Meeting in Munich: An Experience in Love and Brotherhood
It was the largest group of Latter-day Saints ever assembled on continental Europe for a conference of the Church. Some 14,000 members from many areas of Europe—Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy—had gathered to hear messages from General Authorities and their own Regional Representatives and stake presidents, to hear the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, to sing in or listen to their own fine choirs, and to participate in roadshows and folk singing and folk dancing groups, either from the center of the stage or from the audience.
It was an experiment in love and brotherhood. Saints came from varied cultures and backgrounds. They came from nations that had been enemies, that had engaged each other in deadly combat. There were great language barriers.
By train they came, by bus, by car. Those from outside the host country carefully husbanded their passports or their papers. (A few had been turned back at the border because their papers were not in order.)
Some stayed in public campgrounds; some in dormitories (such as schoolhouses); some in small guest houses and hostels that are so popular in Europe. The 700 members of the two Munich branches took care of some 700 visiting Saints in their homes.
Each one of the thousands who attended had a story. Let’s let four represent all the others:
When Heinrich and Jutta Uftring of the West German Mission learned of the conference, their greatest desire was to attend it with their children, Sven and Heike, but the doctors told them it would be impossible for Heinrich to do so. This was a great disappointment. Heinrich had carried heavy responsibilities in the Church all his life until he became very ill seven years ago.
Several times during the ensuing years the doctors said he could not continue to live, but each time he received a blessing at the hands of the priesthood and each time he made a remarkable recovery. Up until a short time before the conference, the Uftrings were very discouraged as the doctors had said that rather than thinking of making the trip to Munich, Heinrich should be preparing to say goodbye to his family. But their determination was so great and their faith so strong that they asked for another blessing and Heinrich became well enough to make the trip. In his wheelchair, with one of the children on his lap, he attended every session.
Brother Robert Albert Simond has been a member of the Church for 42 years and has worked as a gardener on the hospital grounds in Zollikofen, Switzerland, for 32 years. He is serving as first counselor in the Swiss Temple presidency. Last March he was ordained by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve as the first patriarch to the French-speaking people, and since that time has given 135 patriarchal blessings to members of the Church who came to the temple from France, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Bearing his testimony, Brother Simond said, “I know that President Lee is a prophet of God; otherwise, I could not have accepted the calling as patriarch.”
For 40 years he has never doubted the truthfulness of the gospel, has never doubted that God lives and that Jesus Christ is his Son. To be able to attend this area general conference of the Church and to see so many General Authorities and to hear their wonderful messages, Brother Simond said, was one of the greatest thrills of his life.
As a young woman Gertrud Specht attended the University of Munich from which she obtained a doctorate degree in economics. Later, while doing historical research, she became interested in genealogical work and spent a great deal of time collecting information concerning her ancestors without knowing why it was so important. She has always had a burning desire to learn. She speaks six languages and is currently, at the age of 78, enrolled in philosophy classes at the university. Because a doctorate degree is so respected in German society, she has been able to open many doors to the Church since her baptism. She was set apart as a district missionary and has helped many people gain testimonies of the gospel. She always attends their baptisms.
Sister Specht remarked that three years ago her life seemed all but over, but then came her conversion to the true church. She has been a member less than three years, having been baptized shortly before her 75th birthday. Now, she says, her life has “expanded to tremendous proportions.”
Working with the press relations, she spent countless hours preparing for the conference. When she is asked where she gets her energy and how she keeps going the way she does, she answers that she can only stay healthy when she has a pressing reason for living and that there is nothing more worthwhile than living to serve the Lord.
Because of her efforts many favorable articles concerning the Church have appeared in German newspapers. Typical of these was an article that appeared in the Munchner Merkur on Friday, August 24. The article was headed “What Joseph Smith Saw Through Prophetic Glasses,” and went into some detail about the Church, the conference, and the Tabernacle Choir, but it began with two paragraphs about Sister Specht:
“She is resolved, full of grandmotherly grace, and when she speaks of her religion, her enthusiasm is that of a young girl’s. Mrs. Doctor Gertrud Specht (‘In my youth I studied political science, then history, and now I am studying philosophical theory and logic at the university.’) is 77 years old and is public relations director of the Munich Branch of the Mormon Church.
“‘I was a good Catholic,’ Mrs. Doctor Specht said, ‘but I found myself in a crisis. I just couldn’t accept certain doctrines. Then I heard about the Mormons. They showed me what I felt, to be right, so I was baptized.’ For two years now Gertrud Specht has belonged to the ‘blessed’ folk. About 20,000 of the ‘blessed’ live in Germany (2,100 of them in Bavaria).
Sister Specht reported that her joy at being at the conference was “unbounded.”
Luigi Pittino has a little farm in the village of Tomba di Buia in county Udine in the northeastern section of Italy. His family has belonged to the Catholic Church for generations. One day in 1955 he learned that a friend in a neighboring village was ill. After his day’s work was done, he got on his bicycle and rode over to see him. While there he met and talked with a member of the Church who was meeting each Sunday for Sunday School services with Brother Pietro and Sister Delicta Snaidero. At the time they were probably the only three members of the Church in Italy. The Snaideros first learned of the Church while living in France and were later baptized on December 12, 1951.
The teachings of the Church immediately appealed to Luigi and he joined the others in their church services each Sunday, riding his bicycle the seven kilometers to the Snaidero home no matter what the weather. He was baptized in a little stream near his home by Brother Snaidero on September 16, 1956.
Brother Snaidero and the brother who introduced Luigi to the Church have both died, but Luigi and Sister Snaidero, who are both now in their eighties, still meet together faithfully each Sunday. Because they do not sing they read together a song from their hymnbook, and after one of them gives the opening prayer, they read from and discuss the scriptures or some gospel subject. After reading another hymn, the one who didn’t give the opening prayer gives the benediction. They keep careful records of their meetings and send them regularly to the mission office.
Imagine what a thrill it must have been for Brother Luigi Pittino to join in this great conference with 14,000 Church members and listen to the messages of the General Authorities.
It is difficult to comprehend the extent of preparation for the conference that had been going on for many months. Munich was chosen as the conference city not only because it is centrally located but also because facilities were available there that would accommodate the expected crowds.
For the conference meetings the Church engaged the great Olympic Hall where gymnastics and similar events were held during the 1972 Olympics. It was none too large. For some meetings almost every seat in the building, including chairs covering the entire floor, was filled.
The translation problem was a terrific challenge. How could the messages of the conference be implanted into the minds and hearts of people speaking so many languages? It was a project that taxed the best minds of the Translation Department of the Church. Many plans were considered; finally, however, it was decided that since the largest number of those who would attend the conference would understand German—perhaps 60 percent—that all the words spoken at the conference would be given in or translated into German and broadcast over the public loudspeaking system. Translations would also be made simultaneously into the other languages—Spanish, Dutch, French, Italian, and English—for transmission into cordless headsets.
The tasks of setting up translation booths, of wiring the building with the network of wires that would serve as antennas for the receiving sets, and of doing the translation itself were awesome to contemplate. And where could some 6,000 cordless receiving sets be obtained? But the job was accomplished. Receiving sets were leased from companies in several different countries, and when President Harold B. Lee stepped to the pulpit to open the session, Elder Immo Luschin, president of the Swiss Temple, stood beside him to translate his remarks into German, and by twisting a dial on his receiver, anyone else in the audience could hear the translation in his native language.
Typical of the services given by local members in many areas of responsibility were those performed by a special services subcommittee of the conference organization committee. One of their tasks was to provide lodging and make reservations for the thousands of members who came to the conference from outside Munich.
Some six months before the conference, the peaceful home of Brother and Sister Paul Gildner was transformed into the hectic headquarters for the committee. From sunrise until late into the night, day after day, the clicking of typewriters could be heard through their door. This was the place where each of thousands of admission tickets and thousands of housing reservations were applied for, made, and sent out.
Some local Saints spent much of their time in the Gildner home during this period. But when the work was piling up, Brother Gildner would take time off work to help get things caught up. He had to call on many local members and missionaries to interpret the messages that came in Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, and English.
The daily activities in the Gildner home included sorting through huge stacks of mail, contacting hotels and boarding houses, matching lodgings available with requests, typing up the necessary answers to all the members who had registered, packaging the tickets and other information, addressing the packages, and hurrying them down to the post office before it closed at midnight.
Brother Gildner, an executive in a large firm, was baptized just as World War II was ending. He has served in all levels of Church work. He is currently first counselor in the Germany South Mission presidency.
Very soon after Brother Harald Staiger, now president of the Munich District, was contacted by missionaries some years ago, he had what he describes as a feeling of undeniable knowledge and conviction that the Church was true. That next time he met the missionaries, he told them he was ready to be baptized, but they explained that he should learn more about the Church. He said he had a testimony and wanted to know why he couldn’t be baptized immediately. The elders asked, “Will you live according to the Word of Wisdom?” He answered, “Yes, but tell me what it is.” They briefly explained the Word of Wisdom and asked the next question, “Will you pay a full tithing?” He answered without hesitation, “Yes, but please tell me what it is.” Such was his response to all of the questions asked by the elders.
One of his conference assignments was to find enough places in the homes of the Saints in Munich for hundreds of members to stay. The ready responses of the Munich Saints to the requests were very gratifying and most of the active members of the Church in the area opened their homes to fellow Church members.
All three members of the First Presidency were in attendance, as were ten other General Authorities. President Lee conducted all the general sessions. Elder Eldred G. Smith, Patriarch to the Church, and Elders Joseph Anderson and Theodore Burton, Assistants to the Council of the Twelve, gave their talks in German. President Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve greeted the people in Spanish. Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve and Elder John Vandenberg, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, bore their testimonies or gave greetings in Dutch, and Bishop H. Burke Peterson of the Presiding Bishopric bore his testimony in German. The others, President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve, and President S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy, gave their entire talks in English. Regional Representatives and stake presidents who participated spoke in either German or French.
Music for the general sessions was provided by a 420-voice choir from Germany and Holland, a choir of about the same size from the southern regions including Austria and France, a women’s choir, a men’s choir, and a combined choir of more than 800 voices. The Tabernacle Choir presented their regular Sunday morning broadcast and sang during the Sunday session.
What preparations were required so the choirs could sing? The experiences of the choir members who came from Vienna, Austria, are a good example.
Several months before the conference the Saints in the two small branches in Vienna were overjoyed when they learned they had been invited to sing in the South Choir. But as they saw the selected songs, they felt very humble and really considered it impossible to ever learn them. In spite of their doubts, they went to work learning the simpler songs first and thereby prepared themselves for the more difficult ones. And then the day arrived when a number of brothers and sisters went all the way from Germany to Vienna to help with their practice.
It happened that on the same day of the practice a celebration was planned at the construction site of the new Vienna First Branch chapel to commemorate the laying of the roof. Although the choir members had looked forward for months to this long-awaited day with excitement and joy, they made the choice to spend the day in rehearsals rather than attend the event. Rehearsals were also held every Sunday as well as one additional day during the week. If the weekday practice happened to fall on a holiday, rehearsals were held anyway—with increased enthusiasm.
A combined practice was then arranged for all choir members throughout Austria. Nearly all the members attended this rehearsal under difficult conditions. Many hundreds of miles were traveled and brethren from Germany again came to help. One practice lasted an entire Saturday, and on that day the Mission President Neil S. Schaerrer and his wife came to give their love, strength, and support. Concerning this, Brother Friedrich Bogner of the Vienna Second Branch said: “We not only learned to sing but also we became more united and developed more love for one another. The gospel made us happy as we sang it to music. Our testimonies were strengthened greatly through the many opportunities that we had to meet together. It was a wonderful way to prepare ourselves for the conference in Munich.”
Then, of course, came the conference, and they joined their voices with several hundred of those of their brothers and sisters from other countries in providing music for three of the sessions.
The songs by the congregation were unbelievable. Try to imagine some 14,000 people singing a Church hymn in seven different languages. It was a thrilling experience!
In opening the conference President Harold B. Lee said, “My beloved brothers and sisters: It gives me genuine delight to stand before a congregation of Latter-day Saints in this city of Munich, in the heart of the great country of Germany, where there is assembled an unusual congregation made up of members of the Church from more than eight countries in the European area, besides the English-speaking members of the Church who have come here from the headquarters of the Church. In this congregation there are those who speak at least six different languages including the German, the Italian, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and the English. Although we are of different nationalities, I am reminded of the remarks of the apostle Paul as he wrote to the Galatians in his day when he said:
“‘For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
“‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
“‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
“‘And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.’ (Gal. 3:26–29.)
“As I paraphrase that statement and apply it to this congregation, I might say, using a part of the apostle Paul’s language: ‘We are neither English nor German, nor French, nor Dutch, nor Spanish, nor Italian, but we are all one as baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also we are Abraham’s seed as the apostle Paul declared and therefore heirs according to the promise.’ All of us as children of God have been baptized by those who have been authorized to preach the gospel and to administer in the ordinances thereof.”
President Lee then explained the reasons why area conferences are held:
“We have planned to go out to many of the far reaches of the Church because of the great worldwide increase of Church membership that has grown in 143 years. From 1840 to 1973, we have gone from that mere handful of members who were organized on April 6, 1830, to over 3,000,000 members who live in 78 countries throughout the world, speaking 17 different languages.
“One of our purposes in coming to these various areas is that many more of our people can assemble than could come to the semiannual conferences held in Salt Lake City. Our first desire is to evidence to our members everywhere, even in the most remote areas from the headquarters of the Church, that they are not forgotten and that the General Authorities of the Church have your interests at heart and that they are working for your interests no matter where you are, just as they are doing for members who are nearer to the headquarters of the Church.
“Another reason we have come is to feel the spirit of our members everywhere, to become acquainted with the conditions under which you live, to meet the local leaders of the Church, and to communicate with them in such a way that they may feel the unity of the purpose for which they have been called to preside in the stakes, missions, and branches of the Church.
“And finally we have come together in a more intimate way to strengthen the members of the Church to stand true to the covenants that they made in the waters of baptism at the time they came in as converts to the Church. The nature of this covenant was explained by the ancient prophet, who before the baptism of some new converts, spoke these words that have great meaning:
“‘Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?’ (Mosiah 18:10.)
“Now if these words are understood, you will know that we have come to urge our members everywhere to be true to that covenant, to stand as true witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places wherever you may be, even until death, in order that others seeing your good works may be brought to glorify their Father in heaven, which means that others will be brought to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto their salvation.”
President Lee then spoke of the great contributions that the peoples of the countries involved in the conference have made and are making to the building up of the kingdom of God.
“The great majority of the Latter-day Saints in America today can trace their ancestry back to the European countries from which their ancestors have come.
“I have already spoken of the covenant God made with our patriarchal father Abraham when the Lord spoke unto him and said:
“‘And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.’ (Gen. 17:7.)
“That covenant God made with Abraham and his posterity was that these promised blessings were contingent upon the fact that Abraham’s great posterity would be true and faithful in keeping God’s commandments.
“I need only to remind all of you in this congregation that you are indeed Abraham’s seed. These blessings are yours and your posterity after you, provided you keep the commandments of God.”
In making a strong plea to the members to follow the current leaders of the Church, President Lee said:
“I well remember a meeting that I attended, along with some fellow missionaries, at the Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, lost their lives and their blood was shed as a witness of their great mission on the earth, when the mission president enumerated the various incidents leading up to the martyrdom and then made this statement: ‘When the Prophet Joseph Smith died, many died spiritually with him.’ So, he said, likewise with each of his successors as changes in administrations came, they died spiritually because they continued to pay their allegiance to their deceased leader rather than to look to his successor upon whom had descended the mantle of the special gift of prophecy, as the endowment of the Holy Ghost to the new leader. This is well illustrated in the specious claims of some splinter groups today. There are cultists who call themselves by various names and make spurious claims as to a chain of authority. Some of them have worked among you in these countries and have tried to lead you astray.
“To protect our members from any such who may come among you professing to have authority, there is one scripture that I could wish that you would always remember. In the first year after the organization of the Church, the Lord said this:
“‘Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.’” (D&C 42:11.)
“All you need to remember if one comes making such claims is that you ask him, ‘Have you been ordained by someone who has authority in the Church?’ If the answer is no, then you may know by that same token that they are false and that they are not truly authorized of the Lord.”
Then President Lee bore the following testimony:
“Now, my dear brothers and sisters, as one whom you have sustained in the high position as the President of the Church, I declare unto you in all soberness and sincerity, with all the humility of my soul, that I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed the kingdom of God on earth. The priesthood of God is here and has been handed down since the restoration of the Church through messengers who were sent to restore that authority that the ordinances of salvation might be administered to all the faithful of the earth. The priesthood of God holds the keys of salvation; it is our responsibility to discharge our obligation to the Lord in carrying the message of the gospel to all our neighbors and friends in every way we can to assist in the spread of the gospel so that the time may come when the prophecies of ancient days might be realized, when truth will cover the earth as waters cover the mighty deep. So I bear my witness as to these things and leave my blessing with you this day as we now go into the proceedings of this great conference, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
All the talks given by the brethren were filled with inspiration, and a great amount of doctrine was beautifully expounded. The attentive and eager congregation hung on every word. Only brief references can be made here to some of the talks.
President Marion G. Romney recalled a time 14 years ago when he was in Munich. He stated that on the evening of Tuesday, October 6, 1959, a meeting was held for members of the Munich and Nuremberg districts. During his remarks on that occasion he said, “I see in my mind stakes in what is now the new South German Mission. There will be stakes in Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg, and in other cities of Germany. Thousands of people in this land will join the Church, and Zion will arise and shine here. This great work we are engaged in is the work of God, and it will prosper. The Church will be flourishing in this land when the institutions of the world are crumbling. I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to have faith and hope in the future and to conform your lives to the principles of the gospel. This is the beginning of better days for the Church in this land. The work will go forward, there will be beautiful meetinghouses built here. Large congregations will assemble. We shall have conferences where there will be thousands in attendance. I am told that there are three hundred and twenty people here tonight. We must have the facilities in this city to accommodate thousands instead of hundreds.
“The Lord established his church through Joseph Smith the Prophet for the purpose of gathering out of the world all who would hear his voice. We have not yet reached them all. The Lord will hasten his work in these latter days. The time is drawing nigh when the Lord will come in his glory to put an end to wickedness and inaugurate the millennial era of peace.
“The time is here, my brothers and sisters, when we must forsake the things of the world, when we must, with a new dedication, with a devotion heretofore not realized, come out of the world, and give our full efforts and energies to the building of the kingdom of God. Don’t be afraid to put on the whole armor of Christ. Don’t be afraid to do everything the gospel requires. We are working in the cause of God. We need not be frightened that we cannot do it. We can do everything the Lord asks us to do. If we will do our best, if we will go as far as we can on our own strength, the Lord will supply that which we cannot do ourselves. He will preserve us, and he will bring us through as he brought the Israelites through the Red Sea, if we will put our trust in him.
“His purposes will be accomplished. He has the full power to accomplish them. As Moroni said, ‘… the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.’” (Morm. 8:22.)
President Romney’s words spoken in 1959 were prophetic. Most of them have already come to pass. The remainder of his talk was devoted to emphasizing the obligation of Church members to establish and maintain true Latter-day Saint homes.
Elder Joseph Anderson, speaking in German, recalled experiences of his mission 60 years ago. When first arriving in Frankfurt, he did not know a single word of German. He became frustrated and depressed, as the language seemed totally impossible to him.
Slowly, and with sincere and fervent prayer, he began to learn one sentence at a time while tracting. Then he began to memorize entire talks. Members and investigators invited him into their homes and tried to help him learn the language.
“Strange as it may seem, I think I made more friends and investigators during this time when I did not know the language than I did after I could speak the language well,” he recalls.
Finally he was able to master the German language. He related, “I feel that I was given the gift of tongues, so to speak, in that it came to me not suddenly, as sometimes happens, but it came to me after sincere and fervent prayer and determined effort and work. … Heavenly Father answered my prayers, and my testimony was greatly strengthened. I mention these things to emphasize that the Lord does hear and answer our prayers and give us the strength that we need when we do our part.”
His words must have brought fond memories to many members of the Church who have seen countless missionaries have the same experiences.
In addressing the European Saints, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I have seen many beautiful sights in Europe, but I think I have never seen a more beautiful picture, a more inspiring sight, than this congregation of Latter-day Saints gathered from many nations of Europe. Your faces radiate the spirit of the gospel. In your presence one feels the strength of personal testimony. You feel the warmth of one another’s faith, the strength of one another’s companionship.
“But it was not always so. Most of you are converts to the Church who pass through the difficult struggle of conversion. You have known loneliness and heartache. When you leave this afternoon and return to your homes, to your employment, to the small branches from which many of you come, to the association of those who do not see as you see and do not think as you think and who are prone to ridicule, you may feel again that loneliness.
“But as members of the Church, you have come as a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid. To those about you, you are different, just as the true gospel is different from the philosophies of the world. And whether you like it or not, each of you is set apart. You are partakers of the truth and with that comes a responsibility.
He continued, “When in this dispensation the Lord declared this to be ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth’ (D&C 1:30), we were immediately put in a position of loneliness, the loneliness from which we cannot shrink and which we must face up to with boldness and courage and ability. Every true convert has passed through it. Every true member of this church who lives and breathes the spirit of the gospel as he associates with others knows something of that feeling. But once having a testimony, a man has to live it; a man has to live with his conscience. A man has to live with God.
“It was ever thus. The price of leadership is loneliness. The price of adherence to conscience is loneliness. The price of adherence to principle is loneliness.”
Elder Hinckley then spoke of the loneliness of Jesus, of the reformers, of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and others who have stood for the truth.
“It is not easy, for instance, to be virtuous when all about you there are those who scoff at virtue. It is not easy to be honest when all about you there are those who would place profit above principle.
“It is not easy to be temperate when all about you there are those who would scoff at sobriety.
“It is not easy to be industrious when all about you there are those who do not believe in the value of work. It is not easy to be a man or woman of integrity when about you there are those who forsake principle for expediency.
“It is not easy to speak in testimony of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who would mock him and belittle and demean him.
“I should like to say that there is loneliness, but a man of your kind has to live with his conscience. A man has to live with his convictions. A man has to live with his testimony. Unless he does so, he will be miserable, dreadfully miserable. And while there may be thorns, while there may be disappointments, while there may be trouble and travail, heartache and heartbreak and desperate loneliness, there will be peace and comfort and strength.”
President N. Eldon Tanner recalled early experiences in Europe and said, “When I was presiding over the West German Mission, I was often asked the question: ‘Why do you come and why do you send your missionaries here to teach your American religion to this Christian nation? Why, we were Christians before there was a United States of America. Why don’t you go to the non-Christian people—nonbelievers?’ Regarding the Book of Mormon they said: ‘We have and accept the Bible, and we do not need or believe there is additional scripture revealed from God today.’”
Then he answered the questions by saying: “In all kindness we remind such questioners that the very Bible they accept does not contain many writings mentioned therein, which were once regarded as authentic, and which would have given additional information and understanding of the truths of the gospel. Also, the Bible contains prophecies that foretell of an apostasy and of a restoration that of necessity must follow in order to fulfill God’s purposes. We could point out many things in the Bible that are not clear or have not been understood even by students of the scriptures and by those who are ministers and teachers of the Old and New Testaments.”
He then referred to and explained many of the scriptures from the Bible to support his thesis. After encouraging the people to search the scriptures and familiarize themselves with the Doctrine and Covenants, he bore the following testimony: “I bear witness to you this day that I know as I know I live that these things of which I have spoken are true; that God does actually live; that Jesus Christ is his Son who came and died and was resurrected that we might enjoy immortality and eternal life; that the gospel has been restored in these the latter days through Joseph Smith, a prophet of God; that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, with the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church; and that God speaks today through his mouthpiece and prophet, President Harold B. Lee, who directs the work of the Church of Jesus Christ here upon the earth.”
Speaking on obedience, Elder Marvin J. Ashton advised the people:
“Let us this day commit ourselves to follow our prophet and president, Harold B. Lee. Obey his admonitions. He is most appropriately sustained by your obedience to his leadership and God’s laws. I bear you my witness that President Harold B. Lee is a prophet of God raised up in these latter days to lead this people in his ways. Follow his teachings and example. Obey his counsel. Share his love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the head of this church and President Lee is his mouthpiece in our time. …”
Elder LeGrand Richards stated that “Angels are nothing more than prophets who have lived upon the earth and died and have returned again with messages from God.” Then after telling of the angels that visited the Prophet Joseph Smith, he said: “How could anybody listen to such statements as these and not want to know whether they are true or not. If true, they are the most wonderful thing in all this world, and we bear witness to all the world in great solemnity that they are true, and we invite all men everywhere to share these beautiful truths with us.”
After delivering a powerful sermon on continuous revelation, President Spencer W. Kimball gave this advice: “And so as your leaders, we implore the members of the Church to follow without hesitation the Prophet of the Lord who stands today a spiritual giant with a great capacity to receive the revelations of the Lord and to give inspired leadership to the people. To fully sustain President Harold B. Lee and to follow directions from him and his associates and to live fully the commandments is the way to peace and happiness and joy to finally obtain eternal life.”
Elder Thomas S. Monson spoke on the quest for peace. “World peace,” he declared, “though a lofty goal, is but an outgrowth of the personal peace each individual earnestly seeks to attain. I speak not of peace promoted by man, but peace as promised of God. I speak of peace in our homes, peace in our hearts, even peace in our lives. Peace after the way of man is perishable. Peace after the manner of God will prevail.
“You ask: ‘What is the way to obtain such a universal blessing? Are there prerequisites to acquire such a gift?’ My prompt reply would be, ‘Yes, there is a way—there are prerequisites. To obtain God’s blessings, one must do God’s bidding.’”
He then spoke of three essentials of the peace we seek. “First, peace through obedience. Second, peace through service. Third, peace through love.” He concluded with the following thoughts: “Peace after the way of man is not the peace of which we speak nor which we seek. Peace after the manner of God is the peace we desire, even a peace of conscience. Let us remember the words of the Master as he spoke to his beloved disciples and promised them peace: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ (John 14:27.)
“As this conference draws to its close, may all of us covenant anew to follow the Prince of Peace, to avoid contention—that destroyer of home and heart—to obey, to serve, to love, that we might be the recipients of his precious promise: ‘… he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.’” (D&C 59:23.)
One had to be greatly impressed with the quality of the local leadership from the various European areas. The talks given by stake presidents and Regional Representatives of the Twelve from Europe were impressive indeed. When one realizes that some of these men have been in the Church just a few years and already hold such important leadership positions, he begins to see what the gospel will really do in the lives of people.
In his closing remarks President Lee referred to the youth activities held on Friday evening prior to the general sessions. Folk songs were sung by groups representing the South German Mission, the Hamburg Region, the Stuttgart Stake, and the Italian-speaking area. Folk dances were presented by young people from the Holland Stake and the Dusseldorf and Swiss regions. Roadshows were presented by the Berlin Stake, West German Region, and Servicemen’s Stake—Europe. Young people from France presented both folk dances and songs.
Even though the audience was predominantly German, we listened and watched in vain for the slightest sign of indication of favoritism. There was none. The applause for the dancers from Holland, the trio from France, or small group from Italy was equally as enthusiastic, if not more so, than for the large groups from the German stakes and missions. The audience was appreciative and enthusiastic, often joining in rhythmic clapping, as the songs or dances were being presented. Performers could not have wanted more participation on the part of an audience than they received that night. It was another great demonstration of love and gospel principles in action.
Of this President Lee said, “We are sure that bringing together these young people at this first attempt was a beginning that will bear fruit for the future. Many of these young people saw for the first time how many youth there are in the European area. Before this many of these have been in small branches where there are just a handful of young people. Now suddenly their vision has been enlarged. Their pride in performance will be improved.”
President Lee concluded the conference with what he called a “fatherly kind of a talk.” Encouraging the people to learn to speak English, he said, “Some of our brethren speak in German and in Dutch and in Spanish, but there are many of us who speak only English. I am sure you understand that inasmuch as we have 17 different languages in which we are preaching the gospel today, we can’t be expected to learn all 17. Think how helpful it would be if every one now speaking your own native tongue would learn to speak English. I would like to challenge you to do that. Then you would be able to talk with us more clearly and we could understand you better than we have done today.”
President Lee observed that political strife between these countries has sometimes ended in war. Then he added, “But we have witnessed that when you become members of the Church of Jesus Christ the war spirit ends in you. We are all one in the Church and kingdom of God.”
He further said, “If this conference has done nothing more than to demonstrate our love and concern for the welfare of all our Saints here in these countries, it will certainly have been worthwhile. The Church and kingdom of God is a universal church and not confined to one nation, or to one people. Our constant endeavors are to give to all Saints of the Most High wherever they live every opportunity to develop in the earth and to gain rewards of your faithfulness.
“Now as we return to our homes from this conference, let me ask you a question: What are you members of the Church going to do about all that which you have seen and heard? The all-important thing is not that we remember all that has been said, but the important thing is how you have been made to feel by what has been said and done here. We hope we can begin to see the strengthening of the bonds of fellowship and love in each branch of the Church and in the stakes and missions where you live, and that you will resolve to have a new sense of responsibility in furthering the work of the Lord. Strengthen your family ties and be mindful of your children. Be sure that the home is made the strong place to which children can come—to come for the anchor they need in this day of trouble and turmoil. Then love will abound and your joy will be increased.”
He then recalled several intimate experiences that he had had since becoming a General Authority and closed with this testimony:
“I know that Jesus is the Savior of the world. I received this special witness at the time I was called to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. …”
The combined choir sang the inspiring “Hosannah Anthem,” joined by the congregation in the arousing “The Spirit of God Like a Fire.”
Perhaps nowhere were the effects of the conference more evident than in the faces of the people. Looking into the audience during the talks or during the singing of the choirs, one was moved to tears with the expressions of genuine love, happiness, and even ecstasy that shone from their countenances. Again, what a great demonstration of the power of the gospel in action!
Nationalities were erased, cultural differences were forgotten, past enmities ceased to exist. As President Lee had said there were no Germans, no Spaniards, no Dutch, no Austrians, no Italians, no Swiss, Belgians, or Americans. They were all brothers and sisters, citizens in the Church and kingdom of God. Everyone was totally caught up in the pure love of Christ. Would that the spirit and feeling of those moments could be retained as long as earthly life lasts, for one could not expect in this world to be closer to heaven.
The final song was sung, the benediction was offered, the conference was officially ended, but the people could not leave. Spontaneously they joined with the choir in singing, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” as President Lee stood smiling and waving. When he left the building to get into his car to return to the hotel, he was all but overrun, mostly by the young people who desired one more look, one more word, one more smile, one more picture, one more wave and a possible handshake.
They knew they may never see their prophet again. Once more they burst forth into song and nearly everyone was crying, singing, and waving as the car pulled away.
The experiment in love and brotherhood was complete. Blessings from the meeting in Munich will flow from the Alps to the Pyrenees, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean for years to come.
The Tabernacle Choir: 106 Years of Missionary Singing
What a choir trip to Europe is, as judged from the tour made by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir August 22 to September 1, is a demanding, strenuous assignment.
Imagine flying in a plane all night, getting little or no sleep, and then going directly from an airport to a rehearsal. Or imagine rising at 4:00 A.M. after a hard day and a late concert the night before at the Louvre, and leaving at 5:00 A.M. by bus for the Paris airport. Imagine waiting three and a half hours for the fog to clear in London, flying across the channel only to wait another two hours for lost baggage, reaching your hotel about 2:00 P.M., then being ready to leave by 2:30 for a rehearsal, television taping, and recording sessions, before returning to your hotel about 10:30 at night!
But missions are never easy; success requires sacrifice, devotion, and discipline. And the Church owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the choir, its leaders, and its staff, who give of their time so freely for these missionary services. Not only do they devote at least one evening a week to rehearsals and every Sunday morning to rehearsals and their CBS broadcasts, but they also use vacation time and, in some cases, time off work without pay to fill these special, extended missionary assignments.
It has ever been so. Since the choir made its first trip 80 years ago to sing by invitation at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (a tour on which it sang 50 concerts), it has made 26 major tours outside Utah and its members have given tens of thousands of hours to Church service time to carry on the work of the Lord. (See accompanying list of tours.)
The Tabernacle Choir had its beginnings in 1847 soon after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. In a crude shelter called the Bowery, they practiced and sang praises to God in church services.
In 1857 the Church completed a tabernacle made of sun-dried adobe which became the second home of the choir. Here they sang to the accompaniment of their first pipe organ, a small but fine instrument built in Australia by a convert, shipped across the Pacific to California in 1855, and hauled by mule train to Salt Lake City.
Ten years later the choir moved into the current Tabernacle, its home for 106 years. The choir has since rehearsed and sung for general conferences and other events in this historic structure.
Each Sunday morning millions of people from coast to coast in the United States, as well as thousands personally present at the broadcast in the Tabernacle, listen to the singing of the 375-voice choir. Since its first broadcast on July 15, 1929, it has never missed a single appearance: summer or winter, peace or war, prosperity or depression, no matter what the weather. And years ago the broadcast became the oldest coast-to-coast sustaining radio program in the United States.
Through all those years, while the organization has remained intact, its face and the faces of its leaders have been constantly changing. The choir is made up of people of all ages and from all walks of life. A mature doctor or business executive may sing alongside a young farmer or glassblower. A high school girl may sit next to a grandmother, a contractor next to a carpenter. There are some 40 husband-wife teams, and more than half the choir members are themselves conductors of church, community, or school choirs or choruses.
Nine noted conductors have led the choir. Its leader since 1957 has been Richard P. Condie. At 75, he is still vigorous and conducted all the concerts, TV tapings, and recording sessions on the European tour.
Going to Europe was going home for Alexander Schreiner, chief Tabernacle organist, who was born in Nuremberg, Germany. His knowledge of German and French often came in handy on the trip. Assistant choir director Jay E. Welch, organist Robert Cundick, and commentator J. Spencer Kinard also made the trip.
Ordinarily when we think of the Tabernacle Choir, we think of 375 singers, the director, the organist, and the commentator. But the choir is much more than that.
It is supported by a substantial group of wardrobe experts, engineers, technicians, and secretaries. At its head stands a president, a man called by the First Presidency to direct the affairs of this great organization on a church-service basis. Since the choir is a self-sustaining organization, receiving no money for its operation from the general funds of the Church, its president has to be a top business man and manager.
Such a man is Brother Isaac M. Stewart, who before his call was a practicing attorney and vice-president of a large manufacturing company. He has served faithfully since being called to this position in 1962.
In February when President Harold B. Lee invited the choir to sing at the regional conference in Munich, everyone concerned voted enthusiastically to accept. Then they all went to work to make sure the proposed journey would be a success. Although every appearance the choir makes and every song they sing accrues to the good of the work of the Lord, still it takes money to make trips, and since the choir’s only sources of income are from concerts and royalties from albums, the president has to look at all “outside” activities from a practical point of view. Uniforms must be made, transportation and lodging provided, and food paid for.
So on two trips to Europe, assisted by Stanford P. Darger, choir secretary, Paul Evans, producer, and Jay Welch, associate director and stage manager, President Stewart negotiated with the British Broadcasting Company for two programs to be taped in London for airing in December, for two albums by Columbia Records to be recorded by the Royal London Symphony Orchestra, for a concert in the Royal Albert Hall in London, and for television programs to be taped in conjunction with Lutz Wellnitz, noted German producer.
Because the choir is not only a missionary for the Church but also an ambassador for the United States, President Stewart acquired the services of the Honorable Kenneth Rush, deputy secretary of state, an old friend and former associate, to help open doors. He rendered indispensable assistance. Concerning this Mr. Rush wrote: “It is gratifying to know that this distinguished group of singers will be demonstrating American cultural achievement abroad, thereby establishing increased interaction between ourselves and citizens of other countries. We are certain this tour will strengthen our efforts to build international communication and mutual understanding. … I think the choir is one of our most successful ways of selling America to the world.”
And so with the untiring efforts of Brother Stewart and many others, plans went forward. Concerts were arranged for the Marienplatz Square in Munich, the square at the Louvre in Paris, the plaza of the Oberammergau Passion Play House (the first cast or choir ever to perform on the Passion Play House stage other than the Passion players themselves), and the 102-year-old Royal Albert Hall in London. It was no easy task to clear the nights for concerts at the Louvre and at Royal Albert Hall. For instance, the British Broadcasting Company gave up a scheduled event so that the choir could present its concert.
Since spouses were invited to accompany choir members at their own expense, the final count, including engineers and staff, was 601. The trip also required some 3,000 pounds of recording and amplifying equipment. Four hundred and twenty-one members of the group flew to Munich in a 747-C jet, stopping only in Bangor, Maine, for refueling, while the remainder of the party went by charter to New York, then transferred to another charter flight to Munich.
The flights themselves resulted in interesting publicity. The huge jet was the first plane of its kind ever to take off from the Salt Lake airport with a load of passengers. While powering down the runway, someone remarked, “Well, if we get past North Temple, we’ve got a story.”
It was true. A World Airways press release reported, “Not since the cow jumped over the moon has milk played such an important role in air travel. … Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints forbids the use of tobacco, coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages, World Airways director of catering, John Ferrar, found his job surprisingly uncomplicated. ‘We are stocking the plane with 300 quarts of milk,’ he said. ‘That’s ten times the amount required for regular two-meal flights serving coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages.’
“In fact, it will probably be the largest amount of milk ever consumed in the air.”
In spite of delays, fog, a bomb scare as part of the group was leaving the hotel in London, and lightning striking the plane’s lightning rod as it was flying homeward over the Uintah Mountains, everything that was planned to be accomplished by the group was done. It seems remarkable indeed that in that short period of time the group could have gone to three countries in Europe and returned and accomplished the following:
1. Singing at the Sunday morning session of the Munich area general conference, where some 14,000 members of the Church were in attendance. For most of these, it was the first time they witnessed a personal appearance of the choir.
2. Singing an outdoor concert in Marienplatz Square in Munich. The large audience included the mayor of Munich to whom President Stewart presented a choir album and a copy of a book by President Harold B. Lee. At this concert, as at all other concerts, Brother Stewart noted that the Tabernacle Choir was an integral part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and read a letter from President Lee identifying the choir members as “volunteer musicians,” who sacrifice even vacation time “as an evidence of our fellowship and as though we were reaching hands across the sea to extend to you who live in this great land, the assurance that we desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in all matters that induce to an everlasting peace; that peace which can only come, as the Master said, in overcoming the things of the world.
“Thank you for coming, and may you now enjoy this concert with our blessings that it may accomplish the purpose of our coming.”
3. Singing to an audience of some 3,000 people from the stage of the famed 300-year-old Passion Play House in Oberammergau. Of this, the director of the Passion Play, Helmut Gallist, wrote: “Our country is still talking about the outstanding performance you made in Bavaria. For us in Oberammergau it was a remarkable day, not only for the people of Oberammergau and their guests, but also for the Passion Play House. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was the first one from abroad singing in our Passion Play House. Besides the Passion Play we twice presented in the Passion Play House the Mattheus Passion, but also then natives from our village were singing.
“The concert your world-famous choir gave to our people will be unforgettable and we already expressed our thanks to President Stewart from the choir. We all hope and wish that we will have the pleasure of welcoming the choir again soon.”
It was only the night before the performance that President Stewart had gained final permission for the choir to sing on the stage of the play house.
4. Taping for television by Lutz Wellnitz, internationally known and recognized producer, programs at the Linderhoff Castle, the Olympic stadium, Oberammergau, and the Marienplatz. (Mr. Wellnitz and his crew came to Salt Lake City following the tour to finish his program, taping the choir singing on Temple Square, at “This Is the Place” monument, on the steps of the Utah State Capitol building, on Bonneville Salt Flats, on the shores of Great Salt Lake, at Pioneer Village, and at Arches National Monument. Negotiations were also completed with Mr. Wellnitz for a filming of a regular Sunday morning broadcast. In Salt Lake Mr. Wellnitz said to the choir: “I am very thankful to have this opportunity. I am finding here more than I expected. … Each of you is hereby an ambassador to millions of people. … Our work will in the years ahead be transmitted from important television stations all over the world.”)
During the concert at the Marienplatz Square, a large number of missionaries circulated among the crowd passing out programs for the concert, engaging people in gospel conversations, and making friends for the Church.
Through the efforts of President Stewart, an agreement for exclusive rights to televise these programs in the United States was obtained.
5. Presenting a concert at the Louvre in Paris. Missionaries and Church members in Paris brought many investigators and friends to hear the concert.
6. Singing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The 7,000 seats in this famous hall were all sold, and perhaps as many as 500 additional people stood during the entire two-hour-and-five-minute concert. This program, as the others, was received with thunderous applause. One could see tears in many eyes throughout the audience during the singing of “Come, Come Ye Saints.”
7. Recording two half-hour television programs for BBC. Again, these programs will be seen by millions of people throughout the British Isles and in other English-speaking countries. One was a general concert that may be aired in early December; the other was a Christmas program that may be shown on Christmas Eve. These programs were taped in the Central Hall in London before a large and enthusiastic audience that gave the choir, its leader, its organist, and the 44-piece BBC orchestra numerous standing ovations.
8. Completing a recording of the Messiah by CBS of London, partly with the Royal London Symphony Orchestra and partly with the CBS Symphony Orchestra.
After all of the concerts, the feelings of the Saints, mission presidents, and missionaries ranged from enthusiastic to exuberant. “What a great boost for the work this will be!” was an expression often heard. One can picture the missionaries and members of the Church in Germany, France, England, and wherever else the programs will be shown on television encouraging all they come in contact with to listen to the programs of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
And after the programs are over, one can hear them asking people they meet, “Did you see the program featuring the great Mormon Tabernacle Choir?” The concerts, the television programs, and the favorable articles in the newspapers are not only great morale builders for the Saints but should open the doors to thousands of homes for missionaries. The effects of the tour for good on untold numbers of people and its value in opening the hearts and minds of people to the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be estimated.
Now the tour is history. The choir members arrived home on Saturday, September 1, some of them after another all-night flight. One would think that maybe they would have had a little rest, but bright and early on Sunday morning they were in their places in the Salt Lake Tabernacle rehearsing for and presenting their weekly broadcast. One week later they were again busy giving extra time for the completion of the filming of the German television program.
Tabernacle Choir Tours
Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Independence and St. Louis, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska.
Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado.
San Francisco, Sacramento, Berkeley, and Palo Alto, California.
Seattle, Washington; LaGrande, Oregon.
New York City (Madison Square Garden). Traveled 5,500 miles and sang 50 concerts.
San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, Hollywood Bowl, San Diego, and Pomona, California.
Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado.
California-Pacific International Exposition at San Diego at invitation of Ford Motor Company; Inglewood Bowl, California.
Zion National Park Memorial Day (Utah) at invitation of Union Pacific Railroad.
Sun Valley, Idaho, at invitation of Union Pacific Railroad.
San Bernardino, California (Centennial Celebration).
Glasgow, Scotland; Manchester and London, England; Cardiff, Wales; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin and Wiesbaden, Germany; Amsterdam and Scheveningen, The Netherlands; Bern and Zurich, Switzerland; Paris, France.
Red Rocks Musical Festival, Denver, Colorado.
Wichita, Kansas; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; Columbus, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Los Angeles and Hollywood, California (to receive “Grammy” Award for “Battle Hymn”).
Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota (for inaugural Telstar intercontinental telecast); Seattle World’s Fair (Washington); Tacoma and Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Hollywood Bowl, California.
New York World’s Fair at Flushing, New York; New York City; Rochester, New York; Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Washington, D.C. (at the White House); Cleveland, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Las Vegas, Nevada (for Nevada Centennial).
Inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Washington, D.C.; American Hospital Association and American Medical Association conventions in San Francisco, California.
Rotary International Convention in Denver, Colorado; American Bankers Association Convention in San Francisco, California.
Phoenix, Arizona; Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska; Saratoga Springs and Chautauqua, New York; Detroit, Michigan.
Dallas, Texas; Hemisfair ’68 at San Antonio, Texas; Mexico City, Mexico.
Inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon, Washington, D.C.; Golden Spike Centennial at Promontory, Utah; San Diego 200th Anniversary at San Diego, California.
South Carolina Tricentennial Celebration at Columbia; Pocatello, Idaho; National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Washington, D.C.
Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky.
Mexico City, Mexico.
Munich and Oberammergau, Germany; Paris, France; London, England.
(Projected) Expo ’74 at Spokane, Washington.
Priesthood in Action: Local Saints Cared for as Flood Waters Destroy Mexican City of Irapuato
On Friday, August 17, Irapuato, Mexico, was a prosperous city of 180,000 people. By the evening of August 18, it was almost totally destroyed as flood waters smashed through the spillway of nearby Conejos dam.
In the midst of the resulting destruction and havoc, the activities of the local priesthood leaders shone forth like a beacon and brought comfort to the members of the Irapuato branch.
Although more than 120 adults and children died as a result of the flood with an additional 300 unaccounted for, there were no injuries and no deaths among the 154 branch members.
Situated in a valley approximately 175 miles northwest of Mexico City, Irapuato is surrounded by ranchland that is nourished by a high amount of rainfall. Two weeks prior to the flood, it had rained virtually nonstop, and the heavy runoff broke through three smaller dams above Conejos. In an attempt to relieve the pressure of the rising waters, local authorities opened spillway gates in the dam. But the pressure was too great and instead of a controlled flow, the gates were smashed, and in a few hours Irapuato was under six feet of water.
In what Mexico’s President Luis Echeverria described as “the most serious flood in our history,” more than 60 percent of the city was destroyed with damages estimated at approximately $40 million.
As soon as the flood threat was realized, Irapuato Branch President Octavio Arrendondo, 22, a two-year convert to the Church, directed local priesthood members to ensure the welfare and safety of the local Saints. Within 24 hours, all members had been accounted for and available food supplies had been gathered together in the house used as a branch chapel.
In Mexico City, Mexico Mission President Lester B. Whetten and his staff went into action to organize relief supplies and enlist the help of Church Health Services missionaries serving in Mexico. Branch members in the nearby cities of Salamanca and Celaya arrived in Irapuato with food cooked ready to eat and water boiled ready to drink.
Reporting on the flood and its aftermath, Sister Pauline Pace, San Jose, California, who with her husband Dr. Joseph L. Pace, serves as a health services missionary in Mexico, said:
“There are many stories of heroism: an old man who could not swim was helped from the water along with a few of his belongings; five people trapped behind an iron gate were rescued from the swirling water; and even a little girl’s cat was saved.
“When the morning came, the waters gradually began to recede and people were able to move around and assess the terrible damage. Nearly every family in the branch had lost all their clothing, furniture, and food.
“Branch President Arrendondo, and his counselor Raymundo Montoya, maintained constant touch with the members, and had them come to the chapel where meals were prepared.
“As health missionaries, we had driven for 20 hours to get to Irapuato when the call for help came. My husband and I were accompanied by Sister Bette Turnbull from Success, Saskatchewan, Canada, and Sister Marlena Brown of Spokane, Washington. We were joined by two other health services missionaries, Sister Linda Watson from Petersburg, Virginia, and Sister Barbara Bruce of Atikokan, Ontario, Canada.
“After setting up a small clinic at the chapel where members were given immunization shots and minor first aid, the health services missionaries reported to the military hospital and went to work helping care for the seemingly endless line of suffering people.”
Describing their arrival in Irapuato, Sister Marlena Brown said: “It seemed to me as though we had entered a war zone as we picked our way through the rubble-filled streets.”
Sister Brown went on to say, “On Sunday, the day following the flood, a meeting was held in the chapel and all the local Saints who could get there were in attendance. Although most of them had lost their homes and literally, their earthly possessions, there was a spirit of deep thankfulness and joy.
“One brother, the father of nine children who had lost his wife just two weeks earlier, now had lost his home and all means of a livelihood. Yet his faith was unshaken. He went among the members giving comfort and consolation. Here was no haunted look of fear, no terror, no panic, but a spirit of thankfulness and determination.
“As food and clothing arrived from other branches and from Mexico City, they were sorted by the members of the priesthood and the Relief Society, then dispensed to the Saints according to their needs. Surplus goods then were made available to other members of the community.
“The Saints had the necessities of life, and, even more important, an inner peace of mind and security.”
This sense of calm seemed to be in direct contrast to the rest of the city, said Sister Brown, where each day more than 150,000 people lined up to be fed from mobile food stations.
Sister Pace added that the massive cleanup job began almost immediately after the flood waters receded. Thousands of armed forces personnel moved into the city to mop up and clean the streets of the once thriving community. Fortunately, the city’s water system was undamaged, and electric power was soon back in service.
She spoke for the Irapuato Saints, saying, “It will be a long road to normal living, but man is blessed with great courage and resilience, and Irapuato will have a new birth.”
Constitutional Responsibility Encouraged by First Presidency as Elder L. Tom Perry Appointed Chairman of Bicentennial Committee
Elder L. Tom Perry, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, has been appointed general chairman of a committee to initiate and correlate Church activities and observances in connection with the bicentennial of the United States in 1976.
Elder Perry’s appointment was announced by the First Presidency on the 186th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia.
In an accompanying statement to Elder Perry’s appointment, the First Presidency said:
“On this, the 186th anniversary of the signing of the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States, we are pleased to announce the appointment of a general committee to initiate and correlate Church activities and observances in connection with the bicentennial in 1976 of the birth of our nation.
“We urge members of the Church and all Americans to begin now to reflect more intently on the meaning and importance of the Constitution, and of adherence to its principles, in giving strength not only to this country but to the entire family of nations.
“In these challenging days, when there are so many influences which would divert us, there is a need to rededicate ourselves to the lofty principles and practices of our founding fathers. While we must never permit an erosion of the freedoms the Constitution guarantees, we cannot let permissiveness replace responsibility.
“The late President J. Reuben Clark, an eminent scholar in Constitutional law and for many years a member of the First Presidency, said 33 years ago:
‘It [the Constitution] gave us, for perhaps the first time in all history, a republic with the three basic divisions of government—the legislative, executive, and judicial—mutually, and completely independent the one from the other, under which it is not possible for any branch of government legally to set up a system by which that branch can first conceive what it wants to do, then make the law ordering its doing, and then, itself, judge its own enforcement of its own law, a system that has always brought extortion, oppression, intimidation, tyranny, despotism—a system that every dictator has employed and must employ.’
“There must be a dedication to observing and honoring the law of the land. To remain strong, we must cherish chastity and fidelity, love of work, personal integrity, and the desire to serve our fellow men. We must always remember that God rules in the affairs of men, and that he is truly the Heavenly Father of all mankind. We are all brothers and sisters.
“No priority should come before responsible parenthood. No unit needs continual strengthening more than the family.
“Under the blessings of liberty secured by the Constitution, we must continue to pursue excellence and progress, but we must recognize that to move forward we must ever hold fast to those moral laws of the Lord which do not change.
“On this anniversary day we invite men and women everywhere to join us in the inspired prayer of a modern prophet: ‘Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy on the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.’” (D&C 109:54.)
New President Called to Serve London Temple
Joseph William Darling, patriarch of the London (England) North Stake for the past six years, has been called as the new president of the London Temple. He succeeds President Dougald C. McKeown. Sister Darling has been called to serve as temple matron.
Set apart by President Harold B. Lee, the new temple president previously served as recorder of the temple from 1959 to 1962. He then served five years as president of the London Stake before being sustained as patriarch in the London North Stake.
President Darling was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he was baptized into the Church in 1930 when he was 23. Subsequently he served a full-time mission in the British Mission for two years.
Sister Darling, a native of Dublin, Ireland, was baptized in Belfast in 1934. She has served as a seminary teacher, teacher trainer, and Relief Society president in the Hyde Park Ward, Primary president in the South London Ward, and London Temple ordinance worker.
Assistant Commissioner Named for LDS Hospitals
L. Brent Goates, administrator of LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, has been named assistant commissioner of the Church Health Services Corporation. He will be responsible for corporate planning and management systems for the corporation’s 15 hospitals. Brother Goates, who is a Regional Representative of the Council of the Twelve, has served as LDS Hospital administrator since 1962, and was assistant administrator for nine years prior to that time. The current hospital associate administrator, David B. Wirthlin, has been named the new administrator to succeed Brother Goates.
State Fair Exhibit Has “Live” Mannequins
The Church display at the annual Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City this year attracted much attention with its “talking” mannequins. The mannequins are in a series of dioramas on the Book of Mormon and are the result of a new audio-visual technique that gives the figures the appearance of actually speaking. In addition, the exhibit includes many artifacts from South, Central, and North America, and a short film, “Ancient America Speaks,” which tells of archaeological findings. Seen below is one of the diorama displays.
Church Trust Company Appoints New President
Harvey S. Glade has been appointed president of the Deseret Trust Company, the organization that serves as trustee for trusts established for the benefit of the Church or any of its related organizations.
Brother Glade, who recently returned from Guatemala City where he was president of the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission for three years, succeeds Claron O. Spencer, who was called by the First Presidency to this position in April 1972. Brother Spencer will remain a director of the company.
One member of the Church who is no armchair traveler is Brother Malcolm Rea of the Brisbane Ward, Brisbane Stake, Australia. Brother Rea recently returned from leading a historical expedition into the Cape York area of Northern Australia, one of that nation’s last frontier regions.
With six companions selected from a flood of applicants from all over the continent, he rode horseback more than 450 miles along the route of a telegraph line constructed in the 1880s.
Like the explorers who preceded them, these modern adventurers carried their supplies by packhorse. Altogether they used 39 horses obtained from cattle stations along the way.
The group’s progress captured the imagination of many Australians, and newspapers and radio and television carried daily reports on their activities. The reports were received by means of connecting a portable telephone to the telegraph wires that still exist.
The expedition, over hot, sandy plains and into the tropical jungles of the peninsula was conceived over a five-year period by Brother Rea. As part of the trek, a monument was unveiled in recognition of the early-day explorers, surveyors, and constructors who developed the 395-mile overland and undersea telegraph line.
Brother Rea is the Australian Post Office historian for the State of Queensland, and is also secretary of the Post Office Historical Society of Queensland. He is married, has four children, and serves as stake priesthood executive secretary and public relations director for the Brisbane Stake.
President Harold B. Lee was the recipient of this year’s Exemplary Manhood Award from the Associated Men Students of Brigham Young University. The award was presented in a devotional assembly on the BYU campus that drew a record crowd of 23,200 to the Marriott Center. Recipients of the award in previous years have included other Church leaders, and government officers, businessmen, and sportsmen.
In receiving the award, President Lee urged the students to gain a testimony “that goes down into your heart like fire,” that the power of God rests upon the leaders of the Church. He also advised his listeners that “learning by faith is no task for a lazy man. Someone has said in effect that such a process requires the bending of the whole soul—the calling up from the depths of the human mind and linking them with God. It makes those who follow this course great in the sight of the Lord,” he said.
President Lee also endorsed the statement made in an earlier assembly by Dallin H. Oaks, president of BYU. Dr. Oaks, in his address at the opening of the new school semester, said, “Let us banish forever the illusion that Brigham Young University exists for any purpose other than to provide a university education.”
“Our reason for being is to be a university. Your reason for enrolling is to pursue a university education. Persons who are here for any other reason or who fail to measure up to this challenge with all their hearts and abilities have come to the wrong place.”
Prior to the beginning of the new semester, President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, presided at the opening of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU.
The creation of the school was announced two and one-half years ago, and since then work has been underway bringing together a faculty and creating a law library. The law school faculty is headed by Dean Rex E. Lee, and the library already houses 100,000 law volumes. The charter class is comprised of 10 women and 146 men, one-third of whom are from Utah, with the remaining two-thirds from 24 states and one Canadian province.
While construction of the law school is underway classes are being conducted in temporary quarters.
Although the South American country of Chile is going through a period of political change, word received by the First Presidency of the Church was that both members and missionaries were safe. There were no indications that any of the local Saints had suffered injury or had been killed, the First Presidency said.
Mark Evans Austad, a member of the Chevy Chase Ward, Washington (D.C.) Stake, has been named by President Richard M. Nixon as one of three public members of the United States delegation to the 28th General Assembly of the United Nations.
Brother Austad, better known in the United States by his professional name of Mark Evans, is vice president for public affairs of Metromedia, Inc.
Active in numerous national organizations, Brother Austad also has served as chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Ball committee in 1969, and has been chairman of the Cherry Blossom Festival in the nation’s capital. Among his many other duties he currently is serving as chairman of the District of Columbia’s celebrations for the U.S. bicentennial.
Brother Austad is now a Sunday School teacher. He is married to the former Lola Brown, and they have three children.