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HomeChurchCelebrating Faith in Action: The Church of Jesus Christ in 2023

Celebrating Faith in Action: The Church of Jesus Christ in 2023

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Jesus teaches His followers to pattern their lives after His, care for those in need, invite all to receive His teachings and unite families forever. These four areas comprise the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Below is a look at how the Church of Jesus Christ carried out this mission in 2023.


Caring for Those in Need

The Church’s humanitarian efforts, which total more than US$1 billion annually, continued to expand around the world. In August, the Church announced a donation of $44 million to reach children in 30 countries to support the wide-ranging global hunger relief efforts of several organizations. And in November, the Church launched an effort, spearheaded by the Relief Society, to improve the health and development of children under 5 and their mothers in 12 countries in Central America, Africa and Asia. Newsroom took a close look at how this kind of service is blessing lives in Kenya.


“We want to empower families,” Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson said. “In many cases, loving parents lack the knowledge to provide adequate nutrition for their children. With greater understanding and resources, they are better equipped to make changes that can have a lasting impact.”

Another significant aspect of the Church’s aid for people in need is the Light the World Giving Machines. These giving-focused vending machines allow people to purchase something — such as meals or vaccinations — for those in need around the globe. President Johnson and Primary General President Susan H. Porter visited the Philippines in November to help launch these machines for the island nation’s 2023 Christmas season.


This year, the machines are in 61 locations worldwide. Since Giving Machines first launched in 2017, 1.5 million people have donated more than US$22 million.

The Church of Jesus Christ sought to bless lives in myriad other ways. The faith donated $8.7 million to the American Red Cross to help purchase biomedical equipment, mobile blood donation centers and programs to assist people with cancer or sickle cell disease. The Church also gave $3 million to support a historic malaria immunization campaign in Africa. Other donations went toward greenhouses in Bosnia, warm clothing for people in Chicago, health care in Ghana, wheelchairs in Guatemala, an African American schoolhouse in Louisiana, fire relief in Maui, infant health and hurricane relief in Mexico, a shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Montreal, a prosthetics workshop in South Africa, boreholes for clean water in The Gambia, a school in Zambia — and much more.

And the Church of Jesus Christ continues to carry out Prophet and President Russell M. Nelson’s vision of caring with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

One aspect of this is supporting babies and mothers in Memphis, Tennessee. The MyBaby4Me program implemented in November 2022 is helping reduce infant mortality. The city’s 38126 ZIP code has one of the United States’ highest infant mortality rates.


Inviting All to Receive Christ’s Teachings

Messages from Prophet and President Russell M. Nelson this year focused on Christ’s teachings of forgivenesspeacemaking and celestial thinking. He also encouraged youth and young adults to further their religious education by enrolling in seminary and institute courses, and he shared lessons learned during his recovery from a back injury.


At the April general conference, the prophet taught that “whatever questions or problems you have, the answer is always found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Learn more about His Atonement, His love, His mercy, His doctrine, and His restored gospel of healing and progression. Turn to Him! Follow Him!”

Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with the Church’s General Officers, shared the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. President Dallin H. Oaks urged young adults worldwide to focus on Christ to help them overcome challenges. At the dedication of a house of the Lord in Utah, President Henry B. Eyring said the Church’s temples are a sign of the trust Christ has in His people.

At a similar event in Ohio, the late President M. Russell Ballard taught that the Church’s houses of the Lord are where covenants with Christ are made. President Ballard died on Sunday, November 12, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. He was 95 and had served as an Apostle for more than 37 years.


In addition to President Ballard, the Church also lost Sister Mary Crandall Hales (wife of Elder Robert D. Hales, who died in 2018), Sister Kathleen Eyring (wife of President Eyring) and Sister Patricia T. Holland (wife of President Jeffrey R. Holland).

Just four months after his wife’s death, President Holland rededicated the house of the Lord in their native St. George, Utah. “We need to try to be outside the temple the way we are inside the temple,” President Holland said of the sacred space where Latter-day Saints learn the purpose of life and are united as families for eternity. “We need to remember the pledges and the promises and the hopes and the dreams. If we could take those outside the temple, we’d change the world.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf strengthened ties with ambassadors and representatives from nine countries (eight of them from Asia) and several U.S. senators. “We want everyone to know that … our activities of humanitarian help, emotional support and spiritual enlightenment center around the One who is our exemplar and who leads us — Jesus Christ.” In Mexico, Elder David A. Bednar shared a message of peace and hope, inviting people to “fear not, doubt not” and lift “every thought” to Christ. At a gathering in New York to thank interfaith leaders for their service to children, Elder Quentin L. Cook said it is important to recognize people who are “working day and night to bless our Heavenly Father’s children” because “we are all sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.”


In Ghana, Elder D. Todd Christofferson told the country’s president that the Church of Jesus Christ seeks to “strengthen families and help individuals become good citizens.” In Brazil, Elder Neil L. Andersen shared a Book of Mormon verse about Christ’s love for children with the country’s first lady. And in Armenia, Elder Ronald A. Rasband encouraged missionaries in their work of spreading Christ’s gospel.

Church leaders announced 36 new missions will open in July 2024 to accommodate rising numbers of missionaries (now at more than 72,000). This puts the total number of missions at 450 — the highest number in Church history.

“This is not the plateau,” Elder Rasband said. “We’re going to continue to see this growth. And The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is going to fill the earth as prophesied by the prophets of old.”


In March, President Johnson and former Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon spent nine days in Africa. They ministered in Kenya, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We’ve talked to the leaders of the governments that have had a desire to help families, and we have been so impressed with the leaders who want to follow Jesus Christ,” President Cordon said. “As faith-based leaders, we share a common goal to help build families.”

President Porter of the Primary General Presidency and Sister Kristin M. Yee, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, ministered for nine days in March to Saints in several Asian and Pacific countries. President Porter, who leads the Church’s children around the globe, told the little ones she visited that Jesus Christ loves them. She also invited them to lead their families and friends to Jesus Christ.

In Okinawa, Sister Yee assured Latter-day Saint youth that the highest councils of the Church love and pray for them and the “Lord is pouring out His spirit upon them to help strengthen” them.


The Church’s new Young Women General President, Emily Belle Freeman, joined Sister J. Anette Dennis of the Relief Society General Presidency for a 10-day ministry trip to Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in November.

At the Ghana Missionary Training Center, President Freeman challenged missionaries to “open your mind to inspiration. Then you can know the answers to your own questions and those of the people that you teach. Through your diligence, you will be successful missionaries and bless the lives of those you serve.”


In a visit to dedicate a temple in Japan, Elder Gary E. Stevenson said the new house of the Lord in Okinawa is a “symbol of peace” in a place that saw the final battle of World War II. At the annual illumination of the Washington D.C. Temple Christmas lights, Elder Dale G. Renlund said the lights are a reminder that “Jesus Christ came to earth to be the light of the world.” Elder Gerrit W. Gong strengthened interfaith ties in Ghana, telling the nation’s chief imam that “we too believe that we come from the same parents and should live in harmony as one family.”

During a broadcast on national TV in Chile, Elder Ulisses Soares told viewers, “We are here to serve you. We represent the Lord Jesus Christ and want to share the love that He has for you through our dedicated service. We love all people because we follow the commandment to love God first and love one another.”


The first public remarks of the newest Apostle, Elder Patrick Kearon, were made to university students in Hawaii. He shared his witness of Jesus Christ.

“I testify of the reality of our loving Father in Heaven, who hears your every prayer, [and of] His living Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the infinite atoning gift of the Redeemer of us all, Elder Kearon said. “There has been a restoration of eternal knowledge and truth. It continues now and will continue until that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns. Each of you is loved in ways that you cannot comprehend.”


Uniting Families Forever

The houses of the Lord of the Church of Jesus Christ are where Latter-day Saints participate in sacred ceremonies that unite families forever. Latter-day Saint leaders dedicated 13 of these sacred structures in 2023, and President Nelson announced construction of 35 more.

This prolific and unprecedented season of temple construction has moved Church leaders to consider ways to expedite construction while maintaining the same high-quality craftsmanship. For example, modular construction was used to build the house of the Lord in Helena, Montana, which opened earlier this year.


One of the 13 new houses of the Lord is in Bangkok, Thailand. This is the first temple in Thailand and the third in Southeast Asia. Anurat Kaeocha, the temple’s construction manager, said he knew nothing of the Church of Jesus Christ before the building process began in 2019. In 2022, he decided to learn more about why a house of the Lord is so important to Latter-day Saints.

A few months later, he joined the Church.


Meanwhile, the renovation of several of the faith’s pioneer-era temples continued throughout the year. For example, on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake Temple, some 200,000 pounds of steel beams were temporarily installed to shore up the walls of the temple. Fifty-thousand-ton hydraulic jacks, along with a hydraulic manifold system, were installed on the beams. The weight bearing on the pioneer temple walls was transferred to this steel system while retrofitting of the seismic upgrade took place on the floors below.


“Spending more time in the temple builds faith. And your service and worship in the temple will help you to think celestial,” said the prophet, who has announced 153 new temples since 2018. “The temple is a place of revelation. There you are shown how to progress toward a celestial life. There you are drawn closer to the Savior and given greater access to His power. There you are guided in solving the problems in your life, even your most perplexing problems. The ordinances and covenants of the temple are of eternal significance. … The Lord is directing us to build these temples to help us think celestial.”

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