News Release

Utah Governor Declares ‘President M. Russell Ballard Day’

The Apostle is honored for his commitment to community, history, bridge building and interfaith solidarity

Governor Spencer J. Cox has declared July 23, 2021, “President M. Russell Ballard Day” in Utah. He made the announcement on Thursday during a press event at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

The 92-year-old President Ballard is a Utah native and has served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since January 2018. This honor comes to the Apostle, Governor Cox said, because of President Ballard’s commitment to community, history, bridge building and interfaith solidarity.

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Others who spoke Thursday were Pamela Atkinson, a community advocate; Ellis Ivory, chair and executive director of This Is The Place Heritage Park; Kem Gardner, chairman of the Days of ’47 Rodeo; Scott Anderson, president of Zions Bank; and Utah Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard, President Ballard’s daughter-in-law.

“[President Ballard] is the epitome of a truly wonderful Christian, following Christ’s teachings in all that he does,” Atkinson said.

“President Ballard has truly dedicated his life to building faith and cherishing the memory of those who have gone before and sacrificed so much for the building of this state,” added Garff Ballard.

President Ballard said he feels deep gratitude for the pioneers who founded Utah.

“The more you learn about them and the more you think about them, the more overwhelmed you are that someday you’re gonna be able to embrace them and thank them for everything they did to make this such a beautiful experience for us,” he said. “What a wonderful, wonderful place to live — Salt Lake City and the great state of Utah, where I believe our Heavenly Father has been so kind and has blessed us in so many ways.”

The text of the governor’s declaration is below.


Whereas, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a lifelong Utahn who was born and raised in Salt Lake City;

Whereas, President M. Russell Ballard is the descendant of prominent Utah pioneer families including the Ballards and Smiths and, along with his wonderful late wife, Barbara Bowen Ballard, are the parents of seven children; Clark, Holly, Meleea, Tammy, Stacey, Brynn, and Craig; 43 grandchildren and 99 great-grandchildren;

Whereas, President Ballard has worked hard to preserve the history of the great state of Utah;

Whereas, the development of, enhancements to, and beautiful upkeep of the This Is The Place Heritage Park would not be possible without the untiring commitment and efforts of President Ballard, who has inspired so many to be a part of this historic park;

Whereas, President Ballard and others have worked hard to preserve and to share the story of the sovereign tribal nations in Utah at This Is The Place Heritage Park with the creation of a Native American village that highlights their enduring cultures, customs, resilience, valor, and courage;

Whereas, on Pioneer Day we celebrate the history of our pioneer ancestors, who trekked across the country seeking a place where they could have religious freedom and worship freely and they found a home in the Salt Lake Valley;

Whereas, President Ballard has declared many times that we can’t lose Utah’s pioneer story and has highlighted how Utah pioneers were responsible for settling much of the American West and had characteristics of hard work, responsibility, faith, resilience, vision and perseverance, and has encouraged all of us to emulate those traits;

Whereas, President Ballard helped with the creation of the Walk of Pioneer Faiths that highlights the contributions of members of the Catholic, Jewish, Congregational, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Greek Orthodox faiths, alongside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and supported the growth and development of Utah and co-founded the Alliance for Unity in Utah;

Whereas, President Ballard continues to be a bridge-builder among people of all faiths and walks of life in Utah;

Whereas, we can all be modern-day pioneers by making a positive difference in our homes, schools, and communities;

Whereas, the Days of ’47 organization keeps the spirit of our shared Pioneer ancestors alive;

Whereas, because of President Ballard’s lifelong commitment and advocacy for the Days of ‘47 organization and new rodeo arena, Utahns can continue to enjoy the Pioneer Day festivities each year;

Now, Therefore, I, Spencer J. Cox, governor of the great state of Utah, do hereby declare July 23, 2021, as

President M. Russell Ballard Day in Utah

Spencer J. Cox

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.