“We had just concluded an all-day seminar with the Regional Representatives and General Authorities in the Salt Lake Temple, and I was witnessing a sealing in one of the sealing rooms. At its conclusion I was asked to contact the First Presidency. …”
Two days later, Elder J. Thomas Fyans was sustained as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve during the solemn assembly April 6 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
The managing director of the Internal Communications Division since it was formed in March 1972, Elder Fyans will continue to direct the activities of that organization, whose responsibility it is to conduct the operations of all internal communications of the Church. This includes the scheduling, translation, preparation, printing and distribution of all communications, instructional materials, and periodicals, primarily for members of the Church.
Elder Fyans was administrative director for the Presiding Bishopric prior to his present assignment, and before that he was director of distribution and translation. He also served as coordinator between the General Authorities and local Church officials in arranging the area general conference held by the Church in Manchester, England, in 1971, in Mexico City in 1972, and in Munich, Germany, a year ago. He is also the coordinator for the area conference to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, this August.
Born May 17, 1918, in Moreland, Idaho, Elder Fyans is the son of Joseph and Mae Farnsworth Fyans. On May 28, 1943, he married Helen Cook in the Salt Lake Temple. Their home has been blessed with five daughters, Mrs. Carol Lynn (Robert L.) Nelson of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Mrs. Kathleen (Robert) Blair, Mrs. Patricia (Paul E.) Steriff, and Mrs. Pamela (Vern) Delahunty, all of Salt Lake City. Another daughter, Suzanne Fyans, is a student at Brigham Young University.
During the Sunday morning session of general conference, Elder Fyans concluded his remarks with a moving tribute to his wife and “eternal companion” with these words: “In my lifetime of church service, she has always smiled approbation and encouragement. No man could have a more congenial, supportive companion.”
From 1940 to 1943, he was a missionary in the Spanish American Mission. Then in 1947 he served as bishop of the Butler Ward. Later, he served for ten years as first counselor in the East Jordan Stake presidency.
As Uruguayan Mission president from 1960 to 1964, Elder Fyans saw the mission membership increase from 3,000 to 10,000 members. When he returned, he served as a member of the Church Missionary Department until October 1967, when he was called as one of the first Regional Representatives of the Twelve.
Elder Fyans’ business and civic activities are impressive. For 20 years he was a department executive for Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution, a large department store chain in Utah. He has been on the board of directors of three corporations and is a past president of the Salt Lake Junior Chamber of Commerce and past national chairman of the Jaycee Speakers Committee. In 1952 he was selected as the outstanding young man in Salt Lake City and the following year as one of the three outstanding young men in Utah.
Coming on the role now of the Internal Communications Division, Elder Fyans says that “the call of our prophet is for the gospel to go unto all nations, and our department must have the written materials ready when the brethren indicate that we’re going into a new nation where a new language is involved.” He added that there will be a refining and simplification of these materials so that they will be more widely distributed and more widely used.