Top Ten LDS news stories of 2007

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

1. LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, right, has some fun with newly announced First Presidency member Henry B. Eyring during the church's semiannual general conference.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

The most noteworthy LDS-related events of 2007 revolve around "presidency" — the First Presidency of the LDS Church, and the presidency of the United States.

In voting among Deseret Morning News editors and writers, the change in the church's First Presidency and church member Mitt Romney's campaign for U.S. president were selected as the top news stories for the year among topics about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.

Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints gathered on Temple Square and in chapels in various parts of the world on Aug. 14 to say farewell to President James E. Faust. The second counselor in the First Presidency died Aug. 10 at age 87.

He was eulogized during funeral services in the Salt Lake Tabernacle as a man of deep and profound wisdom with "the mind of a lawyer and the compassion of a church leader."

While some expected a quick announcement from church President Gordon B. Hinckley of who would serve as the new second counselor, it didn't come until Oct. 6, during the opening session of the semiannual general conference. Church members sustained Elder Henry B. Eyring, 74, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to fill that role.

During a news conference following the announcement, President Eyring said the emotions he felt after receiving his call included joy, inadequacy and love from the Lord. "It's a great, great feeling of opportunity, and I think an opportunity to serve the people whom I love," he said.

2. Romney campaign

Former Utah Olympic leader Mitt Romney's GOP presidential campaign attracted attention to the LDS Church — and not all of it flattering.

Romney's Mormonism was questioned repeatedly throughout the year, leading him to deliver a long-awaited speech on "Faith in America" in December at the George H.W. Bush Library in Texas.

The speech contained few details about Romney's beliefs, focusing instead on the need for religion in public life. He assured voters, however, that he would not allow authorities of any church to exert influence over his presidency.

Romney also promised never to distance himself from his religion. "My faith is the faith of my fathers — I will be true to them and to my beliefs."

3. PBS documentary

The two-part, four-hour documentary "The Mormons" was among the most-watched programs on PBS in 2007, and there were almost as many reactions as there were viewers. Award-winning filmmaker Helen Whitney didn't take an advocacy position — she neither promoted nor railed against the LDS Church — but some viewers thought it was a whitewash and others claimed it gave the church a black eye.

The statement from the LDS Church itself took a decidedly different view: "At a time when significant media and public attention is being turned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when news media is so often accused of superficiality in its coverage of religion, this serious treatment of a serious subject is a welcome change."

4. Mountain Meadows

The church expressed regret for the 1857 tragedy at Mountain Meadows, in a statement read by President Eyring during a 150th anniversary memorial of the event.

Attendance at the service included descendents of the approximately 120 members of an Arkansas wagon train killed during a siege culminating on Sept. 11, 1857, in southwestern Utah.

The church's statement in part says: "We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time."

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