Latest from Mormon Land: Temple predictions for General Conference and fallout from the SEC fines

Also: The call for greater financial transparency; lessons from baseball; the Spencer W. Kimball diaries and more.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Young people enjoy being at the dedication of the San Juan Puerto Rico Temple on Jan. 15, 2023. What new temples may be announced at General Conference in April?

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Where new temples may land

It has become a pre-General Conference tradition, ranking right up there with deciding where to get ice cream after the Saturday night session and forecasting whether it will rain during the biannual gatherings.

That tradition: Predicting where new temples will be announced.

With that in mind, and with barely five weeks until the spring conference, we unveil, courtesy of eagle-eyed church tracker Matt Martinich’s crystal ball, the 10 “most likely” cities to have a temple announced:

• Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (a fixture for several years on Martinich’s list).

• Spanish Fork (this would be Utah’s 29th existing or planned temple after going zero-for-2022 in new temples).

• Charlotte, N.C.

• Angeles or Olongapo, Philippines.

• Colorado Springs (yes, Martinich’s home turf).

• Kampala, Uganda (this would be the African nation’s first Latter-day Saint temple).

• Iquitos, Peru.

• São José, Brazil.

• Viña del Mar, Chile.

• João Pessoa, Brazil.

(Read more about Martinich’s temple picks at ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com.)

President Russell Nelson named 18 new temples last fall, upping the total tally of existing or planned temples to 300 (118, or nearly 40%, announced by Nelson).

Another conference tidbit to watch: Will the church’s global membership have topped 17 million in 2022? It stood at 16,805,400 at the end of 2021.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: ‘Show us the money’

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Church Office Building, shown Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, is reflected in a downtown Salt Lake City building, where Ensign Peak Advisors, the investment arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is located.

Popular Latter-day Saint blogger Sam Brunson, a tax law professor at Loyola University Chicago, talks about the financial questions hounding the church on several federal fronts, the potential outcomes of all that scrutiny, and how increased transparency could help the faith avoid such unflattering attention in the future. Listen to the podcast.

(Photo courtesy of Sam Brunson) Sam Brunson, tax law professor at Loyola University Chicago.

He also blogs about the church’s settlement this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, stating that the faith “took deliberate action to do wrong,” moves that represent “a real betrayal to the millions of church members who have worked hard to live up to their standards, to be honest even where it’s hard, to obey the law even where it’s inconvenient” and that “it needs to explain what went wrong, why it went wrong, how it will ensure it doesn’t go wrong again.

Life 101, by professor baseball

(Photo by Roberto Borea | AP) Baltimore Orioles' Cal Ripken tips his cap to the crowd Sept. 6, 1995, when he broke Lou Gehrig's record for playing in the most consecutive games.

Our national pastime is more than just a way to pass time. I’m convinced, in fact, that baseball diamonds offer gems to live by.

In that spirit, and with spring training in full swing, I want to revisit a 2007 piece I penned to prove my point.

For the next nine weeks (heck, let’s call them innings), I’ll trot out life lessons that come courtesy of the bats, the balls and the bases. Leading off:

First inning • Cal Ripken plays a record 2,632 consecutive games.

The former Baltimore Orioles star collected 431 home runs, 1,695 RBIs and 3,184 hits. He was an All-Star, a Gold Glover, an MVP, a world champion and a Hall of Famer.

But Ripken forever will be remembered for one accomplishment: The Streak. He didn’t miss a day of work between May 30, 1982, and Sept. 20, 1998. That’s 2,632 consecutive games — a stat that cemented his legend and his legacy. Of course, Ripken’s record also put him in the position to amass those other Cooperstown-caliber numbers.

The lesson for us: Sometimes just showing up is enough.

If athletes seem larger than life, it’s because they are. Few people can run a mile in under 4 minutes or belt a baseball 400 feet. But we all remember — and, sometimes, resent — classmates with perfect attendance or know co-workers who never miss a day on the job and, consequently, make lasting contributions.

Ripken’s record resonates with baseball fans and nonfans alike because it is a blue-collar milestone — a tribute to the Everyday Workingman (and woman) who spends every day working, man.

From The Tribune

(Andrew Harnik | AP file photo) The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington in 2017.

• In a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the church and its investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, agree to pay $5 million in penalties for failing to properly disclose past stock holdings and going to “great lengths” to deliberately “obscure” the faith’s investment portfolio.

• See how the church and Ensign Peak hid those stock holdings for years by creating “clone” companies.

• Meanwhile, Ensign Peak saw its value shoot up by $4.1 billion — to $44.4 billion overall — at the end of 2022 after three straight quarterly declines.

• The Tribune editorial board calls on the church to display greater transparency with its finances.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Camilla Kimball, at the Peter Whitmer Sr. farmhouse in Fayette, N.Y., in 1980 to commemorate the sesquicentennial of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

• The church has released the voluminous digitized diaries of Spencer W. Kimball, the Yoda-like prophet-president whose “do it” work ethic became his clerical calling card throughout his nearly 12-year presidency. His 1978 ending of the racist priesthood/temple ban stands as one of the most consequential changes in church history.

“President Kimball’s journals are some of the best in Latter-day Saint history,” general authority Seventy Kyle McKay, church historian and recorder, said in a news release. “Just as Wilford Woodruff’s amazing journal chronicles 19th-century Latter-day Saint history, Spencer W. Kimball’s journal gives tremendous insight into the history of the church in the 20h century.”

Historian Benjamin Park explored the Kimball collection in a Religion News Service piece, saying it is one “rarely matched in Mormon history.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Spencer W. Kimball’s journals contain the 1960 visas from his passport.

• In the wake of a sweeping fraud case in Las Vegas, we examine why so many Latter-day Saints fall prey to Ponzi schemes. In these crimes, some of faith’s strengths — trust, community and connectedness — can actually make members more vulnerable.

Latter-day Saint academics face a dilemma, Salt Lake Tribune guest columnist Natalie Brown warns: Secular schools might discredit them for their faith, and church universities might reject them for their scholarship.

Linda King Newell, whose 1984 book, “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith,” brought new life and light to the faith’s first first lady, has died at 82.

(Courtesy photo) Linda Newell, who died earlier this month, co-wrote the 1984 book “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith."