2013 Year in Review

  By Rachel Sterzer and Michael Ann McKinlay, Church News staff writers

  • 31 December 2013

Sister Frances Johnson Monson, wife of President Thomas S. Monson, passed away on May 17, 2013; this photo was taken August 21, 2009, after a session held to dedicated the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple.

Following are highlights from some of the articles published in the Church News during 2013.

TEMPLES

In the 183rd Annual General Conference on April 6, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to build temples in Cedar City, Utah, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On March 17, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple, the first LDS temple in Honduras. The Tegucigalpa temple is the 141st operating temple of the Church worldwide and the sixth in Central America.

President Monson broke ground and dedicated the site for the Hartford Connecticut Temple on Saturday, August 21. The temple will serve members in Connecticut, Rhode Island, western Massachusetts and parts of northern and eastern New York.

On Saturday, August 24, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy broke ground for Colorado’s second temple—the Fort Collins Colorado Temple.

The First Presidency announced the open house and dedication dates for the Gilbert Arizona Temple. The open house will be from January 18 to February 15, 2014. The temple dedication is scheduled for Sunday, March 2, 2014. The Gilbert Arizona Temple is the largest temple the Church has constructed in 17 years.

HUMANITARIAN AID

On January 17, Salt Lake City’s Detoxification Center (sponsored by Volunteers of America) announced a $200,000 challenge grant from the Church to help fund the ongoing expansion. The center serves as a safe haven and treatment facility for those who are typically homeless and battling addictions.

February 16–17, Mississippi members helped those whose homes were damaged by a tornado that hit the area on February 10. Members from several neighboring stakes helped clear trees and debris from roofs in addition to clearing homes from sodden drywall and furniture damaged by the tornado.

On March 2, Sharon Eubank, executive director of LDS Charities, was one of four speakers at a Church-sponsored side event, held in conjunction with the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women that focused on the Church’s humanitarian outreach to women worldwide.

On March 2, during the 38th annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, missionaries of the New York New York South Mission wore their yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” vests and marched along the parade route carrying a sign that read, “We Love You Rockaways.” The missionaries and members of the area affected by Hurricane Sandy provided 300,000 hours of service in the affected areas back in October and November 2012.

The Church marked 30 years in Haiti with a service project on May 1 during which members planted 5,181 trees. An additional 22,369 trees were planted later in the year for a total of 47,550. The Church plans to plant additional trees in coming months and years in Haiti.

Over Memorial Day weekend, more than 2,300 member volunteers assisted with clean-up efforts after tornadoes hit Oklahoma on May 20, destroying 19 member families’ homes. More than 14,000 hours of service were provided.

In May, the Church donated more than 1 million pounds of food to Feeding America, the largest non-profit hunger-relief organization in the United States.

Members of the Church helped sort, pack and distribute relief supplies after Typhoon Maring caused monsoon rains and flooding in mid-August in the Philippines. Some 260,000 families, or 1.2 million people, including 1,150 Latter-day Saint families, were displaced by the storm.

After the Colorado floods from September 9, local Latter-day Saints provided 21,000 hours of service to disaster victims. Church Humanitarian Services shipped 90,000 pounds of food, water, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies to Colorado.

Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid caused major flooding in both of Mexico’s coastlines on September 22. The storm affected 24 of the nation’s 31 states. The disaster prompted a large-scale humanitarian response, including assistance from Church headquarters.

After Cyclone Phailin hit India on October 12, the Church reached out to government leaders and other partner organizations in the country.

On October 15, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the Philippines island of Bahol; it was the strongest earthquake to hit the Philippines in the last 23 years. The earthquake caused minor external damage to the Cebu City Philippines Temple and to other Church buildings. The Church provided 10,000 food kits; 8,000 hygiene kits; 500 temporary shelter kits; water filtration equipment, and generators.

On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippines killing more than 4,000 people and displacing more than half a million. Some 15,000 people sought refuge in 200 Church meetinghouses. Church members and leaders from five stakes rallied to gather relief supplies for those impacted by the superstorm.

MAJOR EVENTS

New curriculum for the youth of the Church was released in January, including new and updated For the Strength of Youth resource and a new youth learning resource—Come, Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth on lds.org. In addition to the scriptures, the curriculum includes many materials on the Internet and the latest messages from Church leaders.

Billboard Magazine listed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with the Orchestra at Temple Square, as No. 1 Traditional Classical Albums Artists. Overall, the choir and orchestra charted on five of the year-end lists and twice on an albums list.

Church members in Haiti celebrate 30th anniversary of the Church in their country by planting 100,000 trees. Photo by Jason Swensen.

On January 20, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Costa Rica and Guatemala. He told the Saints in various meetings in Central America, “The work of the Church is to prepare a people who will be ready to receive and serve the Lord when He comes, and all members have the responsibility to help prepare the world for that day.”

On January 21 Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., as representatives of the Church. They attended with their wives, Sister Barbara D. Perry and Sister Mary G. Cook. The couples also attended the prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral on January 22.

On February 3, President Monson reviewed his five years as President of the Church and urged members to “go to the rescue of others.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook visited the Ivory Coast from February 8–11. A conflict engulfed the region in 2010 and 2011. Elder Cook presided over a priesthood leadership conference, held a meeting with members and investigators and visited government officials. More than 9,000 people came to the various meetings over the weekend.

From February 8-14, Elder Neil L. Andersen of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Haiti as the country celebrated 30 years of Church presence since then-Apostle Thomas S. Monson dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel in 1983.

In mid-February, the 2013 Worldwide Leadership Training, under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, focused on “strengthening families and the Church through the priesthood.” This year’s training was different than in years past; it was divided into nine short segments to facilitate discussion among leaders and families.

The Church launched a new website, mormonsinchina.org, to help Chinese nationals and Church leaders know how to comply with Chinese laws in relation to religious practice.

On March 5, FamilyTree became available to the general public on the Church’s FamilySearch.org website and is the successor to New FamilySearch.

On March 8, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency and 13 other faith leaders met with President Barack Obama in the White House to discuss the topic of immigration. “It was very interesting to see how faith leaders support efforts to find a responsible solution in comprehensive immigration reform,” President Uchtdorf said.

During the 183rd Annual General Conference held in the Conference Center on April 6–7, a new member of the Presidency of the Seventy, a new Young Women general presidency, and a new counselor in the Young Men general presidency were sustained and eight General Authorities and 59 Area Seventies were called. It was noted that 58 new missions would be created to meet the unprecedented number of young men and women serving full-time missions. In his Sunday afternoon address, President Monson said, “We live at a time in the world’s history when there are many difficult challenges, but also great opportunities and reasons for rejoicing. There are, of course, those times when we experience disappointments, heartaches, and even tragedies in our lives. However, if we will put our trust in the Lord, He will help us through our difficulties, whatever they may be.”

Elder Eldred Gee Smith, emeritus Patriarch to the Church, died on April 4 at the age of 106. President Monson, a friend for 50 years, spoke at his funeral on April 10.

On April 19, the Church’s website FamilySearch announced it had reached 1 billion searchable records added in less than seven years, thanks to the indexing volunteers around the world.

Surrounded by her family, Sister Frances J. Monson, wife of President Thomas S. Monson, died May 17 in a Salt Lake hospital. Sister Monson was remembered in her funeral service on May 23 as a remarkable woman of faith who dedicated her life to the Lord. Speakers included President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, counselors in the First Presidency, and Sister Ann M. Dibb, President and Sister Monson’s daughter. In a 2008 interview President Monson said of his wife: “She has been supportive from the day we married. She has never complained. She has been the ideal wife and mother.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen visited the Church’s Asia Area from May 14–27, which included travel to Thailand, India, Cambodia, Laos, China and Hong Kong. Of his trip, Elder Andersen said, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is beautiful to see in every nation and culture of the world.”

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop, dedicated the Portland Oregon Temple Visitors’ Center on June 9.

On June 12, members of the First Presidency launched their own Facebook and Google+ pages enabling them to share talks and messages via social media.

From June 26–29, more than 10,000 young men and leaders from the Grand Teton Council gathered for the historic “Rise Up” Scout Encampment in southeastern Idaho, which commemorated the 100-year partnership between the Church and Scouting.

On Sunday, August 11, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir launched into its 85th year of broadcasting its weekly program “Music and the Spoken Word.”

The latest publications of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Volumes 1 and 2 in the Documents series, were released September 4 and December 2.

On September 10, the Church published a Facebook page, a Mormon Newsroom topic page, and several videos to help people of conscience everywhere understand the importance of protecting religious freedom.

On September 22, in a press release, Church officials announced that for the first time the priesthood session of the October general conference would be broadcast live on BYUtv, and also online on LDS.org and the Mormon Channel.

Thomas S. Monson is shown in the audience at the Tabernacle on Temple Square, moments before he was sustained as a General Authority and invited to the stand. The photo was published October 4, 2013, in an article about President Monson's 50th anniversary as a General Authority.

The Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii,—adjacent to the BYU-Hawaii campus—commemorated its 50th anniversary with a week of activities including a visit September 6-8 from Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He also dedicated the Heber J. Grant Building on the university’s campus.

President Monson celebrated his 50th anniversary as a General Authority in time for October general conference. He was sustained as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 4, 1963.

On October 29, the Church celebrated its 100 years of LDS Scouting with a program titled, “A Century of Honor,” in the Conference Center. President Monson was recognized at the event for his lifelong service and support of the Scouting movement.

Beginning in 2014, a new semiannual General Women’s Meeting will replace the general Relief Society and Young Women meetings, the First Presidency announced on November 1. All females ages 8 and older are invited to attend.

CHURCH GROWTH

On January 15, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated three newly renovated buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center during the weeklong seminar for 18 departing couples called as new MTC presidents and visitors’ center directors.

On February 22, Elder Jeffery R. Holland dedicated the Abu Dhabi Stake Center in the United Arab Emirates—the first building constructed by the Church solely as a meetinghouse in the area. He also visited the Middle East, the Netherlands, England, and Germany; he presided over the Apeldoorn Netherlands Stake conference on February 24.

On March 27, the Provo Missionary Training Center announced its expansion by securing the use of additional buildings near the MTC. The expansion mirrors the rise in missionaries since President Monson’s historic announcement in the 2012 October general conference.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the creation of the first stake in the Republic of Armenia on June 16. In addition to his travels to create a stake in Armenia, Elder Nelson visited with members and missionaries from June 7–16 in the Europe and Europe East Areas of the Church in Munich, Germany; Venice, Italy; and Moscow, Russia. He also went to Ankara, Turkey.

On June 30, Elder D. Todd Christofferson organized the 100th stake in Peru—the fourth country to reach a 100-stake milestone (alongside the United States, Mexico and Brazil).

On June 26, the Mexico City Missionary Training Center welcomed its first group of newly set-apart missionaries. The 90-acre facility was transitioned from a Church-owned high school, Benemerito de las Americas, to an institution of intense language and gospel learning for hundreds of young elders and sisters who will serve in Spanish-speaking assignments throughout the world.

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated a new 58,656-square-foot welfare facility in Sandy, Utah, on August 12. The dedication services also marked the 75th anniversary of Deseret Industries.

From September 6–16, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles traveled to Europe and created stakes in two major cities—Rome and Paris. The apostles also held an area review, presided at a seminar for 32 European mission presidents and their wives, and checked the status of the Rome and Paris temples.

On October 5, during the Saturday morning session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference, President Monson announced the membership of the Church has reached 15 million members. “The Church continues to grow steadily and to change the lives of more and more people every year.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited the Africa Southeast Area from October 23 through November 6 and conducted a review of the Church’s Africa Southeast Area.