In 2011 new temples were announced and others dedicated, and increased public attention was focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in what many journalists have called the “Mormon Moment.”
Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced the building of eight new temples during the Church’s general conferences in April and October. President Monson said four temples would be built internationally in Canada, France, South Africa and Colombia, while another four will be built in the United States in Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Of particular interest was the announcement that the historic Provo Tabernacle, which had been destroyed by fire in December 2010, would be rebuilt and converted to the city’s second temple.
President Monson rededicated the Atlanta Georgia Temple after a nearly two-year renovation including utility updates and better accessibility for disabled persons.
The San Salvador El Salvador Temple was dedicated by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency on Sunday, 21 August 2011. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple on Sunday, 11 December 2011.
Earlier in the year, Church leaders announced the Ogden Utah Temple would close for major renovation. The temple is undergoing extensive changes inside and out, and the Ogden Tabernacle, next door to the temple, will receive an architectural facelift.
The “Mormon Moment”
In what many news media have dubbed the “Mormon Moment,” the Church received increased media attention in 2011. The Church emphasized that it desired to participate in the national conversation taking place about it. Addressing this attention, Public Affairs Department managing director Michael Otterson wrote a column for the Washington Post outlining facts the public should know about Latter-day Saints.
The Church responded to disasters around the globe. One of the greatest challenges was Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, which took thousands of lives and destroyed homes, businesses and livelihoods. The Church provided more than 250 tons of supplies, food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel. Church-sponsored volunteers numbering over 20,000 have donated 175,000 hours of service. Japan’s fishing industry has suffered severely. Church Humanitarian Services has worked with and continues to donate equipment and supplies to 20 of 54 fishing co-ops. The impact upon the Church was significant, with 52 meetinghouses damaged. All repairs have been completed.
The Church reached out in other parts of the world with humanitarian aid. Besides the tragedy in Japan, several parts of the world experienced flooding, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and a hurricane (Irene). They occurred in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Brazil and the Philippines, as well as the Midwest and southern United States. Latter-day Saints in each of these areas also donated their time and efforts.
Mormon Helping Hands
From Europe to the Americas, thousands of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers marked the 75th anniversary of the Church’s welfare program. During the Church’s general conference in April, President Henry B. Eyring encouraged Latter-day Saints to help in their communities.
In Germany, 9,000 Latter-day Saints and their neighbors worked side-by-side to donate 34,000 hours in support of children battling cancer.
Members of the Church in thousands of communities across the world donated their time and efforts in service. A few examples included:
150 Million Copies of the Book of Mormon
The 150 millionth copy of the Book of Mormon rolled off the presses early in 2011. The first volume was published in 1830. The Book of Mormon is published in 82 languages and is partially translated in 25 more.
You Choose to Change When You Follow Christ
Church president Thomas S. Monson spoke to Brigham Young University students about following the example of Jesus Christ. He cited examples in the life of the Savior and in lives of Latter-day Saints. “Remember who you are,” said President Monson. “You are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father.”
In May, President Monson marked the centennial of Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, with a commencement address. He instructed graduates on building bridges of attitude, integrity and service. He said their lives will be fuller, richer and happier if they looked for opportunities to serve.
In a speech given at Chapman University Law School in February, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church explained why religious freedom is so vital. “This freedom,” said Elder Oaks, “is founded upon religious principles of human worth and dignity.” In September, Elder Oaks spoke to young adults at Brigham Young University on religious freedom in a talk entitled “Truth and Tolerance.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, participating in BYU-Idaho’s commencement, delivered a speech to graduates regarding morality and religious freedom. He challenged students to work with their friends of others faiths to “improve the moral fabric of this nation and world.”
9/11 Reflections: Ten Years Later
President Thomas S. Monson and other religious leaders shared thoughts on the ten-year commemoration of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. “People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding,” said the world leader of more than 14 million Mormons. “By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish,” said President Monson. “We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy.”
Mormon Tabernacle Choir Tour
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir launched a summer concert tour in June on the east coast of North America. Concert sites included Norfolk, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chautauqua, New York and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
One of the unique attractions of the tour included a “flash mob” in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia (scroll down in the blog post to “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Participates in Flash Mob, 21 June 2011”).
Milestones in the Church
In 2001, then President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the establishment of a fund to help young people in economically challenged countries go to college, get a degree, find employment and then repay the loan. Now, at the ten-year anniversary of that announcement, the Perpetual Education Fund has helped 50,000 Latter-day Saints get an education who would not have been able to afford one, since they are living in impoverished circumstances.
With traditional songs and dances, Latter-day Saints in the Philippines celebrated 50 years of having the Church established in that nation. In Salt Lake City, a Philippines madrigal group performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during its weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints achieved a major milestone in 2011 in providing people the opportunity to participate in general conference in their own language. Beginning 50 years ago with only English, Dutch, German, Samoan and Spanish, the semiannual meetings, broadcast from the Conference Center on Temple Square, are now available in 93 languages. The development of broadcast and other technology has been key to Mormons tuning in to the twice-yearly, two-day conference in remote locations.
After the Church successfully completed a solar-powered meetinghouse in Farmington, Utah, in 2010, a second building was constructed in Mesa, Arizona, earlier this year. So far, the Farmington building has saved thousands of dollars in utility costs and reduced the structure’s carbon footprint. The Church believes the earth’s inhabitants must be good stewards of its resources.
Movie Set Created to Tell Story of Christ’s Life
A new movie set representing ancient Jerusalem and other areas in which Jesus Christ lived and ministered has been created in Goshen, Utah, a small community south of Salt Lake City. Videos produced on the set help people better understand the life and ministry of the Savior. Recently, the Church released the first segments from these Bible videos. These videos, shot on the new movie set, were announced at the First Presidency’s annual Christmas devotionaland given as a gift to the world.
Diversity and Strength of Women
Relief Society, the Church’s women’s organization, published Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, which highlights the strength and diversity of Mormon women. General Relief Society president Julie Beck said, “This story that the Church is releasing now is very important, I think, for our time now, and I can’t think of a time when it’s been needed more than it’s needed today.” The book was distributed to all women in the Church 18 and over and is available on the Internet.
I’m a Mormon
In 2011 the Church selected locations around the United States and Australia to run television ads, billboards and other signage in an effort to educate the public about Mormons and introduce them to individual Mormons. Latter-day Saints throughout the world are presented in “I’m a Mormon” vignettes about why they are members of the Church and what they believe.
Church History Sites
The First Presidency announced the Church will restore a Pennsylvania historic site important to the early beginnings of the Church. The site is near the Susquehanna River. Newsroom ran a special feature this year highlighting several Church historical sites.
Thousands Enjoy Annual Christmas Concert
Concluding the year was the annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. This year’s guest artists were award-winning British actress, artist and author Jane Seymour and American baritone soloist Nathan Gunn. More than 80,000 people attended the free concerts.