In the midst of three days of dedicatory ceremonies for the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (15 in all) gathered Monday for a historic group photo. These four days in Rome are believed to be the first time in Church history that all 15 leaders have gathered in one location outside the United States — and the first group photo taken in two decades.
The First Presidency is comprised of President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.
“I love these brethren with whom I serve,” said Elder David A. Bednar. “We are together each week in the Salt Lake Temple, on many other occasions, but today, to be in Rome, to be here for this, and to be all together is a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will always remember.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke of President Nelson. “There could not be a more gracious, kind, thoughtful man. What a beautiful time in the history of the Church to have a man who is 94 years old, skilled in the intellect and given such beautiful spiritual gifts — almost as if he has one foot in another world and one foot in this world.”
Following the fourth dedicatory service, President Nelson and President Ballard met with members of the Church media. When asked about the opportunity to have the full First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles present for the temple dedication, President Nelson said, “I think the Lord is pleased. He wanted it done that way. It will be a blessing for the people all over the world. Because these apostles now will go all over the world and recount the experiences that they have felt here as this holy house was dedicated.”
President Nelson added, “This is a hinge point in the history of the Church. Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace of which this is a part. We think the Church is an old Church. It’s 189 years old. But it’s only the beginning. Just project out what the next future will be and the Church is going to have an unprecedented future. Unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”
President Nelson reminisced on seeing longtime friends while visiting Rome. “Think the tears of joy when you hold people in your arms that you’ve known for 30 years and seeing about once every decade at most. Those are the things we take home with us. These precious, precious people.”
Reflecting on being seated in the front, facing the congregation, in the various dedicatory sessions and observing the Latter-day Saints in the celestial room, President Ballard said, “We see the tears. We see the emotion. We see what this means to them. We have the advantage of seeing them while they’re enjoying the experience in the dedication. It’s terrific. It’s been wonderful.”
Five dedicatory sessions have been held, with the final two sessions scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, 2019.
The Prophet, Russell M. Nelson, spoke for all the apostles and proclaimed his witness and testimony of Jesus Christ from this place as follows:
“More than 2,000 years ago, our Savior Jesus Christ ministered to the world, establishing His Church and His gospel. He called Apostles and gave them the decree to ‘go ye therefore, and teach all nations.’
“In our day, the Lord’s Church has been restored. The Savior stands at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As modern-day Apostles of Jesus Christ, the message we share today is the same message that Apostles shared long ago—that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ.
“As one of His special witnesses, I testify that because the Savior offered Himself as the infinite Atonement, you and I have the opportunity—the privilege—to be forgiven when we repent. We can also turn to Him for healing of our hearts, for strength when we are weak, and for help to do things we simply cannot do on our own. He taught us how to love, how to pray, how to endure. There’s no trial we can endure that He doesn’t know about. He gives each one of us hope.
“I am honored to be listed among the many who teach and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world, and He has given us an example by which we can live.
“Because of Jesus Christ, we can have access to power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day. He delivers us from physical and spiritual death. I love and testify of Him.”