News of the Church


Conference Addresses in July Ensign

Addresses delivered by the General Authorities at the 143rd Annual General Conference of the Church in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on April 6, 7, and 8 will be printed in the July issue of the Ensign.

[photos] Sister LaVern W. Parmley addresses Primary workers

Primary Leaders Challenged at Annual Conference

“One or more in ’74.” That’s the challenge issued by President LaVern W. Parmley, general president of the Primary Association. Speaking at the auxiliary’s 67th annual conference in the Salt Lake Tabernacle April 4 and 5, Sister Parmley challenged Primary leaders throughout the world to bring at least one additional child—member or nonmember—into activity in every Primary class in the Church.

Other goals of the Primary for 1973–74, Sister Parmley said, are increased reverence, love, scripture reading (particularly the Book of Mormon), and children’s choruses. “Primary should be a year-round program,” she stated, emphasizing the importance of continuing meetings and activities into the summer.

Reiterating Sister Parmley’s challenge of reading the scriptures, President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, admonished Primary leaders to depend on the scriptures as the prime source for answering questions. In Primary, he said, teachers must teach that “God is a personal being, and although he can’t be everywhere at a given moment, by his power he is everywhere. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent—the great wireless system of communication from God to man.”

Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve, who addressed the opening session of the conference, declared that Primary officers and teachers must live and act in accordance with the Lord’s commandments. “The power to lead is also the power to mislead,” he said, “and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.”

The conference theme was taken from Doctrine and Covenants 88:119: “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]

Assisting Sister Parmley in conducting the conference were her counselors, Naomi W. Randall and Florence R. Lane. Other speakers at general sessions included Thomas R. Harris, administrator of the Primary Children’s Hospital, and Don H. Flanders, chairman, Cub Scouting Committee, Boy Scouts of America. Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, was featured speaker at one of the department sessions.

Concern for the Individual Shown in New Report Forms

The growing emphasis in the Church on the individual member instead of auxiliary programs is reflected in the new correlated monthly reports for wards and stakes.

The new report forms, which will come into effect in September, will greatly simplify the task of wards reporting to stakes, and branches reporting to districts.

Currently, the monthly correlated report from a ward to a stake comprises nine pages with 731 entries. The new report forms will be one page with only 245 entries. Stake report forms to the Presiding Bishopric’s Office will be reduced to three pages with 1,794 entries from nine pages with 4,091 entries.

With the new correlated reports, certain information from the wards is taken off by the stakes for their own use. All other information is correlated and forwarded to Church headquarters. Less information will be received at the general Church level, but more will be retained at the local level where it can be more effectively utilized.

Currently the monthly correlated reports focus upon Church programs and motivational statistics. The new reports will focus on the individual member and the activity of individual members within specific age groupings.

Pilot testing of the new report forms has been very successful both in the United States and in other countries.

Church Welfare Agencies Brought Together as One

Full correlation of the Church’s three welfare functions has been announced by the First Presidency with the formation of the Welfare Services Department.

The department comprises the General Church Welfare Program, the Health Services Corporation, and Social Services. These three units, providing for the economic, health, and emotional needs of Church members worldwide, now come under the direction of the First Presidency.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve is adviser to the new department, with Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown as chairman of the guiding committee.

Other committee members are Bishop H. Burke Peterson and Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, counselors in the Presiding Bishopric; Elder James E. Faust, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve; Neal A. Maxwell, Church commissioner of education; Roy W. Simmons, president of Zions First National Bank; J. Alan Blodgett, comptroller and director of the Church Financial Department; and Belle S. Spafford, general president of the Relief Society. Glen Van Wagenen serves as committee secretary. Junior Wright Child is managing director of Welfare Services.

The general correlation of the three welfare functions follows last fall’s correlation at the regional, stake, and ward levels under the Welfare Services Committee. In announcing formation of the Welfare Services Department, the First Presidency explained that “the Welfare Services will now reach out to touch the lives of every member of the Church by providing avenues for those who do not need assistance to aid and train others.”

Added Bishop Brown, “The basic responsibility of Welfare Services is to teach the people to be self-reliant and independent. The stake and ward welfare services committees are the training and teaching instruments in accomplishing this.”

Eternal Values Sustained Prisoner of War

Knowledge of eternal values plus oft-sung hymns were among the spiritual strengths that sustained Major Jay Criddle Hess as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

Major Hess, 42, a United States Air Force pilot, was shot down August 24, 1967, and spent five and one-half years in prisoner of war camps near Hanoi and close to the Chinese border.

Major Hess, a native of North Farmington, Utah, now resides with his wife and five children in Bountiful, Utah. He met recently with the Ensign and discussed his ordeal. The following are extracts from that interview.

“As a prisoner of war I was stripped of every material thing that I owned. I was isolated from any contact with the outside world. It was a bad situation to be in, but it provided me with a period of reflection and meditation such as I had never had before.

“The first two months when I was alone gave me what was perhaps my most spiritual experience. So many things were vividly clear to me in memory. I could remember people whom I thought I had forgotten, and I could realize how they had been an influence in my life. I could remember scriptures that I had memorized in the past but hadn’t reviewed in many years. And they had more meaning for me.

“You know, my philosophy of life after this experience is that everyone, sometime in his life, needs to get away as did the Savior—perhaps not for 40 days as he did, but for some period of time to reflect and to meditate, and to just analyze one’s life.

“What I had been doing to that point, I felt, was wrong. What had occupied my mind was material things. What kind of car was I going to buy? Am I going to do this? Am I going to go here or there? I was so wrapped up in the world, and not at all concerned about people. I came to see this very clearly. The experience helped me put things into perspective.

“Some of my fellow prisoners felt alone, and they were in need of help. I felt that I had complete support from whatever source I needed. I enjoyed a closeness to God. There was no fear; it was almost a time of warmth. I suppose I really can’t say there was no fear, because I well remember the nights when the guards would come and open the doors of cells around me. There was always fear that they might be coming to my door. Every night I could hear them coming to take people out for questioning or for moving to other cells. Chains rattled, people would be moaning; it was kind of a horror show.

“The hymns of the Church provided me with the greatest lessons during this time. I couldn’t remember all of them, of course, and even now I can’t remember more than one verse of any song. But the phrases from one hymn, one verse from another, and parts of others gave me gospel lessons when I needed them.

“One such phrase was ‘Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear.’ I would think of that song on days that were tough and say to myself, ‘That is a great lesson for me right there. Don’t fear, just do whatever you have to do.’ And the last verse: ‘And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day!’ There were a lot of days just like that. It would have been happiness to have died that day, but I knew that if I could make it through, then I was going to be really happy. So it gave a balance to my life in prison.

“I remember once when I got hold of some paper and made a pen; using blue iodine for ink, I wrote down as many hymns as I could remember. I listed about a hundred. Hymns were used in my prayers, like the one the children sing in Primary: ‘Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. …’ However, I didn’t apply the words to myself, but turned them around. Don’t teach me or guide me; rather, lead my children and guide them.

“The first chance I got to write home, the main thing I had on my mind was to assure my family that the things that are valuable and important are those that have to do with the Church. I tried to put emphasis on family home evening, proper education, missions, temple marriage, and a family history.

“This is the first letter I wrote to my wife; I was only allowed to write six lines, so I concentrated on the essentials: ‘Above all I seek for eternal life for all of you. These are important: temple marriage, missionary, college. Press on.’

“I just wanted to give them encouragement. You see, we wander around so much in life without a goal, and I wanted to tell my family that. I think writing a family history helps make us realize how well we are accomplishing our goals.

“When you have time to meditate, you think of the people who have had a good influence on you, and you think of the good you could do to make a friend happy. Someone once said that a good measure of a friend is someone who makes you a better person when you are with them.

“I looked back to all those who had helped make me a better person, all the activities I had engaged in. I firmly believe that our young people should get wrapped up in the activities of the Church. Whenever there is a chance to do something in the Church, do it.

“I had been involved in Scouting, and I knew what it could do for my son; and then in the very first letter I got from him he told me that he had been made Eagle Scout. Knowing that gave me a boost for months.

“The friends I had made through activity in the priesthood meant a lot to me. The examples of men with whom I had associated—bishoprics, priesthood advisers, Scoutmasters—made me look up to them and want to become the kind of persons that they were.

“The things that helped sustain me were prayer and good people. I just can’t say enough about the people that I lived with. I had a lot in common with them. We loved to fly, and we had a perspective on the world that few people have. I enjoyed being with them before my experience as a prisoner, but it was amazing to me that we ended up together in prayer. It was almost like a missionary praying with his companion; we developed that kind of closeness.

“Most of the people I lived with were happy and had a good sense of humor—both important attributes in life. We learned to accept the situation we were in. And we did have control over some things, such as exercise. It was a great outlet to get our mind off our problems.

“Competition with oneself became a source of satisfaction. Fantastic records were set in such exercises as pushups, setups, and kneebends. The only thing that we were competing against was ourselves. We tried to go beyond each accomplishment, and we found that with continual practice, things do become easier.

“I learned that if we will put ourselves to it, we can do anything.”

[photo] Major Jay C. Hess

Broadcasting Outlet Receives Radio Awards

Bonneville International Corporation, the Church’s broadcasting outlet, has received two major awards for its Homefront series of public service radio programs, a series that extols family concerns.

The 30-second programs, produced for the Church and offered without charge to broadcasters, are now carried by more than 1400 radio stations. The series received a Gabriel award from UNDA-USA, an association of Catholic broadcasters that is affiliated with the International Catholic Communications Association.

One of the Homefront series, “Thirty Minutes a Day,” emphasizing family solidarity, has received from the Hollywood Radio and Television Society the International Broadcasters award for a public service program.

Bonneville International has also had the honor of being the first broadcasting group to sponsor the annual Thomas Jefferson Awards banquet, held in Washington, D.C., on May 11. The awards are presented for high achievement among the worldwide American Forces publishing and broadcasting outlets. Previous sponsors have included Time, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest.

The awards were presented by Arch L. Madsen, president of Bonneville International. He was recently elected treasurer and a director of the Inter-American Association of Broadcasters, with membership in 19 nations of the American hemisphere.

Magazine Subscription Program to Begin in September

Following a successful pilot project in six selected regions last fall, a new Churchwide magazine subscription program will begin in September.

Introduced at the Regional Representatives’ seminar held prior to April general conference, the program involves the Ensign, New Era, and Friend.

Under the program, endorsed by the First Presidency, subscriptions will fall due within specific geographic areas at specific times of the year. The intent is to facilitate the work of ward and stake magazine representatives and to ensure that all who desire to subscribe to the magazines may have that opportunity. All subscriptions in a given stake will be subject to renewal at the same time each year, alleviating year-round campaigns and subscription check-ups.

All English-speaking stakes and missions of the Church will be placed in one of three groupings: A, B, or C. Those in Utah and Idaho will be in group A and will have their subscription campaign in September, October, and November. All subscriptions in this group will be adjusted to expire with each December issue.

Group B comprises stakes and missions in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, Washington, and Oregon in the United States, plus Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands. This group’s subscription campaign will be in January, February, and March 1974, with subscriptions expiring each April.

All other English-speaking areas will be in group C, with a subscription campaign in April, May, and June 1974, and with July as the subscription expiration month.

Details of the program will be provided by the Regional Representatives of the Twelve, and supplies and subscription materials will be mailed from the Church Magazine Office.

LDS Scene: A Round-up of Important Happenings

• The author of Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage, maintained a journal from December 1879, when he was 17, until his death in July 1933. This 30-volume personal record of the noted educator, scientist, author, and Church leader has been donated to the Brigham Young University Library by the Talmage family. At 17, Elder Talmage became a teacher at Brigham Young Academy. He later received a bachelor of science degree from Lehi University in Pennsylvania and the doctor of philosophy degree from Illinois Wesleyan University. He served as a city councilman, alderman, and justice of the peace in Provo, Utah; president of the Latter-day Saints College in Salt Lake City; and president and professor of geology at the University of Utah. He was named to the Council of the Twelve in 1911.

• Construction is under way at the Hawaii Temple Visitors Center for a special educational area for the many Japanese visitors who visit the temple. The area will house some of the displays originally created for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, as well as a small theater with Japanese-language Church films. The visitors center is becoming a focus of great interest for tourists to the islands. In a program initiated in April 1972, tourists now may ride a tram from the Polynesian Cultural Center to the visitors center. During the first two months of this year the tram conveyed 9,000 visitors. A second tram will be in operation this summer. The number of Japanese visitors to the two centers is expected to reach 1200 each week.

• John R. Maestas, a Pueblo Indian from Manassa, Colorado, has been appointed chairman of the Department of Indian Education at Brigham Young University. In this position he will work with colleges and departments as he directs education programs for the 500 Indian students on campus. Brother Maestas also represents BYU on the task committee of the Church Lamanite Correlation Committee. John C. Rainer, Jr., a Taos and Creek Indian from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, has been named coordinator of Indian Personal Services in the department and will work with the BYU Indian Educational Advisory Council, composed of faculty members and Indian students. BYU has one of the largest Indian enrollments in the United States, with students representing some 75 tribes and blends.

• A demonstration meetinghouse library has been installed on the 24th floor of the new General Church Office Building. The library, completely equipped, offers ideas on layout and storage as well as types of equipment that might be of value to ward and branch libraries. It is open during regular office hours Monday through Friday.

• The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve have authorized a name change for the External Communications Department, to the Public Communications Department. Managing director of the department is Wendell J. Ashton, a Regional Representative of the Council of the Twelve.

• Dr. Reed C. Durham, director of the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah campus, was elected president of the Mormon History Association at its annual meeting in April. He succeeds Dr. James B. Allen, assistant Church Historian. Other new officers include Thomas G. Alexander, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, first vice-president; Earl E. Olson, Church Archivist, second vice president; and Kenneth Godfrey, Institute of Religion, Weber State College, secretary.

[photos] John R. Maestas; John C. Rainer, Jr.

LDS Mothers Receive Recognition

Three Latter-day Saint mothers, Mrs. Caroline Eyring Miner, Mrs. Hope Fitt, and Mrs. Virginia Rasmussen Zobrist, have been named as Mothers of the Year for Utah, California, and Nevada respectively. All three attended the National Mother of the Year awards banquet in Denver, Colorado, May 10. Sister Miner, Salt Lake City, is the wife of Glen Bryant Miner and the mother of eight sons and three daughters. An English teacher, she has been honored for her work in education and is the author of seven books. She has served as a member of the YWMIA, Primary, and Sunday School general boards. Sister Fitt of Concord, California, is the mother of five sons; her husband is Theodore C. Fitt. Born in Heber City, Utah, she has had a career as a registered nurse as well as that of being a mother. Always active in Church work, she has served in the MIA and Primary; she has also been involved in community projects. Sister Zobrist and her husband, Herman A. Zobrist, are the parents of three sons and two daughters. Active in church and in civic and educational groups, she has served in Relief Society and Primary and is currently a Sunday School teacher. Members of the Church were well represented at the Mother of the Year awards banquet. Guest speaker was Dr. Kenneth H. Beesley, associate commissioner of the Church Educational System; and music was provided by the Denver South Stake Relief Society chorus, with Melva Niles Barborka of Rexburg, Idaho, as soloist.

[photos] Top left: Caroline Eyring Miner; Top right: Hope Fitt; Left: Virginia Rasmussen Zobrist

Church Builds in New York

[illustration] As a joint venture with a real estate development company, Two Lincoln Square Associates, the Church is constructing this 36-story building in New York to provide religious, cultural and educational facilities for area Church members, as well as a 324-unit apartment complex. The building, already under construction, is located in the heart of Lincoln Square across the street from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, with the Juilliard School of Music, the New York State Theater, Philharmonic Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House nearby. The Church facilities will serve the needs of the two Manhattan wards, the Spanish-American Branch, and the New York Stake, and will be headquarters for the Eastern States Mission. Also provided for is a visitors center. Church facilities in the building will be on the first four stories, with a separate entrance. Two Lincoln Square Associates will be responsible for the development of the apartment tower plus two pedestrian plazas lined with stores.

Caps and Gowns on Parade

[photo] More than 4,000 students were graduated from Brigham Young University and Ricks College this spring. Commencement exercises at BYU were held in the Marriott Center, where 3,638 graduating students gathered with families and friends. Three weeks later, 1,015 students were graduated from Ricks. Commencement exercises at the Church College of Hawaii were scheduled for the end of May.

Exemplary Woman Award

[photo] Sister Donna Packer, wife of Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve, is the 1973 recipient of the Exemplary Woman of the Year Award from the Associated Women Students of Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho. Presenting the award to Sister Packer, above, is Dr. Henry B. Eyring, president of Ricks College; Elder Packer is at left, and at right is Denece Hansen, Nampa, Idaho, president of the Ricks Associated Women Students. In receiving the award, Sister Packer, the mother of ten children, said, “We as women have a great responsibility. We must not always be recipients and always receiving, but we must be the givers.” Elder Packer told the student assembly, “I married way above myself. I have reason to know that my wife is perfect.”

Dance Festival Scheduled in Southern California

[photo] More than 7,000 young people from 53 stakes will perform for an anticipated 60,000 spectators at the 1973 Southern California Area Dance Festival on July 28 in the Pasadena Rose Bowl arena. Costumes by the thousands are being prepared for the various dances, including Latin American, folk, square, contemporary, and a special international number. Modeling their costumes, above, are members of the Fullerton Second Ward, Fullerton Stake: Sandy and Patrick Poor, Paul Selman and Cathy Hall, and Mary Ann Yellow Horse, in a Cherokee Indian outfit. Similar dance festivals will be held throughout the Church, including a Salt Lake area dance festival during June Conference, June 22–23.