2018: The Year in Review

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer

  • 28 December 2018

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seen many changes, announcements, and historic events, all within the span of 365 days.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seen many changes, announcements, and historic events, all within the span of 365 days. Here is a brief look at some of these significant happenings in 2018.

January

  • President Thomas S. Monson, the 16th President of the Church, died on January 2. His funeral was held January 12 in the Conference Center. Learn more.
  • President Russell M. Nelson was sustained as the 17th President of the Church on January 16. President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring were called as his First and Second Counselors, respectively, in the First Presidency. Learn more.

President Russell M. Nelson with his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks (left) and President Henry B. Eyring (right), at a live broadcast Tuesday, January 16, from the annex of the Salt Lake Temple to all members of the Church.

  • The Church added new resources to its online suicide-prevention resource, suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the updated resources at a news conference at the Utah State Capitol on January 17. Learn more.
  • The Church released an official statement regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on January 26. Learn more.
  • Elder Von G. Keetch, a General Authority Seventy since 2015 and Executive Director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department, died on January 26 following a brief illness. His funeral was held on February 2.
  • The Church announced adjustments to its 421 missions in January. Five missions were opened in July 2018, while 19 merged with adjoining missions. Learn more.
  • Church members in Taiwan celebrated six decades of the Church’s presence in this island nation. Learn more.

February

  • The Church announced the closure of two visitors’ centers—the Hamilton New Zealand Temple Visitors’ Center and the Park City Family Tree Center—and changes to the London Temple Visitors’ Center. Learn more.
  • Jon Huntsman, remembered for his life of service and generosity toward the Church, died on February 2. Learn more.
  • President Nelson, in one of his first public addresses since being sustained as President of the Church, spoke on unity during the Salt Lake Granger West Stake Conference on February 4. Learn more.
  • Some 500 Church members, missionaries, and visitors walked the Trail of Hope on February 3 to commemorate the exodus of the early Latter-day Saint pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois, 172 years earlier. Learn more.
  • Following an earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on February 6, all Church missionaries were reported as safe. Learn more.
  • Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, and Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, joined other women of faith during the World Women’s Interfaith Conference at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales, on February 9. Learn more.

Sister Jean B. Bingham and Sister Joy D. Jones have a dialogue with a Muslim council member at the World Women’s Interfaith Conference 2018.

  • During the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, two Latter-day Saints competed. Additionally, Church members in Gangneung, South Korea, offered a place to warm up, recharge a cell phone, or explore family history at the Helping Hands Center. Learn more.
  • In a February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 14-year-old Alaina Petty of the Coral Springs Florida Stake was one of 17 people killed. Maddy Wilford, a Laurel in the Coral Springs Ward, was one of several students injured in the tragedy. Learn more.
  • Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered the keynote address at the 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference on February 16, charging lawyers, law students, educators, and business professionals to defend divinely inspired religious freedoms. Learn more.
  • President Nelson spoke to a group of young adults in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 17 on how to find happiness and meaning. Learn more.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, greet young adults after a devotional held in Las Vegas on February 18.

  • Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the island nation of Barbados for the preaching of the gospel on February 18. Learn more.
  • On February 23, Elder Rasband spoke to Church members in the Philippines in a seven-minute Facebook Live event, the first of its kind in the Asian nation by an Apostle. Learn more.

March

  • A new Young Women Camp Guide and changes to the camp program were announced in March. Learn more.
  • The First Presidency issued a letter and resource document on March 26 to Church leaders in the United States and Canada on how to prevent abuse and respond to it. The Church also published abuse.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, which focuses on helping victims heal. Learn more.
  • On March 31 and as part of the 188th Annual General Conference, President Nelson was sustained as the new prophet and president of the Church during the March 31 solemn assembly. Also on that day, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, while Sister Bonnie H. Cordon was called as the new Young Women General President, with Sister Michelle Craig and Sister Becky Craven as her counselors.

Elder Ulisses Soares and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles chat before the start of the Saturday afternoon session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

April

President Russell M. Nelson holds a child with his wife, Wendy, by his side in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, April 20, 2018.

  • After sustaining significant water damage in August 2017 from flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Texas Temple was rededicated by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, on April 22. Learn more.
  • On April 29, Elder Renlund returned to Stockholm, Sweden, where he served as a missionary four decades ago. Learn more.
  • Clay Christiansen retired as a Tabernacle organist in April, concluding his 36-year career. Learn more.

May

  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed a committee of Parliament in the United Kingdom on the subject of supporting religious freedom on May 1. Learn more.
  • Sister Bingham offered a prayer in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 3 in honor of the National Day of Prayer. Learn more.
  • Elder Gong, in his first public address as an Apostle outside of general conference, spoke during BYU Women’s Conference on May 4. Learn more.
  • Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke to young adults during a May 6 worldwide devotional, calling them to act on President Nelson’s invitation to minister. Learn more.
  • The Church announced on May 8 that it would be ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. In place of existing programs, a new Church activity program for children and youth was announced, to go into effect beginning in January 2020. Learn more.
  • Emeritus General Authority Seventy Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone died at 87 on May 12. Learn more.
  • In a unified global call for increased civility, harmony, and respect, the First Presidency joined leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in pledging to explore ways to serve together and lift those in need on May 17. Learn more.

The First Presidency joined together with leaders of the NAACP Thursday, May 17, to call for increased civility, harmony, and respect. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

  • The Jordan River Utah Temple was rededicated on May 20 by President Eyring, accompanied by Elder Cook. Learn more.
  • In a Facebook Live event hosted in Sydney, Australia, President Ballard conducted a family home evening broadcast viewed by as many as 100,000 in Australia, New Zealand, and other surrounding Pacific nations. Learn more.
  • In a detailed, multi-pronged article released May 22, Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé affirmed that providence and principles of self-reliance define and direct the Church’s finances. Learn more.
  • The Church received a Good Neighbor Award from the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce—the first religious organization to ever receive this honor—on May 24. Learn more.
  • Elder Holland met with key leaders of the Jewish Community of Buenos Aires during a meeting in Argentina on May 30. Then on May 31, the Apostle underscored the importance of strong families in society as he spoke to members of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies in Argentina. Learn more.

June

  • Be One,” a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood, was held in the Conference Center on June 1. Learn more.
  • In a special youth devotional on June 3, President Nelson invited youth to enlist in the Lord’s battalion to help gather Israel through taking a weeklong break from social media, sacrificing their time, repenting, praying, and standing out from the world. Learn more.
  • Following the June 3 eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano that killed at least 38 people, two Latter-day Saints were listed among the missing. The Church helped care for the more than 1,100 people displaced by the volcano, and Church humanitarian response officials partnered with local organizations to fly in needed resources to government-operated relief centers.
  • President Nelson met with Canadian Saints in the province of Alberta in a June 8–10 trip that included three devotionals in Edmonton, Calgary, and Raymond. He was accompanied by his wife, Elder Rasband, and Sister Melanie Rasband. Learn more.
  • The Church announced June 18 plans to publish new, unified editions of both Hymns and the Children’s Songbook. In addition, members are invited to participate in the revision process by submitting original music at newmusic.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Learn more.

The Church has announced it is revising the hymnbook and children’s songbook and invites members to participate.

  • In a June 20 letter, the First Presidency announced new guidelines for bishops for interviewing youth. Learn more.
  • The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performed in California; British Columbia and Vancouver in Canada; and Seattle, Washington, during the Classic Coast tour from June 19 to July 2.
  • A reduction in the number of key indicators and changing references to home and visiting teaching to ministering were among the updates made to Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, announced on June 22. Learn more.
  • The 2018 Mission Leadership Seminar was held in the Provo June 24–26 for 112 new mission presidents and their wives. Learn more.
  • Emeritus General Authority Seventy Elder W. Mack Lawrence died on June 25 at the age of 91. Learn more.
  • Sister Cordon presented a $50,000 donation from the Church to Utah’s Children’s Justice Centers on June 27 to support the center’s work with victims of child sexual abuse. Learn more.
  • Elders Gong and Soares reflected on their first months as Apostles during a news conference on June 28. Learn more.

Elder Ulisses Soares and Elder Gerrit W. Gong answer questions during an interview in the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.

  • The First Presidency announced on June 29 a series of resources to help Church members study the scriptures at home. These resources take a home-centered, Church-supported approach to gospel living, learning, and teaching. Learn more.

July

  • On July 2, in an effort to help prevent suicide, the Church released a series of videos on suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org to help Church members approach those who are considering suicide. Learn more.
  • Elder Holland addressed the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, England, on July 2, calling upon nongovernmental organizations, governments, and faith groups to refocus their efforts in responding to the personal and family crises suffered by refugees and internally displaced people. As part of that trip, he presented a replica of the stone inscribed with “What e’er thou art, act well thy part,” which inspired President David O. McKay as a missionary, to a Scottish museum on July 5. Learn more.
  • Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf met with Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 6, marking the first time a senior Church leader has met with a chancellor of Germany. Learn more.
  • President Joseph F. Smith’s Bible—the one he was studying during the time he received the revelation known as the vision of the redemption of the dead, now found in Doctrine and Covenants 138was donated to the Church on the 100th anniversary of the revelation on July 10. Learn more.
  • Church members and missionaries worked together in several Church-sponsored Helping Hands projects to aid those affected by flooding and heavy rains in southwestern Japan in July. Learn more.
  • After more than 5,000 performances by several thousand employees, the Polynesian Cultural Center replaced its popular Rainbows of Paradise canoe show on July 12 with a soft launch of Huki: One ‘Ohana Sharing Aloha. Learn more.

Polynesian Cultural Center performers reenact laying the hukilau nets during the PCC’s new canoe celebration, Huki: One ‘Ohana Sharing Aloha. Photo courtesy of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

  • Music and the Spoken Word commenced its 90th season on July 15, the 89th anniversary of the program. Learn more.
  • The Church announced on July 15 a partnership between Church stakes and the NAACP in areas like Baltimore, Atlanta, and New Jersey to provide joint self-reliance courses. Learn more.
  • Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III joined the Tabernacle Choir for its annual Pioneer Day concert in the Conference Center on July 20. Learn more.
  • After a deadly July 22 shooting during a ward sacrament meeting in Fallon, Nevada, the tightly knit community offered heartfelt support while mourning the death of Charles E. “Bert” Miller. Learn more.
  • After a two-year renovation, the St. George Tabernacle was rededicated by Elder Holland on July 28. Learn more.

August

  • The First Presidency announced, effective August 1, changes to the way Church areas in the United States and Canada are administered. Previously overseen by members of the Presidency of the Seventy, the areas are now administered by Area Presidencies. Learn more.
  • In a regional Face to Face event broadcast from the Manila Missionary Training Center to the Asia Area, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, spoke to youth on August 11. It was the first Face to Face event held in Asia. A few days later, on August 15, Elder and Sister Stevenson spoke to youth in Japan in a Face to Face event broadcast from Osaka. Learn more.

From left, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Tazuko Yamashita; Sister Lesa Stevenson and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and the two youth hosts, Miyu Nakiatania and Mashahiro Yoshikawa, during the Face to Face event held in Japan on August 15.

  • Thanks to a joint project announced August 14 between FamilySearch and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., the entire collection of Ellis Island New York Passenger Arrival Lists from 1820 to 1957 are now available online. Learn more.
  • On August 16, the Church issued a statement from President Nelson on the use of the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Learn more.
  • President Nelson traveled to Canada to speak in devotionals in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Hamilton, August 17–19. Joining him were Sister Nelson, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen.
  • President Oaks spoke to young married couples in the Los Angeles area during a devotional on August 24, addressing topics dealing with Church leadership, mental illness, Church history, and the Church’s policies relating to children raised by gay couples. Learn more.
  • Elder Soares returned to his home country in his first official visit as an Apostle when he visited São Paulo, Brazil, on assignment with President Ballard on August 24. Learn more.

President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ulisses Soares, accompanied by Elder Soares’s wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency and their wives, participate in a live Facebook event, “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”

  • On August 29, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, met with survivors of the Fuego Volcano eruption that occurred on June 3. Learn more.
  • Deseret Industries celebrated 80 years since its first location opened in August of 1938 in downtown Salt Lake City. Deseret Industries has 44 store locations in seven western states in operation today. Learn more.
  • The Primary celebrated 140 years since it was organized in August 1878. Learn more.
  • Sixty years after its dedication, the Hamilton New Zealand Temple was closed in August for an extensive, three-year renovation. It is expected to be rededicated in 2021. Learn more.
  • The journals of President Wilford Woodruff became available in the Church History Library’s online catalog in August. Learn more.
  • FamilySearch launched an email campaign, My Nauvoo Ancestor Story, to help recipients to identify and link to their Nauvoo ancestors, in August. Learn more.

September

  • On September 1, President Nelson spoke to Church members in the Dominican Republic entirely in Spanish, marking what is thought to be the first time a President of the Church spoke for an entire devotional address in a language other than English. Learn more.
  • Almost a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Nelson spoke to Latter-day Saints in a devotional in San Juan on September 2. Joining him in the two weekend devotionals in the Caribbean were Sister Nelson, Elder Renlund, and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund. Learn more.
  • On September 5, the Church rolled out a new initiative in which missionary candidates receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. Learn more.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is rolling out an initiative in which missionary candidates receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. In Fruit Heights, Utah, 17-year-old Billy Elliott recently received his call to the Peru Chiclayo Mission.

  • In conjunction with the launch of the first volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Elder Cook, along with Church historians Kate Holbrook and Matt Grow, spoke to young adults in a Face to Face event broadcast from the grounds of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple on September 9. Learn more.
  • President Nelson spoke in devotionals in Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 15 and 16, respectively, joined by Sister Nelson and President Eyring. The meeting in Seattle’s Safeco Field drew the largest in-person crowd during President Nelson’s first year as Church President, with 49,089 in attendance—the largest non-sporting event ever held in the iconic baseball stadium.
  • Following Hurricane Florence, which caused severe damage to communities in North and South Carolina in late September, Church members and missionaries worked together to clean up debris and repair damage caused by the storm. Learn more.

Young women from the Apex North Carolina Stake clear out fallen branches from a yard in Wilmington. Photo by Chantelle Pacheco.

  • Members and missionaries in the Philippines and Hong Kong worked together to clean up debris following Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which struck mid-September. Thirty-eight Church chapels in the Philippines sheltered more than 2,000 people during the typhoon. Learn more.
  • Elder Christofferson and Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, participated in the G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 26 and 27. Learn more.
  • The Church announced plans to supply families and community agencies with “finished goods” such as pasta, pancake mix, and flour—rather than raw wheat, which can be difficult to process at home, on September 27. Learn more.
  • At the end of September, the Church launched a new website, addressingpornography.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, to offer a helpful and hopeful approach for Latter-day Saints wanting protection, help, and healing from pornography use. It replaces overcomingpornography.org. Learn more.

October

  • Sister Barbara B. Ballard, wife of President Ballard, died peacefully on October 1, in her home surrounded by her family, at the age of 86. Her funeral was held October 8, and she was remembered for the love, service, and light she gave others. Learn more.
  • The Church’s iconic choir announced a name change to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square on October 5. Learn more.
  • During the 188th Semiannual General Conference on October 6 and 7, President Nelson reiterated the Church’s emphasis on the correct name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, introduced the home-centered, Church-supported curriculum and schedule, and announced 12 temples to be built around the world. Learn more. This was also the first year that women of the Church gathered in the Conference Center and around the globe via broadcasts and digital streaming on the Saturday night of general conference for the annual women’s session. During this session, President Nelson invited the sisters to participate in a 10-day fast from social media, read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, establish a pattern of regular temple attendance, and participate fully in Relief Society. Learn more.
  • Sixty-nine temple presidents and matrons gathered in Salt Lake City October 16–18 for the 2018 Seminar for New Temple Presidents and Matrons. Learn more.
  • The Church released standard missionary interview questions October 20 to help ensure missionaries are worthy and physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service. Learn more.
  • After Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10 in Florida, local priesthood and Relief Society leaders mobilized to respond to the damage wrought. President Oaks and other Church leaders visited with members in Florida and North Carolina on October 20 and 21. Learn more.
  • The Concepción Chile Temple was dedicated by President Nelson on October 28 at the conclusion of his South America ministry tour. The prophet visited Lima, Peru, on October 20; El Alto, Bolivia, on October 21; Asunción, Paraguay, on October 22; and Montevideo, Uruguay, on October 25. Accompanying the Nelsons on the trip were Elder and Sister Stevenson.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hugs children after a devotional in Asunción, Paraguay, on Monday, October 22, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

  • The Church published a new websiteabuse.ChurchofJesusChrist.org—on October 25 aimed at providing help, healing, and protection for victims of abuse and those who want to help prevent abuse. Learn more.
  • On October 26 the American Red Cross recognized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its first Mission Leader, a designation which recognizes organizational partners of the Red Cross that donate $3 million or more a year to aid in their efforts. Learn more.
  • The Church announced on October 27 that while local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate, larger productions such as pageants will be discouraged. Learn more.

November

  • In his first solo assignment as an Apostle, Elder Soares met with missionaries and members in Central America November 2–11. Learn more.
  • Emeritus General Authority Seventy Elder Hartman Rector Jr. died on November 6 at the age of 94. Learn more.
  • Three Apostles—Elder Holland, Elder David A. Bednar, and Elder Cook—and other members of the executive committee of the Church’s Board of Education—spoke to BYU–Pathway Worldwide students and educators in Salt Lake City and around the world via a broadcast in a special devotional on November 8. Learn more.
  • Elder Andersen presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire Temple on November 8. Learn more.
  • Scores of Latter-day Saints lost their homes to the Camp Fire when it swept into Paradise, California, on November 8. Learn more.

Charred remains of the Paradise 1st Ward meetinghouse in Paradise, California, on the day after the November 8 fire destroyed the town. Photo by James Dimmitt.

  • In his first solo trip as an Apostle, Elder Gong met with members and missionaries in South America November 9–18. Learn more.
  • The Church announced on November 16 that beginning in January 2019, young Church-service missionaries will be called “service missionaries.” They will apply the same way as proselyting missionary candidates, through an online portal, and their mission calls will likewise come from the prophet. Learn more.
  • President Nelson and Elder Bednar—along with Sister Nelson and Sister Susan Bednar—spoke to Latter-day Saints in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on November 18. Learn more.
  • In a first for the Church, Elder Holland met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on November 21 during a groundbreaking weeklong trip to Great Britain. Learn more.
  • The Joseph Smith Papers project turned 10 years old this fall. Learn more.

December

  • President Nelson highlighted four gifts offered by Jesus Christ during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on December 2, his first as Church President. Learn more.
  • The Barranquilla Colombia Temple, the second in the South American nation, was dedicated on December 9 by President Oaks, accompanied by Elder Soares. Learn more.

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stand outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple, which was dedicated December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.

  • Kristin Chenoweth joined the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, as well as the Bells on Temple Square, for the annual Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, December 13–15. Learn more.
  • On December 14, the Church announced that beginning in January 2019, children will complete Primary and begin attending Sunday School and Young Men and Young Women as age-groups, not as individuals following their 12th birthdays. Learn more.
  • The First Presidency updated the missionary dress and grooming guidelines for sister missionaries, giving them the option to wear dress pants during regular missionary activities, on December 20. Learn more.