Church leader vis­its fire sur­vivors

Lodi News-Sentinel - - RELIGION - By Julie R. John­son

CHICO — While shar­ing a mes­sage of hope and faith with peo­ple try­ing to re­cover from the Par­adise Camp Fire, Pres­i­dent Rus­sell M. Nel­son of the Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints met with many of those fire sur­vivors last Sun­day in Chico.

Among those at­tend­ing the meet­ing were mem­bers of the church who once lived in Par­adise and have now re­lo­cated to Corn­ing.

Sev­eral dig­ni­taries were also in at­ten­dance and had the op­por­tu­nity to per­son­ally meet with Nel­son, in­clud­ing state Sen. Jim Nielsen, Rep. James Gal­lagher, Sikh leader Kar­mdeep Bains of Yuba City who pre­sented the church pres­i­dent with a Saropah as a gift, Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea, city may­ors and county su­per­vi­sors.

Nel­son and his wife, Wendy Wat­son Nel­son, shared their mes­sages to the gath­ered con­gre­ga­tion of thou­sands in the church’s Mari­posa build­ing.

Scat­tered through­out the con­gre­ga­tion were some of the 1,400 sur­vivors of the Camp Fire who are mem­bers of The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints who lived in Par­adise at the time of the wild­fire. Of that num­ber, roughly 95 per­cent lost their homes. One of the two build­ings where church mem­bers meet in Par­adise was de­stroyed by the wild­fire.

The Camp Fire, which started on Nov. 8, is the dead­li­est in state his­tory, killing at least 86 peo­ple and con­sum­ing more than 18,000 struc­tures and thou­sands of acres.

“We, as vis­i­tors, can hardly com­pre­hend the losses that you have sus­tained,” Nel­son said. “Loss of life, loss of homes, loss of jobs, loss of work places and much, much more. The ac­counts of your suf­fer­ing are ex­ceeded only by the ac­counts of your min­is­ter­ing.”

The 94-year-old pres­i­dent is revered as a prophet by the 16 mil­lion-mem­ber­ship of the world­wide church.

“I come here to min­is­ter to you and to bring you hope,” Nel­son said be­fore be­stow­ing a bless­ing upon the Camp Fire sur­vivors.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Nel­son and his wife, ac­com­pa­nied by El­der Kevin W. Pear­son of the church’s seventy, and his wife, June, trav­eled to Par­adise to tour the dev­as­ta­tion and meet with a num­ber of church mem­bers at the site of their lost homes.

Nel­son is the 17th pres­i­dent and prophet of the Church Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints. He be­came pres­i­dent in Jan­uary of 2018. He is a for­mer sur­geon and med­i­cal re­searcher and fa­ther of 10 chil­dren.

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