Latest from Mormon Land: An apostle dies; Christmastime Giving Machines return

Also: Former NFL superstar Steve Young talks about a higher, holier love; church President Russell Nelson “slowly” returns to the office; a new dispute erupts in Nauvoo.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Keona Ojelade steps up to make her choice at a Giving Machine in Calgary, Alberta, in 2022. The red kiosks will be in 61 cities this holiday season.

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.

Color Christmas … red and green

More than 250 nonprofit charities will be collecting more green this year, thanks to big red.

By that, we mean those big red Giving Machines, the large crimson kiosks the church puts up every year that allow people to donate food, water, bedding, hygiene kits, medical services, school supplies, even chickens, goats, pigs and ducks.

These pop-ups will be popping up in more places than ever this Yuletide season — 61 cities in seven nations across the globe, stretching from Auckland to Atlanta, Manila to Modesto, Cebu City to Salt Lake City.

Last year, according to a news release, Light the World Giving Machines provided 31 million water purification tablets, 2.2 million meals, 517,000 child vaccinations, 41,000 chickens, 25,000 ducks and 3,000 scholarships, among other niceties and necessities, with the church covering all operating costs.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sarah Barrett, 10, of Syracuse reacts as she makes a donation at a Giving Machine in Salt Lake City in 2022. This year, 61 cities will host the red vending kiosks.

So with the simple swipe of a credit card, donors can send a pillow to a poor toddler in Toronto or a milk-carrying goat to a refugee family in Syria as easily as if they were buying a Kit Kat or a Coke.

“Because of the creative nature of these Giving Machines, where you can actually choose what it is that you want to donate and how you want the money to be used, specifically and intentionally,” Amy Wright, a counselor the Primary general presidency, said in a video, “children can imagine what that must feel like to be on the recipient’s end.”

Since these red boxes of charity debuted six years ago, the release stated, they have supplied $22 million in gifts from 1.5 million givers.

“I have been in this business for a very long time,” Mary Obiero of Church World Service Africa said in the video, “...but I’ve never seen a project that brings quick impact like this one.”

The death of an apostle

(Courtesy photo) Apostle M. Russell Ballard in Ethiopia in March 1985 distributing funds to those hit by a major famine.

For the first time since the death of President Thomas Monson in January 2018 at age 90, the church has lost an apostle.

Senior apostle M. Russell Ballard, who went from a hard-driving car dealer to a beloved church leader, died Sunday night. He was 95. Read about:

His life, legacy, service, family and faith.

• His humanitarian trip to famine-plagued Ethiopia and more.

• His close friendship with a rising star in the Catholic clergy.

Reactions from government, religious, business and community leaders.

Reflections from rank-and-file members.

• How, when and where to view his funeral.

• How a new apostle will be chosen.

Ballard was second in line, after 91-year-old Dallin Oaks, to lead the church — a spot now taken up by Jeffrey Holland, who turns 83 next month.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Steve Young’s game plan for life

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Steve Young, shown in 2022, talks about his latest book "The Law of Love" on this week's "Mormon Land" podcast.

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, the former BYU star who earned multiple MVP awards and Super Bowl rings with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, has turned from tactics for victory on the football field to strategies for winning in life. The result is his book “The Law of Love,” which advocates a more expansive, more exultant and more exalting kind of love.

Listen to the podcast.

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson has begun to "slowly" return to the office after two months of attending meetings virtually due to a back injury.

• Church President Russell Nelson is “slowly” returning to the office after the 99-year-old leader injured his back in a fall two months ago.

• In the latest court filing in his tithing lawsuit against the church, James Huntsman insists the case is about fraud, not faith.

• Latter-day Saints find themselves in a new dispute with their neighbors in Nauvoo, this time over the church’s plans to erect a visitor center on the Illinois town’s temple hill.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) This photo illustration shows the proposed visitors center at the left of the Nauvoo Temple.

• On the heels of an earlier church statement, Operation Underground Railroad says it “did not have access” to the faith’s tithing records.

• The women’s Relief Society is leading a global nutrition campaign to improve the health and development of young children and their mothers.

• A Utah county has approved construction of the Heber Valley Temple.