Tuesday, September 29, 2015

General Women's Session Of 185th Semiannual LDS General Conference

The 185th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off on Saturday September 26th, 2015 with the General Women's Session. On the card were Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, the Primary General President; Sister Linda S. Reeves, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency; Sister Carol F. McConkie, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency; and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. The session was directed towards all females eight years of age and older; males do not attend with the exception of the First Presidency or others directed by them. This session was considered important enough that at Sacrament Meeting in our ward the following Sunday, a young woman was assigned to give a brief report on the session.

Complete archives of the talks, to include written transcripts, are now available on the October 2015 General Conference Archive Page. Embedded below is the YouTube version, 1 hour and 29 minutes.


And here are brief summaries of the talks, extracted from the written transcripts (after the jump).

Friday, September 25, 2015

LDS Church Disavows Julie Rowe's Prophecies, But Take No Action Against Her

Remember Julie Rowe? She's an active, believing member of the LDS Church who had a NDE (Near-Death Experience) and who chose to document and discuss it in two separate books, “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” and “The Time is Now”. Triggering much interest and discussion was a host of end-time prophecies she published in these books. One of her more extensive interviews was aired by KTKK in Salt Lake back in June 2014; some of the material was presented in this previous post. NDEs are sometimes also referred to as OBEs (Out-Of-Body Experiences).

But Julie Rowe is back in the news. On September 15th, 2015, the Daily Mail, one of the United Kingdom's most widely-read news sources, published an article claiming the Rowe predicted the fatal flash floods that afflicted southern Utah earlier this month. The Daily Mail also claimed that Rowe's books say September 2015 will see the beginning of the end of the world, and that doom will come via a catalog of natural disasters and a series of plagues. They also claim she said that the USA will be invaded by foreign soldiers and martial law declared. Rowe also allegedly said she has she has now given up eating fish after one vision showed the world's seas being poisoned by the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The real takeaway from this article is that Julie Rowe has amassed an estimated 10,000 "fans", and that she has contributed to an upsurge in sales of dried food and everyday essentials from specialist shops such as Emergency Essentials.

But even before the publication of this article, the LDS Church was mindful of Julie Rowe's growing reach, and concerned about the message she was putting forth. In a written caution sent on August 31st, 2015 to the various seminaries and Institutes of Religion, the LDS Church distanced itself from the material in Julie Rowe's books:

“Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them. The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”

On Thursday September 10th, LDS Church spokesman Doug Andersen released a follow-up statement to KUTV Channel 2 about the warning to seminary and institute instructors.

"The internal memo does not constitute an official Church statement but serves as a routine reminder to teachers from Seminaries and Institutes of Religion of their responsibility to teach from the scriptures and church leaders. People who read her books should recognize that they are personal accounts and do not necessarily reflect church doctrine."

Rowe, who lives in the Midwest (although the Daily Mail says she has a home in Tucson), responded to the church's warning in the following statement to KUTV, aired on September 10th:

"I agree that the curriculum for LDS church classes should only come from sources recognized by the LDS Church as being authoritative. My story is not intended to be authoritative nor to create any church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people to prepare for the times we live in by increasing their faith in Christ and by looking to our prophet and church leaders for guidance."

Consequently, it is unlikely her local bishop or stake president has taken any action against her, except maybe to counsel her in private. She does generate some robust discussion in cyberspace, even on such pro-Mormon websites as LDS Freedom Forum. A huge five-page thread exists HERE which shows that a plurality of respondents do not believe her claims.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Passing Of Elder Richard G. Scott Opens Up Third Vacancy On LDS Quorum Of The Twelve

A third vacancy on the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has just opened up as Elder Richard G. Scott passed away due to causes incident to old age on Tuesday September 22nd, 2015 at home surrounded by his family. Elder Scott was hospitalized in April 2015 due to gastrointestinal bleeding and after his release from the hospital, the Church said he had experienced a fading memory incident due to age, and was no longer fully able to participate in meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve at this time.

UPDATE September 23rd: Funeral services will be held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Monday, September 28th, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. MDT. The funeral will be open to the public ages 8 and older. They will be broadcast live via MormonNewsroom.org and LDS.org, along with a host of other media sources. There will be no public viewing. Expressions of sympathy can be posted on Elder Scott's official Facebook page or emailed to condolences at ldschurch.org. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Church’s General Missionary Fund at give.lds.org/elderscott.

UPDATE September 29th: On September 28th, approximately 2,500 people filled the historic Tabernacle to capacity for the funeral of Elder Scott, while many others attended the services in the overflow seating of the nearby Assembly Hall. Thousands more watched the broadcast live in English, Spanish and Portuguese on LDS.org and on the Church satellite system. The service, held under the direction of the First Presidency, was attended by general authorities and auxiliary leaders of the Church, as well as community and civic leaders and members of Elder Scott’s family. Church President Thomas S. Monson presided over the services, which were conducted by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency.

Elder Scott served as an apostle since 1988. Before that, he served on the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning on April 2, 1977, and served as a member of the presidency of that quorum from October 1983 until he was called as an apostle. One of his most notable secular accomplishments was service working on Admiral Hyman Rickover's staff directing development of nuclear fuel for naval and land based power plants. On that team, he worked on the design of the nuclear reactor for Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, and on the first land-based nuclear power plant.

Elder Scott was married to the late Jeanene Watkins, who preceded him in death in 1995. Together, they had seven children, two of which preceded their parents in death.

Other sources of information:

-- Church announcement on Mormon Newsroom

-- Full biography on Mormon Newsroom

It is quite likely that the successors to L. Tom Perry and Boyd K. Packer will be named and presented to the Church at the upcoming 185th Semiannual General Conference to be held on October 3-4. There's also a possibility that a successor to Elder Scott will also be named at this time despite the recency of his passing. Through the power of revelation, the successors will be identified to President Thomas S. Monson, who will then convene the remaining quorum members to ratify the selection. Read more about this process on LDS.org.

Nevertheless, it is natural to speculate on the identity of likely successors. And such speculation is harmless so long as it does not cross the line into formal campaigning for a specific person. Since most apostles are selected from the First Quorum of the Seventy, it is only natural to look there first. The Church is also looking to diversify its senior leadership, although it uses diversity as a means to an end rather than an end unto itself, so Seventies from Latin America, Asia, and Africa may get a closer look than usual.

-- Elder Ulisses Soares. A Brazilian national, Elder Soares is not only a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, but is also a member of the seven-man Presidency of the Seventy. The length of Elder Soares's service, his relatively young age (57), and the strong growth of the Church in Latin America and particularly in Brazil make him a most attractive candidate. By selecting Elder Soares, the Church will signal to Latin Americans that they have finally "arrived" in the upper reaches of Church government and will give them a living symbol to further burnish their testimonies.

-- Elder Ronald A. Rasband. An American born in Utah, he also serves in both the quorum and the presidency. Elder Rasband not only gains visibility by his frequent Conference talks, but on September 15th, gave an important talk at BYU-Provo about religious liberty. The timing of this talk, so close to General Conference, opens up speculation that the Church was "showcasing" him.

-- The third choice is a bit tougher. The Church could play it safe and select either L. Whitney Clayton, Donald L. Hallstrom, or Richard J. Maynes to fill an apostle vacancy. All are veterans of lengthy service as seventies. If the Church desires to promote an Asian to the apostleship, it could select Yoon Hwan Choi, who is comparatively young. A real wild card would be Joseph W. Sitati, a native of Kenya who not only has served as a seventy for over six years, but is currently the editor of Ensign, Liahona, New Era, and The Friend magazines. While the LDS Church is not as numerically strong in Africa as it is elsewhere, it it growing fast in some sections, and the selection of an African apostle could jumpstart Church growth there.

Friday, July 17, 2015

LDS Missionary Elder Ricardo Alberto Cuevas Magdaleno Passes Away From Sudden Illness In Costa Rica

Costa Rica media sources have been reporting this for the past two days, but were withholding the name of the decedent. Now the Deseret News is reporting that 20-year-old Elder Ricardo Alberto Cuevas Magdaleno, a missionary serving in the Costa Rica San Jose East Mission, passed away in his sleep of unknown causes sometime during the night of July 14-15, 2015. Elder Cuevas was from the Xalapa Mexico Stake. His companion, who was also from Mexico, was not identified.

But the Costa Rica Star (English) published additional details in their July 16th story. Elder Cuevas, a veteran of six months mission service in Sarapiqui in northeast Costa Rica, has been approved for his mission despite suffering from chronic asthma and other pulmonary issues; he had a supply of medication on hand. But he originally requested the Sarapiqui area because he felt that's where God wanted him to serve. On the evening of July 14th, Elder Cuevas told his companion that he had not felt well in the last few days, and decided to skip the customary end-of-day briefing and Bible study. His companion offered to take him to the hospital, but Elder Cuevas declined, saying his life in God’s hands. In the morning, when Elder Cuevas failed to emerge from his bedroom, his companion entered and found he had passed away during the night. First responders rendered a preliminary diagnosis as a respiratory arrest, but the medical examiner will make the final call.

Diario Extra also published a story (Spanish) which can be easily translated using Google Translate.

Elder Cuevas developed a reputation as a kind young man who always traveled on foot or bicycle, wore buttoned-up and crisply pressed white shirts, and who was very respectful and passionate about his religion. He is the fourth LDS missionary to have given his life in service to the Lord while on a mission in 2015.

Note: LDS members are allowed to serve full-time missions with chronic medical conditions if a physician certifies their ability to serve and ensures they know the medications they need to stabilize and control their condition. It is the missionary's responsibility to ensure he or she has the medications available.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Anti-Mormon Utah Carpetbaggers From Tri-Grace Ministries Try To Spoil Open House For Indianapolis-Area LDS Temple

Update July 17th: Here's a short video showing the interior of the Indianapolis Temple.


As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepares for the open house for the new temple located in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Indiana, Satan has decided to show up to cast his negative vote -- using a bunch of anti-Mormon Utah carpetbaggers as his handmaidens.

Activists from the Utah-based Tri-Grace Ministries plan to set up a tent across the street to declare what they think is "the truth" about the LDS Church. They fired their first volley last week when they took out a 12-page advertising supplement in community newspapers in Carmel, Westfield and Zionsville that warn about the so-called "deception" of the religion. Tri-Grace Ministries founder Chip Thompson claims that the LDS Church is not telling the truth and Mormons are not following what Jesus taught.

So far, LDS Church officials have refused to dignify Tri-Grace Ministries with a response. But other Christians in the local area see through the hatred and bigotry spewed by this bogus ministry. Chris Duckworth, pastor of New Joy Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Westfield, was irked by the advertising supplements and was quoted as follows:

"We don't treat people, who have been seriously picked on, in that way. We know better than that. We are better than that."

"If my Mormon brother says he's a Christian, I'll accept his word at that. We might disagree in theology or have differences in opinion about what core tenets of Christianity are. But I'm not going to deny him the right to call himself what he or she in their faith believe they are."

Pastor Duckworth adds considerably more detail on his church's website. He plans to attend the LDS open house, and he further writes:

"Theological differences between the Mormon Church and the Lutheran Church are real. But so too is the unfair treatment our neighbors, friends, and fellow children of God of the Mormon Church receive to this day. My friends and neighbors don’t deserve to receive, on their doorstep, such a publication. I cannot remain silent. I have to speak out.

For me, living a life of faith is not about projecting my faith into the public square to the detriment of others, or seeking public assets – be they government or business – to enshrine and propagate my faith through their power and reach. Instead, living a life of faith is about coming to the defense of my neighbors, seeking the good of the community – particularly the most vulnerable and “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) – living into the promises of the coming Kingdom of God, and having the opportunity to worship and live according to the dictates of faith."

Although Pastor Duckworth does not claim to hold either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood, there is no question that the Lord is working through him and that he does access the Holy Spirit. Pastorship is a function of priesthood, and the Lord will recognize and use his ministry so long as he acts in a Christ-like manner. At his level of knowledge and light, Pastor Duckworth is a champion for Christ.

A visit to the Tri-Grace Ministries website shows that their sole objective is to denigrate and defame Mormonism. There is absolutely no effort on their part to actually win souls for Christ. During a time period when traditional Christian values are under attack by the elite nationwide, waging civil war against fellow Christians is tantamount to treason against God.

The open house will take place from July 17th through August 8th; details available at the dedicated website. On August 23rd, the temple will be formally dedicated, after which time only templeworthy LDS members will be allowed admittance. The temple, which will become the 148th operational temple in the world, will serve approximately 30,000 LDS members who currently go to the Louisville, Chicago, and Columbus temples. Read the complete fact sheet on the temple for further details about its construction and composition.