“News of the Church,” Ensign, Jan 1987, 73–80
Denver Temple Dedicated
“Denver Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 73–74
“Today one more lovely temple, one more holy place, is ready for dedication, and soon sacred ordinances will be performed within its walls. … This building will serve as a beacon to members and nonmembers alike, … a constant, visible symbol that God has not left man to grope in darkness, … a standing witness that the powers of God can stay the powers of evil in our midst, … a light to the world, a symbol of all we hold dear, … a constant reminder that life is eternal.”
In these lyric phrases President Ezra Taft Benson described the Denver Temple during the October 24 cornerstone service which immediately preceded the first of nineteen dedicatory sessions spread over five days.
More than twenty-eight thousand members attended the sessions, some coming from the far reaches of the temple district, which includes portions of Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and the western slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Members heard addresses from the First Presidency, from ten of the twelve Apostles, from ten members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, from Bishop Henry B. Eyring of the Presiding Bishopric, from the Denver Temple presidency, from wives of many of these Church leaders, and from other general and local Church leaders.
“I feel as though I’ve been soaked by the Spirit,” one member said at the conclusion of the dedicatory sessions. “I’m physically exhausted but spiritually energized.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, told of working in Colorado in his younger years as a railroad employee. He described a difficult decision he once had to make at the scene of a railroad disaster in Glenwood Canyon. Derailed boxcars loaded with valuable goods blocked the rails. Although under pressure to save the contents, Brother Hinckley gave the order to push the damaged cars into the river below because he felt it was more important to keep the traffic going.
Likening the railroad disaster to repentance, President Hinckley counseled those who may not qualify for a temple recommend, “Get the wreckage out of your lives. Repair the lines.” He said repentance—the refining of our lives—is the essence of temple work. “Get your lives back on the straight and narrow track,” he urged. “Move forward in faith, cleanliness, and righteousness and come to the house of the Lord.”
President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged members to use the inspired temple-building blueprints outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 as a guide to construct more perfect lives: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” [D&C 88:119]
President Monson suggested that even as novices, if we use the “words from the Master architect” we will eventually become expert craftsmen and will have built lives of great beauty and dedication.
He said, “If the Spirit of the Lord can dwell in a house of stone, metal, and plastic [the temple], surely He can more importantly dwell in a house with a righteous heart and spiritual soul when the inspired blueprints are followed.”
Denver Temple President Raymond A. Kimball issued an invitation to Saints in attendance: “No matter who you are or where you live, when you come to the temple, we welcome you home.”
During the dedicatory sessions, choirs from nineteen stakes sang specially-selected hymns.
In his remarks at a dinner to honor open house and dedication volunteers, Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter, of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temples Department, commended the more than seven thousand members who gave service. “You have a reputation for being a spiritually-endowed people who do a great job with a touch of elegance,” he said. “You have been favored with leaders who have a driving enthusiasm. We’ve felt it all the way across the mountains. The Denver Temple Committee has exemplified excellence.”
Correspondent: Twila Bird, a member of the Church’s Denver area public communications council.
[photo] Twenty-eight thousand members attended the Denver Temple dedication. (Photo by Paul Fletcher.)
Denver Temple Attracts Large Crowds During Open House
“Denver Temple Attracts Large Crowds During Open House,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 74
Some 140,000 visitors toured the newly completed Denver Colorado Temple during the three-week open house that concluded September 27. According to an unofficial poll, about 60 percent of the visitors were nonmembers.
The number of visitors was substantially higher than anticipated, and the missionary exhibits housed in a separate building also proved considerably more popular than expected. “We had hoped 20 percent of the temple visitors would take the time to view the missionary exhibits,” said Twila Bird of the Denver Area Public Communications Council. “Instead, approximately 57 percent visited the nearby building where the missionary exhibit was on display.”
More than 17,000 copies of the Book of Mormon were placed in the hands of nonmembers during the open house, and 27,500 guest response cards were filled out by visitors.
First Year in Office Marked for President Benson
“First Year in Office Marked for President Benson,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 74
On November 10, President Ezra Taft Benson marked his first anniversary as President of the Church. During that year, he has repeatedly stressed the importance of reading and following the counsel found in the Book of Mormon.
In the October general conference, President Benson said, “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in the witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of our testimony.”
During his first year as Church president, worldwide membership of the Church surpassed the six million mark, the number of full-time missionaries approached 32,000, and new temples were dedicated in Lima, Peru; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Seoul, South Korea; and Denver, Colorado. In addition, ground was broken for temples in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Portland, Oregon.
[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson has marked important milestones during his first year as President of the Church. (Photo by Church Photo Services.)
President Benson Receives Pacemaker
“President Benson Receives Pacemaker,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 74
President Ezra Taft Benson underwent successful surgery November 6 for implantation of an artificial pacemaker for his heart.
President Benson’s doctors performed the minor surgery by making a small incision in President Benson’s left upper chest area. Electrodes were placed through a vein into his heart, one into the lower right pumping chamber and the other in the upper collecting chamber. The pacemaker, implanted just under the skin, is the most sophisticated type available for this situation, doctors said.
A pacemaker is a device that electronically maintains the heart’s rhythm at a normal, regular pace. President Benson had been experiencing some episodes during which his heartbeat was irregular, according to his cardiologist, Dr. Allan H. Barker.
The procedure was not the result of an emergency, but had been contemplated for some time to improve the function of President Benson’s heart.
After the operation, President Benson made a normal recovery and was released to his home on Saturday, November 8. He returned to work at his office the following week.
President Benson Sends Message to Boise Regional Conference
“President Benson Sends Message to Boise Regional Conference,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 74–75
Latter-day Saints need to increase their study of the Book of Mormon and make it the basis for all of their teaching, President Ezra Taft Benson said in a message to a Boise regional conference on November 2.
President Benson, whose health didn’t permit him to attend the conference in person, sent his secretary, Gary Gillespie, to read his message about the Book of Mormon to 13,900 Boise-area Saints who packed the conference. Also in attendance were Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Norma, and Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his wife, Norma.
The Saints, representing ten stakes—six in Boise, three in Meridian, and one in Mountain Home—overflowed the 12,000-seat Pavilion at Boise State University, where the conference was held on a crisp, clear Sunday morning.
In his message, President Benson counseled the Saints to use the Book of Mormon. He said members of the Church may easily be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless they know how to use this book of scripture.
In addition to President Benson’s message, members heard Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve, who conducted and presided over the conference, stress the importance of temple work and the need to be worthy to enter the temple.
Elder Ashton’s wife, Norma B. Ashton, also spoke at the conference, urging the members not to give up if their feelings should be hurt by other members of the Church. Quoting her husband, she said, “Don’t let yourself be offended by someone who is learning his job.”
Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy counseled the Saints to love their families and to teach their children through example. Elder Harbertson’s wife, Norma C. Harbertson, also stressed the importance of family relationships in her conference address. She related examples of how the Prophet Joseph Smith showed his love for his family and encouraged Saints to follow his example.
Correspondent: Bob Cazier, a newspaper reporter and member of the Meridian Eighth Ward, Meridian Idaho East Stake.
Church Educators Urged to “Teach with the Spirit”
“Church Educators Urged to ‘Teach with the Spirit’,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 75
Religious educators in the Church should teach with inspiration and enthusiasm, said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve recently.
In an address given to Church educators in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Elder Perry urged teachers to teach with the Spirit and to be examples of what they teach.
Elder Perry quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 42:14: “and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” [D&C 42:14] He then declared, “For we teach what we are, and we are what we teach. Our day-to-day living, our day-to-day faith, our day-to-day example are the things the students will remember.”
Elder Perry advised educators that “Teaching with the Spirit will let each student know of your love and especially God’s love and concern for them.”
Recalling his days as an early morning seminary teacher, Elder Perry said it was one of the greatest callings and privileges of his Church career.
“I challenge you to enter every class filled with enthusiasm, because enthusiasm is contagious,” he emphasized. “Radiate spirituality. It would be impossible to stand before a class ‘on fire’ with the Spirit of the Lord without having your soul’s vibrations resound in the hearts of your students.”
Teachers were urged to create memorable experiences and “red letter” days for their students. He told of an experience from his early life, when his bishop organized an Aaronic Priesthood visit to the Clarkston, Utah, grave of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
The group was accompanied by an elderly man named William Pinkerton. He told about working in his youth and boarding with a ninety-two-year-old man who asked Brother Pinkerton what he knew about the Book of Mormon. Afterward, the man revealed that he was Martin Harris and bore his testimony.
“You can imagine how electrifying this experience was to me as I realized that there stood a man who had actually heard the testimony of one of the three witnesses,” Elder Perry remembered. “It was clearly a ‘red letter’ day for me.”
Decrying pornography, fornication, and other sins, Elder Perry stressed the need to emphasize moral standards. “Somehow we must make the good, the clean, and the wholesome so attractive that our students will want to fill their hearts, their minds, their souls with that which is right before the Lord.” He added that students should be motivated to “seek after the good things of life, thus protecting themselves from evil thoughts and evil acts.”
Elder Perry also emphasized the need to teach integrity in the classroom. He recalled serving in Church administration when President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency worked directly on the Church’s financial affairs.
“There were many times we were in meetings when propositions were brought forth that would be advantageous to the Church if we compromised a little bit on principle,” Elder Perry remembered. “These practices, of course, were accepted in the countries in which we were doing business. … Every time, President Tanner’s voice would come up strong, and he would say, ‘The Church will never participate in anything that is not completely honest and upright.’ ”
Speaking of students, Elder Perry said, “We must supply them with the strength to stand up for that which is right. We must see that they have the materials and the opportunities to develop these firm testimonies that are the essence of spiritual life,” he concluded. “We can do this only if we are able to teach with the Spirit.”
Church Produces Anti-Pornography Documentaries
“Church Produces Anti-Pornography Documentaries,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 75–76
The Church has produced several half-hour radio and television documentaries on the plague of pornography and plans to distribute them as widely as possible as free public affairs programs. The programs resulted from the Church’s longstanding concern about the growing availability and impact of pornographic material.
Commenting on pornography and the abuse of modern technology to disseminate it, Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve said:
“New technologies that can bless our lives in so many positive ways are also being used to spread pornography. … Video recorders now can bring to homes great classics, … but they also bring into some of these same homes lurid portrayals of debauchery that contaminate those who view them.”
It is estimated that pornographic videocassettes are now being rented or sold in more than 22,000 stores throughout the United States alone, Elder Haight said.
“The growing presence of obscenity has been aided by the lowering of media standards for advertising, by relaxed movie ratings, by television soap operas and situation comedies that use their powerful voices to justify, glamorize, and encourage sexual relations outside of marriage,” he pointed out.
The documentaries feature comments on the pornography issue from a clinical psychologist, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, a U.S. attorney, and clergy and other leaders of various denominations, including Elder Haight and Ardeth G. Kapp, general president of the Church’s Young Women organization. The programs will be distributed to commercial television stations, cable TV systems, and radio stations throughout the United States.
“Let our voices be heard in our communities,” said Elder Haight. “If something offends [our] standards of decency, our voices should be heard. Make our elected officials and law enforcement people aware that we support the fair enforcement of laws prohibiting obscenity and regulating indecency.”
Elder Anderson Becomes Oldest General Authority
“Elder Anderson Becomes Oldest General Authority,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 76
On October 26, Elder Joseph Anderson, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, became the oldest man to serve as a General Authority in the 156-year history of the Church.
On that day, Elder Anderson was 96 years and 340 days of age. He celebrated his 97th birthday on November 20.
In the longevity category, the late Elder LeGrand Richards, former Presiding Bishop and longtime member of the Council of the Twelve, was the previous record holder. At the time of his death in 1983, his age was 96 years and 339 days. President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, lived 96 years and 132 days.
Elder Anderson was born 20 November 1889 in Salt Lake City. He served as secretary to the First Presidency of the Church from 1923 to 1972. In April of 1970, he was called to be an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, and in October of 1976 was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was given emeritus status in 1978.
He attributes his longevity to his adherence to the Word of Wisdom. He keeps an active mind, eats wholesome foods in moderation, and has an exercise regimen that includes regular swimming sessions.
“Appointments,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 76
Arbolillo Mexico and Camarones Mexico regions, Franscisco Pineda Salazar, manager of purchasing and warehousing, former stake president.
Blackfoot Idaho and McCammon Idaho regions, Rulon Douglas Robinson, physician, former stake president.
Nampa Idaho, Weiser Idaho regions, Richard Ira Corey, financial group manager, former counselor to stake president.
Belfast Ireland and Edinburgh Scotland regions, Alexander Cumming, owner of a building services company, former stake president.
Young Women General Board
Kathryn Luke, Orem Seventeenth Ward, Orem Utah North Stake, an elementary school principal and former stake Young Women president.
Sherry Wilcox, Farmington First Ward, Farmington Utah Stake, an employee of the Church Temple Department and former stake Young Women president.
Policies and Announcements
“Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 76–77
The following items appeared in the December 1986 Bulletin.
Chaplain Openings. Openings for LDS chaplains are available (1) in the full-time U.S. Navy, (2) on a reserve or National Guard status with the Oregon Army National Guard in the Portland-Salem area, (3) in the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard in the Fourth Army area (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota), and (4) in the California State Guard.
Chaplain requirements for members of the Church include Melchizedek Priesthood; a full-time mission; a bachelor’s degree; a master’s degree in counseling; age under forty for the Army Reserve and National Guard, age under thirty-six for the U.S. Navy. (Age may be waived for the California State Guard, a volunteer, nonpaid organization.) Interested members may contact the Church Military Relations Committee, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Telephone (801)531-2286 for further details and procedures for application.
Gospel Doctrine Course, 1987. The 1987 Gospel Doctrine course will be the New Testament. Class members should be reminded that the student text (or manual) is the New Testament itself. There is no other student text. However, there is a New Testament Scripture Study Guide (PCSS5781) to assist class members in their study of the New Testament.
Aaronic PriesthoodBook. The New Era magazine has compiled the magazine’s best articles and short stories about the Aaronic Priesthood into a book titled Priesthood in Action. The book offers insights into such Aaronic Priesthood duties as passing the sacrament, home teaching, service, and preparing to preach the gospel on a mission. Heart-warming, real-life incidents about Aaronic Priesthood holders are told by General Authorities, adult leaders, and young men.
The information in this book will build and strengthen testimonies and will develop an understanding and appreciation for the magnitude and the blessings of the Aaronic Priesthood for young men and women.
Copies of Priesthood in Action (PBMA1033; $3.95 each) are available from the Salt Lake Distribution Center. Checks should be made out to the Corporation of the President.
The following item appeared in the October/November 1986 Bulletin.
Relief Society Visiting Teaching. The ten-minute visiting teaching segment ordinarily will take place at the beginning of homemaking meeting, and everyone is invited.
This ten-minute segment can be used by the Relief Society president, assisted by the visiting teaching board member, to motivate and instruct visiting teachers and to help them understand the importance of helping and sustaining each other. The sisters can be taught to assess needs, to understand the importance of confidentiality, and to be non-judgmental.
Dominican Growth: From Zero to Thousands Since 1978
“Dominican Growth: From Zero to Thousands Since 1978,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 77–78
When the John Rappleye family moved to Santo Domingo in the summer of 1978, they took with them a supply of LDS literature. They knew the Church was not yet organized in the Dominican Republic, and they wanted to tell the gospel story to others.
Among the first people they met were Eddie Amparo and his wife, who had recently returned from living in California for fifteen years. The Amparos had joined the Church in the United States, and they too had brought their own supply of Church literature to their home country.
With the permission of the mission president who had responsibility for the Dominican Republic, the Rappleyes and the Amparos began holding Church meetings and sharing the gospel with friends and acquaintances. Their message quickly created interest, and Rodolfo Bodden, Brother Rappleye’s primary business contact and one of Brother Amparo’s old friends, was soon baptized.
The gospel was so well accepted that missionaries were sent to the Dominican Republic in November 1978, and in December Elder M. Russell Ballard, then a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was assigned to dedicate the country for missionary work.
The dedication took place 7 December 1978 on an isolated ridge overlooking the capital city. In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Ballard said: “We acknowledge that we have but a handful of members now, but pray thee to bless and prosper, Heavenly Father, this land that from this humble beginning many thousands of thy children might find the truth and that stakes of Zion might be driven down here.”
Brother Rappleye, Brother Amparo, and Brother Bodden have held a variety of Church leadership positions since then. The Church has grown rapidly—from one branch to two, then to districts, then to a separate mission. The Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission was organized in 1981. In March of this year, the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Stake, the first in the country, was organized.
In 1979, the year after the missionaries arrived, 354 people were baptized; in the month of June alone this year, there were 355 baptisms. Today there are more than 11,000 Latter-day Saints on the island that Columbus discovered.
Miguel Antonio Tejada is president of the branch at Bani, about forty-four miles west of Santo Domingo. He and his family were baptized in 1983. “We know the value of the gospel, and for this we are grateful,” he says. Family members feel greater love toward their fellow beings. “We work hard to help everyone in Bani come to know the gospel so they can feel the happiness we have found.”
Anselmo Arroyo and his family live in Azua, a little more than seventy miles west of the capital. They have been members of the Church since 1984, but some of their children joined earlier. Their oldest son, Bernardo, served a mission in the Dominican Republic, and two other sons, Jose Anselmo and Nelson, are now serving as missionaries in their homeland. Nearly half of the approximately 170 missionaries in the Dominican Republic are native to that country.
The Arroyo family is supported by a small spice and shampoo packaging and distribution business. Brother and Sister Arroyo say their sons’ missions have taught the family the meaning of the law of sacrifice, and the blessings that come from serving. Before they found the gospel, they say, “our lives lacked objectives. Now we know why and for what goals we live. There is joy in our lives.”
Seventeen-year-old Ingrid Margarita Rodriguez is the Young Women president of the Tierra Alta Branch in Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second largest city. Her mother, Margarita, says Ingrid and her sixteen-year-old brother, Jose, led the way for her and her husband, who followed their children into the Church. Their father says he had never before felt such happiness and peace as when he found the gospel. Now, Sunday services are an opportunity to partake of the Spirit of the Lord and “return home strengthened.”
Ingrid looks forward enthusiastically to the time when she will be old enough to serve a mission. Young women of the branch frequently go out in pairs, knocking on doors and looking for people who would like to learn about the gospel, so they can refer them to the missionaries.
Rafael A. Mendez of Santiago was surprised by the strength of the missionaries’ convictions when he met them, as well as by the love they obviously felt for him and his family. The Mendez family was baptized in August of 1980. A mechanic, Rafael works hard in his shop six says a week, but the seventh day is dedicated to the Lord. He is second counselor in the presidency of the Santiago District and enjoys visiting all of its branches. “I am happy to be able to serve in the work of the Lord,” he says.
Rodolfo Bodden, that first convert baptized in the Dominican Republic, is currently second counselor in the presidency of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Stake. His family was the first in the Dominican Republic to be sealed in the temple, and two of his children have served missions. “Never could we give sufficient thanks for having been given the gospel,” he says. “These eight years in the Church have been the best of our lives, and we owe everything that we are to our knowledge of the gospel.”
Correspondent: Felix Sequi, high councilor in the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Stake.
[photos] Miguel Antonio Tejada, president of the Bani Branch, works as a tailor. Inset shows the Oriental Branch chapel in Santo Domingo. (Photo by Felix Sequi.)
[photo] Rodolfo Bodden and his family were the first converts to the Church in Santo Domingo. (Photo by Felix Sequi.)
Voice of America Features Church
“Voice of America Features Church,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 78
Voice of America, the official global radio station of the U.S. government, interviewed Church spokesmen and members in the Salt Lake City area during the week of October 20 and then broadcast the interviews to approximately 120 million listeners worldwide.
The broadcasts were transmitted to Voice of America headquarters in Washington, D.C., from a mobile unit in Salt Lake City. Tapes made during the interviews will also be used in several future broadcasts.
The Voice of America had earlier featured the Church in broadcasts when the mobile unit was in Palmyra, New York, in October 1985. “Yours is the only native American Christian religion,” Producer Irina Burgener responded when asked why her radio station was spending so much time featuring the LDS religion. “While we have featured other religions around the country, we have never before spent this much time on a single faith.
“We wanted to tell our listeners what the Church is and what it’s like to be a Mormon in Utah,” she said. “We intend to portray Mormonism as a social phenomenon as well as a religious one. I have to tell you that it’s unusual and gratifying to come to a place where there is so much concern for one another and so much emphasis on the family,” she added.
A Conversation about the BYU Religious Studies Center
“A Conversation about the BYU Religious Studies Center,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 79–80
The Religious Studies Center was established at Brigham Young University in 1975 to facilitate religious studies not only by the university but also by the general membership of the Church. To learn more about this center, the Ensign spoke recently with Robert J. Matthews, general director of the center.
Q: How does the Religious Studies Center act as a resource for the members of the Church?
A: As part of Brigham Young University, the center is here to serve the entire Church. One way we help is by doing research for individuals who may not have the time, money, or other resources to do this kind of work. Anyone with a serious research proposal on a non-doctrinal topic can write us. Some of these proposals might lead to full-fledged research projects.
However, there has to be some order to the process. A member of the Church might write to the Religious Studies Center with a problem or an idea he wants to learn more about. But before going to work, we must first decide whether we can help. It’s conceivable we could receive a thousand proposals a year, and only be able to act on four or five.
Q: How are these requests judged?
A: In a sense, the Religious Studies Center acts as a clearing house. We examine each request in its own light. We have to decide whether a particular project would be an appropriate one to spend time on, and whether we have the resources necessary for us to lend the assistance requested. Often, someone else has already done work on a subject, so we can refer the member to them.
The center has an executive committee that makes those judgments. The committee acts under the direction of William E. Evenson, who is also associate academic vice-president.
Q: How would an individual member approach the center with a request?
A: The requests we handle could be in the form of a question or a suggestion for research. We might be asked to evaluate work someone has already done. In either case, inquiries should be sent to: Donald Q. Cannon, Associate General Director of the Religious Studies Center, 156 Joseph Smith Building, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602. Requests will be evaluated individually, and priorities assigned on the basis of what we have time to do.
Q: Is the research done by the Religious Studies Center always religiously oriented?
A: We anticipate that everything we do will somehow enlarge our knowledge of religion and strengthen our commitment to the gospel as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We look upon the Religious Studies Center as a teacher support system. Unless we can see something in a proposed project that would be of benefit to LDS teachers and benefit the progress of the Church, we would probably not give that project top priority.
The areas we normally deal with include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, LDS Church history, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and Ancient Studies. We also have another category called Special Projects.
Q: Exactly how does the center function?
A: Each of the areas named has a director who is relieved of a third of his regular teaching load to allow him time to do two things: first, do research himself, and second, sponsor research among other faculty members in many disciplines. Too, we sometimes use the services of people away from BYU who have expertise in various areas. When necessary, we call on them for help.
President Jeffrey R. Holland has given us a charge that we should do serious research on a wide range of significant religious topics. He insists that our research be accurate and that it receive a review from other scholars so that what an individual is saying or doing is judged to be of worth.
Q: What kind of projects is the center currently involved in?
A: Every year we have one or two symposia that deal with major religious subjects. We recently held a very successful Book of Mormon symposium in which we examined First Nephi. Next year we’ll do Second Nephi. This Book of Mormon symposium will be an annual event we’ll continue for several years until we’ve gone through the Book of Mormon. Monte S. Nyman, an associate dean of Religious Education, is the director of that area and has done some very good work. Paul R. Cheesman, now retired, was Brother Nyman’s predecessor and did considerable research on the external evidences of the Book of Mormon and also produced some valuable motion pictures on the subject.
H. Donl Peterson is director of the Pearl of Great Price area. He is currently doing some very original research on the background of the papyri of the Book of Abraham—its long route from the tomb in Egypt to the hands of Joseph Smith.
Each of the center’s directors has a project of his own he’s working on. Larry C. Porter, director of LDS Church history, and others have been doing work on early LDS history in the New York period. With the British sesquicentennial coming up in July 1987, his office has aided others in researching Wales and other areas in Great Britain.
Richard L. Anderson, directing the Bible area, has sponsored a symposium on the New Testament. He’s also doing research on Church history and biblical subjects.
Larry E. Dahl, recently appointed to direct the center’s Doctrine and Covenants area, is doing research on that topic and also sponsoring research by others relating to the Doctrine and Covenants. He plans to do a special study on the Lectures on Faith.
Q: What is included in special projects?
A: This encompasses any work that might be requested by a General Authority or a research project that doesn’t fit one of the other categories. John W. Welch is the director.
One area that we are interested in is early Christianity. There is not enough known about the formation and the history of the Church from the time of Christ until the fourth century. We’re very interested in tapping the services of people who can search out and document what happened to the Church in those first four centuries.
Another exciting project we hope to see published sometime in the future is a multivolume “encyclopedia of Mormonism,” dealing with LDS doctrine, history, and culture.
We have so much going on it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s underway, but many of these projects will be published eventually. That’s the end goal. We produce two or three major publications each year. The most recent one off the press resulted from a symposium titled, “Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints.”
These publications can be obtained in any major bookstore where LDS books are sold.
In September, we published our first quarterly newsletter. Donald Q. Cannon, who is an associate dean of Religious Education and associate director of the center, along with S. Kent Brown, who is the center’s assistant director in charge of publications, are the chief editors and compilers of the newsletter.
Q: Who receives these newsletters?
A: All faculty members at BYU and the institutes of religion receive copies. One copy is sent to every seminary teacher and every active LDS chaplain in the military. The newsletter is sent throughout the Church Educational System—to Ricks College, BYU—Hawaii, the LDS Business College, and to anyone else who expresses an interest.
Q: Does the center limit its research to LDS subjects, or is it interested in all religions?
A: Of course, we focus on the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are interested in all aspects of religion. C. Wilfred Griggs, director of Ancient Studies for the center, has done considerable work excavating a cemetery in Egypt. He’s doing some research in that country, dating back to around the fourth century, a.d., which we expect will give us new insights into early Christianity. He is also planning to go to Great Britain and study early Roman settlements there. He’s probing the theory that the Roman Legions introduced Christianity in the British Isles in the second or third centuries after the time of Christ.
In 1983, the Religious Studies Center sponsored a seminar on Islam under the direction of Spencer J. Palmer. We think this is the first time the university had reached out formally to have a symposium on this world religion. We brought in people—including Muslims—from other countries, and we also used Latter-day Saints who have special knowledge and expertise in Islam. The result of the two-day seminar was a book titled Mormons and Muslims.
In October 1986, Spencer Palmer, under the auspices of BYU’s David Kennedy International Center, sponsored a symposium on the religions of sub-tropical Africa. The Religious Studies Center was a cosponsor.
Q: How large is the center’s faculty?
A: When the Religious Studies Center was begun twelve years ago by Jeffrey Holland (then dean of Religious Instruction), it was a relatively small operation. It has been enlarged twice, including a significant increase this past year. All activities, of course, are under the overall direction of President Jeffrey R. Holland, vice-president Jay R. Ballif, and associate vice-president William E. Evenson.
Today, we have nine faculty members, who work up to half time at the center, and three full-time secretaries. We also employ a number of part-time research assistants.
As the director, I’m charged to see that the time, money, and human resources of the university are used in a way that the research done will be productive and helpful to the University and the membership of the Church.
[photo] Robert J. Matthews (center), director of BYU’s Religious Studies Center, with Donald Q. Cannon (left), associate general director, and S. Kent Brown (right), assistant general director. (Photography by Marty Mayo.)^ Back to top