Latest from Mormon Land: LDS Church sees the U.N. as a friend, not a foe

Also: Eliza R. Snow; New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern; the NBA’s Calyann Barnett; and how Joseph Smith may have translated the Book of Mormon.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A mother and child receive nourishment at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Garissa County, Kenya, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

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U.N.? You bet.

While anti-United Nations factions exist among Latter-day Saint ranks, their church certainly isn’t among them.

The Utah-based faith, in fact, counts the global organization as a resilient, responsive, resourceful and reliable partner.

Just this month, the church celebrated its decadelong collaboration with UNICEF USA during which the two bodies teamed up to improve immunizations, maternal and neonatal care, refugee assistance and childhood nutrition around the world.

“There’s nobody better than UNICEF at going to the hardest places and staying for the longest amount of time to make sure that the most vulnerable children have access to the things that they need,” Sharon Eubank, director of the church’s Humanitarian Services, said in a news release. “In places where the church may not have congregations, may not have offices or trucks, UNICEF is there, and [their] commitment is there to stay. And I think we’ve seen the impact of that.”

A delegation led by Michael Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA, met with Latter-day leaders recently and toured the church’s welfare facilities in Salt Lake City.

“I’m literally blown away by everything we’ve seen,” he said in the release. “I saw the church today really living … their mission that Jesus gave to be his hands and feet in their own communities and then around the world.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Sharon Eubank, right, director of the church's Humanitarian Services, leads Michael J. Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA, on a tour of a Deseret Industries donation center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

This week, the church also pointed to its partnership with another U.N. agency, the World Food Program, to which it donated $32 million last September. That represented the faith’s largest-ever one-time contribution to a humanitarian group.

Those funds helped supply, among other goods, a “super cereal” — think not sacrament meeting Cheerios but rather a “highly fortified blend of corn, soybeans, dried skim milk and sweetener” — that delivers a highly nutritious meal and an immunity boost to tens of thousands of new and expectant mothers in 15 countries.

“When I take the porridge,” a Kenyan mother said in a news release. “I’m able to get breast milk, [with] which I’m able to breastfeed my baby.”

With aid like this, the 16.8 million-member church strives to make a difference in the world and has learned that teaming up with the U.N. makes a world of difference.

(UNICEF and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A health worker vaccinates a baby as his mother holds him at the Centre de Sante le Rocher Maternity Hospital in Lubumbashi, Congo, November 2018.

Eliza Snow — the second lady of Mormonism

(Church History Library) Eliza R. Snow photograph by Edward Martin.

Eliza R. Snow — poet, preacher, president and plural wife of prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young — was a staunch defender of polygamy.

“She spoke about the curse of Eve and overcoming the fall through plural marriage,” historian Jennifer Reeder said in a recent “From the Desk” interview with Kurt Manwaring. “The idea of the ‘curse of Eve’ [from the Garden of Eden] was a popular 19th-century concept. The church does not teach that today.”

But many of Snow’s teachings can easily translate to modern times, Reeder noted. Check out these one-liners from the faith’s second general Relief Society president:

• “We need not be afraid of doing too much nor getting ahead of our brethren — and if we did, why let them hurry up.”

• “We are called Saints. Are we live Saints or sleepy ones?”

• “The sisters must be organized or be damned.”

• “The Spirit of God never dwells with a grumbler.”

“We have wanted to make T-shirts or magnets of some of these,” said Reeder, author of “First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith,” about the first first lady of Mormonism, while touting “The Discourses of Eliza R. Snow,” perhaps the second lady of the faith.

“We like to call this [online] collection,” Reeder explains, “a ‘female journal of discourses.’”

Listen to our separate “Mormon Land” interviews with Reeder about Emma and Eliza.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: A new, old look at translation

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Actor portraying the Prophet Joseph Smith in the church's 2005 movie, "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration," examines gold plates containing the Book of Mormon.

Forget the buzz of late about a seer stone. A forthcoming book argues for a more traditional translation method — that Joseph Smith relied more on the urim and thummim to bring to pass the Book of Mormon. Listen to the podcast.

From The Tribune

(Calyann Barnett) In addition to styling some of the biggest names in the NBA, Calyann Barnett runs a fashion venue in Miami and is the creative director for a forthcoming private label apparel brand from the Utah Jazz.

• She is a fashion influencer, an NBA stylist and a Latter-day Saint convert. See how Calyann Barnett is smashing the mold of a devout LDS woman — simply by being herself.

• What do Latter-day Saints get wrong about the “Great Apostasy”? Plenty, it turns out.

• Progressive politician Jacinda Ardern, a 42-year-old former Latter-day Saint who won global acclaim for her committed and compassionate response to mass shootings at two mosques and personal praise from church President Russell Nelson for her peacemaking and leadership abilities, stepped down as New Zealand’s prime minister.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives a Book of Mormon to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington in 2019. Ardern, a former Latter-day Saint, has stepped down as New Zealand's premier.

• Latter-day Saint Russell Pearce, a former Arizona lawmaker who pushed for anti-immigration legislation even as his church pushed back against such measures, has died. He was 75.

• The church plans to more than double the size of the Anchorage Temple, Alaska’s only Latter-day Saint temple.

Construction is expected to begin early next year, where a next-door meetinghouse now sits, and wrap up by summer 2026.

The new temple will be about 30,000 square feet, according to a news release, up from the current building’s 11,930. Once the new edifice is dedicated, the current one will be decommissioned, and a new meetinghouse built there.