News of the Church


Report of June Conference

All General Auxiliary Conferences to End in 1975

All general auxiliary conferences will end as of 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball announced at the opening of June Conference on June 27. This means that the Relief Society conference planned in conjunction with this coming October general conference will be the last general auxiliary conference.

President Kimball called it “another long stride,” and others subsequently referred to the discontinuance of general auxiliary conferences as “the end of an era,” “the beginning of a venture,” and “a bit of nostalgia,” as June Conference continued June 28 and 29 in Salt Lake City.

In place of these conferences will come a “more comprehensive program” designed to reach the global, decentralized Church through all the leaders of the stakes and missions all over the world. President Kimball said the new program would be announced in the near future and would be implemented at the beginning of 1976.

President Kimball, speaking in the opening general session, noted that there are now 133 missions in the Church, 20,160 missionaries, and 700 stakes. He predicted a “new awakening in the proselyting program,” and said this brought the need for change in the way the general organizations communicate with the local leaders.

In addition to this change, the message of President Kimball and the message of the conference involved a reaffirmation of the basic principles of the Church and the priesthood programs and organization, along with a sense of the urgent need to improve by “lengthening our stride.” Detailing his vision of a lengthened stride in the closing conference address, President Kimball said it means more than increased missionary efforts. We need to “strengthen in homes, stakes, and missions,” he said, urging that members “stride with pride,” and “step in unity.” “I also apply it to myself,” he said.

Counselors in the First Presidency, President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney, warned again of the evils of the world and the necessity of combating them. President Tanner noted that he, as well as many of the other Brethren, often speaks on this subject but said this only indicates how important it is. “Be sure our children know who they are and act accordingly,” he said. President Romney said these are “the final years of Satan’s power” and urged that members “put on the whole armor of God.” He indicated that the armor of God includes prayer, knowledge of the scriptures, and faith.

Melchizedek Priesthood MIA

About one-third of the adult members of the Church are unmarried—and their numbers and needs are growing, Elder James E. Faust, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, told MPMIA leaders. He, along with other speakers at the various sessions, urged that priesthood leaders exert more effort in understanding, counseling, and providing activity for them. This includes the Young Adult, Young Special Interest, and Special Interest groups.

Many Young Adults belong to student associations on the various campuses, many are returned missionaries, and increasing numbers have joined the military. The various needs of each of these groups were reviewed; and Elder David B. Haight noted that Young Adults are often very mobile and that if they aren’t kept track of, they can be lost in a new environment.

For the Young Special Interest and Special Interest groups—those over age 25—counseling becomes an even more important factor, leaders were told. This includes coping with divorce, as well as the problems of those who have never married. Problems of the divorced were cited as emotional scars, separation from family, loneliness, financial pressure, and not being given opportunities to serve. The many ambivalent feelings of the unmarried over 25 were described, as were the challenges they sometimes have of social awkwardness, emotional problems, inability to make decisions, and other blocks which stand in the way of their being married.

Two concepts that can especially be applied in the Melchizedek Priesthood programs are Pursuit of Excellence and recreation. Pursuit of Excellence involves individual goal selection and achievement; its many possibilities were mentioned often during the various conference sessions. It can be adapted to needs of singles, those in the military, the handicapped, and others and is effective in giving direction and meaning to their lives. Slide and tape presentations showed the many blessings that are possible through the use of these programs. They can be means of breaking chains of aimlessness, mediocrity, self doubt, fear, and hesitancy, Elder Marion D. Hanks, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, asserted. Elder Hanks encouraged increased involvement in these and other activities and emphasized that “we are still trying to reach and serve the one.”

Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women

Bishop Victor L. Brown, Presiding Bishop, summarized the conference message for the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women with the motto “adopt, adapt, and improve.” He, along with others, admonished the leaders of young people to follow closely the outline and guidance given them, to adapt that information to the circumstances in theirs areas and the needs of their young people, and to always strive to improve their effectiveness. A filmstrip, which will be distributed throughout the Church, reemphasized the priesthood structure of the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women and the vital position of the bishop, along with peer leadership, in that structure.

Three announcements made during the sessions were that new general instruction handbooks for Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women will be available, that explorer and venturer programs will be optional, and that youth leaders of the priests quorum will be called “assistants to the president of the priests quorum.” Bishop Brown said the first assistant will help in the planning of activity nights and conduct meetings of the bishops youth committee, under the bishop’s direction. Bishop Brown admonished leaders of the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women to continue to focus on fundamentals and to prepare to meet challenges at the ward level and strengthen the leadership there.

Ruth H. Funk, Young Women’s president, reminded the leaders of young women of the need for teaching chastity and of the confusion in direction that can be caused by the current women’s movement. She noted that the priesthood is “increasingly assuming stewardship for young women.”

Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Presiding Bishopric echoed her concern young for women during a general session. He spoke of their special needs and said “every sister deserves a righteous priesthood holder” who is concerned for her.

Bicentennial

Stake Bicentennial chairmen attending a special Saturday morning meeting of June Conference heard Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Paul H. Dunn of the First Council of the Seventy declare the Church’s unique message for the upcoming Bicentennial celebration in the United States and its territories—that America is important to the Church, and the Church is important to America.

“The Lord brought about the establishment of this great nation,” said Elder Perry, “and no one is going to bring out this most essential fact unless we do.”

Elder Dunn continued: “Historically and patriotically, we want to celebrate this great 200th birthday like any other Americans. But ours is also a divine message, to bring our country to the realization that Jesus is the Christ. The missionary cause shouldn’t be absent from a single one of our Bicentennial programs.”

The stake leaders were then introduced to the specific goals of the Church’s Bicentennial participation: (1) The “kingdom-building” objective of letting nonmembers know that God did raise up wise men to found this nation, that the Book of Mormon is a vital part of the history of this land, that ours is the true Church, and that it provides solutions to today’s problems. (2) The “member-building” objective of strengthening each member’s awareness of his heritage and of the fact that the obligations of citizenship are also part of the gospel.

Besides the general sessions held on the three conference days, many workshops and separate sessions instructed the leaders in detail on their stewardships and how they can best fulfill them. The evenings were scheduled with a variety of activity under the heading of Heritage Arts. They included five dramatic productions staged in various halls in the Salt Lake valley; five additional musical productions; a Bicentennial production, “Sons of Liberty”; other special events; and a Heritage Square display, an authentic reproduction of a town in the early 1900s.

[photo] President Spencer W. Kimball announces the end of general auxiliary conferences.

[photo] Young Adults, Young Special Interests, and Special Interests demonstrate how ward representatives of these groups can share and delegate responsibilities by involving all their members.

[photo] Scene from “The First 75 Days,” a drama of the first days of the pioneers in Salt Lake Valley, performed at the Promised Valley Playhouse.

[photo] Shops on Heritage Square, displaying the legacy of America.

Elder Milton R. Hunter Dies

Elder Milton R. Hunter

Elder Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of Seventy.

After a life of service to the Church, including 17 years as a seminary teacher and 30 years as a member of the First Council of the Seventy, Elder Milton R. Hunter died June 25, 1975, of congestive heart failure and other complications. He was 72.

Elder Hunter is survived by his widow, the former Ferne Gardner, six children, and ten grandchildren. Members of his family were with him when he died. He had been in poor health for the past few years.

Funeral services were held June 30 in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Speakers were President Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy.

Elder Hunter was born October 25, 1902, in Holden, Utah, a son of John Edward and Margaret Teeples Hunter, and a grandson of early Mormon pioneers who came to Utah from Scotland.

He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1929 and received his master’s degree there in 1931. That same year he married Ferne Gardner in the Logan Temple. Elder Hunter’s first job in education was principal of a junior high school in St. Thomas, Nevada. He later served as principal of junior high schools in Leamington and Lake View, Utah. In 1935 he was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of California. At that time he was teaching seminary for the Church in Provo, Utah, and his professors at the University of California encouraged him to take a position at a major university in his field of history. He declined, moving to Logan, Utah, to teach at the Institute of Religion.

Elder Hunter said he had decided while taking seminary in high school that “if I ever had the opportunity I should like to be a seminary teacher and devote my time and my entire life to teaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the opportunity came, he “gladly accepted, and in happiness undertook the work.”

While teaching in Logan, Elder Hunter was called to serve on the First Council of the Seventy; he was sustained April 6, 1945. His work as a General Authority took him to missions in many parts of the world. He also visited Mexico, Central America, and South America in studies of archaeological ruins and their relation to the Book of Mormon.

Elder Hunter wrote 23 books, principally on religious and historical subjects, and many articles, reviews, and papers. His book, Utah in Her Western Setting, was used for many years as a text in Utah schools and is now published in a revised edition, entitled The Utah Story. He has served as national president of Delta Phi Kappa, the returned missionary fraternity and was a cofounder of the New World Archaeological Foundation.

Elder Milton R. Hunter

Elder Hunter liked to work at his desk wearing a traditional newspaperman’s visor to cut down the glare of lights.

Despite his achievements in education, history, and other pursuits, Elder Hunter always considered his mission in the Church of prime importance. “I have always loved the gospel of Jesus Christ more than anything else in life,” he said. “I have continuously labored in the Church from my boyhood up, willingly and happily. The gospel and the opportunities to serve in the Church have been the greatest blessing and joy in my life.”

[photos] Photography by Eldon Linschoten

General Authority Offices Relocated

As of July 7, General Authorities and others who had offices in the Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City were relocated in the new Church Office Building at 50 East North Temple Street. They will be in the new building for about two years while the older structure is remodeled.

The First Presidency and staff will be on the 25th floor of the Office Building and the Council of the Twelve and others will be on the 19th floor.

Remodeling of the older building will include new elevators, stairs at the rear, refurbishing of the air conditioning and heating plant, and other, more extensive work on the third and fifth floors.

700th Stake of Church Organized in Mexico

Nine stakes organized during May and early June bring to 700 the total number in the Church. Number 700 is the Mexico Vera Cruz Stake, organized under the direction of Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve.

Leon Lopez Alavez was called to preside over the new stake, with counselors Jose G. Valdez de la Cruz and Mauricio Morales Lagunes.

Two of the new stakes were formed from missions. They are the Quilmes Argentina Stake, formerly part of the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission, and the McAllen Texas Stake, formerly part of the Texas San Antonio Mission.

Other new stakes are the Ashton Idaho, San Jose California East, Akron Ohio, Rexburg Idaho East, Fayetteville North Carolina, and Guatemala City Guatemala West stakes.

New Information on Church Policies

The following messages were sent from the General Authorities and general departments of the Church to all stake and district presidents, bishops, and branch presidents. They have been selected from the regular MESSAGES newsletter as having general application and interest to Church members.

Melchizedek Priesthood Ordinances. When ordinances requiring the Melchizedek Priesthood are performed, only those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood should stand in the circle. Prior to the performing of these ordinances, parents or individuals involved should be counseled in a kindly, thoughtful manner concerning this policy so that as invitations are extended to participate, they may be extended only to those who qualify and hold the proper priesthood.

The only exception to this policy is that a father, at his request, may hold his child when a name and blessing are given.

Consecutive Sunday Meeting Schedules. As a general rule, local priesthood leaders should discourage the holding of Church meetings consecutively on Sunday, such as sacrament meeting immediately following Sunday School.

If it is necessary to make an exception to this rule (1) because of energy limitation, (2) because members live in areas which involve great expense or distance to travel, or (3) because multiple units meet in a single building, local leaders may use their own discretion in making adjustments.

“Home Sunday School.” A pamphlet entitled “Home Sunday School” (stock no. PESS 0188) is now available in English at the General Church Distribution Center at a cost of twenty cents and will be available after October 1975 at distribution centers serving non-English language areas. This publication contains guidelines for holding Sunday School in those areas where there are no organized Church units or where individuals cannot attend regularly scheduled meetings because of health or economic reasons. Suggestions contained in this pamphlet should be implemented under the direction of the ward bishopric, branch presidency, or mission leadership having jurisdiction for the particular area or group of individuals involved.

Genealogical Family File. Priesthood leaders should advise all members to mark the family file space on genealogical entry forms only when the family intends to attend the temple personally to perform necessary ordinances. Family file processing is considerably more costly than temple file processing, and when family members do not follow through, the additional handling and processing cost is wasted.

Prayers in Sacrament and Priesthood Meetings. Attention is called to the following instruction which appeared in the July-August 1967 Priesthood Bulletin.

The First Presidency recommends that only those who bear the Melchizedek Priesthood or Aaronic Priesthood be invited to offer the opening and closing prayers in sacrament meetings, including fast meetings. This also applies to priesthood meetings.

Flagpoles. It is suggested that consideration be given by local units to erecting a flagpole on the sites of Church meetinghouses. This would make it possible for Church units to proudly display the national flag. The Aaronic Priesthood of the local unit might well be asked to assume the responsibility for the raising of funds for a flagpole. If a flagpole is desired, contact should be made with the Church Physical Facilities Department in order that style, size, and location may be determined.

Progress Reported on New Hymnbook

Since the announcement of a proposed new hymnbook was made in March 1974, hundreds of new hymn music and texts have been received from all parts of the world. Many suggestions for revisions in songs and format have also been received and those involved in the project are grateful for the response.

The compilers hope that LDS hymns produced in various cultures will be included in the new volume; many contributions have already been received from non-English-speaking areas.

No date has been set for availability of the new hymnbook. An initial review of the present volume has been completed and past hymnbooks have also been reviewed in an effort to include hymns from our heritage. Although excellent material is always welcomed, it will be difficult to consider anything for the new hymnbook after September 30 of this year.

After submissions have been further evaluated, it is expected that hymns on needed topics will be commissioned.

Because final production will take a considerable length of time, Church units in need of hymnbooks are encouraged to purchase the present edition. They are available through Church Distribution.

New Mission Headquartered in Toulouse France

The First Presidency has announced the organization of a new mission, to be headquartered in Toulouse, France. This brings to 18 the number of new missions organized this summer.

This new mission consists of the Bordeaux District, formerly in the France Paris Mission, and the Toulouse District, formerly in the Switzerland Geneva Mission. Called as president was George Walter Broschinsky of LaCelle, St. Cloud, France, an official of the Foreign Study League and former teacher in the Church’s education system. He had been serving as executive secretary to the president of the France Paris Mission.

Approximately 2,000 members, in 11 branches, are in the new France Toulouse Mission.

Map of France

LDS Scene

Mothers of the Year

The states of Montana, Washington, and Ohio have honored members of the Church as their Mother of the Year or Young Mother of the Year. They are Maxine Foxall McDede, a member of the Fort Benton Branch, Great Falls Montana Stake; Sherri Zirker, Warden Ward, Moses Lake Washington Stake, and Jonnie Ratliff Gilliland, Columbus Second Ward, Columbus Ohio Stake.

They all represented their states at a national presentation in New York City in May.

Sister McDede, widow of Dr. J. S. McDede, directs the nursing staff at a Fort Benton hospital and is the mother of four daughters. Sister Zirker, wife of Ronald J. Zirker, a stake high councilor, holds positions in several auxiliaries and serves with her husband as adviser to the Young Adults. They have five children. Sister Gilliland and her husband, Robert L. Gilliland, have four children. She is Relief Society spiritual living leader and a Primary teacher in her ward.

To Iceland

Every worthy young man in the Church is expected to serve a mission, but two missions back to back is literally walking the second mile. Double this and you have the experience of twins, Daniel and David Geslison of Spanish Fork, Utah.

They returned in April of this year from missions in Japan and Korea—to the news that their father had been called to Iceland to preside over a district of the Danish Mission. After a family council, the sons agreed to accompany their parents and were officially called two days later to serve full-time missions in Iceland.

President Geslison’s parents were converts from Iceland who settled in Spanish Fork, so he speaks Icelandic. As soon as his sons have learned the language, it is expected that more elders will be sent to work with them. No Church literature is as yet available in Icelandic, although translation of the standard works has begun. There are also no English-Icelandic dictionaries available.

The Geslisons have their work cut out for them: Only one native Icelandic Church member resides in Iceland at this time. There are, however, several other members who are in the country on military assignment.

Festival in France becomes Missionary Tool

For the first time in history, the Church had an exhibit at the International Book Festival in Nice, France, this year. The festival lasted May 3 through May 8 and attracted more than 250,000 visitors.

The Church’s exhibit was sponsored by the Switzerland Geneva Mission and the Nice District. It included presentations on the Book of Mormon, Family Home Evening, and the principles of the gospel. The presentations were made by members, district missionaries, and full-time missionaries from throughout the area. The films “Meet the Mormons,” “Man’s Search for Happiness,” and “Ancient America Speaks” were also shown.

During the six days, visitors purchased or received more than 400 Church magazines, 114 copies of the Book of Mormon, 48 other Church books, and more than 5,000 brochures. At least 70 referrals and many appointments were made. The Church has been invited to participate in the festival again next year.

Church Pageant Presented in Paris

A three-act musical drama, “Tout est bien” (All Is Well) was performed by members and missionaries in the France Paris Mission at five theaters and halls in Paris during April and May.

The project was originated by Pierre and Christian Euvard and Marie-Francoise Drouot, who had seen a similar pageant in Oakland, California, last year. With the encouragement of President Willis Waite of the Paris France Mission, a fully developed production with orchestra, chorus, and an original script was organized.

Those involved in the presentation report that response to the pageant was much greater than expected, with people coming from Switzerland, Belgium, and many parts of France to see the production.

“Homefront” Wins CLIO

A CLIO award, the “Oscar” of the electronic advertising industry, has been awarded to the Church and Bonneville Productions for a spot in the “Homefront” radio series. The award was presented by the U.S. Association of National Advertising and the Radio Advertising Bureau.

The winning spot is called “Tuitt-Man” and features a man selling “round tuitts” with the message that if parents get “a round tuitt” they will have time for their families. The entire campaign was cited for “superior excellence.”

Freedom Train

In a letter to all stake and mission presidents in the United States, the First Presidency has encouraged members to see the Freedom Train as it travels around the U.S. this year and next.

The Freedom Train is a museum on wheels containing documents, relics, and memorabilia on America. One such document is George Washington’s copy of the Declaration of Independence. The train, composed of 25 cars, is part of the U.S. Bicentennial observance and will tour 80 cities. The schedule is still tentative and will be announced in local news media.

“We feel that the Freedom Train can do much in bringing to our young people a greater appreciation of the United States, its inspired beginnings and its divine destiny,” the First Presidency said.