Events, Milestones, and Growth of the Church in 2012

  Compiled by Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer

  • 11 January 2013

Future missionaries celebrate the new age policy announced by President Thomas S. Monson for full-time missionaries.  Photo by Gerry Avant.

Article Highlights

  • The Kansas City Missouri, Manaus Brazil, Brigham City Utah, and Calgary Alberta Temples were dedicated in 2012, and the Buenos Aires Argentina and Boise Idaho Temples were rededicated.
  • Church members donated thousands of hours to cleanup and recovery efforts from damage caused by tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, floods, and storms in 2012. The Church provided humanitarian aid and relief supplies for those impacted by several disasters.
  • Landmark announcements in 2012 included the decision to allow men to begin serving missions at age 18 and women at age 19.

“Today Thy Church shines forth in the sunlight of good will.” —President Thomas S. Monson, Kansas City Missouri Temple dedicatory prayer

Temple News

  • The Kansas City Missouri Temple, the Church’s 137th, located in an area where the Prophet Joseph Smith walked and significant events of the Restoration occurred, was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson on May 6. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson called the event a “special occasion, for this temple stands on ground hallowed by the sacrifice and suffering of stalwart Saints who walked here long years ago. Today Thy Church shines forth in the sunlight of good will.”
  • More than 5,600 people gathered May 12 to see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicate “already sacred ground for an even more sacred purpose.” The sacred ground was the site of the Provo Tabernacle that was destroyed by fire in December 2010. The “more sacred purpose” will be the rebuilding of the site into the Provo City Center Temple. Originally constructed between 1883 and 1898, the tabernacle was a community gathering place for meetings and cultural events in Provo for many years.
  • The location of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple, the first in the long, high-altitude valley settled by sturdy Mormon pioneers, was announced May 25. The temple will be built south of Afton along Highway 89 on the Haderlie Farm property adjacent to some of the most beautiful national parks of the U.S. West. Announced in the October 2011 general conference, it is the first in Wyoming and will serve members living in the western part of the state.
  • Dedication of a temple in Manaus, Brazil, capital of the 1.5 million-acre Amazonas State, situated on the banks of the Rio Negro, was seen as the culmination of the faith of pioneer members at this site. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Church’s 138th temple and the sixth in Brazil following a cultural celebration the night before in which 1,200 members celebrated the richness of the Amazon and the beauty of the forest and animals of this region. In the dedicatory prayer, President Uchtdorf blessed the people of Manaus: “We ask Thee to touch the lives and hearts of all who will have an opportunity to listen and hearken to the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Hasten the miracle of conversion among the great and good people of this land.”
  • Members gathered August 18 as Elder Benjamín De Hoyos of the Seventy broke ground and dedicated the site for the 13th temple in Mexico—the Tijuana Mexico Temple.
  • President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the landmark Buenos Aires Argentina Temple on September 9. The temple was closed in 2009 and expanded with two new wings to handle the greatly increased number of patrons. In the expansion, care was given to maintain the original motif of blue and white, Argentina’s national colors. At a cultural celebration on September 8, some 2,000 Argentine youth in person and 10,000 others in videotaped performances celebrated their heritage before a large audience.
  • Standing at a pulpit less than a mile from where he was born, President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated the Church’s 139th temple, a gleaming white edifice in the center of Brigham City, Utah. The dedication was a homecoming for the General Authority of half a century, President Packer, and his wife, Sister Donna S. Packer, herself a Brigham City native, and they reminisced of their forebears’ faithfulness and their meeting and family life in the northern Utah community. In the dedicatory prayer, President Packer called the building of the temple “an expression of our profound love and commitment to Thee and to Thy Divine Son. Wilt Thou be pleased to visit it and permit Thy Holy Spirit of peace and instruction to be here to bless and sanctify it for the purpose for which it has been constructed.”
  • During the 182nd Semiannual General Conference on October 6, President Monson announced temples to be built in Tucson, Arizona, and Arequipa, Peru.
  • The Calgary Alberta Temple, dedicated October 28, became the Church’s 140th operating temple, in a region of Canada’s vast grasslands where cattle graze on the prairie above and vast reserves of petroleum pool below. The open house for the new temple was September 29–October 20. A cultural celebration was held October 27. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson asked a blessing to those who obey the Lord’s commandments: “Wilt thou provide comfort to them when they face adversity. Wilt Thou sustain and strengthen them when the winds of opposition blow against them. Wilt Thou bring joy and peace into their hearts and the assurance of Thy everlasting love.”
  • Located in the heart of “Treasure Valley,” the Boise Idaho Temple, which was closed for 15 months for renovation, was rededicated by President Monson on November 18 following a cultural celebration put on by more than 9,200 local youth. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said, “As we rededicate this sacred edifice, we rededicate our very lives to Thee and to Thy work. May we leave Thy house this day with a renewal of faith and with an added spirit of dedication to Thy work and that of Thy Son.”

Humanitarian Relief

  • Church members helped in cleanup and recovery efforts following the largest outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded in the month of March that cut a swath of damage and death across 12 U.S. Midwest and southern states.
  • Some 450 Latter-day Saint volunteers used their day of service, commemorating the 75th year of the Church welfare program, to clean up debris in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after the annual water festival, in which hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the country celebrated the end of the rainy season in February.
  • On April 28 more than 70,000 Church members and friends in California and Hawaii completed 536 projects and logged 230,000 hours in Mormon Helping Hands 2012 for the North America West Area. Many of the service projects were for local municipalities with severe budget restrictions that lack resources for the projects.
  • In May, during the East Africa drought and amid illnesses of children from drinking scarce, salty water, a tank truck carried water deep into the horn of Africa to the village of Sala-Jama in Ethiopia. Sponsored by the Church, the water in that truck saved the lives of these people, said Ahamd Issaq, village chief. Water was also trucked to 22 other villages to help offset disaster from the devastating drought.
  • In mid-summer, the Church donated 70 percent of the supplies and provided half the volunteers at the Philippines stage of Pacific Partnership 20 aboard the America USNS Mercy hospital ship. Fifty-four LDS doctors and nurses volunteered from six weeks to three months as the ship stopped in Samar and Subic Bay in the Philippines and later went on to Vietnam and Cambodia. Thirteen nations, with more than a thousand military personnel and civilians volunteering, sponsored the medical efforts that included surgeries, eye examinations, dental work, vaccinations, and donations of supplies and sports equipment.
  • More than 1,600 volunteers gathered July 14 to help clean up debris following the Charlotte fire, which ignited on June 28 in the hills around Pocatello, Idaho. Efforts involved members of the community and included representation from more than 150 wards throughout the southeastern part of the state.
  • Members of the Roswell Georgia Stake met at short notice at a bishops’ storehouse on September 1 and packed 2,000 boxes of food for victims of Hurricane Isaac that struck the Gulf Coast August 29.
  • On September 1, more than 600 volunteers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, showed up to bag 150 tons of sand needed to protect a high risk burned area from flooding.
  • As tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fled their war-torn country and sought refuge in Jordan, the Church answered a Jordanian charity’s call for additional assistance—providing more than $1 million in humanitarian aid and supplies with more en route or planned.
  • As of November 28, the Church had provided 11 truckloads of relief supplies (approximately 400,000 pounds), including food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, generators, pumps, tarps, cleaning supplies, and fuel to those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The storm struck the coastlines of New York and New Jersey in late October, becoming one of the largest storms to ever hit the United States, impacting 24 states.

Major Events

  • In January, the respected Pew Research Center released the first survey to focus exclusively on Church members published by a non-LDS group. The survey, “Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs but Uncertain of Their Place in Society,” showed that two of three Mormons say the American people do not see Mormons as part of mainstream America. About the same number believe acceptance of Mormonism is on the rise.
  • A satellite broadcast by President Boyd K. Packer on January 22 commemorated a century of seminary, the weekday spiritual instruction that has been underway since 1912. At the time, some 375,000 students were receiving instruction in released time, early morning, and home study seminary.
  • Before dedicating the Church’s new Utah Bishops’ Central Storehouse on January 26, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, expressed gratitude for “acts of love” that, some 65 years earlier, resulted in a shipment of saving food and clothing from Salt Lake City to his home in East Germany. President Uchtdorf dedicated the new 570,391-square-foot building, which is essential to help the bishops of the Church reach out to the poor and needy.
  • A new visitors’ center opened at the Portland Oregon Temple on February 25, with its goal to explain the purpose of the temple.
  • On March 3, Church leaders issued strict guidelines for submitting temple names, limiting temple submissions to members’ own families and not allowing work for celebrities and unauthorized groups such as Jewish Holocaust victims.
  • The first of two volumes documenting very early efforts of the Church to keep its own history was released March 19 as part of the anticipated 21-volume Joseph Smith Papers project undertaken and published by the Church History Department. “Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844” was unveiled at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
  • “We come together as one, speaking many languages, living in many lands, but all of one faith and one doctrine and one purpose,” said President Thomas S. Monson in opening the 182nd Annual General Conference, March 31–April 1. During conference, a new Presiding Bishopric and Relief Society general presidency were sustained, three new General Authorities were called, and a change was made in the Presidency of the Seventy. It was noted that the Church has reached 14.4 million members in 2,946 stakes with nearly 29,000 wards. In addition, full-time missionaries numbered more than 55,000 and Church-service missionaries more than 22,000. The Church increased by more than 281,000 converts and nearly 120,000 children of record.
  • On April 13, LDS Business College celebrated 125 years by graduating another class.
  • May: Celebrating a hundred years of Young Woman camp, Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president, said the Churchwide activity is more essential than it has ever been. At girls camp, each young woman can learn to practice provident living. “Right there in that little tent, she can create a space where she can feel the Spirit.” Young Women camps are held from Mongolia to Zimbabwe.
  • The site of the Haun’s Mill Massacre, the Joseph Smith Sr. home in Kirtland, Ohio, and the Far West burying ground were acquired by the Church on May 5, according to Church spokesman Scott Trotter. The property was purchased from the Community of Christ.
  • The new Philippines Missionary Training Center, dedicated by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve on May 20, is a place for training missionaries from the Philippines, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand.
  • Decentralization of Church history was announced at the Calgary, Alberta, Mormon History Association Conference on June 9. Part of this effort is an online catalog of the Church History Library accessed through history.lds.org. The catalog allows researchers to do advanced searches of the library from their homes. They will also be able to view some 400,000 pages of digitized documents and images. This is the beginning of a massive digitizing effort to make important records available worldwide.
  • Youth in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in mid-June donned cowboy hats or bonnets as they took part in commemorating Pioneer Day with a handcart trek, the first in Mongolia.
  • Celebrating its 75th year of existence, the Church’s well-known Hill Cumorah Pageant, America’s Witness for Christ, attracted crowds of 33,000 throughout July.
  • On August 17 a program of music, narration, and tributes titled “Golden Days: A Celebration of Life,” commemorated the 85th birthday of President Thomas S. Monson.
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf dedicated Dixie College’s new Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons Building on September 7, which the Apostle only reluctantly allowed being his namesake.
  • The seventh volume of the Joseph Smith Papers project was published September 25, featuring histories written by Joseph Smith’s associates John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, John Corrill, and Edward Partridge.
  • During the opening session of the Church’s 182nd Semiannual General Conference, President Monson announced that, effective immediately, men may now begin serving missions at age 18 and women at age 19. “I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age,” President Monson said. Rather, he said, the option is now available based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by local Church leaders. The Church anticipates that lowering the age requirement will significantly increase the number of missionaries who will serve by expanding the options for when they may begin their service.
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced the choir’s latest venture into the world of social media. The launch of the choir’s own YouTube channel was proclaimed “a historic event” in a multimedia presentation at the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City on October 30.
  • Republican Mitt Romney, a lifelong Church member, returned missionary, and former bishop and stake president, was defeated in the November 6 general election by the incumbent, President Barack Obama. Brother Romney’s campaign brought unprecedented media attention to the Church. Throughout the grueling campaign, the Church adhered to its long-established political neutrality even as it reminded its membership of the importance of being responsible citizens and exercising their right to vote to select wise men and women for public office.

Church Growth

  • Eight new missions were created in Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, the western United States, the east South Pacific, and Russia on March 3.
  • The first stake in Cape Verde, an island nation 350 miles off the coast of West Africa, was created by Elder Erich W. Kopischke of the Seventy, Europe Area President, on April 29. Some 8,000 members live in six of the nine inhabited islands. Cape Verde is self-sufficient in missionaries.
  • The Hyderabad India Stake was created by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve on May 27, the first stake in India. More than 1,500 members and friends met in the Novotel Convention Centre in Hyderabad.
  • On May 27, the Noumea New Caledonia Stake in Melanesia, located some 900 miles east of Australia, was created by Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy. The first Church presence among these islands came with LDS servicemen during World War II.
  • Italian President Giorgio Napolitano signed documentation on July 30 granting the Church official status as a religion and “partner of the state” in Italy. The legislation grants the highest status given to religions and ensures several benefits for the Church in Italy. Previously, the Church was recognized as a charitable institution only.
  • On the day he turned 88, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve organized the St. Petersburg Russia Stake—the second stake in Russia.
  • On Monday, October 29, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve offered a prayer of dedication and blessing upon the country and people of the Central African Republic.
  • Latter-day Saints in Botswana rejoiced as the first stake was created in their country, the Gaborone Botswana Stake. Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Seventy and President of the Africa Southeast Area, along with Elder Colin H. Bricknell and Elder T. Jackson Mkhabela, both Area Seventies, organized the stake on November 4.
  • A historic milestone was reached on December 2 with the creation of the 3,000th stake of the Church. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve organized the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake, the first stake in western Africa. “It is part of the latter-day miracle, evidence of our ‘marvelous work and a wonder’ that the Church has grown to the point where its 3,000th stake is in far-off Sierra Leone,” Elder Holland said.