2017 Year in Review

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Jason Swensen, and Aubrey Eyre, Church News staff writers

  • 30 December 2017

A look back on the major events of the Church during 2017, including disaster relief, humanitarian aid, Church growth, temple dedications, and other events.

January

• Elder Glen L. Rudd, an emeritus General Authority who served in New Zealand and Polynesia, known as “Mr. Welfare” for his decades of leadership and service in the Church’s welfare program, and a longtime friend of President Thomas S. Monson, died on December 30, 2016. His funeral was held January 4. Learn more.

Elder Glen L. Rudd, an emeritus General Authority who served in New Zealand and Polynesia, known as “Mr. Welfare” for his decades of leadership and service in the Church’s welfare program, and a longtime friend of President Thomas S. Monson, died on December 30, 2016. His funeral was held January 4.

• Elder Bruce D. Porter was serving as a General Authority Seventy when he died due to a pulmonary infection on December 28, 2016. Known for his work and Church service in the Europe East Area, Elder Porter had a great love for the Russian people. His funeral was held on January 5. Learn more.

Elder Bruce D. Porter was serving as a General Authority Seventy when he died due to a pulmonary infection on December 28, 2016. Known for his work and Church service in the Europe East Area, Elder Porter had a great love for the Russian people. His funeral was held on January 5.

• LaVell Edwards, head football coach of BYU from 1972 to 2000, died at age 86 on December 29, 2016. His funeral was held on January 7. Learn more.

LaVell Edwards, head football coach of BYU from 1972 to 2000, died at age 86 on December 29, 2016. His funeral was held on January 7. Photo courtesy Deseret News.

• The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed “America the Beautiful” at the inauguration ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump on January 20. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered a prayer asking God to bless the new president and all the nation’s leaders on January 21 during the presidential inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Learn more.

Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, on January 20, 2017.

• In a worldwide missionary broadcast on January 25, changes to the missionary daily schedule were announced. Learn more.

• Church members provided relief following massive wildfires in Chile. On January 27, a representative of the Church participated in a gathering of religious leaders convened by Chile President Michelle Bachelet. Learn more.

February

• President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, announced on February 7 the creation of a new global higher education organization, BYU–Pathway Worldwide, and called BYU–Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert as its president. (Learn more.) Henry J. Eyring was called to take President Gilbert’s place as president of BYU–Idaho. Learn more.

• On February 23, the First Presidency announced that the Oakland California Temple and the Washington D.C. Temple would close for renovations in March 2018. Learn more.

March

• Two temple groundbreaking ceremonies were held on March 4: one for the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple and the other for the Arequipa Peru Temple. Learn more.

• The Relief Society General Presidency announced an update to the purposes of Relief Society on March 9. Learn more.

• The Mexico City Record Preservation Center was dedicated in a multistake center near the Mexico City Mexico Temple on March 12. Learn more.

• March 17 marked 175 years since the organization of the Relief Society by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842. Learn more.

March 17, 2017, marked 175 years since the organization of the Relief Society by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842. Painting by Paul Mann.

• Following the success of the “Light the World” initiative in December 2016, the Church announced the “Prince of Peace” campaign on March 31. Learn more.

One of eight images shared during the Church’s Easter “Prince of Peace” campaign.

April

• In the Sunday morning session of general conference on April 2, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for five new temples: Brasilia, Brazil; Manila, Philippines; Pocatello, Idaho; Saratoga Springs, Utah; and Nairobi, Kenya. Learn more.

• In his general conference talk on April 2, President Thomas S. Monson challenged Church members everywhere to make studying and pondering the Book of Mormon a priority every day. Learn more.

• On April 10, the First Presidency announced the closure of four temples for renovations. The Tokyo Japan, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, Memphis Tennessee, and Asunción Paraguay Temples closed during October and November this year and are scheduled to reopen between 2019 and 2020. Learn more.

May

• Gerry Avant, editor of the Church News for 18 years, retired in May. Learn more.

Gerry Avant, retiring editor of the Church News, speaks at her retirement party at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

• On May 9, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski reached out to President Henry B. Eyring to thank the Church for the help it provided following damages from floods. (Learn more.) The Peruvian president later requested a visit from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he visited Peru in September. Learn more.

• The First Presidency announced on May 11 that the Church will discontinue involvement in the Boy Scouts of America Varsity and Venturing programs. Learn more.

• The Paris France Temple, the first in France, was dedicated on May 21 by President Henry B. Eyring with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Learn more.

The Paris France Temple was dedicated May 21 by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

June

• The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was rededicated by President Henry B. Eyring on June 4. The 72-year-old temple had been closed for two years prior for extensive renovations. Learn more.

Crowds file into the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple for a rededication session on June 4, 2017. Photo by Jason Swensen, Deseret News.

• The historic Temple View development complex in Hamilton, New Zealand, was dedicated on June 17 by President Henry B. Eyring. Learn more.

• June 17, the massive Brian Head Fire burned more than 67,000 acres across southern Utah, prompting evacuations of several member families. Learn more.

A sign welcomes visitors to the community located below the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. President Henry B. Eyring dedicated several new and renovated facilities there on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Photo by Rachel Sterzer.

• June 24–28, 127 mission presidents and their wives participated in the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. Learn more.

New mission presidents and their wives gather on the Provo Missionary Training Center campus for the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents held June 24 through June 28. Photo by Cody Bell.

July

• July 13, the Church History Museum opened its pioneer-themed exhibition Mormon Trails: Pathways to Zion (1846 to 1890). Learn more.

• Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles received the 2017 Pioneers of Progress President’s Award on July 13. Learn more.

• July 14–15, Mormon recording artist Alex Boyé performed as the guest artist at the Pioneer Day Commemoration Concerts in the Conference Center. Learn more.

• Doors opened for a first-of-its-kind public open house at the expanded Provo Missionary Training Center on July 31. Learn more.

The Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Renovations have been made to accommodate 3,700 missionaries. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

August

• Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participated in the 2017 British Pageant commemorating 180 years of missionary work in Great Britain on August 3. Learn more.

• On August 5, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, spoke to African youth during the first Church broadcast originating from the Africa West Area. Learn more.

African youth listen as Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, speak to them during a Face to Face broadcast originating in the Ghana Missionary Training Center held on August 5.

• The Tucson Arizona Temple was dedicated by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on August 13. Learn more.

People line up to enter the new Tucson Arizona Temple for a dedicatory service August 13, 2017. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

• Elder D. Todd Christofferson received the Saint Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize on behalf of the Church in India on August 14. Learn more.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson interacts with Swami Agnivesh prior to attending an award ceremony on August 14, 2017. Photo by Prashanth Vishwanathan for the Deseret News.

• Seven members were killed in an August 14 massive mudslide in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Learn more.

• August 16, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Chiasmus Jubilee at Brigham Young University. Learn more.

• On August 17, Elder D. Todd Christofferson visited the Church’s only branch in Nepal and surprised members with copies of the first Nepali translation of the Book of Mormon. Learn more.

• President Thomas S. Monson marked his 90th birthday at his Salt Lake City home on August 21. Learn more.

President Thomas S. Monson shakes hands with his counselors, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, in his Salt Lake City apartment as he nears his 90th birthday on August 21, 2017. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

• On September 25, Tropical Storm Harvey hit Texas, causing historic damage across the southeast part of the state. Floodwaters displaced scores of Mormon families and inundated several rooms inside the Houston Texas Temple. The disaster prompted a large-scale humanitarian response from the Church, and hundreds of local members and missionaries donned yellow Mormon Helping Hands T-shirts to help muck out homes of people of all backgrounds. Learn more.

The Houston Texas Temple is surrounded by water after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

September

• On September 3, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf visited Harvey-weary Houston. President Uchtdorf and other Church leaders presided at a Sabbath-day service at the Cypress Texas Stake Center before traveling out to nearby volunteer work sites. Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ronald A. Rasband, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visited with Houston-area members two weeks later. Learn more.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visits with Mormon Helping Hands volunteers in Houston on Sunday, September 3, 2017. Photo by Sam Penrod.

• On September 6, Hurricane Irma raged across St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, destroying the residences of multiple members and causing severe damage to the LDS branch meetinghouse. Learn more.

• An 8.1-magnitude earthquake caused death and widespread destruction in southern Mexico on September 7. A second major quake inside of a month struck Mexico on September 19. The temblor struck near the sprawling capital of Mexico City. The two disasters prompted a wide Church-sponsored humanitarian response. Learn more.

• On September 9, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles chronicled the Latter-day Saints “return from exile” as he spoke at the Second Windsor Conference on Religious Persecution in Windsor, England. Learn more.

• Hurricane Irma cut a wide swath across Florida on September 10, causing extensive damage in the Florida Keys, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Jacksonsville regions. No members or missionaries were injured. Learn more.

• On September 10, Elder Neil L. Andersen created the 100th stake in the Philippines—the Mandaluyong Philippines Stake. A day earlier, hundreds of Filipino youth celebrated the event with a cultural celebration in Manila. Learn more.

Confetti rains down on performers at the conclusion of a cultural celebration titled “Upon the Isle of the Sea” and held in the Kia Theater in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 10, 2017. Photo by Noel Maglaque.

• On September 15, President Henry B. Eyring arrived in Puerto Rico to meet with members impacted by Hurricane Irma. He also flew to St. Thomas to meet with members. He later traveled to Florida to offer comfort to storm-impacted Latter-day Saints in several Sunshine State communities. Learn more.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets one of the Mormon Helping Hands volunteers at a work site in Jacksonville, Florida, Saturday, September 16, 2017.

• Elder Neil L. Andersen presided at the dedication services for the newly expanded MTC campus in Manila, Philippines, on September 16. Learn more.

• On September 19, Henry Johnson Eyring was inaugurated as the 17th president of Brigham Young University–Idaho. President Eyring’s father, President Henry B. Eyring, previously presided at the Church-owned college. Learn more.

President Henry J. Eyring embraces his father, President Henry B. Eyring, during his inauguration on September 19. Photo by Michael Lewis.

• On September 20, Hurricane Maria, the most powerful hurricane in Caribbean history, battered Puerto Rico, causing major damage and prompting the temporary evacuation of missionaries. Most of the island has endured weeks without power. Learn more.

October

• Members across the globe participated in the 187th Semiannual General Conference September 30–October 1. Learn more.

• Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles died on October 1. Funeral services were held on October 6 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Learn more.

Staff SGT. Travis Brown and Staff SGT. Austin Aitken of the 75th Force support squadron at Hill Air Force Base, salute the flag before folding it during graveside services for Elder Robert D. Hales in the Bountiful City Cemetery on Friday, October 6, 2017. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

• On October 7, wildfires began burning in Sonoma and Napa Counties in northern California. The blazes burned out of control for several days, destroying the homes of several LDS families. In late October, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spent three days meeting with and praying for families in some of the California neighborhoods destroyed by wildfires. Learn more.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, center, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets Santa Rosa resident Dr. Kimberly Gordacan during a Saturday tour of destruction caused by the northern California wildfires. Photo by Jason Swensen.

• President Henry B. Eyring dedicated the expansion at the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center on October 13. Learn more.

• In late October, the Relief Society General Presidency announced changes to the monthly visiting teaching message, which will go into effect in January 2018. Learn more.

• On October 20, Church leaders announced plans to reduce the number of LDS missions and increase the use of smartphones in missions (learn more). A list of standardized questions for missionaries was also announced. Learn more.

• October 22 marked the first time in over two decades that an Apostle visited the small country of Belarus. President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visited seven countries during his visit to Eastern Europe. Learn more.

• Bruce C. Kusch was installed as the 13th president of LDS Business College on October 24. Learn more.

• The newly built missionary training center in Accra, Ghana, was dedicated by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 24. Learn more.

Missionaries walk to classrooms at the Ghana MTC. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the facility on October 24, 2017. Photo by Douglas Hadley.

• On October 27, the First Presidency announced changes to the general women’s and general priesthood sessions of general conference. Learn more.

Conference goers attend the afternoon session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

• The groundbreaking ceremony for the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple was held on October 28. Learn more.

Church leaders break the ground for the construction of the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple. Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, General Authority Seventy, presided at the ceremony and offered the dedicatory prayer October 28, 2017.

November

• The printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon was purchased by the Church and made available to view online for free on the Joseph Smith Papers website, www.josephsmithpapers.org. Learn more.

The first two pages of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon sit atop the rest of the manuscript on the casing that folds over it and then slides into an additional case for preservation. Using funds from donors, the Church purchased the manuscript from the Community of Christ on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Photo by Cody Bell.

• The Meridian Idaho Temple, the 158th temple of the Church, was dedicated on November 19 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf with Elder D. Todd Christofferson. A celebration for youth was held in the Boise River Valley the evening prior to the dedication in which 6,000 youth of the Church celebrated their faith and culture. Learn more.

More than 800 youth living in the Meridian Idaho Temple district gathered on the grounds of the newly completed temple in late September in anticipation of the dedication planned for November 19. Photo by Fabiana Beatriz.

• On November 24, the Church launched the second “Light the World” campaign after the success of last year’s Christmas media campaign. Learn more.

December

• On December 4, President Henry B. Eyring and other Church leaders welcomed U.S. President Trump to Welfare Square for a tour of the facilities and a discussion on religious liberties and the Church’s welfare program. President Trump was given a Christus statue to commemorate the visit. Learn more.

President Donald Trump tours the LDS Church’s Welfare Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, December 4, 2017. Also with Trump are Sister Wilma Scovill, missionary for the LDS Church; President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Joel Moriyama, manager of the bishops’ storehouse at Welfare Square; and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

• President Henry B. Eyring dedicated the Cedar City Utah Temple on December 10 with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Learn more.

The Cedar City Utah Temple—the 159th in the Church and 17th in Utah—was dedicated by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency on Sunday, December 10, in three sessions. Photo by Rachel Sterzer.

• On December 14, the First Presidency announced changes in temple policies that give young men and young women more opportunities in temple work and that help Primary children better prepare to serve in the temple. Learn more.