Upgraded Scripture Mastery App

lds-scripture-mastery-app-iconThe Church’s Scripture Mastery app has just been updated for Android and Apple iOS.

It’s not just for seminary students any more. All members can use it to learn and memorize scriptures, which can be a powerful source of inspiration in times of need.

The best new feature of this app is that you can use it to memorize anything, like the Articles of Faith, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The Living Christ, or any other text you can import using the sharing feature in the Gospel Library app. You can even import your own text. For example, you could put your patriarchal blessing into the “Notes” in Gospel Library and import it into the Scripture Mastery app.

The Scripture Mastery app now provides 3 activities to help you memorize:

  1. Removing Letters or Words. With this activity, you use a bar at the bottom of the app to slowly remove the letters or words from the passage you want to memorize. This helps you to rely on your memory to fill in the gaps. If you prefer to remove letters within the words, you can select the “Aa” symbol in the bottom left corner. Unselect it to delete whole words at a time.
  2. Flashcards. This activity uses the hint you provided when you saved your selection. Flashcards match the hint to the reference from which it comes. At the bottom right of the screen you can select whether you want the “hint” or the “verse” to be displayed on the front of the flashcards, so you can view the hint and guess the reference or vice versa.
  3. Quiz. The quiz activity gives you a hint and you guess the correct scripture reference.


Here’s how to import any text from the Gospel Library app into the Scripture Mastery app to memorize:

  1. Ensure the Gospel Library and Scripture Mastery apps are loaded onto your device.
  2. Open the Gospel Library app.
  3. Highlight the passage, verse, or quote you want to memorize.
  4. Click “Share” to import the selection to Scripture Mastery.
  5. Edit the name of the selection and then add a hint or reminder phrase.
  6. Open the Scripture Mastery app.
  7. Find your selection under the category “My Scriptures.”

“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures,” taught Elder Richard G. Scott. “To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.”

If you don’t have a mobile device, there is also a website you can use at ScriptureMastery.lds.org to learn the 100 scripture mastery passages used in seminary. Learn more about the Scripture Mastery website.


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LDS Curriculum for 2016

lds-teachings-presidents-hunter-manualWondering what manuals will be used in Sunday classes in 2016?

The Instructions for Curriculum 2016 outlines the courses of study for 2016:

Only two curriculum items are new: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter and the 2016 Outline for Sharing Time: I Know the Scriptures Are True (will be online soon).

sunday-school-class-digitalYou can find all the manuals online at lds.org/manual and in the LDS Gospel Library mobile app. Where possible, members are encouraged to use digital versions of these materials.

If printed materials are needed, they can be ordered from your local distribution center or at store.lds.org.



Member Video: Go to Early Morning LDS Seminary

early-morning-seminaryA member has created a video, “Don’t be a dip for a chip, go to early morning seminary,” to encourage youth to go to LDS seminary.

Here is a list of other member-created videos I have shared. If you find other videos you think I should share, please post a comment below.


Video: How Can LDS Defend their Religious Freedom?

freedom-religionThe Church’s Newsroom has published a video that explains what Latter-day Saints can do to help preserve their religious freedoms. It encourages citizens to

  • Learn about religious freedom.
  • Practice religious freedom.
  • Join with others to promote religious freedom.

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people. It allows us to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe. But around the world, and in the United States, this freedom is eroding.”

Below is the video “Preserving Religious Freedom:”

For more information on religious freedom:


Flood the Earth through Social Media

sweep-3The August issue of the New Era contains an article “Flood the Earth through Social Media” by Elder David A. Bednar that encourages us to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth.

The article gives 6 examples of social media efforts.

The article is from an address given by Elder David A. Bednar in August 2014 during Campus Education Week at Brigham Young University.

See this video posted on the New Era Facebook page.

For more ideas of easy, practical things you can do, see the book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online.


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Disciples and the Defense of Marriage

familyIn the August issue of the Ensign, President Russell M. Nelson explains, “Disciples of the Lord are defenders of traditional marriage. We cannot yield. History is not our judge. A secular society is not our judge. God is our judge!”

I highly recommend the article “Disciples and the Defense of Marriage,” which you can read online in text or PDF.


New Records Reveal Previously Unknown Mormon Pioneers

pioneer-wagon-trainYou can now discover and explore more of your pioneer heritage on the newly redesigned Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website. The redesigned website also includes information about previously unknown pioneers. In addition to discovering your pioneer ancestors, you can read your ancestors’ personal journals, see photos, and learn details about major events in your ancestors’ lives.

Since the site was first launched, an influx of pioneer documentation has allowed historians to reconcile and expand their understanding of the trek west. The site now includes information about more than 57,000 individuals in 370 pioneer companies, with thousands of original trail excerpts that are authoritatively documented.

You can also submit family photographs of pioneers and to link to digital copies of sources on the Internet. There are also new articles, including humorous stories from the trail.

If you access the site through FamilySearch.org/pioneers, then your personal FamilySearch family tree will be polled for matches in the updated pioneer database. For example, I learned that when he was 24, my great-great-grandfather, Franklin Neff, came across the plains with the Brigham Young Company in 1848.

You can also just go to history.lds.org/overlandtravels (without logging in) and explore known pioneers and companies and lots of other interesting information about this exciting period of Mormon and Western history.

mormon-trailMillions of people continue to be inspired by the courage, faith, and triumphs of the Mormon pioneers. Many of us are unknowingly modern pioneers, whose courage, achievements, and faith will be equally inspiring to future posterity and generations.

This updated site is featured in the international #IAmAPioneer social media campaign that encourages you to see yourself as a modern-day pioneer and recognize the need to record your stories online for future generations. Learn more about this initiative at FamilySearch.org/iamapioneer.


LDS Mutual Theme for 2016


This weekend, the Church announced that the Mutual theme for 2016 is 2 Nephi 31:20:

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (emphasis added)

The theme may be used to enrich Mutual opening exercises, as a topic for sacrament meeting talks by youth, or to provide focus for youth activities, including camps, youth conferences, and devotionals. Leaders are encouraged to emphasize any of the principles taught in this verse to help meet the needs of the youth they serve.

Resources for introducing the theme, including videos and music, will be available online by the end of 2015. Additional materials supporting the theme will be made available in Church magazines and on LDS.org throughout 2016.

See a list scriptures used as Mutual themes over the past few years.

Artwork: “The Light of the World” © by Brent Borup, BrentBorupStudio.com


When the Church announced the release of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon, they also released a never-before-seen photo of a stone that has long been acknowledged as a seer stone likely used by Joseph Smith.

seer-stone-joseph-smith-book-mormon-ldsAn article about the history of the Book of Mormon translation will appear in the October 2015 issue of the Church’s Ensign magazine. This article, “Joseph the Seer,” is now available online. Both the introduction to the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon and the magazine article discuss the instruments Joseph Smith used to fulfill his role as a seer in translating the Book of Mormon. Both include this photograph of the seer stone Joseph Smith likely used.

When Joseph received the plates from Moroni in 1827, he also received two stones to aid in translating the plates. In addition to the seer stones known as “interpreters,” Joseph Smith used at least one other seer stone in translating the Book of Mormon, often placing it into a hat in order to block out light so he could better view the words on the stone.

The stone he used in the translation was often referred to as a chocolate-colored stone with an oval shape. The stone was passed from Joseph Smith to scribe Oliver Cowdery and then from Cowdery’s widow, Elizabeth Whitmer Cowdery, to Phineas Young. Young then passed it on to his brother, Brigham Young, the second president of the Church. After President Young died, one of his wives, Zina D. H. Young, donated it to the Church.

To learn more about the process of translating the Book of Mormon, see

Photograph above by Welden C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr. © IRI

Photograph below from the pages of the book Revelations and Translations, Volume 3: Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon



Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon

JSPP-PrintersHeaderThe following is adapted from “Publishing the Printer’s Manuscript,” by Megan Michaels of the Church History Department.

The Joseph Smith Papers Project has released its eleventh volume.  Revelations and Translations, Volume 3: Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon is available for purchase today.

The release of this volume is a landmark event not only in regards to the content, which includes the first full-color photographs and color-coded transcripts of each page, but also in the collaboration between historians and archivists of the Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Printer’s Manuscript has been owned and preserved by the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for over 100 years. In the 1970s, the churches exchanged microfilm of important historical documents, including fragments of the original manuscript and the complete printer’s manuscript.  Now, for the first time and with the generous permission of the Community of Christ, the Joseph Smith Papers is able to publish the full manuscript with full-color photographs.

In anticipation of this historical publication, we asked the JSP team for some little-known facts about the manuscript:

1. There are two early manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. The “original manuscript” is the manuscript that was created while Joseph Smith was actually dictating the text of the Book of Mormon. That manuscript was inscribed by at least seven scribes—Martin Harris, Emma Smith, Samuel Smith, Reuben Hale, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and Christian Whitmer. The original manuscript was placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House in 1841, where it suffered severe water damage. Less than 30 percent of the original manuscript survives, but most of the fragments are held by the Church History Library. The printer’s manuscript was a security copy made from the original Book of Mormon manuscript. It was taken to the Palmyra print shop of E. B. Grandin to set type for the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. The printer’s manuscript has been in the custody of the Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) since 1903, and it is complete with the exception of three missing lines at the bottom of one page.

2. The printer’s manuscript was used to prepare other Book of Mormon editions as well. Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith marked up the printer’s manuscript in preparation for the publication of the second edition of the Book of Mormon (1837). The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also used the manuscript to publish an early-twentieth-century edition of the Book of Mormon.

3. David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, was a long-time custodian of the manuscript. As he received visitors desiring to hear his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he would often show them the manuscript and told of several incidences of the manuscript being miraculously protected.

4. The manuscript was once offered for sale to the LDS Church, but leaders felt that the manuscript held little value given the many editions of the Book of Mormon that had been published. A few years later, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints purchased the manuscript, preserving it for their future generations and sharing it with scholars of all religious backgrounds.

5. Preservation: The printer’s manuscript is housed in the Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, MO.  In 1997, the manuscript was brought to Salt Lake City.  The manuscript was cleaned and encapsulated in Mylar for preservation purposes.

6. Editing marks: The manuscript contains editing marks by compositor John H. Gilbert in preparation for the 1830 edition. Joseph Smith’s then made changes to the manuscript for the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon and his editing marks visible in the manuscript.

7. Unknown Scribe:  While the Printer’s Manuscript is mostly in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, it also includes the handwriting of Hyrum Smith, and an unknown scribe.   Scholars have been unable to positively identify the handwriting of this unknown scribe.

8. First Printing of Book of Mormon Text: Without authorization, a Palmyra New York newspaper printed portions of he Book of Mormon before the book was completed.  This printing helps scholars understand how much of the book had been printed by 22 January 1830.

This addition to the Joseph Smith Papers series is a significant milestone for historians.

Learn more in the article “Church History Department Releases Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript in New Book.”

Editor’s note: For this volume, the Joseph Smith Papers project collaborated with the Community of Christ. Watch this video where Steven E. Snow and Ronald E. Romig explain how good relations between the two parties led to the volume’s publication.

Video: “Collaborating to Publish the Printer’s Manuscript

Video: “The Story of the Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript

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Preparing to Enter LDS Temples

Rexburg-Idaho-LDS-TempleThe article “Preparing to Enter the House of the Lord” by Elder Kent F. Richards appears in the July issues of the Ensign, Liahona, and the New Era.

The article explains why it is important to prepare to make covenants with God and receive the fulness of the Gospel.

Key points:

  • In the temple you receive ordinances essential to your salvation.
  • You must enter the temple clean and pure, free from any unforgiven transgression.
  • As in the scriptures, many of the teachings and ordinances in the temple are symbolic, allowing you to learn more and more each time you return to the temple.

I encourage you to read the article “Preparing to Enter the House of the Lord” (text or PDF) by Elder Richards.



lds-mission-call-videosFor young men and women preparing to serve LDS missions, opening their calls is an exciting experience.

I have posted many videos that document the memorable moment when they learn where they will spend the next 18 months or 2 years.

Similarly, many videos have captured the thrilling moment when missionaries see their families for the first time after completing their missions.

Deseret News has published a list of “14 surprising, heartwarming videos of LDS mission calls and homecomings.”

Here is a list of other member-created videos I have shared. If you find other videos you think I should share, please post a comment below.


Changes to Institute of Religion Programs

lds-instituteNew Classes: Beginning August 2015, four new courses will be offered at all Institutes of Religion and at BYU, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and LDS Business College. These courses are titled Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, Foundations of the Restoration, The Eternal Family, and Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon. These and other institute courses are intended to assist young adults in deepening their conversion through an in-depth study of the scriptures and teachings of modern prophets. The manuals are available online in text and PDF format, and they are also in the Gospel Library mobile app.

Graduation Emphasis: In addition to the new classes and in an effort to better meet the needs mentioned above, young adults are invited and encouraged to make graduating from Institute of Religion a priority, similar to the current expectation that exists with seminary. Course credit leading to graduation is earned by:

  1. Attending at least 75 percent of classes.
  2. Completing assigned readings.
  3. Completing a course assessment intended to help them apply what is being taught to their personal lives.

By actively participating in and graduating from institute, young adults will strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ, increase their scripture study skills, learn from others and through the Spirit, and gain confidence in making life decisions.

Invite All: Institute is a resource to assist priesthood leaders in providing gospel instruction and social opportunities for young adults. Continued efforts are being made to sincerely encourage all youth to attend and graduate from seminary and all young single adults to attend and graduate from institute. Priesthood leaders can play a significant role in this effort to invite all young single adults ages 18 to 30 who have not graduated from institute to do so.

To learn more about the new classes, visit institute.lds.org.


FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event Aug 7-14

familysearch-indexing-event-2015Join volunteers around the world to “Fuel the Find” during the Worldwide Indexing Event on August 7 to 14. You have one week to participate by indexing one batch in the language of your choice. FamilySearch especially needs help indexing records in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The goal is for 100,000 people to participate in one week.

Learn more in the article “Volunteer for FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event.”



Teaching Children About LDS Temples

The July issues of the Friend magazine has several articles to help children learn about the temple: