Best of 2018: How Church Members Made Their Mark on the World This Year


From Church members sharing their talents on TV to assisting in humanitarian efforts around the world, 2018 has proven to be another amazing year for Latter-day Saints. Here are some of our favorite moments from the year to celebrate! 

Latter-day Saints in the Media and on TV

At the end of December 2016, 20th Century Fox hosted a "This Is Me" challenge where artists could perform their own arrangement of this dynamic song to compete for tickets to attend the red carpet premiere.

Latter-day Saint musician and YouTuber Tiffany Alvord was one of the artists who performed for Hugh Jackman, Zandaya, Zac Efron, and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

About Alvord's performance, Hugh Jackman raved, "It just made me melt into this chair. . . . Well done. I absolutely loved it."

Zandaya said, "It felt very intimate but it also felt very big. Great job."

"You found the bigger meaning inside of it," Zac Effron added. "It was fun to watch the three of you play your own instrument and come together as one. It was really fantastic."

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Singing "This Is Me" for Zac Efron, Hugh Jackman & Zendaya (from The Greatest Showman Movie)

In spring 2017, BYU Cougarettes and BYU Vocal Point teamed up to create an incredible music video mashup of songs from The Greatest Shoman, to which Hugh Jackman tweeted, “Thank you @BYUCougars for the amazing effort!!” and tagged his co-stars. 

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The Greatest Showman A Cappella Mashup | BYU Vocal Point & Friends

Keala Settle is well-known for her role as the bearded lady in The Greatest Showman, but her father, David Settle, shared how that iconic role almost didn’t happen for his daughter. She initially turned down the invitation to audition for the role, but after some convincing and an incredible performance, she landed the part on the spot. 

A hilarious post-wisdom-tooth-removal video won a Latter-day Saint family $100,000 when they sent it to America’s Funniest Home Videos. The lightsaber battle ending in tears is definitely worth the watch.

2018 was an amazing year for Latter-day Saint dancers. Jensen Arnold was a top competitor on So You Think You Can Dance, placing second overall. Meanwhile, Charity Anderson, Andres Penate, and Jaxon Willard were killing it on World of Dance. 

View this post on Instagram Last night was so amazing!! I just want to thank you all for the love and support you guys have given me. I am so grateful to be apart of season 15 of SYTYCD and to be America’s second favorite dancer😜 CONGRATS to my favorite @hannahleidazle you are so deserving of this title, and I love you so much!! This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see what my future will bring. A post shared by Jensen Arnold (@jensenarnold_) on Sep 11, 2018 at 6:51am PDT

View this post on Instagram Will Charity and Andres "Reign" at WOD Divisional Finals? And the pressure is on!!! @nbcworldofdance #nbcworldofdance @universaldanceinc @goalsofdancing @#dancegoals @charity_dance @ricopenate A post shared by Charity and Andres (@charityandandres) on Sep 1, 2018 at 8:03pm PDT

► You'll also like: How Latter-day Saints Are Absolutely Dominating the Dance World

Bryce Harper attended general conference in October, met President Nelson and gave him a jersey,  spoke with Elder Uchtdorf, and shared his testimony with all 1 million of his followers. He shared his feelings surrounding the touching experience, and it was incredible to see a public figure with such influence testify of the gospel. 

View this post on Instagram As I sit here in the Salt Lake City airport I’ve been pondering about the last couple days I was able to spend in Utah with all my family. Of course you all know my season came to an end this year quite early & that was very unfortunate, but with that being said I was sitting back & thinking this will be the first year me and my wife will be able to attend General Conference and hear from the amazing leaders of our Church. As we were flying in on Thursday, I was so excited & anxious to get to Utah to enjoy this great weekend with everybody. So many smiling and energetic faces ready to do the same as me. We had some free time on Friday so we were able to do a session in the beautiful Salt Lake Temple. This was my first session in this temple and what an experience we had. The spirit was on my mind so strongly & the craziness that this offseason will bring. But when I am feeling such things or in a frame of mind like that nothing feeds my soul more than learning & being more in tune with my Lord & Savior in His house upon the earth! Later in the day we had an incredible opportunity to meet with President Nelson & the “German Shepard” Elder Uchtdorf. I can’t begin to describe to any of you how much wisdom and knowledge these men have. President Nelson had me in shock. He had an overwhelming feeling around him of the spirit. He walked into the room and I immediately teared up and began to think if it was even appropriate for me to be in the same room as this man because of how incredible he is. He came over and shook my hand, my wife’s hand, and family’s hands and we talked for a couple minutes. By the end I couldn’t help but think when this man talks it is the truth. It is the word of God & everything that I want to be part of. My mind was racing & I didn’t really have much time to catch my breathe or really sit back and think about what I had just heard or what had just happened because up the elevator & down the hallway stood one of my biggest hero’s and the biggest spiritual gangster’s that I’ve seen, Elder Uchtdorf. When I walked into his office he greeted me with the biggest smile & just the most friendly vibe I’ve ever seen or felt. He was so personable ➡️ A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on Oct 7, 2018 at 2:13pm PDT

View this post on Instagram I have no words for how inspiring and special this weekend was. I’m grateful and honored to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints✨ #GeneralConference2018 A post shared by Kayla Harper (@kayy.harper) on Oct 7, 2018 at 1:27pm PDT

► You'll also like:MLB Star Bryce Harper Announces Social Media Fast to 1.4 Million Followers

Dr. Phil featured an estranged father and son on a recent episode and invited a Latter-day Saint relationship expert to provide advice. Troy Dunn shared his advice and added gospel principles in hopes to help the family. 

“We believe in agency,” Dunn said. “So the concept of agency, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is what we believe and we believe that from the beginning of time everybody has the opportunity in life to choose their own path. He later said, “We teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves,” paraphrasing Joseph Smith. 

► You'll also like: P. Diddy, Criminal Minds, and Other Bizarre Places You Wouldn't Expect Prophets to Be Quoted, but They Were

American Fork resident Maquel Cooper was one of several women featured on the well-known TV show The Bachelor. She shared how she hoped she could represent the Church in a positive way and let everyone know “[Latter-day Saints] are normal, [they’re] cool.” 


Image by Paul Herbert, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., via Deseret News

Claire Ryann Crosby captured hearts all over the Internet when her singing videos started going viral. Claire has performed multiple times on Ellen’s show and continues to make adorable videos. 

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Dave & Claire Crosby Perform 'Meant to Be'

Ellen also made a Latter-day Saint teacher’s day when she gave her a $15,000 check for her low-income orchestra class. 

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Ellen Surprises a Deserving Orchestra Teacher

Today hosts quoted President Spencer W. Kimball’s wife during their “Words of Wisdom” segment. Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford dicussed Sister Kimball’s famous quote, “Never suppress a generous thought.” 

Tim Ballard, owner and operator of Operation Underground Railroad, recently announced that Jim Caviezel will be playing him in an upcoming movie about rescuing children from sex trafficking. 

View this post on Instagram On the set of Sound of Freedom. These children actors touched my heart. Most of them thanked @ourrescue for their work; and I thanked them for being brave enough to play such difficult parts, and assured them that their work would result in additional rescues. #SonidodelaLibertad A post shared by Tim Ballard (@timballard89) on Aug 11, 2018 at 6:21pm PDT

► You'll also like: Rescuing Children from Sex Slavery: One Latter-day Saint's Inspired Mission

Tyke James is a Latter-day Saint living in Hawaii. He competed on the popular singing competition The Voice and said he started pursuing a singing career because “I realized that music was a powerful thing that God gave to mankind.” 

View this post on Instagram okey okey now i must say thank u:) to all my friends/fans and family who voted for me !! all the posts and kind messages. i am doing my best to respond to everyone cos i appreciate u all so much. XOXO A post shared by tyke james (@tykejames) on Nov 14, 2018 at 1:35pm PST

When Saide Bartell sent out a plea for help and a GoFundMe page, the Taylor Swift fan had no idea her favorite pop star would see it and donate. Swift donated $15,000 to Bartell’s family and signed the donation, “Love Taylor, Meredith and Olivia Swift.” 

YOU FIRIE II CANT ATIP SO BU G — Sadie 🎄 (@swiftsinautumn) October 20, 2018
View this post on Instagram You have made this human disco ball so so happy tonight. ❤️ #americanmusicawards @amas 📸: @gettyentertainment @johnshearer @polkimaging @kevinmazur A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 9, 2018 at 8:18pm PDT

Latter-day Saints Doing Good Around the World.

Ex-CIA agent and Latter-day Saint Tim Ballard is rescuing children all around the world from sex trafficking. His nonprofit organization Operation Underground Railroad is gaining more attention than ever as he's partnered with the NFL to raise awareness of human trafficking.

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Mike Tomlin joins the search to rescue trafficked children | NFL Countdown | ESPN

View this post on Instagram You don’t have to be in the field to conquer human trafficking. to find your part in this fight. They need all of us! A post shared by Tim Ballard (@timballard89) on Oct 19, 2018 at 3:02pm PDT

The Church gave donations to the NAACP, a woman's shelter, an LGBTQ support group, food banks, and other charitable causes.

The Church made many generous donations this year, including a generous donation to an LGBTQ support group who specifically helps Church members. The donation was given to help pay for suicide prevention training.  

In addition, the Church donated $50,000 to the Children’s Justice Center and $25,000 to A Breeze of Hope Foundation in Bolivia that work to prevent sexual abuse and violence against children. In a letter from Church leaders, they wrote, “We are firm in our commitment to protect, cherish, and stand with children.” 

These were just a few among many donations and relief efforts to help others around the world.

► You'll also like: Latter-day Saint Female Church Leaders Donate $75,000 to Fight Child Abuse

The California fires this year were absolutely devastating, but Latter-day Saints came together to help each other and provide comfort. One Reserve Deputy Sheriff even had a prompting to drive into the fire and ended up saving an elderly woman’s life. 

► You'll also like: How the Spirit Led One Latter-day Saint to Save a Woman from the Camp Fire

A youth group in Georgia was scheduled to have youth conference shortly after the hurricanes hit Florida, but instead of doing their planned activity, the group traveled 600 miles to help thousands in need.  


Image courtesy of Corazon Ketchem

When children were separated from their families at the border earlier this year, Latter-day Saint Sarah Parson knew she had to do something to help the children. Her organization Dolls of Hope provided over 1,229 stuffed bears and dolls to bring comfort to the kids at the border who were separated from their families. 

View this post on Instagram Sharing 3 donations tonight. Sometimes I have stories to go with the donations and sometimes all I know is a name or group. Regardless I am so very grateful for each and every donation and effort to bless the lives of children around the world. # Pic 1: 42 bears made by The Eagle Mountain Highland Empty Nester’s group (Mary Brunner). I loved the different eyes and the bright fabric they used! They also donated $10 to help with shipping costs, which is always so appreciated! # Pic 2: 49 cute and cuddly bears all made by Jessie Farr. # Pic 3: 3 darling bears and 3 darling dolls made by Patti Harrison. # Thank you again to everyone who sacrificed and helped make these dolls and bears. I am grateful for your labors of love and know they will bring comfort and joy to the children who will receive your bears and dolls❤️ # #loveinaction #whatlovelookslike #workingtogetherforgood #childrenhelpingchildren #laborsoflove #wemakeforgood #beahelper #actsoflove #hearttoserve #ourlovenotes #loveisinthedetails #childhood #importanceofplay #messagesoflove #withlove #madewithlove #lightinthemidstofdarkness #webelongtoeachother #withrefugees #teachingourchildren #everylittlebithelps #spreadingjoy #spreadingsmiles #chooselove #fromourarmstotheirs #dollsofhope #sewingforcharity #intentionalsewing #onedollandbearatatime #teachingourchildren #everylittlebithelps #spreadingjoy #spreadingsmiles #chooselove #fromourarmstotheirs #dollsofhope #sewingforcharity #intentionalsewing #onedollandbearatatime A post shared by Spreading Hope & Joy To Kids (@dollsofhope) on Oct 8, 2018 at 11:54pm PDT

When a group of 21 returned missionaries heard about the destruction that occurred in the Florida areas they served, they knew they had to do something. They split up into four cars and made the 30-hour, 2,000-mile trek from Provo, Utah to Panama City, Florida.

A group of Church leaders including President Oaks and Elder Bednar visited members on the East Coast and helped clean up the debris from the hurricane. Thousands of Latter-day Saints showed up to help clean up and serve the communities affected by the tragedy. 

View this post on Instagram All men and women on the earth are the offspring of God—spirit brothers and sisters. What a powerful idea! No wonder God’s Only Begotten Son commanded us to love one another. If only we would do so! What a different world it would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish assistance could transcend all boundaries of nation, creed, and color. I saw this firsthand recently when I witnessed the service performed by members of the Church in hurricane-ravaged areas in the United States. . Such love would not erase all differences of opinion and action, but it would encourage each of us to focus our opposition on inappropriate actions rather than on actors. By doing so, we can follow Jesus Christ’s example of loving all people while also teaching and upholding the commandments of God. . These photos are from our visit with hurricane survivors in North Carolina and Florida last month. A post shared by Dallin H. Oaks (@dallinhoaks) on Nov 14, 2018 at 3:58pm PST

This year for Light the World, the Church put giving machines in five large cities so more people could help others in need. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the world came together to bring light to people all around the globe.


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