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The Zoom call included a prophet, an apostle and a church communications expert. It was September 2020, and the pandemic was raging.
An idea was considered by President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Ronald A. Rasband and the managing director of Church Communications, Michael Colemere: Should President Nelson record a message of hope for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Sheri Dew also was on the Zoom call, and this week she told the story of what happened next to a BYU-Pathway Worldwide student audience as she bore witness to what she called the tremendous privilege of having prophets on the earth today.
“President Nelson told them to ‘sprinkle a little fertilizer’ on the idea and bring it back to him the following week,” said Dew, who is executive vice president of Deseret Management Corp., which owns the Deseret News.
President Nelson didn’t wait a week. He pulled together the same group again the next day.
“He told us our idea wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t right,” Dew said. “During the night he had had the strong impression that he did indeed need to record a message — but for the world, not just for church members. The message was to be about expressing gratitude to God, and it needed to include a prayer for the world. He told us the day and time the video should be released and even how long his message should be.”
That was a challenge for the communications specialists. Dew said the team of videographers, editors, translators and other experts “never recommended a video as long as the one President Nelson specified. Nor would they have suggested releasing it on a Friday.”
The church released the video on multiple YouTube and social media channels on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Nearly 270,000 people waited on English-language YouTube channel in the minutes before it was posted. Millions across the globe viewed it.
“Wilt Thou bless us with a healing spirit that unites us despite our differences,” President Nelson asked in his prayer. “Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride and prejudice of any kind so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters and as Thy grateful children.”
Dew, who served as second counselor in the church’s Relief Society general presidency from 1997-2002, related the story as she delivered a BYU-Pathway Worldwide devotional on Tuesday.
“That video’s reach through social media and various international television networks dwarfed anything the church had ever released, especially to those not of our faith,” Dew said. “Never before had so many people heard a prophet’s voice. And why? Because we heeded the counsel of a seer, who could see things we could not see.”
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A 20-year-old Tongan Latter-day Saint woman considering a mission first will compete in the Olympics next week in weightlifting. Good luck to you, Kuinini “Nini” Manumua!
The Latter-day Saint contribution to the 1849 Gold Rush — which led to the name of the San Francisco 49ers, by the way — is often overlooked. Lots of great tidbits in this story about Mormon Island, which has been exposed by drought for the first time in six years. Here are some images of Mormon Island from ghosttowns.com.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is back! “Music and the Spoken Word” will resume live broadcasts on Sept. 19 and will add a live audience on Oct. 10. The choir will sing live at general conference in three sessions on Oct. 2-3. The choir is “hopeful” that it will have a Christmas concert in December.
This is a fun video of a sister missionary in the Philippines draining 3-point and half-court shots while inviting people to learn about Jesus Christ.
Behind the Scenes
The Church News recently published an inside look at the way the First Presidency functions as a council. This photo was published with the story and shows President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, at the start of their weekly First Presidency meeting in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.