2015: A Year in Review for Mormons

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LDS.net 2015 news

To close out 2015 and ring in the New Year, LDS.net compiled a list of the most important and most memorable moments in Mormon news of the past 12 months, divided into five categories.

Church News

Obama meets with LDS leaders
Church leaders participate in a 20 minute meeting with President Obama at the Sheraton Hotel. Image via KSL.

From President Barack Obama meeting with members of the First Presidency and Quorum and of Twelve in Salt Lake City, to a Handbook 1 Policy Update, there’s a lot to remember. Here’s a list of the top moments in Church News this year, in sequential order:

  • POTUS Meets With Church Leaders: Just prior to April’s General Conference, President Barack Obama met with some of the general authorities. In the POTUS’ brief meeting with President Uchtdorf and Eyring, and Elder Perry and Christofferson, the men discussed religious freedoms, non-discrimination and immigration.
  • Church Responds to Supreme Court Marriage Ruling: The Church reaffirmed its position on same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court’s ruling to make it legal in all 50 states.
  • Church Public Affairs Addresses Hot Button Issues: At a FairMormon Conference, Michael Otterson, Managing Director of Church Public Affairs, addressed some hot button issues as he set the record straight regarding the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage, official political affiliation (or rather lack thereof), the process of disciplinary councils, and more.
  • Church Stays with BSA: After the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that they would allow gay leaders, the Church decided to continue with the BSA program.
  • 12-Step Program Video: Mormon Channel released a series of heart-wrenching videos explaining it’s 12-step addiction recovery program. Each video focuses on an indvidiual’s personal struggle with various addictions and how he or she overcame the addiction with the help of the 12-step program.
  • Online Tithing: Latter-day Saints can now make all donations to the Church online, including tithing.
  • Church History Museum Re-opens: After one year of closure for renovations, the Church History Museum re-opened it’s doors, boasting stunning new exhibits.
  • Church Essays: The Church published two new essays on LDS.org, providing additional insight into women, the priesthood and the temple, and Heavenly Mother.
  • Church Asks Members to Help Refugees: In a letter to Church members, the First Presidency asked individuals to help refugees, if reasonably possible, as war has forced many families in the Middle East out of their homes. The leaders concluded the letter, saying, May the Lord bless you as you render Christlike service to those in need.” 
  • Church Releases Policy Update to Handbook 1: Late in the year, the Church updated it’s policy regarding same-sex marriage and children living with same-sex parents. Individuals who enter into a cohabiting or marital same-sex relationship are considered apostates and must go through disciplinary action. In addition, children living with same-sex parents must delay their baptism until they are of legal age and no longer living with their parents. Elder D. Todd Christofferson provided more clarification in a video interview. The First Presidency released a letter, along with an official statement from the Managing Director of Church Public Affairs, further explaining these updates.

Change in Leadership

Following the passing of Elder Perry, Elder Packer and Elder Scott (pictured top, left to right), Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund (pictured bottom, left to right) were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Members said goodbye to three beloved apostles this year, as Elder L. Tom Perry (92) passed away on May 30, Elder Boyd K. Packer (90) passed away on July 3, and Elder Richard G. Scott (86) passed away on September 22. These three wonderful men served the Church and their community for many years, leaving all saddened to see them pass.

With three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Thomas S. Monson called three new apostles: Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund. The passing of Elder Packer also left a vacancy for President of the Quorum of the Twelve, which Russell M. Nelson filled as the oldest member of the Quorum.

Changes also occurred with the calling of a new Presidency of the Seventy and Presiding Bishopric.

Temple News

TijuanaMexico Temple
Tijuana Mexico Temple. Image via mormonnewsroom.org.

2015 was a busy year for the Church with the building of temples. President Monson announced three new temples, the Church held ground breaking ceremonies for five temples to commemorate the start of construction, and Church leaders dedicated another seven temples.

In addition to the awesome progression the Church is making with the construction of new temples, the Church also released a new temple policy in 2015. This policy better accommodates families as it hopes to change the inconvenience for families who want to do baptisms together by allowing them the ability to schedule an appointment at their designated temple to do the proxy work.

Missionary Work

LDS missions
Map of the newly created Central Eurasion Mission.

In January, the Church created 11 new missions to keep up with the increased number of missionaries choosing to serve since the age requirement was lowered in October 2012.

In July, the Church added a 12th new mission for the year, the Central Eurasian Mission, which includes six different countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan), with the mission president and his wife residing in Turkey. 

The Church also re-opened Liberia and Sierra Leone to missionary work following 2014’s Ebola outbreak. The Church started sending missionaries back in early September following the World Health Organization’s declaration that the countries are Ebola free. Elder David A. Bednar even visited Liberia to prove it is safe for missionaries. 

Top 2015 Articles

Neon Trees

Looking back on 2015, LDS.net wanted to share some of our favorite articles from this year. Check out our list, in no particular order, below:

  • “The District”… Where Are They Now?: Ever wondered what happened to some of your favorite missionaries from “The District” training videos? This article provides updates on the different missionaries and what they have been up to since returning home from their missions.
  • LDS Teen Model Becomes Instantly Famous in Europe: Lucky Blue Smith, a 6’3” sixteen-year-old from Utah, became an “Insta-famous” male Mormon model on Instagram. 
  • Lindsey Stirling, Piano Guys Help with Miracle Conversion Story: In January of 2015, some of the most talented LDS musicians filed into a nondescript Institute building in Orem, Utah. Lindsey Stirling, Jon Schmidt and Marshall McDonald, all came to witness the culmination of a long string of miracles. Matt Janovsky, a Pittsburgh native and extraordinary violinist, was being baptized, and Steven Sharp Nelson, the cellist of the Piano Guys, would be performing the honors. Matt’s conversion story begins with what he describes as a miracle.
  • Neon Trees Supports BYU, Takes Stand Against Porn on ‘Late Night’: When Neon Trees performed their new single on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in July, two bandmates proudly sported t-shirts familiar to many Latter-day Saints. Elaine Bradley, the drummer, proudly sported a “Porn Kills Love” t-shirt (a campaign launched by Fight the New Drug), while Branden Campbell, bassist, wore a BYU t-shirt. 
  • Never-Before-Seen Letter on Doubt By Hugh B. Brown: Advice Hugh B. Brown (a former member of the First Presidency) gave nearly 70 years ago has finally been published for all to read.
  • Rome Temple—Martyrs, Missionaries, and Murals: With an inside look into the Rome Italy Temple, learn about how the temple location was prepared, the history and future of Rome, Church growth in the area, and the beautiful temple mural.
  • New Garment Sizing for Women: Latter-day Saint women can now buy garments that follow a new sizing chart, which are more fitted and have different styled hems to help the garment lie flat. Garment bottoms are fitted according to the size of an individual’s hip size. Women can now purchase garment tops according to specific bra sizes.
  • ABC To Show Temple Garments on New Show: When members found out that ABC’s new show, “Quantico,” would show a character in temple garments worn by Latter-day Saints, some members of the Church let ABC know how they felt.
  • 27 More of the Funniest #ThugMormon Tweets: After a radio host called BYU football players “thug Mormons,” the social media response was hilarious.
  • The 9 Facebook Myths About the Church’s New LGBT Policy: After the Church made a policy update to Handbook 1, many myths and incorrect speculations began circulating around social media. This article made an effort to set the record straight.

Kylie is a writer at LDS.net and graduate of BYU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She grew up in a Chicago suburb where she gained a passion for the Chicago Cubs. She enjoys writing and live event video production.