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Church news and events: 2017 year in review

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 Dec. 30, 2016. His funeral was held Jan. 4.

Elder Bruce D. Porter was serving as a General Authority Seventy when he died due to a pulmonary infection on Dec. 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 Jan. 5.

LaVell Edwards,

head football coach of BYU from 1972-2000, died at age 86 on Dec. 29, 2016. His funeral was held on Jan. 7.

• The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed "America the Beautiful"; at the inauguration ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 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 Jan. 21 during the presidential inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

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

February

• President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, announced on Feb. 7 the creation of a new global higher education organization, BYU–Pathway Worldwide, and called BYU–Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert as its president. Henry J. Eyring was called to take President Gilbert's place as president of BYU–Idaho.

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

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

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.

• The general Relief Society presidency announced an update to the purposes of Relief Society on March 9.

• The Mexico City Record Preservation Center was dedicated in a multi-stake center near the Mexico City Mexico Temple on March 12

March 17 marked 175 years since the organization of the Relief Society by the prophet Joseph Smith in 1842.

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

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.

• 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.

• 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 2019-2020.

May

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

• 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. 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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

July

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

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

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

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

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 Aug. 3.

• On Aug. 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.

• The Tucson Arizona Temple was dedicated by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on Aug. 13.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson received the Saint Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize on behalf of the Church in India on Aug. 14.

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

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

• On Aug. 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.

President Thomas S. Monson marked his 90th birthday at his Salt Lake City home on Aug. 21.

• On Aug. 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.

September

• On Sept. 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.

• On Sept. 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.

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

• On Sept. 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.

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

• On Sept. 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.

• On Sept. 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.

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

• On Sept. 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.

• On Sept. 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.

October

• Members across the globe participated in the 187th Semiannual General Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

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

• On Oct. 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.

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

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

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

• Oct. 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.

Bruce C. Kusch was installed as the 13th president of LDS Business College on Oct. 24.

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

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

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

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.

The Meridian Idaho Temple, the 158th temple of the Church, was dedicated on Nov. 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.

• On Nov. 24, the Church launched the second “Light the World" campaign after the success of last year’s Christmas media campaign.

December

• On Dec. 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.

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

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