Looking Back at 2019

2019 Year in Review

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes seriously Jesus Christ’s charge to take His good news to “all nations” (Matthew 28:19). In 2019, the Church’s First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and leaders of its children and women traveled all over the world to minister to the Saints and build bridges of understanding with community and national leaders. Latter-day Saint Charities, as well as everyday Church members everywhere, continued the important work of blessing the world’s poor. These efforts, along with many notable news items that include policy adjustments and announcements of what is coming in 2020, made for another busy and fruitful year in the Latter-day Saint world.

President Nelson and Other Leaders Minister Around the World

President Russell M. Nelson continued apace with his global ministry. The prophet traveled to countries in the Pacific, Latin America and Asia. He also visited several locations within the United States, including California, Arizona and Florida. In all, he and his wife, Wendy, traveled more than 100,000 miles and spoke to hundreds of thousands of Saints and many religious and government leaders. He visited Pope Francis at the Vatican, spoke at the NAACP’s national convention in Detroit, comforted Muslims in New Zealand and welcomed a Vietnamese delegation, the Cuban ambassador, and the leader of the Muslim World League to Temple Square.


President Nelson became the 17th president of the Church in January 2018. Since then, he has traveled across North America and to Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific and South America to minister.

President Nelson wasn’t alone in his global ministry. See a list of Newsroom articles covering the ministry of other members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as well as that of the Church’s leaders of children and women.


The Church’s Global Humanitarian Response Continues

Latter-day Saint Charities continued carrying out its purpose to relieve suffering, foster self-reliance and provide opportunities for service around the world. In May, the Church’s humanitarian arm donated $4 million to refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. In April and October, it joined with other partners in a global effort to eliminate neonatal tetanus in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They also partnered to donate hospital beds in Papua New Guinea, assemble meals for children at a United Nations conference and help spouses of U.S. governors assemble hygiene kits for children in need.


The Church also helped the Muslim community in New Zealand after a gunman killed 51 worshippers in Christchurch in March. In May, President Nelson donated $100,000 on behalf of the Church to help Muslims in New Zealand rebuild the two mosques attacked in March. Local Latter-day Saints joined others in the community to donate food and other supplies to Muslim families impacted by the shootings.

These are just a few of many, many more examples of how the Church is helping those in need around the world. A more detailed report will be provided in the Latter-day Saint Charities Annual Report, which will be released the first quarter of 2020.

Notable News of 2019

For the second year in a row, Church leadership announced significant changes that affect a wide swath of Latter-day Saints.

Three notable policy modifications

In April, the Church outlined a new policy for children of LGBT couples and for those in same-sex marriages. Later in the year, President Nelson reiterated that love was the motive for the policy modification.

In May, the Church announced that a civil marriage between a man and a woman will no longer necessitate waiting a year for that couple to be married (or sealed) in a temple. The change means Latter-day Saint couples can look forward to a temple marriage as soon as their circumstances permit.


And in October, President Nelson announced a new Church policy related to the witnessing of ordinances, including baptisms performed in chapels and temples. The new policy says that (1) any baptized member of the Church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person; (2) proxy baptism for a deceased person may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use temple recommend; and (3) any endowed member with a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing ordinances, living and proxy.

Changes to honor the correct name of The Church of Jesus Christ

Throughout the year, the Church made changes to many of its communication channels to reflect the faith’s full name and better convey commitment to follow Jesus Christ. To date, the Church has corrected its name in the email addresses of 33,000 leaders and employees, updated 300 web-based apps and changed 95 percent of the outward-facing references to its name.


16 new temples announced, 7 rededicated, 6 dedicated

President Nelson announced plans to build 16 new temples. Since becoming Church president in January 2018, President Nelson has announced 35 new temples. Aside from when former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced some 30 new smaller temples in 1998, no other Church president has announced more temples in such a short period of time.

Also in 2019, the Church completed and dedicated six new temples (in Arequipa, Peru; Fortaleza, Brazil; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Lisbon, Portugal; and Rome) and rededicated seven temples (in Asunción, Paraguay; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Frankfurt, Germany; Memphis, Tennessee; Oakland, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Raleigh, North Carolina).


President Nelson also announced that the Salt Lake Temple will close at the end of 2019 for approximately four years of major structural and seismic renovation.

Modified temple recommend interview questions

In October, President Nelson read an updated list of questions Church members will be asked when receiving a temple recommend.


New global youth initiative unveiled

In September and November, leaders unveiled in full the new children and youth initiative that will replace the current programs for young women and young men (including Scouting) in 2020. The new program focuses on developing faith in Christ through balanced growth. At the October general conference, Church leaders introduced other changes to Aaronic Priesthood Quorums and Young Women classes that will give young men and young women more opportunity for all-around growth.


Adjustments to the missionary program

In February, the First Presidency announced that missionaries may communicate with their families on their weekly preparation day via text messages, online messaging, phone calls and video chat in addition to letters and emails. In November, the Church published a new handbook of instructions for missionaries serving around the world.


Launch of the Book of Mormon Videos series

The first dozen-plus videos of the Book of Mormon Videos series were released. Many of these videos come in time to enhance Latter-day Saints’ Churchwide study in 2020 of this sacred text written to convince the world that “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Book of Mormon title page). Additional videos that cover Mosiah through the end of the Book of Mormon will be released in 2020 and 2021.


April 2020 general conference will be “different from any previous conference”

President Nelson said the April 2020 general conference “will be different from any previous conference” because it “will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel.” Spring 2020 marks 200 years since Joseph Smith’s inaugural vision of the Father and the Son, known by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the First Vision. The First Presidency also announced that the April 2020 general conference will be unique in another way: The Saturday evening session will be for all Latter-day Saints ages 11 and up.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.