The phrase “church history” typically conjures images of Liberty Jail, Nauvoo and a dusty trail heading west. But you didn’t have to live in Joseph Smith’s time to experience Church history. Members of the Baby Boomer generation—and even Generation X and Millennials—have seen milestones of their own. Here’s our list of the 11 most unforgettable moments in recent Church history.
June 8, 1978: Priesthood extended to all worthy men
President Spencer W. Kimball opened a new era of missionary work and Church growth when he received revelation that the priesthood was to be extended to all worthy men, regardless of race.
June 29, 1985: Freiberg Germany Temple dedicated.
The dedication of this temple was truly miraculous. It was the first and only temple built behind the Iron Curtain in a communist country.
February 7, 1993: Howard Hunter bomb threat
President Howard W. Hunter was taken hostage just before speaking at a BYU fireside. A man named Cody Judy threatened everyone in attendance, claiming his briefcase had a bomb, and asked President Hunter to read a letter over the pulpit. President Hunter refused. Judy was taken from the building while the congregation sang “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet.”
September 1995: “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
President Hinckley’s reading of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was a timely and necessary declaration of eternal truth that came just ahead of drastic changes to the family unit in the United States and other countries.
June 21, 2000: Ricks College changed to BYU–Idaho
President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that Ricks College, a junior college in Rexburg, Idaho, would become the four-year university BYU–Idaho by the end of 2001. Ricks College officially became BYU–Idaho on Aug. 10, 2001.
2000: “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”
“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” came just behind “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and stands as a living testimony of the risen Jesus Christ.
March 31, 2001: Perpetual Education Fund established
President Gordon B. Hinckley established the Perpetual Education Fund to help Latter-day Saints in developing countries gain the education they need to contribute in the workforce and provide for themselves and their families. This program has seen great success.
November 2008: Church supports California Proposition 8
When the Church supported California Proposition 8, a bill that opposed same-sex marriage, Church members helped in the cause. Church buildings were vandalized and Church members endured personal hardship as they helped in the cause.
Oct. 3, 2011: “I’m a Mormon”
The “I’m a Mormon” campaign and the launch of a new and improved mormon.org helped put the Church in the public eye more than ever. The campaign attempted to educate people about who members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are and what kinds of lives they lead.
2012: Mitt Romney runs for POTUS
The Church gained even more attention when Mitt Romney, an active member of the Church, secured the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential election.
October 2012: Missionary age changed from 19 to 18 for males and 21 to 19 for females
Though not the first change in the required ages for missionary service, the change in October 2012 brought the requisite ages for missionary service lower overall than ever before. This change increased the total number of missionaries churchwide as young missionaries — particularly young women—were able to serve sooner than previously anticipated.