indicator of the importance of what took place in the Kirtland, Ohio, era. It was a remarkable revelatory season,” Elder Bednar said. “In my mind, what is most significant is the spiritual impact of what took place in the Kirtland years. This home is where Joseph and Emma lived together and reared their family longer than any other place prior to his death. So, this is a very substantial place and piece of Church history.”

Being there not only brought Church history to life and made it feel more real, the illuminating experience was captured in this stunning, powerful image of the golden sun rising on the Kirtland temple by Deseret News photographer Jeffrey D. Allred.

The sun rises on the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.
The sun rises on the Kirtland Ohio Temple in Kirtland, Ohio on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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Valerie Walton: 115 quotes from President Nelson’s 115 general conference addresses

Compilation stories can be seen as low-effort clickbait or lazy copy-and-paste writing.

So let me tell you about the longest compilation I think anyone at the Church News has ever dared to publish. And that is my collection of quotes from each of President Russell M. Nelson’s general conference talks (before October 2023). At least one person made it all the way through that mammoth article because she emailed me her thanks for compiling it.

The process I went through meant I did a lot of skimming to 1) get a feel for the overall topic of each of President Nelson’s talks, and 2) find a quote that encapsulated the message of the talk. And I can tell you from this experience that the topics we hear President Nelson addressing today are subjects that he has been addressing for nearly 40 years.

Two photos of President Russell M. Nelson in general conference, the left from 1984, the right from 2023.
Left: Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the Sunday morning session of the April 1984 general conference on April 1, 1984. Right: President Russell M. Nelson, with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, waves to attendees upon leaving the Conference Center after the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 2, 2023. | Screenshot from; Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

I remember the scramble to drop “LDS” from the Church News’ logos, website and social media handles in 2018 to obey President Nelson’s invitation to use the proper name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It echoed the message he gave just a couple of weeks before I was born in April 1990, in his general conference talk titled “Thus Shall My Church Be Called.”

In April this year, President Nelson invited us to be peacemakers — just as he did when he warned us about ”The Canker of Contention” a year before I was born.

It feels like President Nelson encouraging us to stay on the covenant path is a new initiative. But he taught us about being ”Children of the Covenant” back when I was just about 5 years old.

It was fascinating to find these common threads throughout the decades. There are plenty of other examples I could pick from — such as temples, revelation, gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon — but I’ll leave that exercise to you because I think you’ll find your own insights. For me, it testifies of the consistency of Christ’s doctrine through time and that the Lord’s Church and His Prophet are led by revelation.

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115 quotes from President Nelson’s 115 general conference addresses
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