CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Thursday that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the church, has been excused from church assignments and meetings for two months due to health concerns.
In addition to his church duties, Holland will also miss his controversial appearance at the Southern Utah University Commencement Ceremony.
Before the LDS general conference held over the first weekend of April, the church announced that Holland would be excused due to him and his wife, Patricia Holland, suffering from the effects of COVID. This week, the church announced Holland had also recently begun dialysis for a kidney condition.
The church excused Holland for at least two months, giving him time to continue treatments and recover. This also includes the commencement ceremony at Southern Utah University (SUU) at the end of April.
SUU spokesperson Nikki Koontz confirmed with ABC4 that Holland will no longer be providing the speech at the commencement ceremony.
Holland’s planned speech sparked controversy among the student body at SUU with many students, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community, protesting the decision of having him attend.
In late March, dozens of students performed a walk-out at SUU in protest wearing pride gear and carrying pride flags. A petition to remove Holland as the speaker and another to keep him quickly garnered support online.
One student that spoke to ABC4 pointed to a speech Holland gave in 2021 at Brigham Young University where he used a metaphor of “musket fire” when defending the church’s stance on family values, which she said felt like it targeted the LGBTQ+ community and was harmful language.
Others in support of Holland said that the 2021 speech was misinterpreted and that they were looking forward to having him at the SUU commencement ceremony.
SUU had decided it would move forward with having Holland as its commencement speaker, but now his health conditions have changed, SUU said it will be providing more details about its commencement ceremony in the near future.