News of the Church


Solemn Assembly Sustains President Lee, Five New General Authorities

President Harold B. Lee was sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator of the Church, and five new General Authorities were named at October’s 142nd Semiannual General Conference.

Sustained with President Lee were his two counselors in the First Presidency, President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney. All of the General Authorities were sustained at a solemn assembly held in accordance with the voting procedure introduced when President John Taylor was sustained as the third President of the Church on October 10, 1888.

The vacancy in the Council of the Twelve occasioned by President Romney’s call as second counselor to President Lee was filled by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who has served for the past twenty-six years as a member of the First Council of the Seventy. Elder McConkie’s many Church assignments have included serving as church servicemen’s coordinator and as president of the Southern Australia Mission.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

In 1937, he was married in the Salt Lake Temple to Amelia Smith, a daughter of the late President Joseph Fielding Smith.

The four other new authorities include three Assistants to the Twelve and a member of the First Council of the Seventy, filling the vacancy created by Elder McConkie’s new calling.

Sustained as Assistants to the Twelve were O. Leslie Stone, a Regional Representative of the Twelve and formerly president of the Salt Lake Temple; James E. Faust, also a Regional Representative; and L. Tom Perry, president of the Boston Stake.

O. Leslie Stone James E. Faust L. Tom Perry

Elder O. Leslie Stone Elder James E. Faust Elder L. Tom Perry

The new member of the First Council of the Seventy is President Rex D. Pinegar, president of the North Carolina-Virginia Mission.

President Rex D. Pinegar

President Rex D. Pinegar

Full coverage of the solemn assembly, plus complete conference talks and biographies on the new General Authorities will appear in the January 1973 Ensign.

Church Welfare Services Consolidated

A greater coordination between the Church’s three welfare departments will be brought about by an administrative consolidation announced recently.

Under the new heading of Welfare Services, welfare, social services, and health services will provide for “the total well-being of our members,” according to Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown.

Welfare Services will be presided over by the General Welfare Services Committee, comprising the Presiding Bishop; his counselors, Bishop H. Burke Peterson and Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone; and the General Relief Society presidency—President Belle S. Spafford and her counselors, Marianne C. Sharp and Louise W. Madsen.

The active involvement of the Relief Society is also reflected in the wards and stakes. At the ward level, the bishop will head the welfare services committee, assisted by his counselors, the Relief Society presidency, priesthood leaders, the ward clerk, and the executive secretary. A similar organization will exist at the stake level.

Acting as liaison between the General Welfare Services Committee and their respective departments will be Dr. James O. Mason, commissioner of health services; Junior Wright Child, managing director of the Welfare Department; and Victor L. Brown, Jr., associate director of social services. Managing director of social services is Elder Robert L. Simpson, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve.

Glen Van Wagenen has been named assistant director for social services, and Lee H. Nelson has been appointed associate director of the Welfare Department.

The new program is a step toward worldwide Church welfare services that will provide members with local assistance in their economic and their social, health, and emotional needs.

“All the principles we have learned in North America will be shared with the stakes throughout the Church,” according to Victor L. Brown, Jr. “We recognize, of course, that this will take time. Some stakes are close to being able to take on these responsibilities, while with others it will be a gradual maturing process.

“This new program means that the Church is moving ever more vigorously toward the day when it will truly take care of its own. By taking care of its own, I don’t mean that we will try to take care of all of our members from our operations in Salt Lake City. What we are aiming for are services that can be administered at the local community level, tailored to local needs.”

Details of the new services organization are contained in the Welfare Services Handbook, and further instruction and counseling will be provided through Regional Representatives.

President Lee Visits Europe and Middle East

A missionary conference, a youth meeting, press conferences, a special luncheon, and visits with the Saints were on the agenda for President Harold B. Lee and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve, as they recently made a three-week tour in England, Europe, and the Middle East.

President Lee (who was making his first official overseas tour as President of the Church) and Elder Hinckley, accompanied by their wives, visited London, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Greece, and the Holy Land.

In London, President Lee was the honored guest at a special luncheon hosted by Canadian-born Lord Thompson of Fleet, head of the world’s largest publishing empire.

Also in London, the visiting authorities met with missionaries and attended the reorganization of the London Stake, in which John H. Cox was sustained as president, succeeding Elder Joseph Hampstead, now a Regional Representative of the Twelve.

President Lee and his party also attended a youth conference in Rome.

[photo] In London, President Lee was a guest at a luncheon given by Lord Thompson of Fleet, left; Sir Isaac Wolfson is second from left.

New Callings in Missionary Department

In line with recent changes in the supervision of missions, a number of new administrative positions have been created. Gene R. Cook has been appointed executive secretary of the First Council of the Seventy. He also serves as a Regional Representative. Edwin C. (Ned) Winder has been named administrative assistant to the missionary department, with G. Carlos Smith, Jr., as department manager and Arthur H. Strong as medical coordinator. All three men have served as mission presidents.

Prior to his current appointment, Brother Winder served as secretary to the Church Missionary Committee, duties that will be assumed by Brother Smith. Brother Strong has been supervising the Membership Department of the Church.

The changes in the supervision of missions was announced last June with the calling of twenty-nine Mission Representatives of the Council of the Twelve and of the First Council of Seventy. These representatives will assist in the direct supervision of the missions.

With this reorganization, the First Council of the Seventy, under the direction of the Council of the Twelve, now is responsible for quorums of seventies, stake missions, and the supervision of the full-time missionaries. The Church currently has 16,000 full-time missionaries, 24,000 seventies, and 8,000 stake missionaries.

Highlighting current missionary activity is the emphasis on family conversions and the fellowshiping of new members.

First Presidency Statement Against Pornography

With the Saints gathered for general conference, the First Presidency issued a statement on pornography. Recognizing that “pornographic filth” continues to flood the United States and other nations of the world, the First Presidency message said:

“There is abundant evidence of the damaging effect of obscenity on the solidarity of the family, on the moral fiber of the individual.

“We, with many leaders outside the church, are deeply concerned about this growing obscenity in print, on record and tape, on television, and in motion pictures.

“We therefore urge Latter-day Saint parents to teach their children to avoid smut in any of its insidious forms. ‘Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.’ (D&C 121:45.)

“The Lord has also said: ‘Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you.’ (D&C 90:18.)

“We also encourage Latter-day Saints as citizens to exert every effort to fight the inroads of pornography in their communities. History is replete with examples of nations which have fallen in a large measure through licentiousness.”

Special Consultant to First Presidency Appointed

A man whose motivation to work has enabled him to “become anxiously engaged in business, church, education, civic activities, and welfare endeavors” has been named a special consultant to the First Presidency.

Lee A. Bickmore, who has been working closely with the First Presidency during the past two years on communications and organization, is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Nabisco, Inc., an international food processing company with headquarters in New York.

Born in Paradise, Utah, Brother Bickmore, 63, is a graduate of both the University of Utah and the Harvard Business School’s advanced management course. He joined Nabisco in 1933 in Pocatello, Idaho, eventually transferring to the company’s general offices in New York City. In 1950, he was appointed vice-president for sales, advertising, and marketing. Seven years later he was named a senior vice-president, and in 1959 he was named executive vice-president and a member of the board of directors. He was named Nabisco’s president in 1960 and became the company’s chief executive officer in 1963 and chairman of the board in 1968.

In the Church he has served on the high council of the New York Stake and has been a Sunday School teacher in his home ward in Short Hills, New Jersey. He also has been a ward Sunday School president, member of a stake Sunday School presidency, and president of a stake YMMIA.

His service to the Church will now be as consultant in such areas as business operations, financing, building, communications, and the welfare program. This latter area, along with tithing and other contributions, is considered very important by Brother Bickmore. “Giving in the Church conditions one to think more of the importance of helping one’s fellowmen and making a real contribution rather than just accumulating funds,” he declares.

“In the business community,” he adds, “we Latter-day Saints are known as hard-working, industrious people. This is a most valuable asset. Being industrious enables us to be self-sustaining, self-sufficient, and self-reliant. We thus build character, capabilities, confidence, and talents.”

Elder Bickmore, who will continue in his role with Nabisco, was married in the Logan Temple in 1939 to the former Ellen McMinn of Pocatello, Idaho; they have two daughters.

[photo] Lee A. Bickmore

Innovations Highlight Sunday School Conference

Three new developments were highlighted at the Sunday School conference held in conjunction with October conference.

The changes announced include a new series of fellowshiping lessons, family presentations at Fast Sunday opening exercises, and a new approach to ward-level leadership training.

In addition, a revised edition of the Sunday School Handbook was introduced, along with a Junior Sunday School Coordinator’s Guidebook. This latter publication is, according to Sunday School executive secretary Jay W. Mitton, the first handbook to show the total operation of the Junior Sunday School.

The twelve-week fellowshiping course is a priesthood home teaching function but will eventually replace the current Gospel Essentials course taught in Sunday School. Divided into five units, the new course will discuss such areas as the plan of salvation, the eternal family, the royal priesthood, the Church today, and one’s personal responsibility.

Family spiritual presentations have been approved by the First Presidency as a replacement for two-and-a-half-minute talks and memorized scripture recitations. The presentations may consist of poetry, special music, talks, or scripture reading.