In the News

Episode 140: Reporter Rachel Sterzer Gibson on how her experience at the Church News has helped her see the Lord’s hand in her life

Rachel Sterzer Gibson shares how magnifying others’ stories of faith has helped her see the Lord’s ever-present hand in her life


Church News reporter Rachel Sterzer Gibson joins the Church News podcast.

Screenshot from YouTube

Episode 140: Reporter Rachel Sterzer Gibson on how her experience at the Church News has helped her see the Lord’s hand in her life

Rachel Sterzer Gibson shares how magnifying others’ stories of faith has helped her see the Lord’s ever-present hand in her life


Church News reporter Rachel Sterzer Gibson joins the Church News podcast.

Screenshot from YouTube

For the past 13 years, Rachel Sterzer Gibson has worked for the Church News, helping to create a “Living Record of the Restoration” through her writing, editing, web publication and support.

She joins this episode of the Church News podcast to discuss her most compelling assignments, her current beat writing about Church education, her role as a wife and mother, the years she navigated as a single adult, and the tender time she and her family cared for her aging father.

These experiences magnifying others’ stories of faith have helped her see the Lord’s ever-present hand in her life. 

Subscribe to the Church News podcast on Apple PodcastsAmazonGoogle PodcastsStitcherSpotifybookshelf PLUS or wherever you get podcasts.


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: In my own experiences at Church News, I’m really grateful for the privilege we have of amplifying the stories, the testimonies, the experiences of not only Church leaders but of individual members. It feels to me like the spirit of gathering. We’re taking these individual stories and testimonies and faith of individual members, and we’re sharing them so that “all may be edified together” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:110). And I consider that to be a huge privilege. I’m honored. I’ve also felt many times that the Lord is mindful of me. And that’s been amazing to see through the stories that I’ve covered.


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.

For the past 13 years, Rachel Sterzer Gibson has worked for the Church News, helping to create “A Living Record of the Restoration” through her writing, editing, web publication and support. She joins this episode of the Church News podcast to talk about her most compelling assignments, covering stories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her current beat writing about Church education, her role as a wife and mother, and the tender years she and her siblings supported her mother as she cared for their aging father. Rachel graduated from BYU–Idaho with a degree in communications and English. Welcome, Rachel, to the Church News podcast.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Thank you.


Sarah Jane Weaver: It’s great to have you here. Everyone who works for the Church News has moments that they experience while creating a record of the Restoration that define something important for them. And so, as we start today, can you share some of those moments that have defined your time at Church News, with our audience?

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: There have been moments in my assignments that have shown me that the Lord is mindful of me in the grander picture. I remember covering President Henry B. Eyring as he was dedicating the complex of new buildings and renovated buildings on Temple View, which was the old Church College of New Zealand. I felt the responsibility keenly to, you know, cover this event, which was really important to a lot of people throughout the Pacific — and the broader Church, but specifically the Pacific — and I was super jet-lagged. I hadn’t been able to switch my sleep schedule over; it was all over the place. I was so tired.

But the members there were so kind. It was after the dedication, and I was in one of the buildings with my laptop, and I was just trying to go through photos and do all of the things. It was a Sunday. And one of the members saw me working and brought me a couple of meat pies. Like, “You have been here for so long, and you haven’t eaten anything. I just wanted to make sure that you were taken care of.” And it was so sweet and so generous. And I just felt so — it was a small thing, but I felt acknowledged and taken care of. And I feel like that was one of the ways and one of the moments where the Lord reached out to me specifically, in the broader aspect of what I was doing, to let me know that I was remembered.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and it’s true; one of the greatest blessings of working for Church News is the opportunity to associate with members of the Lord’s Church in many lands. And that sweet person who observed a need and then followed through — I think some of us might say, “Oh, that person might be hungry, but they probably planned it. They might be fasting. They probably have a protein bar in their backpack.” And we don’t respond. But we’ve all felt that tender feeling when they do; when they can be the Lord’s hands to bring just a moment of relief to somebody else. You know, I’m so glad that you brought up New Zealand. You also have had the opportunity to cover the dedications of some temples.


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Yes; I helped with the Payson temple and the Hartford Connecticut Temple and the Cedar City temple. The Hartford Connecticut Temple was an important one because it was my very first time covering a temple dedication solo. And at that time, we were taking all of our own photos, and I am not a trained photographer. I was very nervous about trying to get some beautiful pictures. My philosophy was, “If I take enough, hopefully there will be one usable, or a few usable ones,” which, I don’t know how well it worked. The Lord helped me, thankfully, and we had a few that we could print. But I was so nervous. And one of the learnings that came from that was actually advice from you.

Beforehand, you sat me down and told me to “focus on the next step. Don’t think about the entirety of all you have to do; just focus on the next step. And that might be, ‘I’m at the airport, I need to go get my luggage.’ And then once you get your luggage, you think about, ‘OK, I need to go get a rental car. And now I need to find the hotel.’ But just take it one step at a time.” That was really helpful in that moment in that situation of “Oh, my gosh, I have this whole weekend to cover, and I need to get all these photos and different things.”

So that was helpful for that assignment. But it’s also been super helpful in situations outside of work when I’ve felt overwhelmed, or as a new mom. Instead of thinking of, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to make it through this week? Or even through this day?” I just think about, “OK, what’s the next step? OK, I need to change this one’s diaper and put this one down for a nap,” or whatever it might be. It’s been such good life advice for me to just focus on the next step, instead of being overwhelmed with looking at 20 steps down the road.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson plays piano with her children in 2023.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson plays piano with her children in 2023.

Gibson family


Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m so glad you talked about that experience and that it had application in other places, because I’m hoping you’ll share with us a little bit about your journey. You married not terribly late, but a little late in life.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Yeah, I was 34 when I got married and 35 when I had my first baby, which, I learned very quickly, they call a geriatric pregnancy. I wasn’t too fond of that term. But yeah, I had a lot of single years, which were hard in some ways and wonderful in others.

Sarah Jane Weaver: We at the Church News saw sort of an evolution with you over those years. You know, there was a time when you were just happy to be out of school and enjoying the next step of life, and then a time when you were a little discouraged, and then there was some reluctant resolve that you were going to have to participate in finding something at a higher level. And so, I’m not sure, but I think you got on the computer and tried to seek out some opportunities to meet people to date. And ultimately, you found your husband. And that had to be a remarkable realization that, “Wow, this did come about for me.”


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Yes, I did meet my husband through a dating app. It has its pluses and minuses, but ultimately, it worked, so I can’t complain too much. But I think when I look back on those single years and being a single adult in the Church, it was hard for a few reasons. Loneliness can be a big issue — all those years being single — as well as, at least for me, a sense of stagnation was something that I struggled with; this feeling of, “Nothing’s changing. I’m not changing. Where is my life going? Here’s this thing that I want, but I’m not moving toward it.” And I don’t want to give advice, because everyone is so different. But what helped me during that time was 1) I developed some wonderful friendships with other single adults who were my adventure buddies. It was so nice to have a group of people who were in the same phase of life who I could say, “Let’s go on this trip,” or, “Let’s go hike this mountain,” or, “Let’s go do this thing.” I still, to this day, really cherish those relationships; they still are super important to me. So that was a huge blessing, was to develop my posse, I guess you could say, my group.

Another thing that really helped, and I tried to do, was find opportunities to serve. And whether that was in my ward, whether that was trying to find unique ways to serve my family, sometimes it was finding ways to serve my friends. I remember one year, I had really liked this boy. And he — we’d gone on a few dates, but he had decided he wanted to date my friend. And it was Valentine’s Day when he told me, and I was feeling really sorry for myself. And so I bought some chocolates and a couple of roses and made a few cards and just anonymously delivered them to a few women in my ward who I knew would appreciate them and just signed it “The Valentine’s Day Fairy” and just told them, “You’re wonderful and beautiful and amazing, and hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.” And that was probably my favorite Valentine’s day ever, even now that I’m married. But finding ways to reach out to other people and serve other people was really helpful.

Another thing that I tried to do was just to have goals and things that I was working toward in all aspects of my life. And that’s probably one of the reasons that I stuck with dating. Because it’s hard; it’s — it can be awkward. There’s a lot of emotional work that goes into it as you deal with rejection, as you learn how to reject other people, as you learn how — or you deal with the impact of — your actions are probably hurting another person. There’s a lot of awkwardness and just emotional work that goes into it that can be exhausting. And I would take breaks from dating. But the reason that I kept with it was I felt like I needed to feel like I was progressing in that area of my life. That if I was doing everything I knew how to do and everything that I could, then I could have confidence that if it wasn’t happening, that it was part of the plan. That I could trust in my Heavenly Father. That, “All right, I’m doing everything that I should be doing. And if it’s not happening, I can trust that this is part of my plan and of His plan for me.” That brought a lot of peace. And it’s why during those moments where I wanted to throw up my hands and say, “I’m done with this. I don’t want to put any more work into this. I’m tired of the awkwardness and all of the things,” that I kept with it despite that.


Sarah Jane Weaver: So, in February of 2019, you and your sweetheart are married in the Jordan River Utah Temple. And that was a fantastic day. That marriage also included an amazing bonus because he had a daughter. And so, you were not only a spouse, but you had someone else in your life to care about and to love.


Joseph and Rachel Gibson on their wedding day in February 2019 at the Jordan River Utah Temple.

Flying Gull Photography

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Yeah, I have a — well, she was 8 years old at the time — a stepdaughter named Anna, who is lovely. Stepping into that role was easier than I thought it was going to be in a lot of ways. I won’t say it wasn’t hard at times. That first year, as I was transitioning from being single for so long and autonomous and just used to making all of my own decisions on my own, to being part of a team and part of a family, there were some growing pains. But I remember my stake president before I got married, when I was going in for our marriage interview. He came from a blended family. And so, when he learned that I was going to be stepping into that role, he gave me the advice of, “Your job is just to love her.” That has been my mantra. She has a wonderful mom and a wonderful stepdad at her other home. And so, my role has just been to be one more support and one more place where she feels loved, hopefully to try and create an atmosphere in our home where she feels loved and supported. And it’s wonderful. I love her, and she loves me, and I’m grateful for her.


Sarah Jane Weaver: And one of the things that has always been apparent as we have worked with you and gotten to know you is that you have great parents who you care deeply about. Tell us a little bit about your mom and dad. Because, at the same time as you were trying to date, you were also helping to care for your father who had become ill.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Yes, I do come from wonderful parents. My dad, Lee Sterzer, was an electrical engineer. And — oh, how do I describe my dad? He was the kind of person who color-coded his sock drawer. My mom teases that it never had occurred to her until she married my dad that you could color-code your sock drawer. He shined his shoes every day. He was a stereotypical nerd who had a pocket protector with his mechanical pencils and pens. His idea of dressing down was to put on a polo. He was mostly in, every day, a button-up shirt with a tie. That was his, you know, engineer uniform.

But he was also very kind. For being an electrical engineer who was very, very logical and organized and straightforward, he was also extremely kind. And the term that I’ve heard used to describe him many times is “guileless.” He had no mal intent in anything he did. I remember being in high school, and I was in the band, and we had just had a concert, and he’d come to support me. I came to get some praise from him, you know, “What did you think about the concert? And he was like, “It was really nice. You guys sounded better last time.” And it was — there was no mal intent. There was no, you know, it was just very factual. Like, you know, “It was great, but you did better last time.” And I was kind of let down. But it also meant that when he gave praise, that it meant a lot.

And he was very effusive with affection and saying, “I love you, I’m proud of you.” But he was, in his later years, he developed Parkinson’s disease. And he also developed the dementia that sometimes accompanies Parkinson’s disease. So, about the last 10 years of his life, he lost a lot of function; physically, but also mentally, which was really hard to watch him have to go through that, because he’d always been such an intelligent man, very capable, very independent. And to watch him go through that process was difficult.


Sarah Jane Weaver: I can totally relate to this because my father spent his last years dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s. And he went from this vibrant, successful person to someone who could not be left alone and could not find his way home if everything depended upon it. And that was hard. It was hard in a number of ways. It was hard emotionally to see that happen. And I found myself grieving him kind of one little piece at a time. And it was also hard physically; as a family, we had to sort of rally and figure out how to care for his needs.


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: You’re right; when you grieve them a piece at a time. Every time a little piece of independence was lost, I think we would grieve for him. And he became someone who wasn’t very fun to be around. He hit the belligerent stage of his dementia, and he’d always been adoring and complementary and supportive of my mom, and suddenly he was combative. And I knew that wasn’t who he was, but it was so painful to watch that process. And I remember talking to — actually, Lois Collins, who’s been on the podcast before and is one of our dear friends, whose mother had gone through Alzheimer’s and that sort of process. And she promised me that when all was said and done, that I’d remember him as my dad and not as that diseased person.

Because in the moment when you’re undergoing and seeing them, it’s all you can see because it’s all you can deal with. I took comfort in that, and he’s been gone — this year, it will be 10 years, which is crazy to think about. But that proved to be true, that I don’t remember as much the diseased, frail person that he became as much as I remember the vibrant and loving and kind dad that I had growing up.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson with her father in front of the stake center on the day of her baptism in January 1993.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson with her father in front of the stake center on the day of her baptism in January 1993.

Sterzer family


Sarah Jane Weaver: That was also true for me. I remember thinking when my father died — and he passed away just as COVID was coming on, in March of 2020 — and I thought, all the years that we were caring for him, that when his time was done, I would feel relieved. And that did not happen. I just felt loss. And as time has put a little perspective with that, I too have been able to have memories of those growing-up years and wonderful times. Now, you’re in another phase of your life where you’re forming some of those memories. You have two children. What is it like to be a mother?


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Oh, it’s all the things. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. And it’s also the most joyful thing I have ever done. I have two kids: One is 3, and one is 1. And they definitely keep me busy. And keep me laughing. And keep me crying. It’s hard; it’s really hard. There’s a sense — and maybe all moms feel this — but there is a sense, a lot of, “I have all these balls or responsibilities that I’m juggling, and one is always getting dropped.” Or that, “I’m running as fast as I can, but I’m still getting lapped.” And my daughter was born April 2020. So, right when everything was shutting down, and it was kind of a scary place in the world at the time.

And there was a lot of fear and anxiety going into motherhood. I was worried about delivery, I was worried about what was going to happen after my maternity leave. I was worried about what the state of the world was like. The hospital was constantly changing. Who could come in to the delivery? My mom was a maternity and nursery nurse all through her career, and I had planned on having her there. And a week before I delivered, I found out, you know, she wouldn’t be allowed in the delivery room, and that was hard. And there was rumors going around that I might not even be able to have my husband be able to come in.

And work was crazy because we were reporting on all the things that were changing, all the shutdowns, temples were closing, we were no longer having meetings, it was just a crazy time all around. I wasn’t sleeping because my daughter had her foot in a nerve, so I wasn’t getting good sleep, so — and then we had the earthquake, which just kind of was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. So to say I was wound tight is kind of an understatement.

I just remember we were studying “Come, Follow Me” at the time, and it was Enos. And I was studying about prayer. And I was reminded that the purpose of prayer is to learn the will of the Lord. And I had been kind of treating Him like a vending machine, where I’m putting in my order and not seeing what I want back. And so I got down on my knees, and for the first time, instead of just telling Him everything that I wanted and everything that I was stressed about, I told Him, you know, “Thy will be done. Let me know what it is You want in all of these circumstances and what it is You want me to do.” I felt flooded with peace.

It was a similar experience when I was single. I remember I had some single friends who, after many years of being single and feeling frustrated, they felt let down by the process. Like it hadn’t worked for them and that there was something wrong with the Church or the gospel. And like, I had a conversation with the Lord because I was so heartsick about it, and I just said, “This is what I want, you know, I want to get married, I want to have kids. But if it’s not part of my story right now, that’s OK.” Like, “I don’t want this to be a stumbling block. I don’t want this to be a wedge between You and I.” And it was one of those experiences again where it was kind of — I placed it on the altar and said, “Thy will be done.” That brought a lot of peace at the time and continuing forward, being able to say, and honestly and sincerely mean it, “Thy will be done,” was what brought me peace then and has brought me peace as a mother and in many circumstances going forward.


The Gibson family in 2020.

Flying Gull Photography


Sarah Jane Weaver: And I want to talk about your work now. As one of your major responsibilities at Church News, you have the opportunity to cover Church education, and that’s the Church schools. That beat also often includes covering the words of prophets and apostles to Latter-day Saint students who are studying on some of the Church campuses. And it kind of gives you a window to see how education can lift and strengthen and change lives. Have you learned something specific as you’ve explored that beat of Church education?

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: Oh, I’ve learned many things. I think one of the overarching lessons, to me, has been the importance of education in the gathering of Israel and in the work of the Church, in the work of salvation of the one, and the power that it actually has to transform on an individual level as well as on a macro level, of how important it is to the work of the Church overall.

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, you’re going to have to detail that for us too.


Rachel Sterzer Gibson: A lot of institutions throughout the United States — and I’m sure globally — if they have a sister institution, they’re pretty much just replications of one another. But within the Church, we have very different institutions, very different tools that all perform different functions within Church education. So, you have Pathway, which is, you know, one that’s come up most recently, that is global and is able to meet students where they are, wherever they are; not only locationwise but also wherever they are educationwise. It helps to facilitate growth wherever they are in that process, whether it’s learning English, whether it’s just learning basic math, or whatnot. It helps them grow wherever they are, and it’s amazing to hear the stories of how that has blessed individuals throughout the world.

Then you have BYU–Idaho, which is completely undergraduate work. It’s meant to — teaching-focused, so it offers two- and four-year degrees. It does not offer any graduate or graduate programs, which helps it keep its cost down. And also it keeps its class size down because its main focus is to be student-oriented, teaching-focused. One of the ways in which it does that is it keeps its class sizes small so that students are getting time and attention, kind of that “Spirit of Ricks” feeling and experience when they go there.

You have Ensign College, and Clark G. Gilbert — who’s the Church commissioner of education and a General Authority Seventy — calls Ensign College “the applied curriculum developer,” which means that students who go there are meant to see an improvement in their job immediately. It gives them job-ready skills, and somehow, the process — or they offer two-year and now some four-year degrees. And they also partner with BYU–Pathway — and now, as well, BYU–Idaho to help offer more opportunities to students.

Then you have BYU–Hawaii, which offers those educational opportunities specifically to students within Oceania and the Asian Rim. And then you have BYU, which is the most seen, it’s the most well known. They have sports, they have graduate programs, they do research that’s internationally recognized. It’s the one who’s kind of leading the way in the world and is an ambassador for all the other Church Educational Systems.

And so, each of them fills a specific role that’s important within Church education and fills a specific need for all the many individuals within the Church. But it’s all to help in that gathering that President Nelson has talked about. Education has an amazing ability to lift individuals. And I’ve seen how education blesses individuals, not only physically or temporally, but also spiritually. It provides self-reliance in all aspects of a person’s life. And that’s been amazing to see through the stories that I’ve covered, or the individuals that I’ve talked to you. The mission of all of them, despite their differences, is to create disciple-leaders that can go out and serve in their communities, in their families, and in their homes and in the Church.


Sarah Jane Weaver: And we have a tradition at the Church News podcast where we always end and ask our guests the same question and allow them an opportunity to share their testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So, Rachel, what do you know now, after 13 years of being a reporter and editor for the Church News?

Rachel Sterzer Gibson: I know that God loves His children and that He has given us gifts, the words of apostles and prophets, the priesthood, temples — all of these things are gifts that He has given us to help us draw closer to Him and to find joy in this life. In my own experiences at Church News, I’m really grateful for the privilege we have of amplifying the stories, the testimonies, the experiences of not only Church leaders but of individual members. It feels to me like the spirit of gathering. We’re taking these individual stories and testimonies and faith of individual members, and we’re sharing them so that “all may be edified together” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:110). And I consider that to be a huge privilege. I’m honored to be able to share those and to be a participant in the process.

I’ve also felt many times the scripture “Come unto me, all ye that ... are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I come to my Heavenly Father with my weakness, and with my mistakes, and with all the things I feel like I’m doing wrong or falling short of. And more times than not, He just shows me that He loves me. And as I turn to Him, continually, He lets me know that I’m loved, and that my efforts are accepted, and that they are enough, and that He can make them into something that will bless and hopefully edify other people. And that has made all the difference in my life, that knowing that I can turn to Him and trust Him and have faith in Him.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests; to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen; and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed