News of the Church


First Presidency Issues Statement on Election Year Concerns

The First Presidency has issued a statement encouraging individual participation in the political process during this election year in the United States, but cautioning against the use of the pulpit as a political platform.

The First Presidency said:

“As we in the United States enter into this important election year, we send this message of both encouragement and caution to Latter-day Saints.

“First, we encourage all members, as citizens of the nation, to become actively involved in the political process. The Church does not endorse candidates for office. However, we urge members as citizens to study carefully and prayerfully the candidates’ records and their positions on issues. Similarly, we encourage members as citizens to involve themselves in supporting measures on the ballot which they feel will strengthen the community, state and nation—morally, economically, and culturally.

“We urge Latter-day Saints everywhere to become actively engaged in worthy causes to improve our communities, to make them more wholesome places in which to live and raise a family.

“In the way of caution, we offer this counsel:

“1. Church organizations and Church-owned or operated buildings are not to be used in the distribution of literature or in making announcement or comments of support or opposition to candidates for public office or on election issues before citizens of this country.

“2. Such organizations and buildings are not to be used to solicit or gather funds on behalf of candidates or for government election issues, or for other political activities.

“3. In all such activities, Latter-day Saints must understand that they function as citizens of the nation and not as representatives of the Church. However, they should be urged to join other public-spirited citizens in causes for improving the moral climate of their communities.”

New Church Commissioner of Education Called

The First Presidency has announced the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland as the Church Commissioner of Education. He succeeds Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, who served in that position from August 1970.

Brother Holland has been the dean of religious instruction at Brigham Young University since July 1974. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA. He taught in the Church Educational System from 1965 through 1972.

The First Presidency announced that Elder Maxwell was released as Church Commissioner of Education so that he can devote his full attention to his increasing responsibilities as a General Authority. He was called to be an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve in April 1974; and he is now the Area Supervisor for missions in New York and eastern Canada and serves as managing director of the newly formed Correlation Department, which is responsible for the correlation of all Church programs, including the evaluation and certain aspects of long-term planning of those programs.

In recognition of his service to the Church Educational System, Elder Maxwell received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at BYU’s April commencement exercises.

Brother Holland comes to his new calling with practical experience in Church education. A native of St. George, Utah, he graduated from Dixie College, and then received his bachelors and masters degrees from BYU. He received his PhD in American Studies from Yale University. He has taught religion at BYU, was director of the LDS Institute at Seattle, Washington, and served as instructor at Hayward, California; New Haven, Connecticut; and Salt Lake City.

He was a missionary in Great Britain from 1960 to 1962, and has served as bishop of the University Second Ward in Seattle, and a counselor in the presidency of the Hartford Connecticut Stake.

He is married to the former Patricia Terry of St. George and they have three children.

At thirty-five, Brother Holland assumes the administration of the Church Educational System at a time when it has a record 325,000 students in universities, colleges, institutes, and seminaries around the world.

Apart from Brigham Young University, BYU—Hawaii Campus, Ricks College, and the LDS Business College, all in the United States, the Church Educational System operates schools in American Samoa, Western Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru.

A significant trend is toward greater local leadership in the schools outside the United States. For instance, five years ago, eighty-seven United States administrators, principals, and teachers were on assignment in other countries. This year there will be only nine.

In addition to the schools and colleges, the institute and seminary program now reaches fifty-four countries and is taught in seventeen languages. In the United States and Canada, 498 college campuses now have an institute of religion.

Elder Asay to Direct Missionary Department

Elder Carlos E. Asay, sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the April general conference, has been appointed managing director of the Missionary Department.

This is the first time that the department has had a managing director since 1974, when Elder Loren C. Dunn of the First Council of the Seventy served in that capacity.

Elder Asay has had the experience of being both a missionary and a mission president. (See Ensign, May 1976, p. 134.) Of his new calling he says, “In the light of President Spencer W. Kimball’s call to us to lengthen our stride in missionary work, it’s a great challenge to be called to this position—an awesome responsibility.”

The missionary work of the Church is guided by the Council of the Twelve, who have designated three of their number as an executive committee. Elder Thomas S. Monson is chairman of the committee, Elder Bruce R. McConkie is vice-chairman, and Elder David B. Haight is the other member of the committee.

New Mission Presidents Called

The First Presidency has announced the calling of forty-one new mission presidents, eight of whom will serve in newly created missions.

Among the new mission presidents are two General Authorities, Elder Loren C. Dunn and Elder Gene R. Cook of the First Council of the Seventy. Elder Dunn will be presiding in the Australia Sydney Mission and Elder Cook in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission.

Those assigned to missions in the United States are Blauer L. Bangerter of Provo, Utah, to Texas San Antonio; John W. Boud, Jr., Salt Lake City, to Pennsylvania Harrisburg; Walter Bowen, Orem, Utah, to North Carolina Greensboro; Donald S. Brewer, Salt Lake City, to Ohio Columbus; Val Henry Carter, Springfield, Virginia, to Montana Billings; Eldon W. Cooley, Mesa, Arizona, to Utah Salt Lake City; Clarence M. Hart, Washington, D.C., to Texas Dallas; William R. Horton, Salt Lake City, to Michigan Lansing; Edward A. Johnson, Boise, Idaho, to Missouri Independence; George L. Merrill, Calabasas, California, to Texas Houston; Russell C. Taylor, Arvada, Colorado, to Georgia Atlanta; Glen E. Van Wagenen, Salt Lake City, to South Dakota Rapid City; and A. Sterling Workman, Salt Lake City, to Florida Tampa.

Brethren assigned to other English-speaking missions are O. L. Alder, Fairfax, Virginia, to England Manchester; Merlin O. Baker, Salt Lake City, to Canada Halifax; Lee Vern Bracken, Tooele, Utah, to Philippines Cebu; Frank Wayne Chamberlain, Salt Lake City, to Canada Calgary; Richard M. Eyre, Salt Lake City, to England London South; Collins E. Jones, Calabasas, California, to New Zealand Auckland; Elwin Dale LeBaron, Orem, Utah, to South Africa Johannesburg; Howard Lamar Lund, Menlo Park, California, to Canada Winnipeg; William R. Roberts, Auckland, New Zealand, to England Leeds; and Clarence E. Wonnacott, Salt Lake City, Utah, to England Bristol.

Those assigned to Spanish-speaking missions are Eddy L. Barillas, a native of Guatemala now living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to El Salvador San Salvador; Hugo A. Catron, Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Spain Seville; David W. Ferrel, Gaithersburg, Maryland, to Ecuador Quito; Smith B. Griffin, Summit Park, Utah, to Spain Barcelona; George S. Nixon, Salt Lake City, to Spain Madrid; John Forres O’Donnal, Retal-huleu, Guatemala, to Guatemala Guatemala City; and John R. Poulton, Salt Lake City, to Mexico Mexico City.

Other new mission presidents are Kenneth Myers, Frankfurt, Germany, to Germany Munich; Glen Mark Roylance, Murray, Utah, to Germany Hamburg; Harrison T. Price, Hong Kong, to Japan Tokyo; Owen James Stevens, Fontainebleau, France, to Switzerland Geneva; Paul Kent Oscarson, Chesterfield, Missouri, to Sweden Goteborg; Harvey Dean Brown, now serving with the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, to Thailand Bangkok; Goro Yamada, a native of Japan now living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to Japan Fukuoka; Parley B. Hales, Mt. Prospect, Illinois, to Taiwan Kaohsiung; and Shozo Suzuki, Osaka, Japan, to Japan Sapporo.

Assignments are still to be announced for other missions in the United States, Peru, Brazil, and Japan.

Two New Stakes for the Far East

Two major milestones in the history of the Church in the Far East were reached April 22 and April 25 when the first stakes were organized in Taiwan and Hong Kong, representing the first stakes among the Chinese peoples.

The new stakes were a natural outgrowth of the developing Church in these two countries. At one time, both were part of the Southern Far East Mission. Now there is the Hong Kong Mission and the Taiwan Taipei Mission. This latter mission is scheduled to be divided in July to form the new Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission.

The new stakes were organized under the direction of Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve, assisted by Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and the area supervisor for the Far East.

The Taipei Taiwan Stake was established twenty years after the first Latter-day Saint missionaries landed on the island in 1956. Three years later, the land was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve. In 1971, the Taiwan Taipei Mission was established.

Early in the history of the Church, in 1853, three missionaries landed in Hong Kong. Two months later they returned home—the doors to success in that area had been closed to them. In 1949 the land was dedicated to missionary work, but within two years the missionaries were withdrawn because of the Korean Conflict and the Chinese revolution. When the missionaries returned in 1955, conditions permitted the preaching of the gospel.

Eleven New Missions Formed This Year

Further indication of the Church’s growth comes with the announcement by the First Presidency of the formation of eight new missions. This brings to eleven the new missions formed during the first four months of 1976. There are now 145 missions, 101 of which were formed within the past twenty years. Of that 101, 60 were formed between 1965 and 1975.

The eight new missions will be based in Okayama, Japan; San Salvador, El Salvador; Lima, Peru; Barcelona and Seville, Spain; Manchester, England; Goteborg, Sweden; and Tampa, Florida.

The three new missions announced earlier this year are headquartered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; and Houston, Texas.

The Japan Okayama Mission will be formed from a realignment of the Japan Fukuoka and the Japan Kobe Missions. Church membership in the three missions is approximately 11,000. Japan now has seven missions.

The El Salvador San Salvador Mission will be formed from a division of the Guatemala Guatemala City Mission and will have approximately 12,000 members. There are more than 17,000 members in Guatemala.

Full-time missionary work in Spain started in 1968 under the jurisdiction of the French Mission. Membership is now approximately 1,000, and the Spain Madrid Mission formed in 1970 has been divided to form the Spain Barcelona and Spain Seville Missions.

The Sweden Goteborg Mission, with 2,500 members, is being created by a division of the Sweden Stockholm Mission, which will have 3,000 members.

The existing Peru Lima Mission is being divided into the Peru Lima North Mission and the Peru Lima South Mission, with 8,000 members in the north and almost 7,000 in the south.

Around the other side of the world, in Britain, the England Leeds Mission will be realigned to form the England Manchester Mission. The new mission will have approximately 8,000 members, while the Leeds Mission will have 11,000.

In the United States, the Florida Tampa Mission, with 12,000 members, will be formed by the division of the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission, which will have 7,000 members.

Of the three new missions announced earlier this year, the Texas Houston Mission has been formed from the Texas San Antonio Mission. Each of these missions has approximately 13,000 members and each is covered by stakes.

To the north, the Canada Winnipeg Mission has been created from portions of two other missions, the Canada Calgary Mission, and the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. The new mission area will encompass all of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to the west and a small portion of southwest Ontario in the east, and will have approximately 4,200 members.

With 3,600 members, the new Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission has been formed from the Taiwan Taipei Mission that has 4,600 members.