News of the Church


Area Conference Is Announced for Central Europe

A Central European area general conference has been scheduled by the First Presidency for August 24–26 in Munich, Germany.

The five-nation conference will serve some 40,000 members in stakes and missions throughout Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, and the German- and Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland. Three languages will be represented at the conference: German, Dutch, and Italian.

The three-day event will open with social activities and programs on the evening of Friday, August 24. General conference sessions will be held Saturday morning and afternoon, followed by separate sessions for the Melchizedek Priesthood holders and prospective elders, Aaronic Priesthood youths, and female members.

The conference will come to a close with two general sessions on Sunday.

According to President Harold B. Lee, among those subjects to be stressed at the conference are the importance of the home and of building faith within the family in our Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ.

President Lee is expected to lead the delegation of General Authorities who will attend and address the conference sessions. The roster of speakers also will include leaders of the Church in Europe.

This is the third area general conference held by the Church. The first was in Manchester, England, in 1971, and the second was in Mexico City last August.

International Mission Established to Serve Remote Areas of Globe

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, has been called by the First Presidency as president of the newly formed International Mission of the Church.

In discussing the new mission with the Ensign, Elder Brockbank explained that it serves members of the Church who may be isolated from regular Church contact because business or military activities take them to remote areas of the globe.

“We know that we do have members in various parts of the world who are living outside regular mission areas, and they have no direct contact with the Church or its programs. These are the members we hope to reach.”

Elder Brockbank said that when members leave a regular stake or mission area, “we hope that they will contact us or that we will be notified by the wards or branches that they are leaving. We also are making contact with the various Church departments to see if they know of any isolated members. We will function the same as a regular mission, with our headquarters at 47 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, and anyone who knows of members who are out of normal contact with the Church should let us know their names and their whereabouts.”

Elder Brockbank said that in some cases it is possible for an isolated member to maintain contact with the Church through the closest mission headquarters. “If that is possible, then we hope that members will retain the contact that they have made. However, if they are unable to be properly served through a regular mission, then we will be their contact.

“Although we are interested in members serving in the military in remote areas, we are not taking over from the Military Relations Committee. But now and again, a member may be posted to a remote location and perhaps we can be of service. Our activities in this regard would be coordinated with the Military Relations Committee.”

Elder Brockbank said that there is a need for a direct contact with the Church where isolated members may want to perform a baptism or receive a temple recommend. “As members of the International Mission, they would contact us for direction in getting proper authorization or recommends, and we would put them in touch with the nearest mission president or stake president.

“We aim to see that members of the mission have access to Church publications and manuals, and that they are kept informed of Church programs so that they do not lose touch with the Church.”

Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve is adviser to the new mission.

New Department Oversees Church Music Activities

Elder O. Leslie Stone, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, has been named by the First Presidency as managing director of a newly formed Church Music Department. The new organization replaces the former Church Music Committee and brings music activities into correlation with other Church departments.

Elders Mark E. Petersen and Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve will serve as advisers to the new organization, which will have an advisory board comprised of Elder Stone, Wendell J. Ashton, Crawford Gates, A. Harold Goodman, and Isaac M. Stewart.

The new organization consists of four departments:

1. Church music, including the music areas of the Church auxiliaries. Coordinator is Robert Cundick, with Michael F. Moody as executive secretary. John R. Halliday will supervise the activities of the auxiliary music departments, while specialized areas will be supervised by James A. Mason. Both Brother Halliday and Brother Mason are with the Department of Music at Brigham Young University.

2. The Tabernacle Choir, with Isaac M. Stewart, president; Richard P. Condie, director; Jay Welch, assistant director; Alexander Schreiner, chief organist; Robert Cundick and Roy M. Darley, assistant organists; Stanford P. Darger, general secretary; and Richard B. Carlson, librarian.

3. Youth Symphony and Choir, with Jay Welch, director; Roy M. Darley, organist; and Richard Chatelain, general secretary.

4. Assignments for organists other than with the Tabernacle Choir.

Elder Anderson to Assist in Historical Department

Elder Josephh Anderson, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve

Elder Joseph Anderson

Elder Joseph Anderson, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, has been called to serve as assistant managing director of the Church Historical Department. Managing director is Elder Alvin R. Dyer, also an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, who was appointed two years ago.

Both men serve under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.

Now housed in the new General Church Office Building, the Historical Department comprises the Church Historian’s Office, library, and archives.

General Boards Called for MIA Organizations

The newly aligned Melchizedek Priesthood MIA and the Aaronic Priesthood MIA reached operational status in midwinter with the calling of new general boards.

Thirty-eight persons were called to the Aaronic Priesthood MIA general board and 23 to the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA board.

Also announced were appointments to two full-time positions in the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA. Jeffery R. Holland is director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, and John Covey is director of curriculum, service projects, and special projects of the organization.

Elder Holland will serve under the direction of Elder James E. Faust, managing director; Elders Marion D. Hanks and L. Tom Perry, associate directors; and Elder James M. Paramore, executive secretary of the Council of the Twelve. Elder Covey is an assistant to Elder Paramore. Both men serve under the direction of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee of the Twelve—Elders Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, and Bruce R. McConkie.

Nearly 1,700 Saints Left Homeless in Nicaraguan Earthquake

When 450,000 people evacuate an earthquake-devastated city, how do you contact some 1,700 Latter-day Saints in the unorganized, frantic exodus?

This major problem faced President Quinten Hunsaker of the Central America Mission when, two days before Christmas, Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was almost totally demolished by a massive earthquake.

As the earth tremors continued to shake the city, and as the government ordered complete evacuation to prevent the spread of disease in the hot climate, President Hunsaker journeyed twice to the stricken area to locate the Saints and to carry in supplies from neighboring Costa Rica.

Following his second visit he had this story to tell the Ensign.

“The earthquake came about 12:30 A.M. on the Saturday before Christmas, and the majority of our members lived right in the center of Managua where the quake hit. We also had missionaries there, but we brought them out and they are being reassigned throughout the mission.

“The central city was completely demolished; there is nothing there. Overall, probably 80 to 90 percent of the city was destroyed, and the remainder of the damaged area is being razed by demolition crews.

“If you can imagine a city almost the size of Salt Lake City being hit by an earthquake, with the buildings to the ground and all the survivors trying to locate their loved ones and friends as well as find food and water, then you may have some idea of what it is like.

“In the suburbs where some of the better homes are, the buildings were not destroyed by the earthquake, but they were badly damaged. But in the metropolitan downtown area where people live thousands to a city block in adobe buildings, the walls crumbled and the roofs fell in. This is why so many were killed and injured, although we probably will never know for sure just how many.

“As far as we know there were no deaths or injuries among the members, though one missionary cut his toe when he got out of bed and stepped on a piece of glass.

“We evacuated the 28 missionaries there; in fact, I had to go in myself to get them out because they could not get any transportation. They called and reported that they were all safe, and we told them to try to get out if they could, but then they couldn’t call back to us and let us know that they couldn’t get out of the country. The border was closed to people trying to go in or out of Nicaragua. By Sunday morning when they hadn’t come, and we hadn’t heard from them, I knew I had to go and get them. I drove into Nicaragua and had to have a military escort from the border into the city, where I found the missionaries at the chapel. We chartered a plane out of Costa Rica to evacuate them.”

President Hunsaker said that plans were formulated on Christmas day to take supplies into Nicaragua. By Monday night, approximately 20 tons of supplies, including food, water, and canvas tarpaulins, were ready for shipment.

“We drove all night to the border and then spent all day getting permission to leave Costa Rica and enter Nicaragua. We never would have made it without the Lord’s help. Then we faced another problem because in Nicaragua the officials were confiscating all supplies so that they could distribute them themselves. But finally we got special permission from the vice-president of Nicaragua to enter the country and set up our own supply centers.

“We got our supplies into a little branch at Masaya, about 25 miles outside of Managua, and made that our supply headquarters. We are giving consideration now to establishing a tent community as a place for the Saints to live. I think the city would let us have the land for it, and it would be on a temporary basis until more definite plans can be made.

“When we went in with the supplies we took along four missionaries to help in the distribution. Two of them are with the supply headquarters and the other two are traveling in a small van to take food to members who may have gone to other areas outside the capital. We are hoping that the members, as they leave the city, will make contact with the local branches.”

President Hunsaker said that the Church building in Managua was destroyed.

“The chapel was not completely destroyed but it can’t be used, and it will be torn down with all the other buildings in the city. We had plans underway for a second chapel and already had the site purchased, but luckily we hadn’t started work on it.”

Looking to the future, President Hunsaker said that the Saints from Managua will have to be supplied with food almost indefinitely until they can get back on their own feet. “At the present time they have no homes, no food other than what we have taken in, and no belongings. Some just had the shirts on their backs or were only wearing their pajamas. We are trying to contact all the members through the local Church leaders and the four missionaries who went back, to determine what they need and how much they need in the way of supplies and clothing and housing.

“They have nothing, but it hasn’t shaken their faith. The only hope now is the Church, and they know it. I think they will come out of this stronger.”

President Hunsaker said that the prayers of Saints around the world for the well being of the members in Nicaragua are still needed, and those offered have already been felt. “There could have been no way to get the missionaries out and the supplies in without the prayers of the Saints. The Lord just opened the way.”

[photo] Shells of buildings are all that remain in Managua, Nicaragua, where some 1,700 Saints were driven from their homes by earthquake and aftershock tremors in December.

International Exposition Will Feature LDS Exhibit

Ancient archaeological discoveries from Mexico and Central America relating to the Book of Mormon will be featured in a major Church exhibit at Expo ’74, an international exposition to be held at Spokane, Washington, from May through October next year.

Approximately five million visitors are expected to visit the 100-acre exposition, being designed for the center of Spokane at a cost of $60,000,000. The site encompasses two islands and the spectacular falls and rapids of the Spokane River.

Young Arizonans Help Clean Up Flood Damage

Five hundred young Latter-day Saint volunteers from Arizona spent part of their Christmas vacation in a massive cleanup campaign to restore farmlands extensively damaged during flooding in October in the Gila Valley of southeastern Arizona.

The three-day campaign resulted in fences being rebuilt, flood debris being removed, and countless irrigation ditches being cleaned and repaired on hundreds of acres of farmlands.

Members and nonmembers alike had previously banded together to restore 21 farm homes that had been inundated with floodwaters and debris. The youths, 14 to 23 years of age, stepped in to clean up the damaged lands where crops were destroyed and irrigation dams shattered. They were from Mount Graham, Southern Arizona, Tucson, Tucson North Stakes.

“It was a fantastic experience,” according to Boyce L. Lines. “Working together in the project not only presented a good image for the young people and focused on the Church; it also proved a great testimony-building experience for the youths.”