Despite a wounded economy, wars, natural disasters, and individual hardships this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed many milestones and causes for celebration. In his welcome address during the April general conference earlier this year, President Thomas S. Monson said, "Now, my brothers and sisters, I am pleased to report that the Church is doing very well. The work of the Lord continues to move forward uninterrupted." Much has happened in the past 12 months to reflect the "forward" movement spoken of by President Monson.
Ground was broken for The Gila Valley Arizona Temple in central Arizona on Feb. 14 and for the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple on March 14.
Also in March, the third temple in the Salt Lake Valley and the 129th in the Church, the Draper Utah Temple, was dedicated March 20 by President Monson. Twelve dedicatory sessions were held March 20-22. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said: "May this House provide a spirit of peace to all who observe its majesty, and especially to those who enter for their own sacred ordinances and to perform the work for those beyond the veil. Let them feel of Thy divine love and mercy. May they be privileged to say, as did the Psalmist of old, 'We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.' "
On Aug. 21, President Monson celebrated his 82nd birthday by dedicating the 13th temple in Utah and the 130th worldwide, the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple. In eight of the nine dedicatory sessions, members were able to hear President Monson offer the dedicatory prayer in which he said: "We are grateful for this long-awaited day of dedication, when this, Thy Holy House, has been completed. Bless, we pray Thee, those faithful members here and throughout the world who have contributed their tithes which have made possible this magnificent edifice for Thy name's honor and glory and for the blessing of all who enter herein."
In the October 2009 general conference, President Monson announced temples to be built in Brigham City, Utah; Concepcion, Chile; Fortaleza, Brazil; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Sapporo, Japan. With 130 temples currently operating and 16 under construction or in planning stages, the five announced temples will bring the total to 151 worldwide. President Monson said that 83 percent of Church members live within 200 miles of a temple. "That percentage will continue to increase as we construct new temples around the world," he added.
In 2009, the Church provided thousands of pounds of food and relief supplies to those victimized by natural disasters. Church members worldwide – often times sporting the trademark yellow T-shirts of the Mormon Helping Hands program – also donated thousands of hours of service in their communities.
In April, 96 stakes in 11 southeastern states, ranging from Florida to Indiana, partnered with service organizations and cities for projects to beautify and improve local communities. Thousands of miles away in California, approximately 90 stakes participated in a day of service to benefit communities stretching from Barstow to the Mexican border.
In August, members from more than 30 African countries participated in more than 200 projects to clean and beautify their local areas and bring hope to their communities.
About 400,000 families — or nearly 3 million individuals — in Manila, Philippines, were impacted by flooding triggered by typhoon Ketsana in late September. The Church provided food, water, clothing, hygiene items and other relief supplies to those left homeless.
In October more than 7,000 Guatemalan members dedicated a day of service to children, particularly those battling illnesses or other challenges, in hundreds of projects across the nation.
Also in October, a Church-chartered DC-10 aircraft filled with 150,000 pounds of relief supplies arrived in Western Samoa after an earthquake-generated tsunami devastated the coastal regions of the Samoan Islands Sept. 29. The Church became a partner with the international humanitarian assistance organization Islamic Relief to cover the cost of chartering the cargo plane.
GROWTH OF THE CHURCH
As of October 2009, the Church reported approximately 52,000 missionaries in 348 missions across the globe. Church membership – as of Jan. 1, 2009 – reached 13,508,509.
The Church organized its first stake in the south Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago March 1. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy presided over the organization of the Port of Spain Trinidad Stake.
During the tour of six countries in South Eastern Europe, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve on May 24 dedicated the first meetinghouse in Zagreb, Croatia.
On June 7, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy organized the first stake in the north Asian nation of Mongolia. The Ulaanbaatar Mongolia West Stake and two districts, with 20 congregations among them, are spread across the vast land of desert and mountains.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated Cameroon and Rwanda for the preaching of the gospel, during a historic 16-day tour of Africa on Aug. 16-31. In so doing, he became the first known apostle to ever set foot in either nation.
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy formed the Baghdad Iraq Military District on Nov. 9 to provide increased spiritual support for the needs of approximately 1,300 members in the armed forces and working in other capacities throughout Iraq.
President Thomas S. Monson offered the benediction at the ceremony Jan. 5 to inaugurate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. to his second term as governor of Utah. In his prayer, President Monson acknowledged, "We live in a time when challenges are many. We are in need of Thy guidance and Thy sustaining influence, and pray sincerely for such blessings."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve were assigned by President Monson to represent the Church at the inauguration of President Barack Obama Jan. 20. They were seated close to the presidential stage for the inauguration and near President Obama and his contingent for the prayer service. "We could feel the deep emotion around us — we were surrounded by people of all colors, of all creeds and of all languages," President Uchtdorf said. "It was a great experience we had — to see a unity there that I hope will last on and continue throughout the years of this administration."
The 179th Annual General Conference convened April 4-5. During the Sunday morning session Elder Neil L. Andersen was sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve to fill the vacancy left by the death of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. Elder Andersen was serving as a senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Donald L. Hallstrom was sustained to the Presidency of the Seventy to fill the vacancy left by Elder Andersen. Twelve new members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy and 40 new Area Seventies were also sustained.
A new Young Men general presidency, composed of David L. Beck, president; Larry M. Gibson, first counselor; and Adrian Ochoa, second counselor, was sustained as well as a new Sunday School general presidency. Russell T. Osguthorpe was sustained as president of the Sunday School, with David M. McConkie as first counselor and Matthew O. Richardson as second counselor.
Approximately 20,000 women gathered April 30-May 1 during the Women's Conference at Brigham Young University. Now in its 34th year, the Women's Conference draws thousands to Provo to listen to presenters such as Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president; Sister Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president; and Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president, and to participate in an en masse service project. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at the closing general session and asked the sisters to dedicate themselves to strengthening the image of the Church.
The Church on May 18 debuted a new radio station, Mormon Channel, for broadcast over the Internet and HD (digital) Radio. Elder John B. Dickson of the Seventy, executive director of the Church Audiovisual Department, said, "This is a great opportunity for the Church to put out positive, compelling content … all across the world."
Between the Draper Utah Temple dedication in March and the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple in August, approximately 14,000 youth participated in a two-night cultural celebration. Youth from both temple districts performed in the productions that highlighted the rich legacy of Utah through song and dance May 29-30.
As of June 3, families are no longer permitted to enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, but must say their goodbyes at the doorstep. Church leaders said the change came because of health concerns for the 2,000 missionaries being trained at the center.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square were on the road from June 18-29. The choir received a special send-off June 14 by President Thomas S. Monson in preparation for their summer tour of seven cities, ranging from Ohio to Colorado, in 13 days. "You are going on a mission of the Church," said President Monson. "For every applause you hear there will be an applause in their hearts for the memory they will have of having heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing."
Stops included Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; Norman, Oklahoma; and Denver, Colorado. President Monson made an unannounced visit to the final performance at the Red Rock Amphitheater in Denver.
After 15 years of planning, four years of construction and the movement of more than a million historical items, the new Church History Library, across the street from the Church Office Building, welcomed the public after its dedication June 20. The library's 600,000-document collection is housed on 28 miles of shelving in temperature-controlled vaults to help ensure their conservation for future generations. Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, Church Historian and Recorder, said, "That's why this building was built: to welcome the public to enjoy and become acquainted with and to draw from these things."
President Monson, accompanied by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, presented U.S. President Barack Obama with five large leather-bound volumes of his history going back through several generations and covering hundreds of years. The courtesy visit was organized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who accompanied the Church leaders to the White House.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrated Sunday, July 19 the 80th anniversary of its weekly program, "Music and the Spoken Word," which is the world's longest running continuous network broadcast.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve represented the Church at the World Congress of Families V, an international network of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders and people of goodwill that seek to strengthen the natural family as the fundamental social unit. Also speaking at the congress — which convened Aug. 10-12 in Amsterdam, Netherlands — were Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, Elder Nelson's wife, and Sister Sheri L. Dew.
A milestone in Church publishing history involved the publication of the LDS edition of the Bible in Spanish. The First Presidency announced its publication Sept. 13 in a letter read in sacrament meetings in Spanish-language units worldwide. The new LDS edition of the Bible includes cross-references, chapter headings and explanatory footnotes, as well as selections from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible along with several full-color Bible maps, a new reference guide and photographs.
Extensive work went into producing the LDS edition of the Spanish Bible. A team of translators, General Authorities, Area Seventies, professional linguists and members labored several years preparing and reviewing the edition.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve, who served a mission to Uruguay, was an essential participant in the Spanish Bible project. "The Bible is a resource of tremendous importance — of doctrine, of examples, of worthy lives," he said. "My prayer is that this volume may become a source of inspired instruction."
Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, Church Historian and Recorder, officially signaled the publication of the 2nd volume in the Joseph Smith Papers Project when he formally presented a copy to Elder Russel M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve on Sept. 22. Elder Nelson accepted the copy of "The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books" on behalf of the First Presidency. The 8-pound, 752-page., "facsimile" edition is the first volume published in the Revelations and Translation series and the 2nd volume published for the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Readers can view photocopies of original manuscripts including the Book of Commandments and Revelations and the Kirtland Revelation Book. Eventually, the project will include 30 volumes in six series.
Speaking at the General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 26, Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president outlined the objectives and procedures for weekday meetings. "In counsel with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was determined that rather than give these additional Relief Society meetings a new title, all such meetings and activities will now be referred to simply as Relief Society meetings," she said. "These meetings are meant to be instrumental in teaching the skills and responsibilities of womanhood and motherhood in the Lord's plan." President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, also spoke in addition to Sister Beck's counselors, Silvia H. Allred and Barbara Thompson.
On Oct. 3-4, the 179th Semiannual General Conference was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. During the Sunday morning session, President Monson began his discourse titled, "What Have I Done for Someone Today?" "The needs of others are ever-present, and each of us can do something to help someone," he said. Quoting Jesus' words that "whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it," President Monson remarked, "I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives."
Ryan T. Murphy was named associate music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on March 27, 2009. He filled the vacancy left by Mack J. Wilberg who was appointed music director in March 2008.
John L. "Larry" Richards became the 12th president of LDS Business College. President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor of the First Presidency, and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke Oct. 13 in the Assembly Hall at Temple Square during the inauguration.
The Utah Board of Regents selected Matthew S. Holland as the sixth president of Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. His father, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke at his inauguration Oct. 19.
Daniel H. Ludlow, 84, former director of the Church's Correlation Department who served as editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, died Feb. 14 in Provo, Utah.
Truman G. Madsen, 82, emeritus BYU professor, Church scholar, former director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, the first occupant of the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding, and one of the editors and contributors to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, died May 28 in Provo, Utah.
BYU professor emeritus and former dean of religious education, Robert J. Matthews, 82, died Aug. 20. Brother Matthews was perhaps best known for being instrumental in bringing the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible into common use among members of the Church and in negotiating with what was then the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) for the use of the translation. He was one of four senior editors of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.