2015 Year in Review

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Valerie Johnson, Church News contributors

  • 31 December 2015

Looking back on 2015 for the Church includes milestones such as new and rededicated temples, deaths and callings of Apostles, contributions in humanitarian aid, growth in the Church, and other major events.

Temple news

  • President Thomas S. Monson announced three new temples—Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Bangkok, Thailand—during the 185th Annual General Conference on April 4.
  • On April 25, some 5,000 people attended the groundbreaking of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple. Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy presided.
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Cordoba Argentina Temple on May 17.
  • President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Payson Utah Temple on June 7. The temple is the 146th in the world and the 15th in Utah.
  • President Uchtdorf dedicated the Trujillo Peru Temple June 21. It is the 147th in the world and the second in Peru.
  • Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy broke ground for the Cedar City Utah Temple on Saturday, August 8.
  • President Eyring dedicated the Church’s 148th temple—the Indianapolis Indiana Temple—on August 23.
  • President Eyring rededicated the Mexico City Mexico Temple on September 13 following extensive renovation.
  • President Uchtdorf dedicated the ground for the Tucson Arizona Temple on October 17, the same day that Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Seventy broke ground for the Concepcion Chile Temple.
  • The newly renovated Montreal Quebec Temple was rededicated by President Eyring on November 22.
  • Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy broke ground for the Lisbon Portugal Temple on December 5.
  • On December 13, President Uchtdorf dedicated the 13th temple in Mexico and the 149th in the Church—the Tijuana Mexico Temple.

Major events

  • On January 10, the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center unveiled a new cutaway temple model display.
  • At a press conference on January 27, Church leaders—Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Neill F. Marriott of the Young Women general presidency—called for laws to protect religious freedom.
  • January marked the 50th anniversary of when family home evening was reemphasized and revitalized with a new lesson manual and standardized to Monday nights.
  • At a press conference on February 3, Elder Christofferson answered questions about religious freedoms.
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir released a new app on iTunes in February.
  • February 25–28 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame during the 2015 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association.
  • President Uchtdorf was presented with the Humanitarian Award by the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice on March 19.
  • The Church’s Easter social media campaign, “Because He Lives”—which was promoted from March 28 through April 5—reached nearly 30 million views across various platforms and languages.
  • On March 28, the women’s session of general conference was held, with President Eyring; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president; Sister Carole M. Stephens of the Relief Society general presidency; and Sister Cheryl A. Esplin of the Primary general presidency speaking.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama met with President Eyring and President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency and Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 2 at a hotel conference room in Salt Lake City.
  • The Saturday and Sunday sessions of the 185th Annual General Conference was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City April 4–5. Five Latter-day Saints were sustained as General Authorities to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Kim B. Clark, Elder Allen D. Haynie, Elder Von G. Keetch, Elder Hugo Montoya, and Elder Vern P. Stanfill. Sister Mary R. Durham was sustained as second counselor in the Primary general presidency. Called as members of the Young Men general presidency were Stephen W. Owen, president; Douglas D. Holmes, first counselor; and M. Joseph Brough, second counselor.
  • On April 13, the Church, along with a diverse coalition of faith communities, filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court on opposition to same-sex marriage.
  • In May the Church began an online donation system for tithing, fast offerings, and other donations through the Church’s website in the United States.
  • Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, participated in an online Face to Face event, answering questions from the youth of the Church on May 12.
  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was elected as a member of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board on May 20.
  • On May 27, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered the Religious Liberty Lecture in New South Wales, Australia, at Notre Dame Sydney School of Law, remarking on the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary.
  • Elder L. Tom Perry died May 30 at the age of 92 in his home in Salt Lake City after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer on April 24. His funeral was held on June 5.
  • On June 7, Elder Holland addressed a conference broadcast to 56 stakes throughout northern Europe, which coincided with the 175th anniversary of the Church in Scotland.
  • On June 10, Elder Holland spoke to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords at the UK Parliament.
  • Brother Brian K. Ashton was called to serve as second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency on June 12.
  • On June 19, Elder Christofferson announced the African American family history initiative to digitize and assist in indexing records from the Freedmen’s Bureau archives.
  • On July 1 missionaries were returned to Liberia after the World Health Organization declared the country free from Ebola.
  • After a life of dedicated service to family, the Church, and country, President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, died on July 3, 2015, at his home from natural causes related to age. He was 90. His funeral was held on July 10.
  • Available August 2015, a new online course was released called My Plan to help returning missionaries use their mission experiences to plan for continued lifelong discipleship.
  • The Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript was made accessible on August 4 through the release of another volume in the Joseph Smith Papers Project—Revelations and Translations, Volume 3: Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon.
  • In August 2015, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles appointed three Latter-day Saint women to serve on general councils that establish policy for the Church.
  • On Wednesday, August 26, the Church released a statement affirming that the Church would go forward as a chartering organization of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • The Church released 12 videos highlighting each of the 12 steps of the addiction recovery program in conjunction with National Addiction Recovery Month in September.
  • President Russell M. Nelson fulfilled an 11-day assignment, August 20–31, to Central America as his first international trip since becoming the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Exhibits at the Church History Library and BYU Harold B. Lee Library featured Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage in token of its 100-year anniversary of publication in September.
  • In September, President Eyring announced the publication of the LDS edition of the Holy Bible in Portuguese.
  • President Uchtdorf installed Clark G. Gilbert as the 16th president of Brigham Young University–Idaho on September 15.
  • Elder Richard G. Scott, who had served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1988, died September 22 at his home from causes incident to age. He was 86. His funeral was held on September 28.
  • On September 29, the Church History Museum reopened following a year of extensive renovations and refurbishment, including a new long-term exhibit.
  • Elder Christofferson made a presentation at the Catholic World Meeting of Families on September 24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • The 185th Semiannual General Conference convened in Salt Lake City beginning with the general women’s session on Saturday, September 26. During the Saturday afternoon session held the following weekend, October 3, Latter-day Saints sustained three new Apostles—Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund. Bishop Gérald Caussé was named as the new Presiding Bishop of the Church on October 9, with Bishop Dean M. Davies and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell to serve as counselors.
  • FamilySearch’s Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City celebrated its 30th anniversary on October 23.
  • A Church-sponsored Face to Face event for youth featured LDS artists the Piano Guys on October 20.
  • Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered the keynote address at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City on October 27.
  • In a letter dated October 27, the First Presidency encouraged members to provide assistance to refugees around the world.
  • John S. Tanner was installed as the 10th president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii by President Eyring during inauguration ceremonies on November 10.
  • In a letter dated November 13, the First Presidency clarified high-profile changes to Church handbook policy affecting same-sex couples and their children.
  • A special devotional, youth celebration titled “Behold Laie,” and other festivities marked the 150th anniversary of the Church in Laie, Hawaii.

Church growth

  • In January, the Church announced 11 new missions, reflecting continued growth.
  • The Church announced the creation of the Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission, effective January 16, which took in the Mormon Handcart Historic Site.
  • The FamilySearch Discovery Center opened in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City on February 11.
  • The Deseret Mill and Pasta Plant opened in Kaysville, Utah, on February 26.
  • In April, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approved the creation of the Central Eurasian Mission, effective July 1. The new mission was formed from divisions of the existing Bulgaria Sofia and Russia Novosibirsk Missions.
  • On Sunday, June 21, Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy and President of the Church’s Pacific Area created the Port Vila Vanuatu Stake—the first stake in Vanuatu.
  • Within blocks of the St. George Utah Temple, Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy broke ground on August 15 for a first-of-its-kind Church family history center that will combine interactive technology with genealogical research.
  • President Uchtdorf dedicated a major new addition to the Polynesian Cultural Center—the Hukilau Marketplace—on August 29.
  • President Nelson dedicated the newly developed Priesthood Restoration Site in Oakland Township (Harmony), Pennsylvania, on September 19.
  • On November 22, President Nelson dedicated the Capitol Hill Ward meetinghouse located about seven blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building.

Humanitarian aid

  • In January, thousands of members in Brazil joined together in a nationwide “Helping Hands” service project.
  • On March 12, then-Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson presented a check for $1.8 million—the proceeds from Meet the Mormons ticket sales—to the American Red Cross.
  • On March 14, Cyclone Pam, a category-five storm, ripped through the South Pacific, impacting some 4,000 members and missionaries in Vanuatu. Members in Tonga and Samoa assisted cyclone victims.
  • On April 25, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, claiming more than 7,000 lives. No members were harmed in the quake. Church members worldwide offered assistance in the weeks and months following.
  • Asia Area leaders visited Nepal to meet with several of the Church’s humanitarian partner organizations on May 15 to survey damage, assess the status of relief efforts, evaluate rebuilding needs, and convey their love and respect for the people of Nepal.
  • A week-long storm in Accra, Ghana, began June 4, causing extensive flooding, which left at least 160 people dead. Afterward, missionaries from the Ghana Accra West Mission mobilized to assist members and their neighbors.
  • The Church provided provisions in Dominica following Tropical Storm Erica.
  • In Yemen, the Church partnered with International Medical Corps to deliver pharmaceutical supplies to victims of the nation’s civil war.
  • The Church supplied blankets, mattresses, and other provisions to those affected by deadly frigid weather in Peru.
  • The Church provided food, water, and cooking supplies in Myanmar following severe flooding.
  • The Church offered aid, including two truckloads of hay to farms in Idaho to feed displaced livestock, following wildfires in the western United States.
  • In response to Typhoon Lando, the Church distributed some 24,000 food kits to those affected by the storm in the Philippines.
  • In September, the Church made a commitment of $5 million to help displaced families and individuals in response to the recent refugee crisis in Europe.

Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband were named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Henry B. Eyring announced three new Apostles at the beginning of the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference of the Church Saturday, October 3, 2015, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the funeral service of Elder L. Tom Perry at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City Friday, June 5, 2015. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

A sister missionary holds a program during the funeral for Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Monday, September 28, 2015. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Sister Donna Packer, wife of President Boyd K. Packer, watches the casket of her late husband exit the Salt Lake Tabernacle after his funeral on Friday, July 10, 2015. President Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles died at home Friday, July 3, 2015, from causes incident to age. He was 90. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

The Payson Utah Temple was dedicated Sunday, June 7, 2015. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Scores of Latter-day Saints gather December 13 for the dedication of the Tijuana Mexico Temple—the nation's 13th temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy accompanied by his wife, Kathy; Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and his wife, Marsha; Elder Dane Leavitt, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Ruth; and other community leaders turn the soil during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Cedar City Utah Temple on Saturday, August 8. Photo by Rachel Sterzer.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Sister Neill F. Marriott, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson attend a press conference reemphasizing support Tuesday, January 27, 2015, for LGBT nondiscrimination laws that protect religious freedoms. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

President Barack Obama meets with President Henry B. Eyring, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Elder L. Tom Perry after arriving at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 2, 2015. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, participate during the Face to Face broadcast originating from the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City on May 12.

LDS musicians the Piano Guys urge youth worldwide to put their faith first and rely on the Savior during a Church-sponsored Face to Face event broadcast from the roof of the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on October 20.

Presidents of the auxiliary organizations of the Church—Sister Bonnie Oscarson, Young Women general president; Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary general president; and Sister LInda K. Burton, Relief Society general president—are appointed in August to serve on general councils that establish policy for the Church. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

BYU–Idaho President Clark Gilbert speaks after being inaugurated in Rexburg, Idaho, Tuesday, September 15, 2015.
Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

John S. Tanner is inaugurated as president of BYU–Hawaii by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency on November 10 in Laie. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

K'Lyn Thomas and her family and friends look at a new exhibit Friday, September 25, 2015, at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, that shows paper hands representing service from children all over the world. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Fran Kitto takes a tour of the Family Discovery Center at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City Wednesday, February 11, 2015. The center uses the latest technology to give patrons an “immersive experience” into their family's history. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Statuary outside the newly constructed LDS meetinghouse and visitors’ center at the Priesthood Restoration Site depicts the visits of resurrected beings John the Baptist, left, and Peter, James, and John, right, to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Bishop Gary Stevenson speaks at the annual American Red Cross Heroes Recognition luncheon at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The Church donated all net proceeds from the film Meet the Mormons, which totaled 1.8 million dollars. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Mormon Helping Hands volunteers help distribute food on March 22, 2015, to those affected by Cyclone Pam. The Church provided 2,000 emergency food boxes for families, assembled by Mormon volunteers in New Zealand.