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."
5. Tabernacle retrofit
The Salt Lake Tabernacle, one of the city's most venerable landmarks, was rededicated March 31.
The 140-year-old building, which housed the church's general conferences from 1867 until the Conference Center was completed in April 2000, was closed in late 2004 for seismic retrofitting and upgrading.Several thousand people returned to the building to witness the rededication during the Saturday afternoon session of the 177th Annual General Conference of the church. They took seats on new benches that "are as hard as the old ones," President Hinckley quipped, exhibiting his trademark sense of humor.
6. City Creek Center
Demolition and excavation work got under way in 2007 for the LDS Church's massive makeover of two downtown blocks the future site of City Creek Center.
The 20-acre development, estimated at more than $1 billion, will bring a mix of residences, retailers and office space to downtown, complete with six acres of landscaped open space and man-made waterfalls and streams representing the historic south fork of City Creek that ran through downtown when Mormon pioneers first arrived in 1847.
No public funds or tithing money are being used for the project, being developed with funding from other real estate ventures by Property Reserve Inc., the church's real estate arm.City Creek Center is on schedule for completion in mid-2011.
7. New apostle
Elder Quentin L. Cook was sustained in October as a member of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve.
The Logan native, who worked as an attorney and business executive in California before being called as a church general authority more than a decade ago, had been serving in the Presidency of the Seventy since August, as well as executive director of the church's Missionary Department.Elder Cook filled the vacancy in the quorum left by now-President Eyring.
8. Ukraine temple
Growth of the Church in Eastern Europe reached a major milestone when ground was broken for the Kiev Ukraine Temple on June 23, the first temple to be built in any country of the former Soviet Union.About 100 invited members and guests gathered in a chapel built on the five-hectare temple site. Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy and president of the Europe East Area presided over the ceremony.
9. Million missionaries
In June, the church announced that its one-millionth missionary had entered the Missionary Training Center to begin missionary service.
Nearly 400,000, or 40 percent, of all missionaries called to serve since 1830 have entered the mission field since President Hinckley became church president in 1995.More than 50,000 missionaries are serving in 145 nations, speaking 164 languages
10. Book of Mormon
News of a one-word change in the introduction to a 2006 edition of the Book of Mormon reignited discussion among some Latter-day Saints in November 2007 about the historicity of the descendants of those chronicled in its pages.
Past editions say all of the people chronicled in the book "were destroyed, except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." The new introduction reads much the same but says the Lamanites "are among the ancestors of the American Indians."The change "takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography, which are not known," according to church spokesman Mark Tuttle. "The change will be included in the next edition of the Book of Mormon printed by the church."
• SHARPTON: The Rev. Al Sharpton found "common ground" with LDS Church leaders during a visit to Salt Lake City in May. The Rev. Sharpton, a Pentecostal minister, had already apologized for an earlier comment suggesting Mormons don't believe in God. During his visit to Utah, he also attended a family home evening in Sandy.
• SAME SEX: The church released in August a new pamphlet answering frequently asked questions regarding same-sex attraction and how to deal with it. The document, "God Loveth His Children," says: "You are a son or daughter of God, and our hearts reach out to you in warmth and affection.... Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life.... God does indeed love all His children."
• 13 MILLION MEMBERS: Addressing the New Mission Presidents Seminar on June 24, President Hinckley announced that LDS Church membership had reached 13 million. More members continue to reside outside the United States than within, reflecting the global depth and diversity of worldwide membership. The first million-member milestone was reached in 1947, the second in 1963.
5 comments on this story • BYU SPEAKERS: Are Democrats or Republicans more aligned with LDS values? BYU students wrestled with that and other political questions and engaged in rare demonstrations for and against Vice President Dick Cheney as Cheney spoke at April commencement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., visited campus in October. Cheney backed the Iraq War, while Reid, an LDS Church member, called it the "worst foreign policy blunder" in U.S. history.
• HUMANITARIAN AID: In 2007, the LDS Church responded to numerous disasters, providing relief and assistance to victims in Peru, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. For example, humanitarian aid was sent immediately following a magnitude-8 earthquake that stuck southwest Peru on Aug. 15, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless. Among the 540 killed in the quake were nine Latter-day Saints. Earlier in the year, the church had sent relief supplies to Jakarta, Indonesia, after torrential rains flooded the area, killing dozens and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Contributing: Carrie A. Moore, Lisa Riley Roche, Scott D. Pierce, Greg Hill, David Schneider, Jared Page, Leigh Dethman, Shaun D. Stahle, Sarah Jane Weaver, Tad Walch