2016 Year in Review

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer and Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writers

  • 29 December 2016

The Church News reviews some of the significant Church-related stories and events it covered during 2016.

Temple news

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo Temple groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, February 12. Learn more.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen; and local Church and community leaders break ground for the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple.

On Saturday, February 20, members across Colombia participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple 50 years after the country was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel. Learn more.

Elder Juan A. Uceda and Sister Maria Isabel Uceda, far left, join local civic, business, and law enforcement leaders for the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony that symbolically commences the construction of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple.

In the wake of the worst tropical storm to ever make landfall in Fiji, President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the Suva Fiji Temple on Sunday, February 21. Learn more.

From left, Brook P. Hales, secretary to the First Presidency; Elder Kent F. Richards, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department; President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency; and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, stand outside the Suva Fiji Temple. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

The Provo City Center Temple, the 150th operating temple in the Church and the second in Provo, Utah, was dedicated on March 20, salvaged from the ashes and scorched walls of the pioneer-era Provo Tabernacle as if to symbolize the spiritual rebirth and renewal that comes from receiving temple blessings and returning frequently. Learn more.

The Provo City Center Temple. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Four and a half years after President Thomas S. Monson announced during general conference that a temple would be built in Durban, South Africa, hundreds of local members and civic and Church leaders gathered to the site of the future temple for a groundbreaking ceremony on April 9. Learn more.

Local Church leaders and their families break ground for the Durban South Africa Temple during a ceremony on April 9.

Close to 13,000 people toured the Sapporo Japan Temple during the open house before it was dedicated on August 21 by President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participating. Learn more.

President Russell M. Nelson dedicated the Sapporo Japan Temple on Sunday, August 21, 2016. The temple is the third in Japan for the Church and the 151st worldwide. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

More than 4,000 business, academic, government, religious, and judicial leaders visited the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple during its open house before it was dedicated September 18 by President Henry B. Eyring, with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participating. Learn more.

The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, dedicated September 18, 2016. Photos by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Serving approximately 44,000 Church members in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, the Fort Collins Colorado Temple was dedicated October 16 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, with Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participating. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, greets the crowd gathered for the cornerstone ceremony of the Fort Collins Colorado Temple on October 16, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf rededicated the Freiberg Germany Temple on September 4. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf outside the Freiberg Germany Temple with his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, and their daughter, Antje Uchtdorf Evans. Photo by Jason Swensen.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple, the first temple in the state, was dedicated on October 30 by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was one of the special guests who toured the temple during its open house. Learn more.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar pose for a photo at the Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Following a three-week open house, the Hartford Connecticut Temple was dedicated by President Henry B. Eyring on November 20. Learn more.

The Hartford Connecticut Temple was dedicated in three sessions by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, on Sunday, November 20. Photo by Rachel Sterzer.

Ground was broken on December 3 for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, the ninth temple in Canada. Learn more.

(From left to right) Yvonne and Allan Robison; Sister Lynda and Elder Larry Wilson; Terry Duguid, Member of Parliament, Winnipeg South; Janice Lukes, Councilor, South Winnipeg, St. Norbert Ward; and Belle Jarniewski, president of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, break ground for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple of the Church December 3, 2016.

Major events

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President; and Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, answer questions from the youth of the Church during a worldwide Face to Face event held January 20. Learn more.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (center) speaks to youth during a Face to Face live worldwide broadcast January 20. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, and Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, joined him in responding to questions sent it by youth from around the world.

Elder Steven E. Snow, General Authority Seventy and Church Historian and Recorder, announced the launch of a new online database called Early Mormon Missionaries, developed by the Church History Library, in partnership with FamilySearch and the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. Learn more.

Historical photos of missionaries. A new Church history database titled “Early Mormon Missionaries” features information about all known full-time proselytizing missionaries serving between 1830 and 1930.

Some 22,000 attendees swarmed the Salt Palace Convention Center for RootsTech 2016 Family Discovery Day on February 6, which featured talks and discussions from General Authorities, officers, and prominent members. Learn more.

Sister Ruth L. Renlund and Elder Dale G. Renlund speak at the RootsTech family history conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on February 6, 2016. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

United States Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders of the Church during a visit to Temple Square on February 26, where he was presented with his family history. Learn more.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The vice president was given a copy of his family history.

During the first Face to Face event directed to young single adults of the Church, leaders discussed important topics facing members today. Joining Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the panel discussion on March 8 was Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Learn more.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—joined by Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy—addressed young single adults worldwide during a Face to Face event on March 8, 2016. Photo courtesy of Utah Valley University.

Counted among the dozens of victims of the March 22 Belgium terrorist attacks were four full-time missionaries injured in a bomb blast at the Brussels Airport. More than 30 people died and 270 were injured in two attacks, one at the airport and another at a nearby train station. Learn more.

Elder Mason Wells, left, and Elder Joseph Dresden Empey had been serving together as companions for five weeks in Brussels, a part of the Church's France Paris Mission, before they were injured in a terrorist attack at the Brussels airport on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Photo courtesy of Empey family. Also injured were Sister Fanny Clain and Elder Richard Norby.

On March 26, about 350 sisters from across the globe who came to Salt Lake City as refugees or immigrants comprised a special choir to provide the music for the general women’s session of general conference. Learn more. During the session, Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, asked women to “serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities” as part of the Church’s “I Was a Stranger” relief effort. Learn more.

A combined choir consisting of women and girls representing more than 50 countries sings during the general women's session of general conference held in the Conference Center on March 26, 2016. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Church members sustained 11 new General Authority Seventies, 62 new Area Seventies, and a new Primary General Presidency during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 186th Annual General Conference on April 2. Learn more.

From left, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Second Counselor; Sister Joy D. Jones, President; and Sister Jean B. Bingham, First Counselor, hug after being sustained as members of the new Primary General Presidency during the afternoon session of general conference on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Some 2,500 individually submitted videos of singers were combined with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in history’s largest virtual performance of “Hallelujah!” from Handel’s Messiah. Learn more.

In a screenshot from the “Virtual Hallelujah Chorus” video, musical director Mack Wilberg of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir leads the virtual chorus as images of video submitters appear behind him.

Seminary instructors around the world implemented a new initiative—Doctrinal Mastery—in their classrooms to help the youth of the Church make connections between the doctrine of the gospel and how to apply it in their everyday lives. Learn more.

Youth meet for a seminary class in the Dominican Republic. Seminary instructors around the world implemented Doctrinal Mastery in their classrooms to help students understand the gospel. Photo courtesy of Chad H. Webb.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir toured Europe June 29–July 15 for the first time since 1998, concluding with re-creating a 1955 Paris photograph. Learn more.

Re-creating a historic 1955 photo, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square stand in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, on July 15, 2016, ending their three-week tour of central Europe. In the foreground are music director Mack Wilberg, choir broadcast announcer Lloyd Newell, and associate music director Ryan Murphy. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

The refugee community joined the Days of ’47 Parade for Pioneer Day on July 25. Learn more.

Burundi drummers are seen on the refugee float at the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Elder Per G. Malm, General Authority Seventy, died on July 26. Learn more.

Members of the family of Elder Per G. Malm interact with Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, General Authority Seventy, at the grave site of Elder Malm. Photo by Leif Mattsson.

Several Church members competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. New Zealand’s Valerie Adams won silver in the shot put, and Sarah Robles from the United States won bronze in weightlifting. Sami Hill was part of the United States water polo team that won gold. Taylor Sander, a former Brigham Young University hitter, was part of the American men’s volleyball team that won silver. Learn more.

Shown competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is Sarah Robles, a Latter-day Saint who also competed in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Sarah Robles.

Joseph Smith Sr. family descendants gathered for a family reunion on August 6 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the families coming together to beautify, enlarge, landscape, and increase access to the Smith Family Cemetery. Learn more.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional held outside Carthage Jail for the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Smith Family Cemetery dedication August 6. Photo by Lindsey Orton.

A recently renovated and restored mansion was named the Thomas S. Monson Center and dedicated on August 24 as an “embassy” to the world. Learn more.

President Thomas S. Monson, second from left, salutes as the University of Utah unveils the newly refurbished Enos A. Wall Mansion that now bears his name in Salt Lake City on August 24, 2016. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, left; Ann M. Dibb, President Monson's daughter, second from right; and President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, right, also attended the event.

The Church launched preventingsuicide.lds.org on September 8 to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September and World Suicide Prevention Day September 10. Learn more.

Preventingsuicide.lds.org provides essential information for those who are contemplating suicide, are worried about someone who might be considering suicide, or have lost a loved one to suicide.

LDS Paralympians won two gold medals, a silver medal, and a bronze medal. Jason Smyth of Northern Ireland won his third gold medal in the 100-meter T13 division. Eagle Mountain, Utah, resident David Blair won gold in the discus F43/F44 class. Josh Wheeler was part of the United States’ wheelchair rugby team that won silver. Australian shot-putter Todd Hodgetts won bronze. Learn more.

Paralympian David Blair poses for a photo with his gold medal in Eagle Mountain, Monday, September 19, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Thomas S. Monson Lodge at the Hinckley Scout Ranch was dedicated on October 5. Learn more.

The Thomas S. Monson Lodge is seen from an outdoor amphitheater that seats more than 800 at the Hinckley Scout Ranch, October 5, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Church launched mormonandgay.lds.org in October in an effort to help those affected by same-sex attraction and their friends and families. Learn more.

A screenshot from the Church’s “Mormon and Gay” website, which offers help to those affected by same-sex attraction and encourages members to respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.

Cast members of BYUtv’s Studio C spoke to LDS teens in a Face to Face event broadcast on October 19. Learn more.

The cast of BYUtv's comedy sketch show Studio C answers questions posed by LDS youth during a live Face to Face event sponsored by the Church on October 19.

A delegation of Latter-day Saint leaders and Jewish dignitaries from the United States gathered at a historic site in Jerusalem to mark the 175th anniversary of Elder Orson Hyde’s dedicatory prayer on the land on October 24. Learn more.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to a Mormon and Jewish delegation during a visit to the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden in Jerusalem, October 27, 2016.

Free Library in Philadelphia features an exhibit about the Church and its history that runs through February 6, 2017. Learn more.

An American-Born Faith: Writings from the First Century of Mormonism, an exhibit at the Free Library in Philadelphia, runs through February 6, 2017. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

The Church launched the #LightTheWorld Christmas initiative on December 1, encouraging members to serve others throughout the holiday season. Learn more.

For 25 days in December, members were encouraged to learn about 25 highlighted principles from Christ’s ministry and follow His example by doing simple acts of service.

A newly indexed database of the historic Freedmen’s Bureau Records was given to the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on December 6. Learn more.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented a newly indexed database of the historic Freedmen's Bureau Records to the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture December 6.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson offered the invocation at the United States Senate on December 7, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Learn more.

Mexican-French tenor Rolando Villazón joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells on Temple Square for their annual Christmas concert December 8–10. Choir and orchestra members donated tickets to refugees so they could attend the concert. Learn more.

Rolando Villazón performs with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells on Temple Square during their Christmas concert in Salt Lake City on December 8, 2016. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

•  Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, met with youth throughout Latin America in the first Face to Face event originating outside of the United States. The broadcast, held on December 10, was conducted in Spanish. Learn more.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares wise counsel with youth December 10, 2016, from Guatemala City, Guatemala, during the first Face to Face event originating outside the United States.

Humanitarian aid

On July 17, the Church donated $3 million to help combat hunger across the globe. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gives a $3 million donation from the Church to Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, at the Marriott Grand Hotel Flora in Rome, Italy, on July 17. Photo by Tyler Harris.

•  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf visited refugees in Athens, Greece, on July 22. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, second from left, and his daughter, Antje U. Evans, left, visit with refugees in the Piraeus refugee camp, located near Athens, Greece. The camp is a temporary home to 1,332 refugees.

On August 29, the Church donated $2 million to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help welcome and assist newly arrived refugees and the International Rescue Committee, which provides similar services. Learn more.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, center, with Steven K. Peterson, managing director of the Church's Welfare Department, left, presents Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary, USCCB, right, with a $1.25 million donation to help in the resettlement of refugees, Monday, August 29, 2016.

Members responded to historic flooding in southern Louisiana through Mormon Helping Hands. President Russell M. Nelson and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy; Bishop Dean M. Davies, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric; and Sister Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, visited with volunteers September 3–4 as they relieved suffering in Louisiana. Learn more.

Homeowners Liz and John Hill express gratitude to LDS leaders for the work of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers in helping make their home ready for restoration. The leaders are Sister Neill F. Marriott, left, President Russell M. Nelson, and Elder M. Russell Ballard. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Members in North Carolina rallied together in clean-up efforts following Hurricane Matthew on October 8. Learn more.

A farmer stands amidst damaged and toppled coconut palms in a village near Les Cayes, Haiti, October 12, 2016. Hurricane Matthew’s winds uprooted coconut trees, shattered banana plantations, and flattened vegetable fields. Photo by Rebecca Blackwell.

Church members in Christchurch, New Zealand, provided aid after an earthquake on November 14. Learn more.

Christchurch volunteers lend a hand gathering supplies for communities hit by the November 14 earthquake.

Young adults in Vanuatu assembled 1,000 hygiene kits during a three-day conference beginning December 9. Learn more.

Young Ni-Valuatu Latter-day Saints assemble emergency kits.

Church growth

During a trip to Asia February 18–28, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined with members in Bangkok, Thailand, for the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the country in 1966. Learn more.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (center) visits the Church's Asia Area.

Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé dedicated a bishops’ storehouse in the cradle of the Restoration in Palmyra, New York, on April 16. Learn more.

The new bishops’ storehouse in Manchester, New York, at sunset. The 8,000-square-foot facility was dedicated April 16, 2016. Photo by D. Brent Walton.

•  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf created the Prague Czech Republic Stake—the first stake in the country—on Sunday, May 15. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf sustain new Church leaders in Prague, Czech Republic, on Sunday, May 15. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, created the Prague Czech Republic Stake—the first stake in the country. Photo by Brian E. Cordray.

During a historic ceremony on May 31, government leaders in Vietnam granted official recognition to the Church in Vietnam. Learn more.

From left are Honorable Le Ba Trinh, vice chairman for religious affairs Bui Thanh Ha, Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Members celebrated 100 years of the Church in Tonga with a week of commemorative events beginning August 8, including a youth performance before Tongan royalty. Learn more.

Senior leaders of the Church in Tonga attending the celebration included stake president Ian Claude Tu'ihalangingie; Elder 'Aisake Tukuafu and his wife, Sister Lose Tukuafu; Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission President Sione Fifita Tuione and his wife, Sister Moala Tuione; and stake president 'Alavani Sika and his wife, Sister Mokiana Sika.

The 115th bishops’ storehouse in the United States and Canada was dedicated in Twin Falls, Idaho, on August 27. Learn more.

The new bishops’ storehouse in Twin Falls, Idaho, will help meet the welfare and home storage needs of eight stakes and 73 wards and branches in Idaho. Photo by Ryan Morgenegg.

Gala concert on September 17 honored 25 years of the Church’s presence and recognition in Ukraine. Learn more.

A group of young single adults from Ukraine perform “Gopak,” a national Ukrainian folk dance. Photo by Alexandra Vishnyova.

Returned missionaries who served in South Korea celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Church’s arrival in the country in October. Learn more.

Photo of early missionaries to Korea, circa 1956. Image from the 60th anniversary commencement video.

On October 15, close to 6,000 members in Taiwan celebrated the 60th anniversary of missionary work beginning in the country. Learn more.

Several hundred returned missionaries attend the 60th anniversary celebration of missionary work in Taiwan, including several missionary couples who have served in the country as mission and temple presidents. Photo by Arnie Chen.

Vietnamese Church members and returned missionaries who served in Vietnam gathered in Taylorsville, Utah, in November to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country being dedicated for missionary work. Learn more.

A meeting at the chapel in Vietnam. Photo by Thao Huy Tran.

Church members in Colombia provided service in 2016 to celebrate 50 years of the Church’s arrival in their country. Learn more.

FamilySearch celebrated a decade of online indexing by volunteers on December 5. Learn more.

Women participate in a stake online indexing training.