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ChurchBeat: 4 times President Nelson has talked to the media

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President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong sit for an interview with reporters in Papeete, Tahiti, at the conclusion of a ministry through the South Pacific on May 25, 2019.

Tad Walch

This article was first published in the ChurchBeat newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox weekly.

President Russell M. Nelson has addressed reporters several times since he was ordained the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are a few of the most memorable moments:

  • Jan. 16, 2018: President Nelson spoke at a press conference directly following a broadcast introducing him and his counselors as the new First Presidency of the church.

What he said: “I declare my devotion to God our Eternal Father, and to his Son, Jesus Christ. I know them, love them and pledge to serve them — and you — with every remaining breath of my life.”

Read more.

  • April 12, 2018: Three months into his administration and immediately after a general conference with major announcements, President Nelson circumnavigated the globe to minister to Latter-day Saints in eight countries. At his first stop, he talked about why he was undertaking such an ambitious schedule.

What he said: “The Lord’s message is for everyone. This is a global work. Whenever I’m comfortably situated in my home, I’m in the wrong place. I need to be where the people are. We need to bring them the message of the Savior. The message is to invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior and enjoy the blessings of the temple, have enduring joy and qualify for eternal life. And that will bring hope, help and lift to all people.”

Read more.

  • Oct. 28, 2018: President Nelson spoke to reporters after dedicating the Concepcion Chile Temple at the end of his South American ministry in the fall of 2018. He said the rate of change instituted in the first year of his administration would only accelerate.

What he said: “If you think the church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There’s much more to come. Wait till next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.”

Watch more.

  • July 21, 2019: Before speaking to the NAACP’s annual national convention in Detroit, Michigan, President Nelson spoke briefly with reporters. I asked him specifically about the origin of a phrase he’d used repeatedly around the world, saying that people should “build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”

“I don’t know that I can cite a specific time, but much of my thinking has come from my work opening up the countries of Eastern Europe under the yoke of Communism. Those were very, very difficult times. It was then I realized that as long as people are under dictatorships, they’re limited. As long as people are imprisoned by labels, they’re limited by those labels. Really, if they can get rid of the shackles that limit them, they can grow, they can be free. So the building of bridges which lead to understanding are more productive than building walls of segregation. The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain and all those things, they’re limiting. The Gospel of Jesus Christ liberates people from labels that would otherwise limit and restrict the capacity for continuing progress.”

See more places where he has used the phrase about building bridges.

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What I’m Reading ...

The centerpiece story on TheAtlantic.com on Wednesday was a nearly 9,000-word feature on the church that included an exclusive interview with President Nelson. The story, titled “The Most American Religion,” also will appear in the pages of the January/February issue of The Atlantic.

Zimbabwe’s president attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple.

After a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Deseret News editorial board published an opinion saying that “religious freedom protections just got a lot sturdier.”

Was a major college football coach discriminated against because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? An important national college football reporter broke the story that Utah State University players opted out of the final game of their season over alleged comments by the university’s president. The coach released a statement and so did the president, as the university launched an independent investigation. There is more to come, since no recording has surfaced and the players have not described what the president said.

Major League Baseball officially elevated the old Negro Leagues to Major League status. That means the records of 3,400 former Negro Leaguers now are considered part of big league history. That means, for example, that several hits Willie Mays got as a Negro Leaguer before he reached the Majors will now be added to his Major League statistics.

Richard Deitsch wrote a great piece on a college football sideline reporter who has worked this fall while pregnant. Because it’s behind a paywall, I’ll share a freely available link to a story he did five years ago with four women in sports media on their experiences of working while pregnant.

Don’t forget to watch for the Christmas star on Dec. 21. Here’s when and how to see it.


President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong sit for an interview with reporters in Papeete, Tahiti, at the conclusion of a ministry through the South Pacific on May 25, 2019.

Tad Walch