Apostle Calls for Uplifting Social Media Messages to Sweep the Earth

Elder Bednar also announces new Church feature film, ‘Meet the Mormons’

SALT LAKE CITY — 

Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called for Mormons to use social media to “sweep the earth” with authentic and uplifting messages.

His message, given Tuesday during a Brigham Young University Education Week devotional in Provo, Utah, focused on the power of the Internet and particularly social media to communicate truth. Elder Bednar called our time a “unique season in the history of the world,” in which we are blessed with “a miraculous progression of innovations and inventions that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation.”

“Approximately 40 percent of our worldwide missionary force soon will be using digital devices as tools in the work of conversion, retention, and activation,” he said. “I am confident all of us also recognize how technology has accelerated family history and temple work, our individual and family study of the restored gospel, and made it possible for us to learn about, see, and experience the world in remarkable ways.”

Elder Bednar pointed to recent social media efforts by the Church and its members, including an Easter video, Because of Him, which was viewed more than five million times in 191 countries and territories around the world during Easter week.

He cited other examples, such as the hundreds of people who used the #didyouthinktopray hashtag to share a photo with a placard telling when they pray, which led to more than 40,000 conversations about the need for prayer.

“I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood,” urged Elder Bednar. “I pray we will not simply participate in a flash flood that rises swiftly and then recedes just as rapidly.”

Elder Bednar encouraged listeners to be authentic and consistent when using social media and to only share content that uplifts and edifies. “We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not. Our content should be trustworthy and constructive. Anonymity on the Internet is not a license to be inauthentic.”

“We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than to argue, debate, condemn, or belittle,” explained Elder Bednar. “Be courageous and bold but not overbearing in sustaining and defending our beliefs, and avoid contention. As disciples our purpose should be to use social media channels as a means of projecting the light and truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into a world that increasingly is dark and confused.”

During his address, Elder Bednar also announced the release of “Meet the Mormons.” The film is a documentary feature produced by the Church that will make its debut in select theaters in the U.S. on 10 October.

“This movie is one additional way members can share their beliefs with family and friends in a simple and effective way,” he told thousands of attendees gathered at the Marriott Center and tuned in to the live broadcast of his address. “’Meet the Mormons’ addresses common misperceptions about our beliefs and highlights the blessings that come from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The movie tells the stories of six diverse Latter-day Saints: engineer and humanitarian Bishnu Adhikari who is originally from Nepal; Ken Niumatalolo, the head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy; Carolina Muñoz Marin, an amateur kickboxer from Costa Rica who runs a charity with her husband; Jermaine Sullivan, an academic counselor and bishop in Atlanta, Georgia; Utah missionary mom Dawn Armstrong; and Col. Gail Halvorsen (Ret.), the man known as “the candy bomber” during the Berlin Airlift in the 1940s. (Learn more about “Meet the Mormons.”)

All proceeds from the film will go to charity.

Elder Bednar stressed that Church members need not spend inordinate amounts of time creating and sharing elaborate messages nor become social media experts or fanatics. “Too much time can be wasted, too many relationships can be harmed or destroyed, and precious patterns of righteousness can be disrupted when technology is used improperly. We should not allow even good applications of social media to overrule the better and best uses of our time, energy, and resources.”

Public Invited to Tour Newly Remodeled Ogden Utah Temple

SALT LAKE CITY — 

Ogden Utah LDS Temple

The Ogden Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will open for free public tours beginning Friday, 1 August, through Saturday, 6 September 2014, excluding Sundays. Reservations for the open house can be made by visiting the www.templeopenhouse.lds.org website (a maximum of 25 reservations can be made at a time) or by calling 1-855-537-2000. Larger group reservations may also be accommodated by calling this number.

Once the open house has concluded, the temple will be formally dedicated on Sunday, 21 September 2014. Three dedicatory sessions will be broadcast at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. to Latter-day Saint meetinghouses throughout Utah and in areas of Wyoming and Idaho within the temple’s district.

Once rededicated, the Ogden Utah Temple will be one of 143 operating temples of the Church worldwide and will serve more than 200,000 Latter-day Saints living in northern Utah and parts of Wyoming and Idaho.

In conjunction with the temple rededication, there will also be two cultural celebrations featuring music and dance on Saturday, 20 September 2014.

As part of the renovation, the temple’s entire exterior has been reshaped with new stone and art glass. The temple’s main entrance was moved from the west side to the east side, where it faces Washington Boulevard, one of the city’s main streets. The renovation of the temple also includes reconfigured rooms and new energy-saving electrical, heating, and plumbing systems. Other notable improvements include adding underground parking, new landscaping of the temple block, and the addition of a major water feature.

The Ogden Utah Temple was originally dedicated in 1972 as the 14th operating temple of the Church and the 5th in Utah. It will be one of 14 dedicated temples in Utah. The other 13 include the Bountiful Temple, Brigham City Temple, Draper Temple, Jordan River Temple, Logan Temple, Manti Temple,Monticello Temple, Mount Timpanogos Temple, Oquirrh Mountain Temple, Provo Temple, Salt Lake Temple, St. George Temple, and Vernal Temple. Additional temples have been announced or are under construction in Provo, Payson, and Cedar City.

The Ogden temple is located at 350 22nd Street in Ogden, Utah.

While the Church’s 18,000-plus meetinghouses are open to all people who wish to attend religious services temples, after they are formally dedicated, are open only to faithful Latter-day Saints. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make promises to serve Jesus Christ and their fellowmen.

Read more at mormonnewsroom.org

LDS Magazines for July are Now Available!

ensign magazine july 2014 new era magazine july 2014 the friend magazine july 2014

The Ensign, New Era and Friend magazines are now available in the LDS Scriptures Premium and LDS Scriptures Premier apps for Android, Kindle Fire, Nook and Blackberry. They will automatically download and install on Tuesday, July 1st, OR you can download them right now.

Instructions to download and install now:

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1) Open app, tap the green ellipsis icon and then tap Download

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2) Tap Ensign to download Ensign, or tap Publications to download New Era and Friend

Professional circus performer discovers LDS Church while attending clown college

lds clown mormonBy Sara Phelps and Tim Torkildson

Either by random chance or cosmic design, Tim Torkildson had his first opportunity to be a clown in kindergarten, and after that he was never the same.

He swiped his brother Bill’s pajamas and smeared his mother’s lipstick on his face, looking more like the victim of a head-on crash than a merrymaker.

Not having any scripted action besides the teacher’s admonition to “do something funny,” Torkildson pranced around the classroom, stuck out his tongue at the indulgent group of parents and then stood as still as Lot’s wife — struck with the utter beauty of laughter and the dim premonition that the cost of generating such merriment could be terribly high.

“I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not want to make people laugh,” Torkildson said.

He put cellophane tape over the projector lens when the teacher showed movies. He learned to make an immense number of embarrassing noises. He assiduously studied old Marx Brothers and Three Stooges movies on TV. He blew bubbles through his straw into his milk carton until it foamed over, and then slathered the foamy milk over his face so he could shave it off with a plastic butter knife.

The summer after high school graduation, Torkildson found an article about the Ringling Clown College within the pages of Life magazine. In a few months, he hitchhiked to Florida and enrolled in the program.

“I wanted to be (funny), but I wasn’t,” Torkildson said. “I needed the training and the exposure that came with working with professional clowns.”

Completing the Ringling Clown College program was no easy task for Torkildson. His family was embarrassed by his career choice, and he felt rejected by many of his fellow clowns. Despite this opposition, Torkildson became one of the top performers in his class, and graduated as one of only 12 students with an offer to perform with the Ringling Brothers Circus.

As his college days came to a close, Torkildson began to notice a classmate, Tim Holst, who stood out from the other students.

“This was the first time I’d ever been away from home,” Torkildson said. “I could do anything I wanted and I was considering my options. I noticed that Tim Holst … didn’t swear, didn’t drink (and) didn’t smoke.”

Torkildson realized perhaps there was greater purpose in his attending Ringling Clown College; perhaps he was more than just a juvenile jokester. He took the missionary discussions and was baptized soon after as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After a few years of working as a professional clown, Torkildson put his career on hold to serve an LDS mission in Bangkok, Thailand. Here he developed a love for spicy foods and even performed some of his clown routines for locals.

“I spent two-thirds of my mission performing as a clown,” he said. “The church did not have a very good image in Thailand, (so) the mission president did a number of things to generate good public relations. One of the things I did was free clown shows. We would go visit hospitals, schools and jails. I would be introduced as a missionary for the church, and that is as much publicity as we did.”

Torkildson was lucky enough to get his job back with the Ringling Brothers Circus after he returned home, but being the class clown came at a price. Though he spent years in the circus making families clap and cheer with excitement, his wife and eight children were not so enthusiastic about his career.

“I sensed that my wife was falling away from me,” he said. “This frightened me so … I gave up the circus (and) I worked for the Utah State Tax Commission as a tax collector. I went from making people laugh to making them cry … but I did it because I wanted to stay at home. It really didn’t help because by that time the marriage was dead. As soon as it was over, I quit that job and I went back to the circus. Obviously I was sad, I was heartbroken … I had lost my family.”

Torkildson finished out his career working as a clown, eventually becoming the ringmaster and then running publicity for the circus. However, arthritis kicked in and traveling with the circus became too difficult to continue.

After moving on from the circus and working several different jobs, Torkildson found himself struggling to make ends meet.

“Once my active clowning career ended, I felt a real sense of deflation, and it took me years to redefine myself as someone who has worth outside of his ability to make people laugh,” he said. “I wound up living in a homeless shelter. I ran out of options. That happened just a year ago.”

A good friend of Torkildson’s took notice to his situation and invited him to come stay with his family in Provo. Torkildson lives there today, works part-time and expects to be in his own apartment by the end of the summer.

Now that he lives in Provo, Torkildson is closer to his children and grandchildren, and longs to spend time developing those relationships that may have suffered during his circus days.

“Anytime I can be with my children or grandchildren, that is extremely fulfilling for me,” he said. “I haven’t experienced that with my children for many years, so it’s like a holiday.”

Torkildson’s clowning days may be over, but he’ll never stop trying to make others smile.

“Writing is the thing I enjoy the most … I have a lot of fun memories of Thailand and the circus, and I write about those things,” he said. “Physical comedy is impossible for me to do, so I’m grateful I have a new outlet to be able to write and through the Internet be able to share that with people.”

Through his trials, Torkildson is grateful for the influence of the LDS Church and how it has helped him stay hopeful toward the future.

“I feel that my best work is still ahead of me, and the reason I feel that way is because of my living testimony of the superb reality of the Savior and of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. “I feel that each day is a gift and that it is my responsibility, and privilege, to find the wonder and awe in it, and to respond to that wonder and glory with all the creative resources at my command. … And one way or another, it’s still going to be about laughter. I’m still going to be entertaining people. That’s my life.”

Read more at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865605633/Professional-circus-performer-discovers-LDS-Church-while-attending-clown-college.html?pg=all

Mormonism in Pictures: President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Visits Saints in Europe

SALT LAKE CITY — 

“Mormonism in Pictures” is a photo essay feature from MormonNewsroom.org depicting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members around the world.

Second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shakes hands with Latter-day Saints in Switzerland.© All rights reserved.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Harriet, visited Western Europe to celebrate several milestones of the Church. They met with Church members, leaders and dignitaries in Switzerland, Italy and Poland 7-17 June 2014.

President Uchtdorf, a convert to the Church and native of Germany, was accompanied by Elder José A. Teixeira, the president of the Europe Area.

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Posing for a picture on the lawn of the Bern Switzerland Temple (from left to right) are Brother Melvyn and Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor, Relief Society general presidency; Sister Kathy and Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; President Dieter F. and Sister Harriett Uchtdorf; and Elder José and Sister Maria Teixeira.

“The trip truly was wonderful,” Elder Teixeira said. “It symbolized faith, family, growth, and the dedication of our faithful members in Europe. The Church members felt the love of the Lord expressed by President and Sister Uchtdorf.”

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President Uchtdorf reminded Church members of the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Church’s Bern Switzerland Temple, the first LDS temple built outside the United States and Canada.

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Speaking via satellite broadcast to all congregations in western Europe, he said: “The first LDS missionaries arrived in western Europe more than 170 years ago. The Church now has more than 15 million members worldwide, with half a million in Europe. This is a great and marvelous work; it is not a small thing in a corner. It is God’s work and glory to bring the blessings of the gospel into the lives of His children, wherever they live!”

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President Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, spent time with Church members, missionaries and Church leaders in Switzerland, Italy and Poland.

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All missionaries serving in Poland gathered to meet with President Uchtdorf and his wife. While in Poland the Uchtdorfs also visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.

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President Uchtdorf was eager to see the progress at the Rome Italy Temple construction site. The temple is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

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President and Sister Uchtdorf were joined at the temple construction site in Rome by Elder and Sister Anderson, as well as Sister Reeves.

President Uchtdorf, the retired chief pilot of Lufthansa German Airlines and a military veteran, has served nearly 20 years as a General Authority for the Church. He and his wife, Harriet, have been married since 1962 and have two children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

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With his calling in the Church, President and Sister Uchtdorf now permanently reside in the United States of America.

Mormonism in Pictures: Women Church Leaders Visit South Korea

SALT LAKE CITY — 

“Mormonism in Pictures” is a photo essay feature from MormonNewsroom.org depicting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members around the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Relief Society general president, Linda K. Burton, and Young Women general president, Bonnie L. Oscarson, recently visited South Korea.

oscarsons burtons

Prior to her call as Relief Society general president, Sister Burton served with her husband, Craig, as they presided over the Church’s Korea Seoul West Mission from 2007 to 2010.

burtons oscarsons korea news outlets

As Sister Burton and Sister Oscarson visited Korea, they met with a number of political leaders, Church members and news organizations.

sister burton senator kim

Sister Burton met with Korean Senator Kim Yong-ju, an influential woman in the Korean Assembly. They discussed the tragic ferry disaster of April 2014. The senator wore a yellow ribbon in honor of those who had lost their lives. They also talked about the Church’s interest in the success of children and families.

sister burton hugs sisters

During a gathering with approximately 1,000 Church members, Sister Burton expressed profound sorrow to the Saints regarding the ferry tragedy. She then recalled a song that was popular soon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the United States. The song was titled “One More Day.” Sister Burton asked, “What would we do if we had one more day with our loved ones who have passed away? What would we do differently today?” She also taught about how the home can be a refuge from the storms of life.

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At the same gathering, Sister Oscarson taught that people can show their true love of Christ by loving and serving others as He did.

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As Sister Burton and Sister Oscarson traveled throughout Korea, they also talked with many other Church members and held leadership training sessions with members of the Church in several cities. Local lay leaders were taught gospel principles and leadership methods.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 86,000 members in 128 congregations throughout Korea. Read more on the Korea Mormon Newsroom site (mormonnews.kr).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Young Women general president, Bonnie L. Oscarson, and her husband, Paul (left), and Relief Society general president, Linda K. Burton, and her husband, Craig (right), during their recent visit to South Korea.© 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

LDS Family Services shifts from adoption agency to adoption counseling

SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Family Services announced Tuesday it no longer will operate a full-scale adoption agency, instead shifting all of its adoption-related resources to counseling for birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.

“The adoption program of LDS Family Services is changing,” said David McConkie, the organization’s group manager for services for children. “Our goal is to provide more opportunities for LDS families to adopt. Our goal also is to provide a broader array of services, more services, to single expectant parents, unwed parents, in the church primarily.”

McConkie said his organization expects the new model will enable more LDS families to adopt because it will broaden the options for prospective adoptive parents.

LDS Family Services is a private, nonprofit corporation owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It provides professional counseling services and an addiction recovery program, among other services. For decades, it has been operating one of the largest, private, nonprofit adoption agencies in the world.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at a time when religious-based adoption agencies around the country are under pressure to facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples. LDS Family Services also has been the subject of lawsuits about fathers’ rights in adoption cases.

“None of these issues drive this decision,” McConkie said.

“This predates any of these court cases,” said Sherilyn Stinson, field group manager for the Salt Lake Valley offices of LDS Family Services.

Officials made the announcement Tuesday morning in a meeting with employees, all of whom will be retained and, if necessary, retrained.

The 600 or so couples who were in the process of waiting for adoptions through LDS Family Services will be able to complete that process if they choose, or they can move to the new model, which could increase their chances of adopting.

LDS Family Services will partner with local agencies for services it no longer will provide, such as home studies.

The consulting provided by LDS Family Services will be free.

Changes in adoption trends prompted the change. The largest pressure in domestic adoption has been the reduction in children available for adoption. As the U.S. population has increased, the number of adoptions has leveled out at about 50,000 per year.

That’s despite a marked increase in the number of unwed pregnancies, to 41 percent of U.S. births as of 2013, according to a report released last month.

Recent statistics also show that just 1 percent of births to unwed mothers result in adoption. That’s down from 9 percent in 1973.

McConkie said those statistics are similar among the LDS Church population, and that LDS Family Services hopes to provide more counseling to birth parents who choose to raise their child.

In the past, Stinson said, some LDS bishops and single expectant mothers saw Family Services as an adoption agency and expressed concern that as such, it would work to persuade mothers to place their children for adoption.

Stinson said that has not been the case, but now that Family Services will no longer be an adoption agency, she hopes bishops and birth parents will be more willing to use Family Services resources to find information about options and to connect with appropriate outside resources.

Family Services now will partner with local community resources, including adoption agencies, that will do licensed regulatory work like home studies.

Stinson said that prospective adoptive parents will benefit from the guidance Family Services will be able to provide them to plug into multiple resources.

If couples want to adopt, they should turn to LDS Family Services, Stinson said.

“We’ll teach you how to be an entrepreneur,” she said. “We’ve seen that the ones who get placement sooner are those who take control of their adoptions and who are out seeking other possibilities. That’s the shift in our role, is to empower them.”

Catholic adoption agencies in multiple U.S. cities have closed their doors in the past year because they could not, according to the Catholic News Agency, in good conscience place children with same-sex couples.

LDS Family Services also would not place children with same-sex couples, but McConkie and Stinson said discussions about the changes announced Tuesday began long before those pressures mounted.

Stinson said she long has advised her employees to earn master’s degrees and seek licensing so they could act as full-fledged counselors in anticipation of such a shift.

Read more at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865605313/LDS-Family-Services-shifts-from-adoption-agency-to-adoption-counseling.html?pg=all

Fatherhood: A Divine Responsibility to Revere

Father’s Day will be celebrated this Sunday, 15 June 2014, in the United States and some other countries. The video below, first published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2013, teaches that fatherhood is a divine responsibility to be cherished.

How Do Mormon Missionaries Learn Foreign Languages? NPR Explains

Sister missionaries being interviewed by NPR

Sister missionaries being interviewed by NPR

A piece from National Public Radio (NPR) details how missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learn languages at the faith’s missionary training center in Provo, Utah.

NPR’s story focuses on a class of missionaries learning Mandarin Chinese. These young men and women will head out to their assigned areas of service after only nine weeks of study—a small time frame, NPR notes, compared with the U.S. military’s 64-week course in Mandarin taught at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.

How does the Church teach effectively in such a short time? They accomplish it through intense classroom instruction from teachers who are former missionaries, daily practice in realistic teaching situations, and learning by and following the Holy Spirit. As one missionary tells NPR, “Everything we do is trying to learn by and with the Spirit.”

“Many other students said the same thing in one way or another,” NPR adds, “and whether you share their faith or not, the results speak for themselves.”

While the Provo MTC teaches 56 languages (31 of which require the MTC-maximum nine weeks of training), the Church also has 14 international MTCs that teach a total of 7 foreign languages. And each instructor who teaches a language is either a native speaker or is fluent thanks to his or her own missionary service.

Read more at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/npr-mormon-missionary-language-training