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Senior Latter-day Saint leader to speak at National Press Club near White House

The late President Gordon B. Hinckley is the last senior church leader to speak at the National Press Club, in 2000

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Elder David A. Bednar speaks at a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 2021.

Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 2, 2021.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For the first time in 22 years, a senior leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is scheduled to speak at the National Press Club, one block from the White House in Washington, D.C.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will speak May 26 at the club’s Headliners lunch meeting, which begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT, according to a National Press Club news release.

Elder Bednar is a senior member of the quorum, the second-highest governing body in the church, whose members at times are called Mormons. He also is the former president of Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The late President Gordon B. Hinckley, then 89, was the church’s president and prophet when he spoke at the National Press Club in March 2000. He received a standing ovation. The transcript of his remarks is available here. The transcript of the Q&A is here.

C-SPAN’s video of President Hinckley’s presentation, “Standing for Something,” can be seen here.

Latter-day Saint President Gordon B. Hinckley, left, answers questions at the National Press Club in March 2000.

President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints smiles while fielding questions from Jack Cushman, an editor in The New York Times’ Washington Bureau and president of the National Press Club at the club’s Headliner lunch in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2000.

National Press Club YouTube channel

Among those on the dais with President Hinckley that day were legendary Washington Post owner, publisher and chairwoman Katherine Graham, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, and Marriott International President and CEO J. Willard Marriott.

Elder Bednar is expected to speak about the church’s response to the war in Ukraine, its efforts to address food shortages in sub-Saharan Africa and how it educates nearly 1 million young people a year, the news release said.

It also would be natural for Elder Bednar to note that the church’s Washington D.C. Temple — 10 miles north of the National Press Club and a regional landmark — is open to public tours until June 11, the first time the public has been able to see inside in 48 years.

Elder Bednar recently led the first media tours of the Washington D.C. Temple in 48 years. CBS Sunday Morning aired a five-minute segment on the tour he led for a CBS News crew.

He also published an article on Medium answering questions about Latter-day Saint temples.

Headliner lunch speakers are selected based on newsworthiness related to issues of the day, national or international stature and influence, and exclusivity — how much a speaker is available to the press.

Elder Bednar has traveled around the world preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, organizing the church and speaking to international bodies.

For example, he spoke to the 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum, which originated in Saudi Arabia. Last fall, he visited Jordan, Egypt and United Arab Emirates, where he visited Expo 2020 in Dubai.

He has been on the forefront of Latter-day Saint leadership’s efforts to create understanding about Muslims and root out bias against Islam. He also helped oversee the church’s family history efforts, including FamilySearch and RootsTech.

At the 2019 RootsTech conference, he presented a $2 million donation from the church to the forthcoming International African American Museum Center for Family History.

The club’s news release said the Church of Jesus Christ is one of the fastest-growing religions in America and has a global membership of nearly 17 million.

Elder Bednar, 69, was born in Oakland, California. The former high school quarterback earned a doctoral degree in organizational behavior at Purdue University and was a business management professor at Texas Tech University and the University of Arkansas.

An apostle since 2004, he is the author or co-author of at least six books, two on organizational behavior and four about the gospel of Jesus Christ, learning and personal development.

Elder Bednar’s remarks at the National Press Club are scheduled to begin promptly at 1 p.m. A question-and-answer period will follow. Questions for Elder Bednar may be submitted in advance by sending an email with the subject line LDS to headliners@press.org. The deadline for submitting questions in advance is 10 a.m. EDT on May 26.

Tickets for the lunch are $25 for National Press Club members and $45 for general admission. Members should log in at press.org to purchase discounted tickets.

Visitors to the National Press Club must show proof of vaccination upon entry.

Past Headliner lunches have been streamed live on the National Press Club’s YouTube channel.

Last month’s headliner was Fran Drescher, actress and president of the labor union the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — which represents film and television actors.

Other recent speakers include members of Congress, journalists like Dan Rather and Scott Pelley, and Ambassador John Bolton.