Episode 101: What Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver knows now after 100 episodes of the Church News podcast
In celebration of this landmark, this episode of the podcast offers a few ‘best of’ moments from past podcasts
Episode 101: What Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver knows now after 100 episodes of the Church News podcast
In celebration of this landmark, this episode of the podcast offers a few ‘best of’ moments from past podcasts
On Oct. 20, 2020, the Church News launched a new podcast with a goal to connect members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Almost two years later, the Church News uploaded its 100th episode.
Thanks to a faithful and growing audience, producers now look forward to the next 100 episodes. In celebration of this landmark, this episode of the podcast offers a few “best of” moments from past podcasts, as well as reflections on “what we all know now,” after listening to and learning from the many podcast guests.
Following is a list of episodes featured in this podcast:
- Episode 1: Sarah Jane Weaver interviews President Ballard about his 35 years as an Apostle
- Episode 7: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland joins Sarah Jane Weaver to talk about the pandemic, his testimony
- Episode 12: Sister Wendy Nelson joins Sister Sheri Dew to talk about President Nelson’s 3 years as Prophet
- Episode 24: Elder Bednar shares his pattern for studying general conference messages
- Episode 26: Elder Cook on how revelation prepared the Church for COVID-19, will be significant going forward
- Episode 28: Elder Uchtdorf discusses how to incorporate pandemic lessons, move ‘back to the future’ of missionary work
- Episode 34: Church historian Richard Turley and filmmaker Mauli Junior Bonner on the importance of early Black pioneers
- Episode 37: Sister Aburto on mental, emotional health and the power of turning to the Savior for comfort
- Episode 40: President M. Russell Ballard and 3 other Apostles on why and how the Church is governed by councils
- Episode 41: Latter-day Saint women leaders on the voice of women in the Church through executive councils, revelation
- Episode 44: Following the recent First Presidency message on masks, immunizations, Richard E. Turley Jr. reflects on the lessons of history
- Episode 50: Elder Brook P. Hales, secretary to the First Presidency, gives an inside look into the preparations for general conference
- Episode 56: President Ballard, Elder Holland and Elder Cook reflect on how they first came to know the Savior
- Episode 57: BYU–Idaho professors Eric and Sarah d’Evegnée on faith, testimony and reconversion
- Episode 63: Deseret News Executive Editor Doug Wilks on how connection helped overcome contempt in 2021
- Episode 69: Elder Christofferson and President and Sister Top emphasize drawing courage from history to face modern challenges
- Episode 70: The expansiveness of the Salt Lake Temple renovation project, with Brent Roberts and Andy Kirby
- Episode 74: Relief Society President Jean B. Bingham on the 180th anniversary of the worldwide women’s organization
- Episode 76: President M. Russell Ballard shares memories of general conference, emphasizes the need to anchor faith in Christ
- Episode 82: How a unique ‘Reverse Open House’ is helping build interfaith relationships in the Washington, D.C., area
- Episode 93: New Primary General President Susan H. Porter on how teaching and serving children can be life-changing
- Episode 94: New Relief Society President Camille N. Johnson on how understanding divine nature and purpose leads to lasting happiness
- Episode 96: Approaching his 90th birthday, President Dallin H. Oaks reflects on the lessons learned in nine decades
- Episode 100: Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder S. Mark Palmer on the growing and influential Church in Africa, with guest host Sheri Dew
Sarah Jane Weaver: If I were to think of what I know now, after being involved with the Church News podcast for 100 episodes — life is better with God.
President M. Russell Ballard: [We are] all focused on the anchor that everyone needs in their lives, regardless of what’s happening. And that anchor is to stay close to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: And they will feel for themselves, as I did throughout my life, that this is true, and that Jesus Christ is real and gave this sacrifice for me. So I can, when this life ends, return to his presence.
President Camille N. Johnson: It’s that diversity in life experience that is going to help us get home, right? I mean, we’ve got to draw upon one another’s strengths. And sometimes strengths are born of weakness. The weaknesses that we’ve overcome, become our strengths, and then we can help others.
Doug Wilks: It’s all about an invitation. It’s an invitation to follow the Savior. It’s an invitation to heal.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Oct. 20, 2020, the Church News launched a new podcast with a goal to connect members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Almost two years later, we uploaded our 100th episode. Thanks to a faithful and growing audience, we now look forward to producing the next 100 episodes of the Church News podcast. In celebration of the first 100, however, today, we look back and offer some highlights and reflect on what we all know now, because of our many podcast guests, their stories and their testimonies.
In our first episode, the Church News podcast featured President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking about a focus on the Savior Jesus Christ. He set the tone for every episode of the Church News podcast that would follow his.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, it’s the same message I think that I have tried to emphasize my whole ministry and that is that we must focus our hearts and our minds on Jesus Christ. We need to come to know who He really is and really, you come to know the Savior by serving Him and His Church. I think the more you serve, the more you reach out, the more you extend your efforts to try to help others along the way, whether it be just quietly or publicly, those quiet moments of service draw you closer to the Master. I never go away from private, one-on-one effort to try to help somebody who’s been hurt — in accidents or who has been hurt emotionally, or just struggling in life — I never leave those experiences without a deeper, abiding love for the Lord, knowing that I can say to anyone that just trust Him, you have to trust Him. Your safety and my safety is the Lord. If we stay close to Him and then try to do the things He would want us to do, we’re going to be OK, regardless of what burden we may be carrying and there are some people that are really, really burdened. But He’s promised if we follow Him, He’ll help us carry them and I’m a witness of that. That’s true.
Sarah Jane Weaver: A few months later, in December of 2020, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined the podcast to share his testimony, offer his hard earned life advice and encourage individuals to turn to God amid the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: The pandemic has brought not only — it’s not only sobered people. I think it’s frightened many people, not just for their health, not just because it’s a vicious illness, but because it does have its financial impact and its social impact and all these things we’ve talked about that have taken us away from each other and from things that we normally do. So, I think what we’ve been left with, fortunately, in a tremendously advantageous way, is that if we haven’t been able to turn here and we can’t turn there, we can turn up. And I hope that one thing we’ve all done is come closer to God. That we know that He does not move. He is not subject to pandemics, that He can not only cure that problem, but He can cure every other problem in our lives. He’s invited us to lay our burdens at His feet and that He is equal to it. “My grace is sufficient,” we keep reading in the scriptures. So, my testimony to the Church and to the world is that this is true. This is God’s very truth. This is not a fairy tale. This is not something that I get up every morning and ask myself, “How can I go fool another group of people today? How can I go pretend that something’s true? How can I go work a great fiction, a magnificent fiction, on the public?” That is not what I do. I would not do that and my life is worth more to me than that and my witness to my children and my children’s children is worth more than that, means more than that. My integrity is more than that. I get up every morning saying not, “How can I pretend?” Not, “How can I act like this is true?” My plea every morning of my life is, “How can I convey what I know to be more true than anything on the face of this earth? How can I convey to some person or persons the reality of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the fact that God lives, that the heavens are open, that the Father and the Son appeared to have a 14-year-old boy and that I’m reaching out to the world as a result of that experience, that in the same commission given to Peter, James and John, I have a commission to stand by the Savior of the world to defend Him and defend the rock that He is. He said He was the rock and He is my rock. He’s the rock of my salvation and He’s the rock of everyone’s salvation.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In January 2021, as the Church celebrated the third anniversary of President Russell M. Nelson’s prophetic leadership, guest host Sister Sheri Dew interviewed President Nelson’s wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. They explored the life and ministry of the prophet over his first three years.
Sister Wendy Nelson: Well, he loves building bridges. He does not like walls that separate or segregate. He does not like categories or labels, because he believes that also separates and segregates and I’ve come to listen just a little bit better to what this is all about. And what has caught my attention is, he doesn’t just want to bring the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. He wants to bring the blessings of the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. And he just doesn’t want to bring the blessings to every nation, kindred tongue and people, he would like to bring the blessings to every single person himself. So, that’s what we have there with President Russell M. Nelson. There is a joy that compels him, because he knows it’s true, because he knows the blessings that the Lord has for these people, the promises, the blessings, the unbelievable things that we can’t even imagine. He knows that the Lord has something for every country that will make it better, for every family that will make them stronger, for every individual that will make them happier. So, he is compelled to do that. He can’t restrain himself.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As April 2021 general conference approached, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered a pattern for individuals as they listen to and study messages from Apostles and Prophets.
Elder David A. Bednar: The basic pattern is to identify the fundamental doctrine or principle that’s being taught, find any invitations associated with and related to that doctrine or principle and then also recognizing the promised blessings if we act in accordance with that invitation. This had its genesis, I’m old enough to remember, Spencer W. Kimball at the conclusion of general conference and he would say something akin to, “We should all make the record of this conference our walk in our talk for the next six months.” Harold B. Lee used to say this and as a young man that impressed me to think that the President of the Church is going to go home and studiously work on learning what is in these talks. So as I began to do that, I just found that there was something fundamental that was emphasized. And almost always, not in every instance, but almost always, there was an invitation to act and do something with what was being taught and then a promised blessing that would follow. So, what I ended up doing is I would take a sheet of paper and I would have three columns and I would take the talks and I just tried to summarize and identify those things. And that, in essence, became my walk and talk for the next six months. If I could express just one hope, it is that this is simple. This is not an educational exercise. This is something where you can be tutored by the Holy Ghost. It’s just making a connection and what you begin to see, is that if I understand this truth, and if I act in this way, then God has promised these blessings. A part of the pattern is, they don’t come when we want necessarily. They come when it’s in accordance with His will and His timing. But I would just hope people wouldn’t think “Well, only Apostles, think like this or worry about things like this.” Any member of this Church, regardless of position status, as long as they’re worthy, as long as they’re seeking for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, with that help can make these connections and be greatly blessed.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined the Church News podcast in April of 2021 to talk about how the Lord has hastened His work in recent years and how revelation guided the creation and implementation of new initiatives and directives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Quentin L. Cook: Well, we didn’t have revelation it was going to be a pandemic, but you look back and you see the pandemic and what we were trying to do in terms of moving things to the home — home-centered, Church-supported — the pandemic made a necessity, and very rapid order. We don’t know why we have the pandemics, we don’t know why we have these things, but I think we need to learn from them. And I think that’s one of the things we will learn, is that it’s blessed us with our home-centered, Church-supported and really have sanctuaries of faith in our home. What a blessing that was. And so, we’re coming into the pandemic and now, we have a curriculum. We have a sanctuary of faith. We have a place of learning — all that we’ve desired for such a long time to transform homes into the principal place where the gospel would be lived. The Twelve have always wanted that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Just two weeks after Elder Cook’s podcast, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was then Chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council, joined the podcast to talk about missionaries serving amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: My only hope is that across the Church, actually, that when the pandemic now, hopefully, will come to a conclusion, we need to adapt and add our ways and not go back to the old ways, you know. That’s my only hope. We have to retain and cultivate those proven principles and ways how we did it before the pandemic, but we also have to add and adapt. We need to not move back to the old ways. We need to move back to the future. We need to move back to the future. That is the way and then we will see that with these enthusiastic missionaries and the members are so good.
We have seen in across the world, the feedback how the members appreciate technology, when missionaries invite a member to join them for teaching of friends, often, in some parts of the world, that takes time for this member to travel to the location where the friend is being taught. Sometimes they have to drive an hour or longer and heavy traffic and it costs money. It costs time. Then they arrive and the appointment falls through, perhaps. Now with technology, the missionaries is on the spot, has arranged previously, that there may be the opportunity for teaching where the member is invited to bear their testimony. And then they are there. If the appointment falls through, the members are informed, “Nope, won’t work. Stay at home.” If it’s there, “OK, join here. Lock in. We’re here” No travel, no cost, right there when it’s over there at home, again, with their kids with their family at their workplace. So you see, this is just a practical example how members and missionaries can work closely together. And that the Holy Ghost will lead us through that path. And that the Lord has established His Church and the ancient time and He, as promised, has reestablished it, restored it, in our time and we’re privileged and blessed. And I would see it as a great blessing, not as a privilege in the worldly way, but as a privilege in a spiritual way to be part of that and be able to share it and I want to share this good news, this gospel, with everyone and invite them to come and see, and come and help and come and belong. And they will feel for themselves, as I did throughout my life, that this is true, and that Jesus Christ is real and gave this sacrifice for me, so I can, one day, when this life ends return to His presence and I’m grateful for that and I know that it will bless families that will make families to be forever. And this is the testimony I want to share with the people around the globe.
Sarah Jane Weaver: June of 2021 marked 43 years since President Spencer W. Kimball announced the 1978 revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy male members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that episode of the Church News podcast, historian Richard E. Turley interviewed Mauli Junior Bonner who spoke and shared his testimony about Black history as an important part of Church history.
Mauli Junior Bonner: My family, the Bonner family, we sing together and we were asked to sing at the Be One celebration that was commemorating the 40th anniversary of the priesthood ban being lifted. And during that broadcast, I was learning about early Black history in the Church and it was incredible and inspiring. It strengthened, to me it made me want to learn more about them and why they stayed and what their experience was like. So, it did not shake me at all. It rooted me. I mean, I was asked the question, “So why is this important?” My response was, “When we think of Joseph of Egypt, and the Jews of Israel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel in the lion’s den, they, too, shared portions of their life enslaved.” And we would not dream of removing their enslavement from their story. We trust strength from that, not because they’re the same complexion, culture, race, right.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Also, in June of 2021, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, then second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, joined the podcast to speak about emotional health and the power of turning to the Savior for comfort and learning, and the importance of seeking professional help.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto: Yes, I always love to read the ministry of the Savior, both in Jerusalem and in the Americas. As I was reading 3 Nephi 17 just a few months ago, I was so touched about that part when we read about the Lord, and how He was teaching the people for one day, and then He realized that they were weak, and they were not understanding His words. Then He sent them home to rest so they could be ready to listen to Him again, but then He could actually sense that they were sad because He was leaving. They were in tears and looking at Him as if asking Him if he could stay a little bit longer. So He said to them — and I think this is so beautiful, because He said, “Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.” And then He asked them, “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner?”
And when I was reading this, one day, I thought: Wait a minute. I think that, in a way, He’s talking about each of us in this passage. Because if you think about it, we are all lame in a way, because we cannot walk upright before God. In a way, we are all blind, because our eyes cannot see the miracles around us sometimes. In a way, we are all halt, because we stop and doubt in our faith sometimes, when we are not on a steady pace, we fall and get up. And then in a way, we are also maimed because we have all lost something, and we have all suffered from those losses. And we are also lepers in a way because we have faced rejection in our life, one way or another. We are all withered because we are suffering for the things that we have gone through. We are also all deaf, because we cannot hear, sometimes, what the Lord is trying to tell us. And we are all afflicted in some manner.
Something that I know now that I didn’t know just a few years ago is that as part of our mortal stage, we all go through struggles. I used to think that I was the only one going through something in the past. But then I realized that as we open up to each other, as we share our struggles with others, we realize that we are not alone and that the things that we go through can give us that strength and that compassion and that empathy that will allow us to help each other in our journey. And that we can see problems as opportunities. When someone is struggling, and when we are struggling, we can see that as an opportunity to learn more about things, to strengthen our faith and our testimony of the need that we have for a Savior and to try to understand how He is always willing to help us, how He’s always willing to give us the strength that we need. That as we turn to Him, as we try to understand each other and as we try to understand our emotions, those struggles can actually become a source of greatness inside us, that greatness that comes from that grace that the Savior gives us. That we can actually become stronger, and that, again, gives us the ability to go and look for others and try to help them.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In July of 2021, the Church News launched a series called “Inside Church Headquarters.” The series explored why and how the Church is governed by councils. That month, four Apostles returned to the Church News podcast — President Ballard, Elder Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar and Elder Cook — to each talk about the divinely inspired Church council system.
Elder David A. Bednar: The power of counseling in council is revelation. In worldly or secular organizations, much is made about participative decision making. And the rationale is, “Well, we get a diversity of opinions and then people are more invested in the conclusions or the decisions when they’re made.” This is not a secular pattern. Counseling in councils is about inviting, receiving and recognizing revelation. So, for example, in the Temple and Family History Executive Council, revelation is scattered among the various members of the council. As an issue comes forward and we invite and hear counsel from everyone, each contributes in a distinctive way. All of that is done under the presiding authority and the keys that are present in the room. But all of the revelation doesn’t come through the one person who may hold the keys or have the assignment to direct the council. So whether it is in a family setting, a family council is a revelatory setting; in a ward council, it is not about planning activities, although that is done, it’s a revelatory experience. And then the presiding councils of the Church, the councils are settings for receiving revelation that will affect the members of the Church all over the earth.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Now, the Savior, Jesus Christ is at the center of this work; of the plan of salvation, is the center of this gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. He established it when He was on the earth, and He re-established it now, and we are in the middle of it. So the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were with the Savior. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles today are with the Savior. So the Savior is at the center. His mission is, for the Church, important. And the beauty is, He is at the center and has the importance for each and every individual. Whether they are, whatever age it is, married, single, child, adult, young adult, for everyone, the Savior’s in the center. And that is true for the organization of the Church. It has to be the Savior. Jesus Christ has to be in all our efforts, has to be at the center, not our own ego, or our own thinking of organizational structure. The Savior. What would He want us to do? How can we accomplish His purpose, His mission, His work, His glory? That’s what He gave us. And that’s what we need to do.
Elder Quentin L. Cook: The purpose is to prepare people to meet God; it is to perfect the Saints. And, so, under this council, you have all five of the organizations, you have the Relief Society and the Young Women, and the Primary, you have the Young Men and the Sunday School — all five of them, those presidencies and their boards that are working under that which has responsibility for much that is going on in the Church. It also is responsible for the curriculum that is undertaken and many of the other responsibilities. And I’m not trying to make it sound too grand, but if it isn’t missionary work and isn’t temple and family history work, it is Priesthood and Family. So there is just a multitude of incredible people working on various things from curriculum to hymns. The Scripture Committee comes under Priesthood and Family, and so the scriptures that are being developed and translated for new countries and new languages all over the world. And so it’s a little bit hard to say exactly what it does. That’s why I like President Nelson saying, “It is preparing people to meet God.” So you have got missionary work, you have got temple work, and Priesthood is “preparing people to meet God.”
President M. Russell Ballard: If I were teaching about ward councils, I would say, look, the ward council primarily exists for us to think through how we can draw the ward members to Jesus Christ. How can we get their hearts connected to His? How do we do that for the little children? How do we do that for the youngsters? How do we do that for the young adults? And how do we do that for the aged? The active and the less active and the nonmember? How do we do it? Because that is our mission. The mission of the Church and the mission of the ward, the mission of a bishopric, the mission of a stake presidency, of a mission president, of Apostles, is to bring souls unto Christ, help prepare them to receive the ordinances and the covenants that are essential for eternal salvation. And so we are all in this, doing the same thing and trying to take our Father’s children from wherever they are, and helping them on the journey, on the path. And President Nelson has been using the term “the covenant path.” And that’s a good one, so that they will be able to qualify for all of the blessings the Lord has for His children in the temple. They can be endowed. They can be sealed. They can receive all the ordinances that are available on this side of the veil, that are also efficacious on the other side of the veil.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Women leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also participated in the “Inside Church Headquarters” series. President Jean B. Bingham, then Relief Society general president, spoke on the voice of women in the Church that they have through executive councils and through personal revelation.
President Jean B. Bingham: It is so critical that everyone has a voice. That is one of the things that you learn in council, that every single person that comes — they have something valuable to contribute. And we all see things differently because of our background, because of our personal experiences. And I can’t know what everyone else knows from my knowledge. I have this perspective that they also can’t know what I have. So when you put all those things together, we find the best solution every time. And really, if we are focused on what the Lord wants, that’s how we find the best solution. It is not because what I want is such a great idea or someone else has a brilliant idea. It is as we put our voices together, men and women, they find what is the best solution and we are looking for the Lord’s will.
It’s interesting that in the world, there are many places that don’t necessarily value women’s perspectives, women’s voices. That’s one thing that’s different in the Church — that wherever you are in the Church, your voice as a woman matters. Those who lead councils understand that they need the perspective of women, as well as men, and we work together when we are united. That’s how we really make progress.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As October 2021 general conference approached Elder Brook P. Hales, secretary to the First Presidency and a General Authority Seventy, joined the Church News podcast to give an inside look into the preparations of general conference.
Elder Brook P. Hales: I have learned over the years that the Lord is an excellent executive producer of conference, and sometimes as I’m sitting there thinking, “Oh, wow, we’re going to go over,” or “Oh, wow, we’re going to go under,” somehow, it just always works. It just always works. And I finally, finally figured out that it’s because the Lord is in charge. I’m not. He does a wonderful job of keeping us right where we need to be. And it’s truly Heaven directed. He knows what needs to be heard by Sarah Weaver and everyone else who’s tuning in. And so, my simple faith is that a talk will be prepared and delivered that will help Sarah Weaver and everybody else in this world if they will listen. And this is the opportunity for the Lord to speak to His people, unique in every way possible. It’s His opportunity to speak to you and to me and everyone else who participates.
Sarah Jane Weaver: President Ballard, Elder Holland and Elder Cook traveled to England and Scotland in October 2021 to address both Church members and missionaries. The trip marked a coming home for the trio of Church leaders who had each served missions to the British Isles.
President M. Russell Ballard: Now, let me tell you the story from here. I have walked along this pathway a lot of times. Somebody asked me the question, “When did you know that the Church was true? Really know it?” And my response was that I had a special spiritual experience walking along the Trent River in Nottingham, England, when I was a boy. And the special experience was that I was, for some reason, I was the district president, so I did not have a companion. And I was coming back from a street meeting that we had held in the Market Square and I was coming alone to get back to, what we called in those days, our digs. And while walking along this river, I knew that the Lord knew that I was there. Did you see anything? No. Did you hear any voices? No. But I had a witness, an experience, now we are talking 75 years ago, 73 or 74 years ago. I had a spiritual inner assurance that Heavenly Father was aware of me and the Lord was aware of me and that I was on their errand and that what I was doing was important. And I was 19, 19 or 20, maybe I had turned 20 by then. Well, that’s a long time ago, but I was walking along this river and I knew.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Episode 57 of the Church News podcast featured BYU Idaho professors Eric and Sarah d’Evegnée. They spoke on faith, testimony and the importance of reconversion to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Sarah d’Evegnée: There’s a whole spectrum of what faith looks like. Interviewing people, that made me realize how our faith should be allowed to the our faith, faith that we have chosen, faith that we have nurtured, but that also it should be an evolving, growing, developmental faith that’s involved in a process. Because I think sometimes it feels like, again, that sort of black-and-white thinking: “Oh, I have a testimony. It’s mine. I just need to hold on to it, and just put it in a little box and keep it so that it doesn’t somehow get tarnished.” But we let it grow and we let it grow deep roots and then we get to nurture it. And so all of us, probably, should be asking ourselves, “How am I being reconverted?” And allow other people to do the same, not expect that their faith is either on or off, but that we’re all in process.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As the year 2021 drew to a close, Deseret News Executive Editor Doug Wilks joined the Church News podcast. He spoke about how connection helped overcome contempt that year.
Doug Wilks: I’m here to champion the words of President Nelson and those leaders who are trying to keep the world open for the spread of the gospel. It’s all about an invitation. It’s an invitation to follow the Savior. It’s an invitation to heal. And what’s the lesson there? The lesson there is simple service. It’s you find this commonality of looking at something greater than yourself. That’s what I think has really been building peace through the year. The Church has certainly tried to be good global citizens, which they’ve said repeatedly, and I imagine that will continue with the, the emergence of variants now that are plaguing us, to some extent, we’ll need to be good citizens into 2022 as well.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed thousands gathered in San Diego, California, on Jan. 29, 2022, in celebration of the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon Battalion to the city. In the podcast that he recorded following that event, Elder Christofferson talked about drawing courage from history to face modern challenges.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson: Part of the reason we focus on history is that the Lord has commanded it. He made that a commandment in the very first day the Church was organized, to keep a record. Part of it is to honor those who have gone before but also to take courage from their example. Remember them, as Prophet Brigham Young said, that battalion members would be remembered through all generations, and that memory inspires us. We see what others have done; we say: “I can do that. Others have, I can, too.” But it also shows the hand of God all the way through our history, and I think that’s tremendously important for building faith. He’s been there from the beginning. He’s been there all along. He’s with us and He never abandons His people, whatever their trials or challenges. So remembering the past, the history teaches us lessons about what to do, about how to do, it inspires us; but more than anything else, it teaches us that God is with us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Originally dedicated in 1893, the Salt Lake Temple closed for extensive renovations in early 2020. Brent Roberts, Managing Director of the Church’s Special Projects Department, joined the Church News podcast to talk about the expansive project.
Brent Roberts: You know, I think there’s a few of us that, our lives have been changed by the construction of temples, but nowhere near what happens to us as we go into the temple. It’s definitely changed my life, but I think the experiences inside the temple, truly, for me personally, are much more than what the construction has been. I think the Saints, the early Saints that worked on the temple, the early craftsmen, felt the same way. Many of them probably didn’t have an opportunity to attend the temple because it took so long, but it’s just incredible what they’ve been able to accomplish. They had an incredible amount of faith, faith and determination to do something that had never been done before. I am just amazed not only at their unique abilities, and their craftsmanship and their ability to do what they were able to accomplish, but also where their hearts were.
Sarah Jane Weaver: On March 17, 2022, the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated its 180th anniversary. Then Relief Society President Jean B. Bingham spoke about the importance of the organization and the essential role of women in the Church.
President Jean B. Bingham: We need every single woman to know that she is valued, that she will have tremendous contributions to make, and really depends on where you are and your stage of life, what your circumstances are. The sister who’s living in Ghana has a very different experience than a sister who’s living in Georgia. And yet, can they make contributions that are meaningful? Absolutely. No matter where we live, no matter what our life stage is, no matter what our socioeconomic situation is, we can make contributions to the Church and the Lord will support us in those and we’ll be blessed and we are blessing others’ lives.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepared for April 2022 general conference, President Ballard joined the Church News podcast to offer his insights into the event and what it’s like to prepare a general conference talk.
President M. Russell Ballard: I tried to say something that would be helpful to them, all focused on the anchor that everyone needs in their lives, regardless of what’s happening. And that anchor is to stay close to the Lord Jesus Christ. If people will love Him, and keep Him foremost in their hearts and in their lives, whatever difficulties we may face. If we’re anchored properly, with our love and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Sarah Jane Weaver: For months prior to the open house of the Washington D.C. Temple, Diana Brown, the Assistant Director of Interreligious Engagement at Georgetown University, led a unique group of Church members and friends on a different kind of open house tour. The group visited sacred sites of other faiths in an effort to learn and foster interreligious relationships.
Diana Brown: And I think that the Reverse Open House series was an opportunity to make the temple open house a reciprocal exchange, to demonstrate to others that as they’re coming into our space showing curiosity and interest and openness, that we have that towards them as well. But also, “We want to come and learn about you.” And “we want to let you broaden our understanding of what the sacred is, and who God is, and the role of faith in our lives.” And I really have a testimony of that expansive understanding of God’s family, that the gospel invites us to see to believe in and to enhance, you know, that sense of shared humanity.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In the weeks prior to beginning her service as Primary General President, Sister Susan H. Porter spoke on the Church News podcast about how teaching and serving children can be life changing.
President Susan H. Porter: When we are called to serve in Primary, it extends beyond that time we spend with them in class, that we had the opportunity to pray for them, to get to know them, to perhaps communicate with their parents about how best we can support them. That time teaching or serving in Primary, in any capacity, can be life-changing, for not only the little children, but also for us. It will help that calling become so much richer for us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: New Release Society General President Sister Camille N. Johnson also joined the Church News podcast prior to beginning her service on Aug. 1 of this year. She spoke about how understanding divine nature and purpose leads to lasting happiness.
President Camille N. Johnson: Absolutely. That is such a fabulous example of just what is intended in Relief Society — people feeling safe, people feeling protected — and I hope that our Relief Societies are safe places where sisters can share their life experiences. It’s that diversity in life experience that’s going to help us get home, right? I mean, we’ve got to draw upon one another’s strengths and sometimes strengths are born of weakness, right? The weaknesses that we’ve overcome become our strengths, and then we can help others work through their challenges. I’ve always felt just a natural affection for my Relief Society sisters, those that are older than I am, those that are younger than I am, just a natural affection for them and for the wisdom that they have, for their vitality. And I say vitality and I speak of both my Relief Society sisters who are younger and older than I am. I’m thankful for the compassion that I felt in Relief Society amongst my Relief Society sisters, and I hope, as you said, that we’re providing that safe place, that protection. If there’s a phrase that I always used in parenting, I’d say to my boys, “We’re all on the same team.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: Approaching his 90th birthday on Aug. 12, 2022, President Dallin H. Oaks joined the podcast to speak about the lessons learned in his nine decades. The first counselor in the First Presidency addressed his youth, his family life, unexpected tragedies and the blessings of his Church service.
President Dallin H. Oaks: When I was called as an Apostle, suddenly, I saw behind the scenes. I increased in testimony of the Savior, I increased in knowledge of what it means to be a witness of His name in all the world — which is the Doctrine and Covenants description of the duty of an Apostle — increased my faith in and witness of the truth of the restored gospel, the First Vision of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the various policies, as well as doctrines of the Church that the Lord has inspired His Church to do from time to time. All of that was part of my growth and part of what I testify to members of the Church today.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And that brings us full circle as we celebrate the 100th episode of the Church News podcast. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined that episode. He was speaking specifically about the Church in Africa, but first he spoke about his own life and the influence of the Church on him.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband: Sister Rasband and I are both sixth generation Latter-day Saints. All of our great-grandparents were pioneers on both her side and my side and so, I have often felt, and I’m going to use a phrase that President Ballard uses, that I was born with “believing blood.” And from the earliest days that I can remember, at the knee of my angel Mother, I have just believed. I’ve never had challenges of faith. I’ve never had challenges of my testimony and I began that way, in humble circumstances. My father was a truck driver, grew up in a humble home. It was a beautiful beginning to my life. And then throughout my life, it’s as if, as you say, I look back, now, in hindsight, it’s as if I was a chess piece on a chess board, and Heavenly Father, the Lord and the Holy Ghost, it seems, moved me from place to place, experience to experience. Different people influenced my life all along that journey.
I like a statement by John Donne where he said, “No man is an island. No man stands alone.” That certainly applies to me and my life. I was molded. I was shaped by the people along that journey that contributed to who I am today. President Nelson once said after Elder Stevenson, Renlund and I were called to the Twelve, he said to us and our wives, he said, “My new Brethren of the Twelve and you dear sisters, let me just say, it takes a long time and many experiences to grow an Apostle of the Lord.” And I went, “Ding, ding, ding, that’s me.” It’s been a life of experiences, a life of people. Pepper that with all the Church leaders I’ve met during the years and other influencers, that’s a popular word these days. I’ve had lots of those in my life and I just feel blessed amongst all people to be able to serve where I’m serving and feel it an immense honor and privilege.
Sarah Jane Weaver: What a joy it has been for me to relive some highlights of the Church News podcast from the first 100 episodes. I wish we could have included highlights from all 100 episodes. There wasn not any that didn’t bring me great joy to be a part of, and in which I didn’t learn something really important.
One of the things that brings me great pleasure, if I were to think of what I know now after being involved with the Church News podcast for 100 episodes, I actually turned my thoughts immediately to something President Russell M. Nelson wrote in an op-ed published in the Arizona Republic a few years ago. He said, “Life with God is far better than one without him.” And I think that is what I have learned most as I have listened to people share their experiences, and their testimonies. Life is better with God. When we are accountable to a higher being when we are seeking direction in our lives on a daily basis, we are all elevated. And it changes what we do, whether it is our Church calling or whether it’s something we’re going through or whether it’s research or history, or any initiative the Church is involved in, we find great joy and happiness as we feel accountable to our Heavenly Father. The other thing I’ve learned is that discipleship to Jesus Christ is real, and it’s powerful. And it, too, makes all of us a little better. When we want to be like Jesus Christ to follow Him and to live our lives as He would want us to live them, then we’re all a little better.
And we’ve seen that reflected in so many episodes of the Church News podcast, either by people demonstrating their discipleship as those who have committed to serve Jesus Christ with every living breath, as have so many Apostles have who have been on the podcast, or other Church leaders, or members who make decisions each day based on wanting to be more like the Savior.
And so as we close this special recap episode of the Church News podcast, and turn our gaze toward the next 100 episodes of the Church News podcast, I guess I will close by saying, I am thankful beyond measure for a loving Heavenly Father, and for His Son Jesus Christ, who have blessed my life and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and others of God’s children throughout the world, in very, very important and profound ways. I am thankful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know that it is led by Prophets and Apostles, including President Russell M. Nelson. I am thankful to be a part of the chronicling of a “record of the Restoration” because it is true. And I leave these things with all of our listeners in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.