Church Has Witnessed Historic Changes during President Monson’s Ministry
From the Church News
During the past five years of President Thomas S. Monson’s leadership, the Church has witnessed historic changes that have impacted members worldwide. The deep fingerprint of the Church’s 16th President can be found etched on a wide variety of key announcements and new policy implementations, ranging from missionary work and priesthood leadership training to prolific temple building.
Many of the policies and announcements unveiled during President Monson’s administration have a global reach—yet, at their core, they are designed to serve and care for individuals. His lifelong concern for the one is evident in each historical moment.
Here are a few highlights from the first half-decade of the presidency of Thomas S. Monson:
- In a move to expand the opportunities for young members of the Church to serve full-time missions, President Monson announced on October 6, 2012, that men may begin serving at age 18 and women at age 19. His announcement was made during the opening session of the Church’s 182nd Semiannual General Conference and sparked an outpouring of missionary enthusiasm. Since the announcement, the Church’s Missionary Department has received historic numbers of applications from both young men and young women eager to serve.
- The changes are expected to significantly increase the number of full-time missionaries worldwide, expanding the opportunities for an unprecedented number of people to learn about the restored gospel.
- In a letter cosigned by his counselors in the First Presidency—President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf—President Monson announced the 2013 implementation of a new youth curriculum designed “to strengthen and build faith, conversion, and testimony” of the young people of the Church. The new curriculum allows for more interactive teaching in Young Men, Young Women, and youth Sunday School classes patterned after how the Savior taught during His ministry on earth. Weekly classes utilize many of the online resources of the modern-day Church, allowing the youth to enjoy unprecedented participation and involvement.
President Monson has frequently drawn from the scriptures in preparing addresses for general conferences and other events. This photo was taken shortly before his 84th birthday, which was August 21, 2010. Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.
- Under the direction of President Monson and the First Presidency, the Church continues to broadcast annual worldwide leadership training meetings to assist local priesthood and auxiliary leaders in their efforts to serve the members in their respective wards and branches. The training meetings allow local leaders to listen to direction from members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders.
- Highlights of the worldwide training meetings have included instruction on using the new administrative handbooks (introduced in 2010) and training on conducting effective ward councils. Each was designed to allow the power of the priesthood to reach every individual and family in the Church.
In 2010 the First Presidency began assigning members of the Quorum of the Twelve to conduct two new kinds of international meetings called priesthood leadership conferences and area reviews. These meetings are designed to allow members of the Twelve to visit with local priesthood leaders and members from all around the world more frequently.
During each area review, stake presidencies, bishops, and branch presidents are brought together within a designated area of the Church for training. The leaders also take an in-depth look at what is happening with the Church in a given ecclesiastical area and review aspects of the work such as humanitarian service, welfare, missionary, family history, and temple.
President Monson’s love and concern for the young people of the Church has been established over decades of service. In an effort to increase accountability and foster activity for young single adults ages 18–30 years old, the Church President, beginning in 2010, approved the elimination of student wards in Utah. The units were replaced by young single adult wards and stakes.
During President Monson’s administration, 31 new temples have been announced throughout the world and 16 have been dedicated, with five others having been rededicated after extensive renovations.
President Monson himself presided at the dedications of temples in Rexburg, Idaho; Curitiba, Brazil; Panama City, Panama; Twin Falls, Idaho; Draper, Utah; South Jordan, Utah; Vancouver, Canada; The Gila Valley, Arizona; Cebu City, Philippines; Kyiv, Ukraine; Kansas City, Missouri; and Calgary, Alberta, and the rededication of temples in Mexico City, Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia; Laie, Hawaii; and Boise, Idaho. The ongoing planning and construction of these sacred edifices cement President Monson’s legacy as a builder of temples.
President Monson has also presided over a period of unprecedented reach from the Church’s online resources, delivering the words of the prophets and the programs of the Church to some 14 million members across the earth. Online highlights include a variety of Church-produced videos, including the series of films depicting key moments from the New Testament.
Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Church produced a new book titled Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society. The book is intended as a personal and family resource to strengthen women in their responsibilities.
Under President Monson’s leadership, the Church has responded to disasters across the globe, reaching out and helping those in need. Some major humanitarian responses in the past five years include efforts to reach out after an earthquake in Haiti, an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and flooding in Thailand. The Church also responded to a severe food crisis across eastern Africa, helped immunize children in many nations, and has provided clean water to remote villages. In addition, the Church dedicated a new 570,391-square-foot welfare facility in Salt Lake City.