Significant events during 2008 made for a historic year for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The following are some of the more noteworthy events that transpired during the year:
The year began on a somber note with the passing of 97-year-old President Gordon B. Hinckley on Sunday, 27 January. Thousands of people, both Latter-day Saints and friends of other faiths, waited for hours in the cold wintery weather to attend the viewing of this beloved prophet. His funeral was attended by approximately 20,000 people in the Conference Center.
President Hinckley served as president of the Church from 1995 to 2008. He oversaw rapid progress in the building of temples worldwide and the number of missionaries serving full-time missions. The Church grew considerably during his administration and now numbers more than 13 million members worldwide.
President Hinckley’s first counselor, Thomas S. Monson, became the 16th president of the Church on 3 February. President Monson had served as first counselor to President Hinckley since March of 1995. As President Monson noted in his address at President Hinckley’s funeral, the two had been friends for a long time. “We were friends long before either one of us was called to be a general authority of the Church, and we have served side by side for over 44 years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in the First Presidency.” Serving with President Monson in the new First Presidency are President Henry B. Eyring as first counselor and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf as second counselor.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson was called as a new apostle in April. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve, passed away in December at the age of 91.
Publishing and Church History
In 2008 the Church launched a landmark literary project – the publishing of the inaugural volume of the “ Joseph Smith Papers.” Joseph Smith was the first prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church historian and recorder, has called the Joseph Smith Papers Project “the most significant Church history project of this generation.” This unprecedented compilation, published by The Church Historian’s Press, will eventually comprise 30 volumes, including journals, correspondence, discourses and written histories, as well as legal and business documents.
Sometime during 2008 the 140 millionth copy of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was distributed, passing another milestone in the book’s history. Since it was first published in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been taken worldwide by over a million missionaries. It is currently available in 107 languages.
The dedication and announcement of temples continued throughout the year. The first temple dedicated by President Monson as president of the Church was the Rexburg Idaho Temple in February. Three other temples were dedicated during the year – Curitiba Brazil in May and the Panama City Panama and Twin Falls Idaho temples in August. In November, the Mexico City Mexico Temple was rededicated.
The Rome Italy Temple was among nine temples announced in 2008. Others included three in Arizona – Gila Valley, Gilbert and Phoenix – as well as Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Kansas City, Missouri; Cordoba, Argentina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Trujillo, Peru.
Recognizing the importance of marriage to society, the Church encouraged members in California and Arizona to support broad-based coalitions to define marriage as between and man and a woman. Both ballot measures passed in November.
The Church was active in humanitarian efforts including, for example, providing relief to victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters such as the flooding in Myanmar. The Church sent dozens of semi-truck loads of supplies to the Gulf Coast to aid those affected by Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike. Many other humanitarian efforts were conducted worldwide.
Commemorating the Priesthood Revelation
On 9 June 2008, thousands packed the Salt Lake Tabernacle to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the revelation in June 1978 to extend the lay priesthood to men of all races. Church leaders and members, including many who are African American, spoke to those attending the gathering. A video was also produced to celebrate the event.
In response to an address given by Elder M. Russell Ballard, many more Latter-day Saints in 2008 began using the Internet to share and discuss their faith with others. The address by Elder Ballard was published in the Church’s Ensign magazine.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
And in 2008 a new director was appointed to lead the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Dr. Mack Wilberg was named as its director in March by Mac Christensen, president of the choir. Wilberg replaced former director Dr. Craig Jessop, who led the choir for over eight years.
Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (newsroom.lds.org)