Church leader visits fire survivors
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.