Latest from Mormon Land: The prophet-in-waiting who bathed in the Great Salt Lake

Also: The General Conference gender gap; a life lesson from baseball; ailing apostle Jeffrey Holland is “excused” from church duties; the Saratoga Springs Temple opens its doors to visitors.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rowers work out on the Great Salt Lake on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.

Putting the lake in Utah’s hands

Historian Ardis E. Parshall, also a Salt Lake Tribune guest columnist), has surfaced testimony from a prominent Latter-day Saint leader whose sworn recollections helped Utah gain control of the Great Salt Lake.

“I not only visited Great Salt Lake for bathing, but for other recreational purposes,” Joseph Fielding Smith, the church’s 10th president and longtime church historian, stated in an affidavit in a 1971 federal lawsuit (he died in 1972). “From 1893 on, I saw a number of boats operating on the lake. Some were sailboats. Some were rowboats which operated from Garfield Beach and from Saltair.”

(Tribune archives) Former church President Joseph Fielding Smith, whose sworn testimony helped Utah gain control of the Great Salt Lake.

Read more about this case on Parshall’s keepapitchinin.org blog. But that was then; this is now: See how today’s church is working to save the shriveling lake in Tribune stories here, here and here.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Where are the women?

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the children's Primary general presidency, speaks at General Conference on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. She became the first Black woman in a general presidency and the first to give a sermon at General Conference.

President Russell Nelson has encouraged women to speak up and speak out, but their voices remain few and far between at the church’s highest-profile forum: General Conference. We discuss what that means with researcher Eliza Wells and whether and how it can change. Listen to the podcast. We also explore the equity gap in this story.

Getting home safely

(Gregory Bull | AP) New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton jumps on home plate after hitting a grand slam in 2020.

We’re closing in on the end of this series, so let’s go to our penultimate lesson from baseball.

Eighth inning • The object of the game is to score runs.

Once stat geeks get past the OBPs and the ERAs, the strikeouts and the shutouts, the batting averages and the slugging percentages, baseball is really about one thing: scoring runs by touching home plate. It’s the heart of the game and parallels this life lesson: Every day of every week of every month of every year of every lifetime — our main goal is to get home safely.

It’s an objective that is profoundly simple yet simply profound: getting home safely. You learn that lesson as a toddler. You test it as a teenager. You preach it as a parent. Everything that matters most revolves, it seems, around home and family. There is a reason baseball’s home plate stands out. It is shaped not like the other bases but, fittingly, like a house. Home truly is where the heart is — in the game and in life.

From The Tribune

• Latter-day Saint apostle Jeffrey Holland has been “excused” from church duties for “at least two months.” The 82-year-old apostle and his wife, Patricia, are “suffering from the effects” of COVID-19. The church leader, who also has been on kidney dialysis, will not speak at Southern Utah University’s commencement this month, an address that had drawn controversy.

• The Arizona Supreme Court sided with the church in a high-profile sex abuse case, agreeing that it can refuse to answer questions or turn over documents under a state law that exempts religious officials from having to report such abuse if they learn of the crime during a confessional setting.

• In his recent General Conference speech, general authority Seventy Allen D. Haynie urged members to steer clear of “whispered criticisms in response to prophetic counsel.” Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess begs to differ, arguing there are — and should be — limits on unquestioned obedience.

Temple updates

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A sealing room in the Saratoga Springs Temple.

• Utah’s newest temple, in Saratoga Springs, will be dedicated Aug. 13 after public tours take place from April 15 through July 8.

The single-spired, three-story, Angel Moroni-topped, 87,000-square-foot building is one of seven existing or planned temples in Utah County and one of 28 in the Beehive State.

• Saturday’s ceremonial groundbreaking, attended by Vanuatu’s president and prime minister, launched construction of the Port Vila Temple.

The single-spired, single-story, 10,000-square-foot building is the first temple for the South Pacific nation.