President Nelson’s 1st GC Report Card

I made a good faith effort to watch all of Conference this past weekend. I missed a few pockets here and there (in part due to doing taxes), and I missed the whole of the Sunday afternoon session due to a family Easter dinner. But I caught most of it. And for his first effort as the actual President of the Church, I found the result very encouraging. I’m giving President Nelson an A on my report card. Below is what stood out for me:

  1. Vigor. As we all know, President Nelson is 93 years old. But had I not known that already, I never would have guessed it just from watching the Conference. It’s an unfortunate reality, but when the President of the Church is in healthy vigor, the machinery hums and things happen. When that is not the case, we go into status quo mode and sort of limp along. That President Nelson modeled excellent vigor was I thought a very encouraging sign. And (good) things did indeed happen…
  2. Explaining the 1P Picks. It was at the least unusual when President Nelson reorganized the 1P by bringing Elder Oaks in as 1C, moving Elder Eyring from 1C to 2C, and returning Elder Uchtdorf to the Q12. Like everyone else, I love Elder Uchtdorf and so I naturally bristled at that. But I was impressed that President Nelson explained his process in coming to that decision. In particular, he interviewed every single Apostle in an effort to decide whom to call. I have no insider knowledge, but I doubt that has ever been done before. Normally the existing counselors are retained and it’s all pretty pro forma. And you know, I don’t begrudge President Nelson being able to make his own picks for those slots. The main precedent was when J. Reuben Clark was moved from 1C to 2C, and the other Apostles’ hearts bled for him on that occasion. But I think it’s fair for a new President to be able to pick his own counselors, tradition otherwise notwithstanding. If Elder Oaks outlives President Nelson, he will move to President Nelson’s chair, and it makes sense to me to give him some time in the 1P to become acclimated to that role. And President Nelson gave Elder Uchtdorf a very significant new assignment (chair of the Correlation Committee) and publicly expressed his love for him over the pulpit. I have no problem with him bucking tradition as long as it is done thoughtfully and explained to the people as President Nelson did here.
  3. The Apostle Picks. I don’t think I need to rehash this too much. I–and pretty much everyone else I know–viewed these picks as a home run. They represent a shot of some much needed diversity into the ranks of the top leadership. But if you were paying attention, Elder Oaks made a very clear statement of the type of diversity they were going for. When the names of all the new General Authorities were read, I had to smile in that many were foreign and difficult for an American to pronounce. After that litany, Elder Oaks commented that now fully 40% of the GAs were born outside the U.S., and he read a long list of the countries from which they come. We’re an international church, and they made a concerted effort to bring the leadership profile closer to recognizing that fact. And that is something good leadership does. I also assume at least one factor in Elder Gong’s selection was President Nelson’s well known strong interest in China. We want the President of our Church to have a strong interest in China and to be thinking strategically about the future role of the Church there.
  4. Combining Priesthood Quorums. I have HP friends who were definitely not a fan of this action. Personally, I think it’s the right thing to do. I guess I’m biased in that I live in a small and shrinking ward. We recently had a Ward Conference. For priesthood, the High Priests and Elders met together in the High Council Room. The whole lot of us fit comfortably around the table in there. To me it just doesn’t make sense to duplicate those organizations on the Ward level. (Maybe in big wards the separation serves the purpose of giving more men something meaningful to do, but where I live the problem is finding enough warm bodies to cover the basics.)
  5. Ministering. We’ll have to see how this plays out, but I find it to be an encouraging concept. Home teaching was pretty thoroughly broken in my view. A year and a half ago Elder Holland gave a fantastic talk in an effort to save it; I blogged about that talk here. But I worried that we were all too set in our ways for an attempted reinvigoration of the existing program to fully take. Only an in-home meeting is good enough, nothing else counts; we have to read the 1P message (never the original intent); we have to have a companion; we insist on measuring it but with no consistent standards the statistics are meaningless; and on and on. My read is that the intention is to continue our focus on watchcare of our people, but make it less of a program and more of a lived–and practical–reality. We’ll have to see how this all plays out, but I think it’s an experiment well worth trying.

What wasn’t announced in this Conference was two-hour blocks. There have been rumors about that change for years, but the substantial changes made in this conference give me hope that the groundwork is being laid and that a move to two-hour blocks is coming down the pike. I think this would make all sorts of sense and be a very good thing, but realistically it was never going to happen without a vigorous Prophet at the helm. Now that we’ve got one, this wish of mine is no longer a pipe dream. We’ll have to wait and see whether this becomes a reality, but again for small, struggling units like mine it would make all sorts of sense, and now I at least have a sense of hope that it could really, finally happen. Time will tell.

What were your reactions to and thoughts about the recently concluded Conference?

 

 

Comments

  1. I’m similarly impressed, Kevin, although less optimistic on the two-hour block front. But if President Nelson does institute the two-hour block, it will secure his legacy as the greatest president of the church in history.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, Rebecca, we’ll replace Brigham Young’s statue in SLC with his if he does that!

  3. On the whole I agree with pretty much everything here, but you neglected to mention the most significant change to the HT/VT/Ministering program, which is the inclusion of the Young Women. Until I see otherwise, I think that is the only truly impactful change to the program. Families will still have “ministering brothers” and adult women will still have “ministering sisters”. We will no longer receive monthly text messages asking for a yes/no response about our visits, but I largely expect that those who thoughtfully ministered before will still do so, while those who did not still won’t. There will be increased space for people to count bumping in to someone at Costco as “ministering” and many people won’t have a clear idea of how to minister beyond making an appointment to come visit on a Sunday afternoon, chat for a bit and leave a brief spiritual thought. There will perhaps be a bit more flexibility for assigning spouses to visit together, and some cross mixing of high priests, elders, priests and teachers. But mostly, I think this is just a rebranding of HT/VT, but now including the YW.

  4. Michael H. says:

    Lots of surprises. Been praying for DECADES for non-white apostles, so this was huge.

    As for the consolidation of the HPs into the EQ, I’m in wait-and-see mode. At first, I thought it must have something to do with home-teaching. In our ward, the EQ’s home-teaching has been bad for years, while the HPs’ home-teaching has been pretty good. Obviously, the Sunday afternoon session rendered that assumption moot. We generally have about a dozen or so HPs meeting in a very small, well-lit room, all of us facing each other, no one more than twelve feet away from anyone else, and it’s been great. Everyone’s engaged. The elders, meanwhile–about fifty or sixty of them–meet in the chapel, which is cavernous, and everyone spreads out and hunkers down in the pews, which are kind of like trenches. (There’s nowhere else in the building for them.) When they move us in with the EQ, I’m afraid that several of the HPs who’ve been engaged are going to sit in silence. I’m sure it won’t be this way everywhere else, but for our ward, just because of space limitations, Sunday instruction is going to take a big hit. The EQ–at least in our ward–is more sociable outside of Sunday meetings. They actually have a few activities per year, which we never do. That’ll be good for us.

    The ministry thing instead of home-teaching and visiting-teaching . . . That’s another one where we’ll just have see how it plays out. Strange, though–no home-teaching assignments. I’ve been home-teaching for about fifty years . . .

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Clark, thanks for highlighting the inclusion of the YW into the ministering concept. I agree that’s a significant and (potentially) good thing.

  6. jaxjensen says:

    I gave GC an A as well. I’m not sold on the “ministering” though. Not that I think HT/VT was working well, I just don’t think that ministering will do any better. All of the things ministering is supposed to look like… well… that is what HT/VT was supposed to look like as well. So personally I’m skeptical of that change. I think in every unit there are people who genuinely care for others, and they will continue to do so. I think this basically just gives those who don’t care the ability to not feel guilty about not doing service.

    Anecdote: I had a PTSD breakdown in EQ a few months ago. I left the class in near sobs during the discussion. One person followed me out to check on me. He offered a blessing which I accepted, so he went and got the EQ president to assist. I told him (with EQ pres present) some of the stresses going on with me, some of my needs/emotions/problems/etc and my need/desire for more fellowshipping from the ward. Since then there has been no additional contact. The EQ president hasn’t come by to check on me, nor sent someone in his place. My HT (also in EQ Presidency and was present in class) hasn’t come by the check on me. No contact from Bishop or a rep. Even with a public (and embarrassing) demonstration of a need, and even though I verbally expressed it, absolutely no indication of a desire to serve/minister/visit/whatever has been shown… and that is with a person assigned to do so. Now that there is NOBODY assigned to care… Do I expect anything to get better, for me or others like me? Nope.

  7. I know people like to add this to the idea of “this is what happens when you don’t have an incapacitated leader”, but all the changes have been in the works for many months, some over years. The immediate changes to the leadership tools, stopping all HT/VT reporting, releasing all HP/EQ presidencies, take a lot of work by the people maintaining those systems. The temples in particular take years of work.

    The progress has been ongoing. The heart surgeon didn’t do the surgery; he just got to tell the family of it’s success. I look forward to seeing how these changes work over the next few years.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Michael. I agree going from a small HPG to a very large EQ could be a tough adjustment. That’s not the situation where I live, but where the Church is strong that may be the more common demographic.

  9. Michael H. says:

    Oh, gosh, Rebecca J, if he goes with the two-hour block, yeah, that COULD be great. Sunday school is my favorite meeting, though. I hope we’d at least alternate Sunday school with RS/priesthood. It’s important for women and men to sit together and have gospel discussions. If I had to go from sacrament meeting into priesthood every Sunday for the rest of my life . . . Ugh. Just ugh. I mean, our HP classes are very good, but Sunday school’s much better. I like the mix. I like the sisters’ comments. I like sisters’ teaching.

  10. One overlooked, but significant change listed in the letter that went out to members yesterday is that PEC will be discontinued, and that information addressed in that meeting could be discussed in ward council, bishopric meeting, or the quarterly meeting with the Bishop, RS President, and EQ President as appropriate. I like that we have just eliminated a traditionally all-male meeting, that really wasn’t that different than ward council anyway. It’s not like it was all that much more private to discuss welfare issues without the YW, Primary and SS, as the RS President attended PEC in our ward anyway…

  11. lastlemming says:

    Home teaching was pretty thoroughly broken in my view. A year and a half ago Elder Holland gave a fantastic talk in an effort to save it;

    I don’t think Elder Holland was trying to save it. As Frank Pellet said, this has been in the works for years. I think Elder Holland was trying to keep HT/VT on life support until the change could be made. And I have reason to believe (namely a Stake President acquaintance who had lunch at his table during Conference a couple of years ago) that he has long known this was coming–if not during a Nelson presidency, then during his own. I suspect that the rollout may have been delayed so that it could be presented by a vigorous prophet who would be in the strongest position to sell it (see your paragraph 1).

  12. Pretty good summary. I don’t disagree, except w/r/t a two-hour block. Where did that come from? I know there are people who would like it (fervently, even) but is there a real move in that direction? I have a mental list of things I see on the horizon, with hints and developments showing the way. A two-hour block isn’t on my list.

    I read the HP->Elder move and the “ministering” move as justified and sensible in themselves, and also a move in the direction of lessening the distinctions accorded to “priesthood” with the (probably intended) effect of enhancing the relative role of women. As one Facebook commenter said, “it’s how they get women to do home teaching without giving them the priesthood.” (I’m of the “too little too late” persuasion myself, but that’s not this conversation.)

    I think the results will vary, with local demographics and local leaders. As a broad generalization, the priesthood and ministering changes seem like they free up good people to do better, at the cost of also freeing up bad apples to game the system.

    I appreciate the OP emphasis on “*type* of diversity.” The international move is pretty clear, and important. I wonder if it will be used to divert attention from other forms of diversity that are also important.

    Finally, the obvious lack of attention to the MTC scandal, abuse generally, and Church cover-up, stands out. Except for one unfortunate (actually much worse than “unfortunate” in my opinion) wording in one talk, to a world that’s hurting the silence was noticeable. Is it timing? (Very credible.) Is it “less attention the better”? (Also credible.) Is it “we’ve done all we can already”? (I hope not.)

  13. Michael H. says:

    BeeCee: Yes, definitely. PEC had to go. Same as in your ward, our RS president attended PEC, but it just seemed so archaic and patriarchal that you’d have a meeting that the YM president would attend that the YW president did not. Like you say, that meeting did nothing that couldn’t be covered just as well between ward council and welfare meeting.

  14. I’m on the opposite side of the world from Utah so I’ll catch up later with a lot of other members, but several of these changes are pretty much the way smaller units function anyway. When you only have a handful of MP holders in the ward, the difference between HP and EQ isn’t particularly meaningful. Our current ward is already doing VT/HT like this, down to coordinating between the three presidents/group leaders (at least for households with both adult women and men in them). Coordinating between two people will be easier.

    I’m very glad to see YW given a bigger role. I have no doubt that some women won’t want YW visiting them, and I hope RS presidents take that into account because it’s a reasonable request, but I think that VT is good practice for a mission and the YW can benefit from that kind of experience. Of course, there is only one YW in my ward so she’s not likely to visit me anyway.

    I would have cheered for a two-hour block though. Our stake insists on our ward doing three hours and it’s almost impossible with our numbers and facilities. I cannot understand why there is so little flexibility on that.

    I was surprised they announced the temple in Russia when the plans are so nebulous. I’m betting it will take years to build and recently they haven’t announced temples before they’re more certain about them. But I think it’s worth the small risk that the temple won’t happen or will take a decade or more to build because knowing a temple is announced is a good thing.

  15. east of the mississippi says:

    I was skeptical going in… but GC was a homerun… because of all that has been previously stated… as well as… nary a word about gay… er I mean… same sex marriage.

  16. “I know people like to add this to the idea of “this is what happens when you don’t have an incapacitated leader”, but all the changes have been in the works for many months, some over years.”

    My guess is that they waited until they had a prophet who wasn’t incapacitated to implement them, though, so that no one could pull a Steve Benson and say if Monson was at full capacity he never would have approved them.

  17. Michael H. says:

    christiankimball: I felt like the only acceptable thing would be for there to be at least a half-dozen blockbuster talks condemning male (hetero)sexuality off the rails. It should entirely replace the war on homosexuality. (We just need to let that one go the way of the old war on birth control.) Church response to the Rob Porter scandal was virtually invisible. People tell me there was something, but I thought I was keeping a pretty good lookout for it, and never saw anything. The response to Joseph Bishop was about as feeble as it gets. But just one talk? (I went on a family Easter egg roll and missed the Sunday afternoon session–and all the headline stuff–so I still have to check out Elder Cook’s talk . . .)

    I’ve heard more than one apostle say that they spend MONTHS on their conference talks, and apparently they feel some reticence about dropping those months-in-the-works talks in favor of a pressing subject. (Maybe a newly composed talk creates difficulty for translators and teleprompters.) I don’t get it, though. All of us grunts have given talks on short notice, and it’s generally turned out just as well as talks prepared long in advance. Surely apostles could do the same.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for mentioning the elimination of PEC. Since I don’t go to that it wasn’t something I personally focused on, but eliminating duplicative meetings is always a win in my book.

    Good point about a lot of this stuff probably being in the works for a long time. But if so they were clearly holding it until an active prophet was at the helm; this level of change is not something they’re going to roll out otherwise.

    Christian, on the unfortunate wording you mention I believe another post specifically on that is in the works, so stay tuned.

    I think we had to break the whole terminology of home teaching to free people to think of it a different way. I sit in the pew right in front of my HTer in sacrament meeting. He’s the SS President; I’m the 1C. The notion that he should have to come physically to my house to visit me is ridiculous (and we both agree, so we haven’t been doing that). If I need help with something I can check in by text message. I see ministering as sort of bringing HT/VTing into the brave new world of technology and connectivity. We’re not all Idaho farmers anymore.

  19. Kevin – if you find time this week, go back and watch Pres. Nelson announce the temples in the final message of Sunday Afternoon. To me, his announcement solidified everything good about this weekend’s conference. He was deliberate and in control, but was jovial as he let the congregation react; he allowed for it, because these temples ARE a big deal, and can change the temperature of the members’ devotion in the respective communities (India, Russia!, not to mention my mission alma mater – Salta, Argentina!).
    I also second your thoughts on Elder Uchtdorf. It was SO GOOD to hear from him (it is Elder Uchtdorf now, right?)

  20. Jenny Harrison says:

    jaxjensen says: “Even with a public (and embarrassing) demonstration of a need, and even though I verbally expressed it, absolutely no indication of a desire to serve/minister/visit/whatever has been shown… and that is with a person assigned to do so. Now that there is NOBODY assigned to care… Do I expect anything to get better, for me or others like me? Nope.”

    I am so sorry that this has happened to you. My husband has had the same experience of being ignored by the ward. In late November he tore a tendon in his leg at work. We are in our mid 50’s so we don’t heal up as quick as we used too. He hobbled to work in a boot in pain because hey, we have bills to pay. But at the end of the week it was just too much to get to church so we stayed home and he put his leg up and had a ‘real’ day of rest. This went on for 12 weeks! No one came by or so much as texted him. That all sounds terrible right?! The week before he hurt his leg he was released from being high priest group leader!! No one even noticed that he wasn’t there anymore. So much for the love of Christ…

    My husband is mostly a TBM but as for me and all the recent ‘stuff’ in the news, I am out and asked to be released from all my callings. I can no longer believe in the leadership of the church when they were ready to pay off a victim until her story hit the media. I liked the NPR story on the whole affair, http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/authority-abuse-and-lds-church.

    Good luck and God Bless all the Mormons.

  21. It’s nice to be on the right side of history. My ward has not held PEC for more than a decade.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, Thor. If I had seen it I’m sure the temple announcements would have made my list.

  23. Uh….Russia and India? Holy cow!

  24. Yes, Kevin, thank you. The conference felt fresh, like a new start. I, too, was struck by the amazing vigor of the 93-year-old President Nelson. Another reason for the refreshing effect of the meetings, I think, was the intense focus on practical changes to help us serve our friends and neighbors. There was almost no talk about the Wicked World, the threat to families, and other goblins in the mist. The way we are accustomed to talking about these cultural issues in General Conference is vague, scary, and demoralizing, leaving listeners frightened and unsure of what to do about it. How wonderful to leave that aside this weekend as we heard encouraging messages about strengthening our wards and branches, and about the beautiful kaleidoscope of Saints around the world.

  25. SHenneman says:

    Why are people thinking there won’t be assignments with ministering? Didn’t they say the only stats they would be keeping track of are number of leaders’ interviews with companionships? I guess to me that implies if there are companionships, there are also people under that companionship’s stewardship.

  26. As for HT/VT they have eliminated to worst part of it (reporting, only certain messages count, and its tie to a calendar, i.e. monthly visits) and are emphasizing what it “should” be – ministering of the right type, at the right times, and by the right people. Just because someone is a 100% home teacher doesn’t mean they are effective meeting needs. And just because someone doesn’t take lessons into a home doesn’t mean they aren’t. These changes remove the pretense and let us try and focus on what is most effective.

  27. Bro. Jones says:

    Jenny–I’m sorry that happened to you and your husband. I hope his recovery went well aside from that.

    I have mixed feelings about the HT/VT change. On the plus side, the de-emphasis on rote monthly visits will give breathing room to those who were already ministering as they should’ve. There was already a de-emphasis on in-home visits in my last two wards, and instead a focus on “contact.” Also, I could foresee this combining with 1st Sunday councils into a way to pool ward resources of support for families facing specific challenges. On the other hand, I worry that people already on the margins–geographically remote, with special needs, single, elderly–might be even less likely to get attention.

    And just for the comedy and horror, I’m waiting to see if the YW will be assigned HPs and single middle-aged elders as “ministering” companions.

  28. Left Field says:

    I couple of things that I’m still unclear on and haven’t been able to carefully read about:.

    I got the impression that ministering assignments might be ad hoc. “Go help Br. Jones with this thing…”. But I also heard some things that just sounded like HT. “You’re assigned to Br. Jones until further notice.”. Which is it? (My phone insists on a period outside the quotation mark.)

    Also, will everyone have someone assigned to minister to them?

    Will sisters still have both male and female ministers?

  29. I also feel that this allows ward councils to say: Let’s assign those who are best at ministering to those who truly need it and we don’t need to assign ministers to the families that don’t. Also, let’s not even bother asking Bro. So-and-so to minister because he won’t do it anyway. Sounds harsh but it is now possible.

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    SHenneman, my impression was the same as yours, that there will still be assignments.

  31. The rigid reporting of a monthly visit is out, but not the companionships and assignments.

  32. nobody, really says:

    A few thoughts:
    Two wards over the last six years, no PEC meetings at all. A lot of Bishops have already decided it was archaic, and one said “Having Young Men leadership in a meeting without Young Women just sends the message that we value the girls less.”

    Great to have “non-consensual immorality” defined as a separate category. I did note that “consensual immorality” was identified as a sin as well, but I’d hoped to have some clarification that the non-consensual variety is a far more serious sin for the one doing the instigating, and not a sin for the one unable to give clear consent.

    I’m glad to see some of the hallowed institutions of the Church falling by the wayside when they don’t work. So we’ve recently had changes to Scouts, Home Teaching, High Priests Groups, Elder’s Quorums, LDS Employment Services, and Young Women. I’ve come to resent my time and labor being treated as a free and unlimited resource, and I’ve had to really push back on the number of meetings I attend. Hopefully, future changes can show some respect and value towards my own personal time and goals, and recognize that work and family time are at least as important as another stake “inservice” meeting.

  33. Regarding assignments, I don’t know how the new system will work. But here’s my thought piece (copied from a different thread):

    [Yes, it seems that it will be easy to rig the assignments. However, . . .]
    as I was listening I kept thinking of my 30-year-ago dream plan which I didn’t have the authority or courage to make real. (In my many years as an Elders Quorum President.)

    My dream plan was to look around the ward and note all the existing ongoing relationships. Through the back fence neighbors. Shared childcare. Sit next to each other at church. And so on. Count them as ‘done.’ Then identify everyone else, everyone who did not have a natural connection. (In the non-existent perfect ward this would be a null set.) And make assignments — all the assignments — with that group.

    I’d like to have nobody left to make assignments. I’d like to not make assignments to do something that should come naturally. I’d like to make massive exceptions for introverts (raising my hand).

    But if we’re going to strive for community, and it’s going to be a community of failed human beings, then I start thinking of my dream plan.

    I think the new ministering will let people game the system if they choose to. I think it would also let me implement my plan, if I chose to get engaged at that level.

  34. Jared vdH says:

    I’m someone who used to try to be very diligent in Home Teaching, but in recent years I’ve done very little due to a variety of reasons. One of the big ones though was that making the time to visit soneone and coordinate that visit with my companion was often difficult. For a while I tried to do it without my companion because it was so much easier, but then I felt bad because that wouldn’t work with some of the single sisters I was assigned to. After a while I just got demoralized and largely stopped doing it altogether.

    Now that I don’t have to report that I made a visit and have explict approval to instead fulfill the responsibilities more organically that demoralized feeling has largely lifted and I feel like I can actually do what I need to do to actually serve the people I’m assigned. Now that I think about it it’s amazing how much weight the cultural expectations built into home teaching were the actual cause of my disaffection with the program.

  35. Left Field says:

    Listening live, I did get the impression of ad hoc assignments.

  36. Not a Cougar says:

    I enjoyed the conference, but agree with some of the comments above that “ministering” will look exactly like home or visiting teaching but replacing the month with the quarter. Color me skeptical, but I don’t see this changing the landscape much. I was left with the impression that we’re supposed to aim for more frequent and more “organic” interactions.

    It feels to me like they want church members to interact the way I’m told members used to interact back before the 3 hour block and when wards and branches had to fundraise for their budgets and build church buildings together. We’re simply not set up to do that anymore. My experience over the last 30+ years is that the Church at a local level is more a mandatory activity that you build into your schedule and less the center of cultural life that I understand it once was. And I don’t see those days coming back, short of another call to gather.

    Finally, I truly wish a leader would discuss the LDS Gospel Topic essays in General Conference. Specifically, what they’re there for and how to integrate them into our teaching (unless as many have suggested, they’re not really for public consumption, but rather a stopgap to try and keep people from leaving the Church over historical issues). I vaguely recall some reference a few years back, but none of my searches on LDS.org are bringing it up.

  37. Bingo Jared! I’m not sure any of us realize how the accounting, the monthly requirement, and specific types of contact really were counterproductive. Now, what else can we change?

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    Not a Cougar, I’ve taught maybe half of the Gospel Topics essays when I was GD teacher. They were great lessons and went over very well. I had to take the initiative myself to do it and live in a ward where I was given pretty free rein in the classroom, so that wouldn’t work everywhere. But it worked well in my classroom.

  39. Youraveragemormon says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve really felt like General Conference was on target, and so I was thoroughly surprised and touched by this GC. I do appreciate the changes and while I think that ministering looks a lot like HT/VT I felt what the FP and Q12 are trying to convey is that it’s about people and relationships. Let’s not worry as much about numbers; instead let’s focus on actually connecting with each other. I’m grateful to see the change because it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time.

    I think these are some more baby steps toward making priesthood and RS more equal. It gives me a little hope. I’m also grateful for getting rid of PEC, because that was a exclusive and redundant meeting.

    Lastly, in the 7 page letter posted for ward leaders which I read last night, it does say that in large wards, multiple Elders Quorums can be created. In our small Midwestern ward, the combining of EQ and HP makes a lot of sense and we won’t have any trouble find a room big enough for them. In large wards, the leaders are allowed to split the men into more than one quorum and are encouraged to create quorums with equal numbers of Elders and HPs and a balance of young/old, married/unmarried, kids/no kids. I’m sure that’s because they realized that some wards won’t be able to fit all their men in one room and a single quorum would be too big to manage.

    These steps do seem well thought out and deliberately planned. I was really hesitant about Pres Nelson, but after this conference I feel a lot better.

  40. “Finally, the obvious lack of attention to the MTC scandal, abuse generally, and Church cover-up, stands out. Except for one unfortunate (actually much worse than “unfortunate” in my opinion) wording in one talk, to a world that’s hurting the silence was noticeable. Is it timing? (Very credible.) Is it “less attention the better”? (Also credible.) Is it “we’ve done all we can already”? (I hope not.)”

    The translators get the talks at least a month in advance. (A friend’s room mate at BYU who happened to be from China had copies of GC talks a month before conference. This shocked me at the time. Yes, it was a long time ago.) I imagine that makes it difficult to address current events.

    If the talk you’re referring to above was Elder Cook’s talk, then yes, that was disappointing. Everyone is equal in the temple. EVERYONE??!! Really?? Everyone who counts I guess.

    As for the two hour block, I’ve heard that rumour since 1990. Back then they said it was imminent, about to happen at any time, with pilot wards already trying it out. In 1990.

  41. Rachel E O says:

    Agree; loved the conference. Seconding Loursat and east of the mississippi, perhaps my favorite thing about the conference was what *wasn’t* said — i.e. very little culture warfare and othering of the ‘world’, with much more discussion of the need to live “pure religion” by enacting Christ’s love in the world. Sure, that was still mostly focused on the family and ward contexts, but there was also a more general/universal tone to it, and at least one speaker [blanking on who at the moment] even specifically urged members to get involved in public affairs, support ethical candidates for office, run for office, etc. — and/or praised them for doing so.

    Also, although there was unfortunately still a fair amount of fall-in-line-style prophet-worship in the talks, to his credit Pres. Nelson himself emphasized the importance of seeking and receiving *personal* revelation.

  42. The order of voting the solemn assembly was changed as well. I thought that was incredible. RS Sister voted before Aaronic Priesthood holders and YW got their own vote.

  43. Eric Facer says:

    “The main precedent was when J. Reuben Clark was moved from 1C to 2C, and the other Apostles’ hearts bled for him on that occasion.”

    I believe there is a more recent precedent: when Joseph Fielding Smith returned Hugh B. Brown to the Q12 following the death of David O. McKay. There is some basis for the belief that this was done because Hugh B. Brown was perceived as being too “liberal,” though there is no way of knowing this for sure.

    Here, we have a double whammy: Ucthdorf being replaced and Eyring being demoted.

  44. President Nelsen is the Lord’s pick to lead His church that is suffering some of the same things the Nephite church did. Prosperity is a two-edged sword. With prosperity comes pride (Helaman 3:36) and that’s when things can get difficult in the church. Nitpickers and critics emerge. They profess to be church members, but their action speaks differently.

    They have one foot in the church and the other in the world. Instead of sustaining the prophets, they are quick to tell the prophets what they need to know and do to lead the church. They use public appearances and social media to promote changes they think the the church needs to make. Is this the Lord’s way, church members counseling the prophets?

  45. Not a Cougar says:

    Kevin, I’ve brought them up at least a couple of times in GD as well, though as a student, rather than as a teacher. The results were mixed to positive. You could tell there was some pucker factor in the room however.

  46. On the non-consensual immorality is it possible that Elder Cook was working to address the rape issue without saying rape. General Conference is family friendly. Thus making it G rated. Perhaps he was trying to do just that. I keep reading anecdotes about 12 year old boys who had no idea what masturbation was until after a Bishop’s interview, when the Bishop embarrassingly explained it to them. Maybe Elder Cook didn’t want to leave parents with small children stuck in the same boat.

  47. cat: I gather this discussion is still to come at BCC. But since you brought it up again . . .

    In context (I replayed the talk) probably — almost certainly — yes. That’s what he meant–rape.

    The problem is that his substitution was ill-advised, tone deaf (in 2018, in the middle of a MormonMeToo moment), and triggering for victims, especially those who have been ‘counseled’ by church leaders that they are required to forgive as part of the process of THEM repenting for being attacked. Most of all, it suggests to rational observers (OK, that’s me) that Church leaders don’t get it, don’t yet understand what they’re dealing with or what the problems are.

  48. Anon for this one (obvious reason) says:

    Kevin, excellent comments as always. I also agree on your 2 hour block analysis and think it could likely come next conference. The 3 hour block started on January 1 of 1980, if I recall correctly. I can verify that the combining of Priesthood Quorums has been a topic under discussion by the 12 for decades. I had the opportunity to see some minutes provided by a family member of a deceased apostle from the late 1970s or early 80s. The discussion was frank but respectful and each side bolstered their arguments with impressive scriptural and historical research. They even quoted conversations from the days of John Taylor on that topic. Apparently, this tracks with your statement about a “vigorous” President. I also think that this shows a true changing of the guard. Even though he was very young when called as an Apostle, I always felt President Monson was a little bit belonging to the older generation. I think Nelson, Oaks and Holland (possibly Ballard) are a newer breed.

  49. Terry H. says:

    Not a cougar. They’re taught in Seminary, which i think is the more obvious target audience. I’ve been a believer in such frankness at that level for years.

  50. Christian, I think (hope) that we had in mind with that phrase was not limited to actual rape, but was any kind of nonconsensual sexual contact at all—including kissing, groping, or even just verbal harassment. But that’s not clear.

    As a parent of three kids between the ages of 5 and 10 myself, I confess that I don’t understand the idea that the word “rape” and “sexual assault” are words we need to keep kids from hearing. Folks are saying that they don’t want their kids to hear those words and ask what they mean, but if the concern is that the topic is inappropriate for children, then how is that worse than them asking “what does ‘nonconsensual immorality’ mean?” I genuinely don’t get it.

  51. Re Cat’s comment: not to get off on a tangent, but I think you brought up an important issues when you wrote, “I keep reading anecdotes about 12 year old boys who had no idea what masturbation was until after a Bishop’s interview, when the Bishop embarrassingly explained it to them. Maybe Elder Cook didn’t want to leave parents with small children stuck in the same boat.” Many members feel it isn’t a bishop’s job to explain masturbation. Rather, it’s his job to stick to the scripted question of, “Do you obey the Law of Chastity?” The end. Perhaps it would have been better for Elder Cook to simply say “rape,” giving (creating?) the opportunity for parents to explain this concept to their young children – and not so young children, too, even opening much needed dialogue within families of what constitutes appropriate sexual behavior – and even what is appropriate coming out a church leader’s mouth in different contexts. I.e., I would say to my children, it’s okay for a church leader to talk about how they view the Law of chastity, to discuss the horror of tape, that it’s never the victim’s fault. It’s okay for them to tell you to save sex for marriage. It’s never okay for a bishop to look you in the eye and ask, ‘Do you masturbate?’”

    I apologize for this tangent, but Elder Cook’s talk can still be a springboard for needed conversations within our homes and with each other as members of this church.

  52. Typed my comment on my phone – I apologize for all the typos! I see one spot where it should say rape, not rape!

  53. Rape, not tape! Ugh!!

  54. Gilgamesh says:

    With the emphasis that being a High Priest, while a priesthood office, is more for a functional calling, I wonder if the change in the FP was used as a model. Elder Uchdorf did not “ascend” to the FP and “demote” to the Q12, he had a function and has returned to his home body, just like HP’s return to their home body of the Elder’s quorum.

  55. Re gospel topics essays, our ward has been using them as the topics for discussion in the teacher council meetings. They’ve been presented in the frame of resources that the church has put out because to address legitimate questions that members–especially youth–have about issues that many people find difficult, so they are resources that teachers need to be familiar with so they are able to (1) answer difficult questions when they come up in class without rationalizing or making up stuff (we specifically discussed the danger of doing so in our discussion of the OD-2 essay), and (2) incorporate info from the essays into lessons when appropriate.

    It’s all been presented as “look, your students have these questions whether they’re asking them in class or not, and if you want your classes to actually be responsive to your students needs, and strengthen their testimonies, you need to be familiar with the questions and with the information.”

    Sometimes some members of the council are resistant to take the concerns and questions that prompted the essays seriously, but the facilitator has pushed them and the discussions have been very positive.

  56. JKC: I hope so too (any kind of non-consensual . . .) The problem is euphemisms don’t answer, and tend to paint the speaker as confused. So we don’t know and that’s dangerous (in my opinion).

    Agreed about vocabulary. Except that the idea of “consent” is very powerful and if I had it to do over again I would introduce the word very early. So a conversation that untangles “non-consensual immorality” might actually be a useful learning experience. At least if I got to run it.

  57. Katie M. says:

    @christiankimball

    I really love your dream plan. Though it seems the people who don’t have existing natural connections are often those who are, for lack a better term, “high-maintenance.” They have a lot of needs, and they need to be tended to and visited but can’t be counted on to tend and visit others. So that those without natural connections couldn’t simply be connected to one other. Some would need to be connected to stronger, more stable members. So under your plan, would a few of these stronger member be asked to visit those marginalized folks, in a non-reciprocal dynamic? Would these folks resent the extra responsibility or perhaps just be willing to take it on out of the goodness of their hearts?

  58. Katie M: Do I get to keep dreaming?? My plan (30 years ago) would have assigned “stronger” members to visit/minister to those not naturally connected for whatever reason. (“Stronger” of course needs to be deconstructed.) The key was that those would be the ONLY assignments. Not 5 easy ones and one high maintenance (your term). But just one high maintenance.

  59. “The problem is euphemisms don’t answer, and tend to paint the speaker as confused. So we don’t know and that’s dangerous (in my opinion).”

    I totally agree. An related, but different problem (and this is my longstanding objection to the immorality=sex euphemism, that long predates Elder Cook’s use of it) is that when we use this euphemism, we make sex the primary, or maybe even the exclusive meaning of “immorality” and “immoral” when kids hear “immoral” or “immorality.” And that is dangerous, because non-marital sex is only one small subset of many, many different kinds of immoral behavior. And to be honest, for many kids, it’s not even the one they’re most tempted with.

  60. I’m really curious how Elder Cook’s unusual phrasing was translated into other languages.

  61. Our euphemisms for sex solve superficial problems and create deeper problems.

  62. nobody, really says:

    One other thought:
    When President Oaks was reading off the list of new General Authorities, I could almost imagine him thinking to himself, “Dang. Dieter makes this look so, so easy.”

  63. Kevin Barney says:

    JKC, thanks for the tip about introducing the Gospel Topics Essays in Teacher Council Meetings! As a member of the SS Presidency I sometimes have to run those, and I’m always on the lookout for good material. That angle simply never even occurred to me.

  64. It’s been very positive in our ward.

  65. Jenny Harrison says:

    Just a comment on the length of the church meetings. I had a son on a mission in Chile in 2006-2007. His very first letter home started with, “They have only 2 hour church here!!”. So at least in Chile, at that time, someone in the world was enjoying church.

  66. Katie M. says:

    @christiankinball

    Brilliant and dreamy all around.

  67. I agree with pretty much everything you said Kevin.
    One observation: I believe that in regards to vigor, Pres Nelson is in a bit of a euphoric “honeymoon” stage. I believe that within a year or so the honeymoon will wear off and the heavy burdens of the office will wear him down. I frankly wouldn’t be at all surprised if Pres Oaks moves to the big chair within a couple of years. As the great modern day philosopher Charles Barkley often says “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”

  68. I disagree with the tenor of this uninformed commentary and the subsequent comments. Not once, in the critique or any of the comments, was there a mention of “inspiration” or “modern day revelation.” Not once was there mention of the prophet receiving revelation for the church. Did you not listen and hear the number of times the speakers expressed gratitude for modern day revelation? This commentary assumes, with audacity, that we are in a position to assess and critique the amount of thought the prophet gives to recommending counselors and that we are entitled to an explanation. And what possible measure, that you are privy to, allows you to state that the church is “limping along”? Do you not believe that the Lord prepares those who are called to lead the church at all levels and that by humble, sincere prayer that inspiration is conveyed to those who seek? How presuptuous is it for you to state which countries “good leadership” (read: the Prophet) needs to be “stategically” interested in? Instead of the above, I’m convinced our duty and obligation is to prayerfully read and reread the messages from conference and to seek confirmation from and by the same spirit by which they were prepared and delivered that we may be more effective in loving and serving our God and our neighbors wherever and however we are called to serve.

  69. I have to agree with RMC.

  70. Fred, you may be right but my first impression was just the opposite. My brother-in-law was called be be a Bishop the week Russel M Nelson became prophet. I bet him a milk shake President Nelson would still be prophet when he was released as Bishop.

  71. Kristine says:

    Way upthread, JK asked “Is this the Lord’s way, church members counseling the prophets?”

    The answer is yes. Even a cursory study of Church history makes it clear that many, many changes in church policy and programs have been suggested by members.

  72. jaxjensen says:

    RMC, I was one of those quite critical of the HT/VT change. I did hear lots of the “revelation” talk about the change. And I believe it as well. I think it was God-inspired.

    But that doesn’t mean I think that the membership will embrace it any more than they embrace the also inspired/revealed Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching programs. I’m constantly in meetings where EQP, Bishops, SP, and GA’s are BEGGING men to go out and visit. We’re reminded of it constantly, given pre-packaged lessons so we don’t have an excuse of not knowing what to say, … everything that should be needed to get it done is spoon fed to us, yet we still don’t.

    So yes, I think this is a God inspired revelation. And I think it will be ignored anyway.

  73. Back to VT/HT now Ministering. I am ward VT coordinator. After conference I got online to fill in a couple of VT reports that had been emailed to me. The VTing site had changed! There are no little bubbles to check for sisters who have been visited this/last month!! Otherwise the Ministering site had not changed–same companionships; same district supervisors. Then I checked the ward directory and found that my calling title had been changed to Ministering Coordinator. They sure work fast at Church HQ!! And the letter emailed to all of us immediately after conference–a lot of careful planning.

    Thinking of you jaxjensen and Jenny Harrison and hoping someone reaches out to you and comforts.

  74. Kevin Barney says:

    MJL, I had to update my LDS Tools app today, and when I went into I noticed hometeachers were now ministering brothers. I had the same thought you did–that sure was quick!

  75. Christian, JKC, and Allison – thanks for your replies. I have had a hard week. Perhaps I am looking for some soothing in my life and was trying to extend some to Elder Cook.

    I also hadn’t realized that it was a repeat comment or idea. I am not thin skinned or disinterested in discussing it, I am just way too tired from other agonies in my life. I probably shouldn’t have waded in. My bad.

    Thanks.

  76. Gonna agree with jaxjensen on ht/ministering. Our lds culture does not really support adult males under say 45 actually consistently doing ht. Its just to hard. You have to coordinate three families on top of everything else that the fams have going on. Older men with older families are much more consistent. I dont see how this change of term changes this reality on the ground. Whole life never seen eqp consistently ht.

  77. A better approach would be to assign older couples as “super ht/vters” do 5 plus each ward. No other callings. This would work much better.

  78. Echoing Marie at 11:28am: “The order of voting the solemn assembly was changed as well. I thought that was incredible. RS Sister voted before Aaronic Priesthood holders and YW got their own vote.” Kevin, that was another excellent change!

  79. Geoff - Aus says:

    I was pleasently surprised. In my culture the talks like Elder Stephenson on Sat am that was all about how wonderful Pres Nelson are cringeworthy. We had an area conference from SLC, where he gave the exact talk about a month ago.I have more respect for Pres Nelson as a result of his actions, than 20 talks about how famous he was 40 years ago.

    I think they will introduce the 2 hour at the same time as women get the priesthood, next conference perhaps.

  80. I find it amazing that no one mentioned the thing that is most significant. The attempt to hide the true state of the church from members by after 159 years no longer announcing church membership stats. This reminds me of when after 100 years they stopped giving members actual info on use of tithes and offerings. Look at the report of the 1959 April GC . 9 pages of financial disclosure. Then nothing except the joke of the report by the auditing committee.You can get all excited about a temple in India that will cost 25 million and serve maybe 3000 members in a subcontinent twice the size of Texas or and 25 million for the 4000 active members in Russia a country larger than the US but you forget the church had the worst year since 1857 ( save 3 1929,1930 and 1937). for membership growth. Their is a crisis of enormous proportion facing the church we all love and we hide the facts and rearrange the chairs In gaudy patterns and say no the good ship Zion has not sprung any leaks. No don’t worry about who is making the bilge pumps. Every year fewer baptisms ,fewer children of record ,more resignations,etc. But don’t worry we will fix it by renaming failed programs and announcing temples in exotic places even though e I sting temples are grossly underutiled. Most of all keep the membership in the dark about what is really happening and everything will be fine.

  81. Bellamy I don’t think announcing over the pulpit exactly where those stats are published and then publishing the membership stats immediately on LDS.org is an attempt to hide them.

  82. Kevin Barney says:

    gillsyk, i missed the solemn assembly, so thanks for mentioning that revised order.

    Geoff, I too found the Elder Stephenson talk over the top, but decided I was ok with it this time basically as an introduction to President Nelson. But I hope in the future they dial down the prophet worship stuff; it’s tacky and completely unnecessary in my view.

  83. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Thanks for this, Kevin – and the subsequent comments/discussion. I agree that these changes seem to have been in the works for a while and that, perhaps, a President with more “vigor” was able to implement them. However, we might also consider that another possible reason for some of these not getting done is not that President Monson didn’t have the energy to facilitate the changes, but that he simply didn’t support them. There is definitely precedent for changes being made after previous leaders pass on. That’s not an indictment of either Presidents Monson or Nelson. It’s just how things work with leadership changes. I’m not saying this is likely what was going on, just that it’s something that should be considered along with the new energy/vitality/vigor angle (to the extent those terms can be thrown around with 90+ year-old men).

  84. Paul Ritchey says:

    Yes, as to the stats, there’s really no attempt to hide them: it looks like they wanted to devote the time in the session to other tasks. Furthermore, if you actually look at the stats, there’s no statistically significant reason to hide them: the numbers all match what you’d expect as compared with the last several years’ trends. There are no surprises. And the Church even made a big PR sacrifice by not reading them in Conference: it gave up the announcement that we have passed 16 million members (note how previous million-marks have been touted in conference previously).

    I like to think that the Church has gotten nauseous about highlighting its membership statistics as its institutional leaders learn more about, and gain more sympathy for, the struggles of many over whether to remain in the Church. I think the Brethren are less inclined to read big numbers and pretend there aren’t problems.

  85. Gilgamesh, I love your comment: “With the emphasis that being a High Priest, while a priesthood office, is more for a functional calling, I wonder if the change in the FP was used as a model. Elder Uchdorf did not “ascend” to the FP and “demote” to the Q12, he had a function and has returned to his home body, just like HP’s return to their home body of the Elder’s quorum.”

    This is one of the most sensible things I’ve seen about Elder Uchtdorf’s return to the body of the Q12. I wish all members would see these assignments this way, and not in terms of “promotion” or “demotion.” I highly doubt that members of Q15 themselves see the calling in those terms (promotion) – no more than they see succeeding to the office of President as an honor to which they aspire. I suspect that most of them hope that they don’t live to occupy that chair.

  86. Kevin Barney says:

    I updated my LDS Tools app and it already uses the ministering brothers/sisters vocabulary in lieu of the old home/visiting teaching vocabulary. That was fast!

    Time will tell whether ministering will work, but I’m optimistic. If nothing else, I see the new program ratcheting down needless guilt and providing for a healthy sense of pragmatism.

    An illustrative story: Once upon a time in recent church history leaders in Japan asked Salt Lake whether they could count phone calls as home teaching visits. In that country and culture the idea of monthly in-home visits was simply not practical. And the response came back, “Why worry about whether it counts? Why not just go ahead and make the phone calls?” And I thought that was a pretty clueless perspective. They were trying to fulfill the Church program, which meant they were trying to do what would “count” for HTing, so telling them to do some additional task that wasn’t going to count was not helpful.

    Now the focus is not on what “counts,” but simply on how a particular family is doing. And the tools and communication you use to establish that is completely up to you and the family. It could be the traditional in-home visits, or brief conversations at church, or phone calls, or text messages, or emails, or Facebook or some other social media. It will be less intrusive. Frankly, we don’t want in-home visits (and for a long time we were assigned some of the most diligent HTers in the ward, which was a bad allocation of a scarce resource). But I do like knowing who my HTer, now Ministering Brother, is on the off chance I need help with something. So the new program is very pragmatic, does away with monthly reporting, allows all kinds of contact, reduces guilt and stress, all good things in my book.

  87. Aussie Mormon says:

    I think of this as somewhat similar to when the stake/(ward?) seventy quorums were dissolved.

  88. Not a Cougar says:

    Kevin, you’re absolutely right. The best thing about it will be that those who don’t particularly want contact but feel honor bound to accept home visits will feel enabled to say so. I’d love to know how many people in our ward don’t want home teachers. I’m sure it’s more than just a handful. I actually appreciate having home teachers in the home.

  89. Kevin Barney says:

    RMC, I must confess I was a little bit taken aback by your reaction to the post. I gave what I thought was a highly positive, even effusive, reaction to the recently concluded General Conference, and it still wasn’t good enough for you. I take it your problem was not so much with my positive take, but with the fact that I would presume to assess and critique conference at all in the first place. Well, this is the Bloggernacle; assessing and critiquing Church stuff is pretty much what we do around here.

    “This commentary assumes, with audacity, that we are in a position to assess and critique the amount of thought the prophet gives to recommending counselors and that we are entitled to an explanation.” Uh, it was President Nelson’s call to explain his decision, and I agreed that that was a good thing to do and I thought he did it well. You do realize that it is very rare for a new President not to retain the existing counselors in the First Presidency, and the few times that hasn’t been done were matters of historical significance and private comment by the Apostles involved, right? I thought President Nelson did a good thing in explaining his decision; I take it you disagree and think he should not have explained himself?

    “And what possible measure, that you are privy to, allows you to state that the church is “limping along”?” We have a lot of experience now with caretaker First Presidencies with incapacitated Presidents. In those situations the counselors in the First Presidency are very reticent about undertaking new initiatives without the blessing of the ailing Prophet. I think President Hinckley talked about that dynamic, and I thought it was common knowledge that the Church goes into status quo mode and new initiatives are put on the back burner in such situations. This is a simple reality of our leadership structure, which insures the Prophet will always be a very old man and subject to the diseases of old age by the time he ascends to that position. I don’t view this as a controversial understanding.

    “How presumptuous is it for you to state which countries “good leadership” (read: the Prophet) needs to be “strategically” interested in?” It’s common knowledge that President Nelson is deeply interested in China, even to the point of taking steps to learn Mandarin. I thought I was praising him for this, but you perceive me to have insulted him for it somehow.

    We clearly see these matters through very different lenses, and I’m sorry that you felt offended by my attempt to review the strengths of the recent conference.

  90. A small note (meaning a possible thread jack not intended to be one) —
    Regarding the idea of a caretaker First Presidency, I think I’m in a fair position to state that in the Kimball and Benson eras this was a taboo subject–everybody knows but we don’t talk about it. So objections are not new or surprising. But the world has changed. I’m not sure when the shift occurred, but I do know that it was common talk in the latter years of President Monson, including a current member of the 12 talking about it as common knowledge and even expected, in public in my hearing in the last couple of years.

  91. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, Christian, as you say no one here as a better perspective on that particular subject than you. I’m very glad that the Church has become much more open about this, as opposed to the older instinct to try to hide the ball (such as during the President Benson incapacity).

  92. Geoff, Thank you so much for saying what needed to be said about Elder Stevenson’s talk.
    I almost had to get up and walk out of the room. I was sorely tempted to turn to my wife and say I’m here to worship Jesus, not Russell Nelson.” I resisted and said nothing…but it feels so good to know I’m not the only one turned off by prophet worship.

  93. Chadwick says:

    Thanks Kevin. I agree with your assessment. Solid A material and a wonderful conference. My one quibble would also be Elder Stevenson’s talk.

    I used to have Pioneer envy at all the radical stuff the early prophets restored, when my own days felt so ho hum. It was invigorating to see changes all over. I don’t think I’ve felt excited to be LDS in a long time.

    As a former expat who lived in Bangalore, I was extremely shocked of a temple announcement in a city of 8 million people that only has 4 rather small branches and one physical church building (we met in a rented corporate office). In particular when President Monson announced the Bangkok temple, I felt that was the nail in the coffin for India, but I guess not. However, I’m still surprised they chose Bangalore over say Hyderabad or Delhi, the only cities with LDS stakes in India. I think Bangalore is chosen not only for the local members but logistically is the largest expat community in the country. Either way, it’s exciting; though I would not be surprised if that temple takes more than a decade to build. The state of Karnataka is not kind to our missionaries (they can only preach to existing Christians and can be imprisoned for converting Hindus). The red tape to build a Christian temple there is probably quite extensive.

  94. Not a Cougar says:

    Chadwick, yeah, I don’t envy the project manager on getting that temple built. Indian governmental red tape is legendary.

  95. I do hope that whenever they get through the paperwork, the architecture fits in with some past era of local architecture, not something American.

  96. Agree with although in truth the whole priesthood thingy was over my head being a sister. We have a small senior living ward lol so two hours would b awesome at 62 I’m one of the younger ones

  97. RMC–I think you brought up some important observations on your critique of this OP. Kevin B. says this is the Bloggernacle and that accessing and critiquing all things Mormon is what goes on here. The Bloggernacle is an interesting mix of faithfulness. Lukewarm Mormonism is a good word to describe the prevailing mindset, mixed with some anti-mormon sentiments, especially at Feminist Mormon Housewives.

    The shakers and movers in the Bloggernacle are quick to assess and critique all things Mormon, but are a bit taken back about being assessed and critiqued themselves.

  98. whizzbang says:

    @Chadwick, for all we know they started the red tape for the India Temple and now it’s at a point where they can announce it. I don’t envy the Russia Temple project manager! but for all we know they started it there as well and for whatever reason haven’t announced where it will be

  99. KB “I have no problem with him bucking tradition as long as it is done thoughtfully and explained to the people as President Nelson did here,” implies that you would have had a problem had he not done either to your unquenchable satisfaction. Your stated approbation was dependent on both contingencies, however, the first defies metrics and the second happened without obligation.

  100. JK, don’t be pronouncing on the caliber of Mormonism here.

  101. Aussie Mormon says:

    Frank: They can be pretty good at blending in with the local looks.
    The hard part with Russia though, is that depending on the age and use of the area, you’d be looking at trying to match Russian Orthodox churches/cathedrals, missile silos, utilitarian apartments, or pseudo-fortresses. They could start with the Nauvoo temple and fairly easily modify the design to fit the Russian Orthodox appearance.

  102. Just a thought. While it is wonderful to see some faces representing the global reach of the Church, let’s not forget the personal cost to these men and their families of accepting a call to the apostleship. They will live in Salt Lake for the remainder of their lives, often far from their children and grandchildren. Their native lands lose some of their best leaders on a local level, where the real work of the Church is done. For many parts of the Church, this loss of great local leadership is far more important than having someone represent their point of view in the general councils.

  103. Bro. Jones says:

    Aussie and Frank: they *can* be good at blending in, but they don’t always. The concept art for the Bangkok temple shows a lovely building that could be in any place in the world. Doesn’t say “Thailand” or even “Asia” to me.

  104. Steve G. says:

    yeah I was disappointed in seeing the rendering of the Bangkok temple as well.