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Samuel the Lamanite, President Nelson, and COVID-19
Kirk Magleby's picture
Post contributed by Kirk Magleby
September 3, 2020
President Russel M. Nelson and a painting of Samuel the Lamanite by Arnold Friberg.
President Russel M. Nelson and a painting of Samuel the Lamanite by Arnold Friberg.

Cross-posted from Book of Mormon Resources.

Helaman 16:13 describes a time when the Nephites could plainly see that the words of prophets such as Samuel the Lamanite and Nephi son of Helaman were being fulfilled before their eyes. Many did not believe the larger narrative (the Savior would soon be born), but they could not deny the prophets among them had been inspired.

We see a similar phenomenon in 2020. In October Conference, 2018, the Prophet Russell M. Nelson and Apostle Quentin L. Cook announced that weekly Church meetings would be shortened from three hours to two. Then, in January, 2019, the Church began following the excellent new Come Follow Me curriculum and the phrase "home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning" entered our vocabulary. Who could have guessed that by March, 2020, the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic would become a pandemic and church meetings would be temporarily suspended around the world? We have over a year's experience teaching, learning, and sharing the gospel in our homes during the third hour on the Sabbath. Individuals, families, and ministering brothers and sisters are well-prepared to carry on Sabbath devotional activities in private homes.

In October Conference, 2019, the Prophet Russell M. Nelson said General Conference in April, 2020 would be "different from any previous conference" and "a unique conference." He then promised that "general conference next April will be not only memorable; it will be unforgettable." Who could have guessed that a global virus outbreak would lead the Church to transmit April conference virtually, with members gathering in their homes rather than in the Conference Center or in Stake Centers?

In a stake conference transmitted to members in the Houston, TX area on Sunday, August 16, 2020, Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy said these seven emphases and policy changes show that the Prophet and Apostles receive revelation from God that directly benefits our lives:

  1. For years, while he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, Pres. Nelson emphasized improving our personal Sabbath Day observance. See his General Conference address, "The Sabbath is a Delight," Sunday, April 5, 2015. Now in the COVID era, it is up to each of us as individuals to honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy Exodus 20:8
  2. In General Conference on Sunday, April 1, 2018, Pres. Nelson announced that home teaching and visiting teaching would be replaced by a new, holier form of serving others called "ministering." Now in the COVID era, how many ministering brethren have helped those they serve partake of the Sacrament in their homes?
  3. Home-centered, Church-supported worship with time in Church reduced from 3 to 2 hours was announced in General Conference by Pres. Nelson and Elder Cook on Saturday, October 6, 2018. Now in the COVID era, we know what home-centered, Church-supported really means.
  4. On Monday, December 31, 2018, families in the Church began using a new unified curriculum entitled "Come Follow Me." For the first time ever, Primary children, young men and young women, men, and women were all studying the same material during the week and on Sunday. Now, in the COVID era, we realize how important it is to have the entire family unified in their gospel study. 
  5. Monday, May 6, 2019, The First Presidency announced a policy change that couples could now be married civilly and then immediately thereafter get sealed in the Temple. Now, in the COVID era, how many couples have been able to be married civilly, knowing they can be sealed eternally as soon as the Temples open up for live ordinances? 
  6. Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Pres. Nelson announced the policy change that women could be witnesses in baptisms and sealing ordinances in the temples. Some thought the Church was simply bowing to political pressure. Now in the COVID era, how many baptisms have been done with only the immediate family present and women the only available witnesses? 
  7. Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 Elder Gerrit W. Gong in a Face to Face explained details of the new youth activity program that took effect January 1, 2020. The program has youth setting and achieving individual goals with much less emphasis on group activities. Now in the COVID era, with not only Church, but school disrupted, we realize how important it is for young people to set and achieve individual goals.  

People may not believe the larger narrative (we are gathering Israel on both sides of the veil to prepare the world for the Second Coming), but no one can deny the prophets among us have been inspired.

John W. (Jack) Welch and I talked about this modern-day revelation with Dave & Lynette Jenkins at the Maddox Ranch House Restaurant in Perry, UT on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to people everywhere.

Article last updated August 16, 2020.

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