It was a year that saw three beloved apostles transition to their next calling and a trio of temples announced in areas of the world where members of the LDS Church had previously traveled to neighboring nations to visit a House of the Lord.
Not since 1906 had the Church faced so many vacancies on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as Elder L. Tom Perry, President Boyd K. Packer and Elder Richard G. Scott each passed away in 2015 following remarkable tenures as general authorities.
Elder Perry departed in May after 41 years as an apostle. He was 92. President Packer, who was ordained an apostle in 1970 and served as president of the Quorum of the Twelve since 2008, followed in June at the age of 90. In September, Elder Scott passed on at 86 after 27 years as an apostle.
In October, at the 185th Semi-Annual General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson paid tribute to his fellow leaders and cherished friends.
“They have returned to their heavenly home,” Pres. Monson said. “We miss them. How grateful we are for their examples of Christlike love and for the inspired teachings they have left to all of us.”
At the same conference, successors to the late apostles were announced. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Dale G. Renlund and Elder Gary E. Stevenson will carry the mantle as special witnesses of the Savior.
“These are men dedicated to the work of the Lord,” Pres. Monson said of the newest additions to the quorum. “They are well qualified to fill the important positions to which they have been called.”
The October gathering in Salt Lake City also included the historic announcement of three new temples in Haiti, Thailand and the Ivory Coast. The news was met with celebration by those in each nation who will now have a temple within their country’s respective boundaries for the first time.
Temples in Cordoba, Argentina, Payson, Utah, Trujillo, Peru, Indianapolis, Indiana and Tijuana, Mexico were dedicated in 2015. There are currently 144 temples in operation with another five being renovated and 13 being built. Another 13 are in various stages of design leading up to construction. In 1990, there were 44 temples in operation worldwide.
Church membership now numbers nearly 15.4 million, up from 7.7 million in 1990.
Locally, the Spokane Stake underwent some leadership changes of its own as longtime Stake President B. James Lee completed a distinguished term and was succeeded by President Darrell Lee Moseley. Lee’s counselors, President Douglas R. Fredrickson and President Dennis R. Dipo were replaced by President Christopher James Holland and President Matthew Morrison Borders.
In June, the Latter-day Sentinel celebrated its sixth anniversary of publishing good news from throughout the Spokane Temple District. On Aug. 30, the Sentinel bid a fond farewell to publisher Nathan Howard, a member of the Evergreen Ward in the Spokane East Stake, who passed away after a valiant three-year battle with cancer.
Following a tradition in the Sentinel over the past several years, the first issue of this New Year reflects on some of the best quotes from stories over the past 12 months. As 2016 dawns, we look forward to bringing you more gospel-centered content that inspires and enriches.
“I’m anticipating a lot of hard work and relying on the Lord. I know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to serve a mission. If a college wasn’t going to be OK with that, I’d have to rule them out. Everyone at Gonzaga has been totally supportive of my decision to serve a mission. It’s been awesome.”
- Jesse Wade, Gonzaga University basketball recruit currently serving an LDS mission in Lyon, France (“Priorities of a point guard – Gonzaga recruit puts basketball on hold for LDS mission” – Jan. 24, 2015)
“This was historic for us to have something like this happen in one of our chapels in Spokane, Washington. I am overwhelmed with Happy’s recitation and the response. It couldn’t have been better.”
- Spokane East Stake President Greg Mott commenting on a devotional held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Spokane East Stake Center and the version of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by local Pastor Happy Watkins. (“Freedom Devotional celebrates faith, diversity, community strength” – Feb. 11, 2015)
“Whether it is a movie or a concert, all BYU Management Society events serve the purpose of raising scholarship funds for the young people right here in our community. When you attend or sponsor a BYU Management Society event, you are making it possible for more students to receive financial support for their educational pursuits.”
- Spokane Valley Stake resident Shaun Brown describing the impact of the local chapter of the BYU Management Society (“BYU Management Society in the business of community enrichment” – March 26, 2015)
“Kyle is an outstanding student and very representative of the Church and is what you’d hope from someone who is a returned missionary, doing the things they ought to. He is a great example of what we like on our team, someone who is a complete person who has school and the Church as very important parts of his life.”
- BYU Associate Track and Field Coach Mark Robison commenting on Central Valley High School graduate and BYU senior pole vaulter Kyle Brown (“BYU vaulter soars to success, stays grounded in principles” – April 18, 2015)
“It was a great experience, especially working with our neighbors in the community. I think it was also an eye-opener for many who served. They realized that we’re no different than these people who are down on their luck. They are really humbled by their situation and have hope for a brighter future.”
- Darin Christensen, one of over 40 volunteers from the West Valley Ward in the Spokane Valley Stake who donated time to Family Promise, a nonprofit program that provides transitional housing and support for local homeless families (“Family Promise brings hope, fellowship to less fortunate neighbors” – May 16, 2015)
“I often talk to my clients about the idea that my mind is like the ultimate time traveler trying to take me back to the past or jump me forward into the future, but never wanting me to stay in the present moment. I have to train myself to be still and mindful of my present experiences and choices. I don’t want to be on auto-pilot. I was given agency or the ability to act for myself and not to be acted upon, even by my mind. I want to use that ability.”
- Jason Richardson, a counselor with the Spokane office of LDS Family Services, describing an approach to minimizing stress (“The quest for calm – Reducing stress through spiritual strategies” – June 6, 2015)
“It took us nearly a year to plan and organize this event. A lot of thought and prayer went into figuring out where we should have the trek and figuring out the right people to have in place to make it successful.”
- Jennifer Folsom, first counselor in the Spokane East Stake Young Women’s Presidency, recounting preparations for last summer’s pioneer trek in central Washington that included around 300 youth participants. (“Pioneer spirit alive amidst Spokane East Stake trek” – July 15, 2015)
“It has cemented our marriage and helped us to shoulder many challenges in our lives and in our family. I wish I could explain to people who do not have this blessing what an extraordinary experience and privilege it has been and continues to be for us. The gospel helps me to continue to make personal course corrections which make life better and better.”
- Gloria Kisebach, a member of the Moran Prairie Ward in the Spokane Stake, reflecting on her life since she and her husband, Ted, joined the Church in 1980. (“Conversion commemoration – Former missionary, local couple reflect on baptism 35 years ago” – Aug. 13, 2015)
“Every positive encounter with the Church brings people one step closer. We are not responsible for how others respond to our invitations but we are responsible for what we choose to do. At times, it has been a little scary to talk to people but I have never once regretted it when I did talk to them and invited them. I only regretted it when I didn’t.”
- Melonie Mullen, who served with her husband, President Don Mullen, from 2012 to 2015 as the “first couple” in the Spokane, WA. LDS Mission (“Mullens reflect on rewarding missionary tenure in Spokane” – Sept. 19, 2015)
“I don’t want to complain because I don’t want to be ungrateful for all I’ve been blessed with. Also, I think about others that are worse off than me. If I’m bitter, I’m not making a positive difference.”
- Former Sentinel Publisher Nathan Howard describing his emphasis on resilience and gratitude in the face of trials (“Gospel served as foundation, springboard for late Sentinel publisher” – Nov. 14, 2015)
“We have the best customers, they are so nice. I work in a great environment with beautiful music and the Spirit, every day. I have the opportunity to share the gospel and help others while I help provide for my family.”
- Cori Wright, co-owner of The Brass Plates in Spokane Valley which became an independent Deseret Book store last year (“Brass Plates celebrates new chapter as independent Deseret Book store” – Dec. 19, 2015)