News of the Church


Priesthood Genealogical Seminar Scheduled for Last Time

The twelfth annual Priesthood Genealogy Seminar, scheduled for August 1–5 at Brigham Young University, will be the last one offered to the general Church public. In the future, the emphasis will be on local genealogical instruction.

According to George H. Fudge, director of the Genealogical Department, “The responsibility for teaching genealogical research will be felt more and more at the stake and ward levels. This year’s seminar is being designed as the launching platform for local instruction throughout the Church.

“The seminar will be principally for representatives of stakes and wards as well as family organizations. The ideas, announcements, and instruction being prepared for these representatives will enable them to return home and establish successful programs locally. Two full days of instruction from General Authorities and other leaders will be devoted to the purpose.

“Another important group being catered to this year is those who know nothing about genealogical research. Three full days of basic instruction will be offered in genealogical research geared to the novice. After these three days, participants will be able to go home prepared to actually do genealogical research on their own lines.”

Seminar instructors will serve under the direction of Elder Theodore M. Burton and Elder William Grant Bangerter, members of the First Quorum of the Seventy who help direct the Genealogical Department.

Over the years, the annual seminar has attracted many thousands of members and nonmembers alike from around the world. Details of this year’s seminar have already been mailed to Church units in the United States and Canada. For Saints in other parts of the world, information on the seminar can be obtained by writing to Church Educational System, Twelfth Annual Priesthood Seminar, Dept. SCC/Box 7164 University Station, Provo, Utah 84602. Advance registration forms are also available at this address.

“This year’s seminar will be a great event,” says Brother Fudge, “and a blessing to those local areas which send representatives to participate.”

[photo] The Priesthood Genealogy Seminar annually attracts throngs of eager-to-learn genealogists. (Photography by Eldon Linschoten.)

Two New Missions Formed

Two new missions have been formed in South America, making 20 missions in South America and 149 worldwide.

The Chile Santiago North Mission, formed from the Chile Santiago Mission, has Berkley Arnold Spencer as the mission president. The Peru Lima North Mission, formed from the Peru Lima Mission, has Jose Armando Sousa as mission president.

President Spencer is a native of Logan, Utah, and an associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University. He has served as administrator of Church schools in South America.

President Sousa, a native of Lima, has been employed as the Peru division coordinator for the Church’s Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. He has a degree in engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria. His Church service has included several years as a counselor to mission presidents in Peru.

Chile is in an area supervised by Elder Robert E. Wells of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Peru is in an area supervised by Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Model Library to Be Open Conference Saturdays

With the announcement by the First Presidency that general conference sessions no longer will be held on Fridays (Ensign, February 1977), the model meetinghouse library located on the main floor east wing of the Church Office Building is scheduled to be open on conference Saturdays from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

“We want to make the facility available to conference visitors, especially those from out of town,” says Jack L. Pickrell, meetinghouse library coordinator.

“In the past, we have had visitors come into the model library on Friday at general conference time. Visitors can see how a meetinghouse library might be laid out and how equipment or resource material might be stored. We think that the model library should be a valuable resource for priesthood leaders who attend conference and then go home to organize their own meetinghouse libraries. We have handout literature available, also.”

St. George Temple: One Hundred Years of Service

This coming month of April we commemorate the one hundredth year since the dedication of the St. George Temple, the oldest Latter-day Saint temple still in use. That event has great historical significance for members of the Church; the St. George Temple was the first in this dispensation where endowments and sealings for the dead were performed. The dedication occurred on 6 April 1877, just four months prior to President Brigham Young’s death.

The closing years of President Young’s life and the work on the temple were closely intertwined. Those years are examined here by William G. Hartley, research historian with the Church Historical Department.

Aging Brigham Young, unable to walk comfortably due to rheumatism, was lifted gently from his carriage on that New Year’s day, 1877. Two men carried him in a special chair through the newly painted temple doors. The waiting crowd flowed indoors after him, hoping to find seats before the dedicatory service began at 12:30 P.M.

The St. George Temple

The St. George Temple as it now stands. It was rededicated in November 1975 by President Spencer W. Kimball, following extensive remodeling to improve the interior facilities.

For President Young, the dedication of the St. George Temple had to be a memorable and spiritually moving event. Forty years earlier, he had marshalled his professional skills to supervise the glazing, painting, and finishing work on the Kirtland Temple, a temple accepted of the Lord at its dedication with an outpouring of heavenly visitations. Then the Saints had built again at Nauvoo. Both temples were now lost to the Saints, and although some eternal ordinances for the living had been performed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, President Young himself had warned that no endowment or sealing ordinance work for the dead could be performed until a temple was raised up unto the Lord.

Construction started on the Salt Lake Temple in 1853, but the work was slow, and was to take forty years to complete.

President Young alone held the sealing keys for temple work. The responsibility weighed on him, and he must have felt the urgency to share the temple ordinances with others in a House of the Lord. Years before, the Prophet Joseph Smith had taken him and other Church leaders into a room above his Nauvoo store. There he divided off the room as best he could and carefully instructed them about the various temple ceremonies. “Brother Brigham,” he said when he was finished, “this is not arranged right, but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I want you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies.” (L. John Nuttall diary, Feb. 7, 1877, typescript, Church Archives.)

President Young fulfilled that assignment from the Prophet, and he personally directed the completion of the Nauvoo Temple and the administering of ordinances so Saints could hurriedly receive their endowments before fleeing Nauvoo in early 1846.

It was while in St. George, where he spent the last few winters of his life, that President Young determined to have a temple built there, and the feelings of the southern leaders were expressed in Region President Erastus Snow’s exultant shout: “Glory Hallelujah!”

The site was dedicated 9 November 1871, Erastus Snow’s birthday, and hardly were the “amens” uttered to the closing prayer before diggers, using shovels and scrapers, attacked the ground.

Erastus Snow, construction superintendent Miles Romney, and others, had the responsibility of finding the laborers and their lodgings, organizing their schedules, and obtaining the building materials, and they accepted it willingly. They felt it a blessing and reward for persevering in colonizing the desert country. And, as a public works project, it financially blessed many devout and struggling Saints.

The men worked on the temple for wages, receiving pay half in cash and half in Tithing Office checks. Local Saints were expected to labor one day in ten as donated tithing labor. Women did laundry for the workers, teenagers helped guard the site, farmers loaned valuable teams and wagons for the project, and skilled workers from many countries shared their talents. George Jarvis, a former sailor from England, made the scaffolding; David Milne, the interior decorator, was from Scotland; Edward L. Parry, chief stonecutter, was trained in Wales; and Robert Gardner, chief lumberman, learned his trade in Canada.

This photo of the St. George Temple taken some time between 1873 and 1877 shows the lower half of the red sandstone walls being readied for a coating of whitewash. This was prior to the construction of the taller tower now familiar to temple vis

This photo of the St. George Temple taken some time between 1873 and 1877 shows the lower half of the red sandstone walls being readied for a coating of whitewash. This was prior to the construction of the taller tower now familiar to temple visitors. The original tower was damaged by lightning.

But even with the enormous sacrifice of time, money, goods, and labor by the southern Utah Saints, help from other Saints was needed. Calls for help brought good responses. In one year some 400 men from northern towns labored on the temple as missionaries, usually for forty days or longer.

Construction progressed rapidly. First, underground water was channeled off the site and the ground was excavated down twelve feet. The bottom soil was too soft and wet for the foundation, so black volcanic rock was pounded into it by a makeshift pile-driver—an old cannon barrel filled with lead, harnessed, lifted thirty feet into the air by horse-power, then dropped.

By February 1874 the foundation and the basement were in place; in April the cornerstone was laid; and by March 1875 the red sandstone walls were erected. Plasterers and whitewashers later gave the red sandstone a coat of white to symbolize purity and light.

As the temple neared completion, thousands of loads of rich soil were hauled in to make the barren ground support lawns, trees, and shrubs. Relief Societies sent handmade rag carpets for the floors, and home-grown and spun silks for the altar and pulpit fringes. The Provo Woolen Mill and other factories sent more than 1,000 yards of carpet. Three immigrant artists painted murals and other art work: Dan Weggeland from Norway, and C. C. A. Christensen and Samuel Jepperson of Denmark.

Despite the rapid progress, President Young was reportedly worried. “You cannot realize … how anxious he is to get this temple completed,” Elder George A. Smith told a worker. “He feels he is getting old, and is liable to drop off anytime, and he has keys he wants to give in the Temple.” (“Journal Diary of Robert Gardner,” Heartthrobs of the West, 10:321.)

Finally came that New Year’s Day when Brigham Young was carried in and the basement, the main floor, and the sealing rooms on the east side dedicated by Elder Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young, Jr., and Erastus Snow. Then the expectant congregation looked toward President Young.

The prophet, earlier unable to stand up, suddenly arose, carefully walked to the stand, and preached to the assembled Saints. “The house seemed filled with a heavenly host,” reported the Woman’s Exponent, “and the President’s face fairly shone with the light of the Holy Ghost.”

“All the angels in heaven are looking at this little handful of people,” he said. “Can the fathers be saved without us? No. Can we be saved without them? No.” In the nearly completed temple, he said, the Saints could finally commence that all-important work. (Journal of Discourses, 18:303–5.)

He asked if the people were satisfied with completing a temple. He thundered, “I am not half satisfied, until I have whipped … the devils from off this earth.” With that, he crashed his hickory cane down on the pulpit, so hard it left the prints of the two knots on the stick in the soft pine. (John Nuttall’s Journal, 1 January 1877.)

The original baptismal font in the St. George Temple

The original baptismal font in the St. George Temple. President Brigham Young had men search throughout Utah and Idaho for the finest-formed ox that could be found to use as a model for the oxen supporting the font.

On 9 January 1877, for the first time in more than thirty years, baptisms for the dead were performed in the temple. President Young, propped on a crutch and his cane, personally witnessed the work—224 that first day. Endowments for the dead began two days later, being the first such endowments given in this dispensation—3,208 by the end of March.

President Young personally directed the temple work for his father, mother, and other kindred dead. He also spent time developing a “perfect form of the endowments,” which was then read and taught to temple workers in late March. (Wilford Woodruff Diary, “Journal History,” March 21, 1877, Church Archives.) Final dedication took place in April, with general conference taking place in Saint George for that purpose. On August 29, Brigham Young died after dedicating temple sites at Manti and Logan.

His concern for the completion of the temple for the “perfect form” of the eternal work that was to be conducted there was highlighted by speakers at his funeral. Elder Erastus Snow said: “It is a great joy and comfort to know that he had the privilege of living to complete one Temple and to see it dedicated, and that he superintended the setting in order of the priesthood and the ordinances for the redemption of the dead … something he greatly desired to see done before he should pass away.” (Brigham H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 5:516–17.)

No doubt President Young and those of his generation who built the St. George Temple a hundred years ago take pride in the ordinance work accomplished to date in that temple: almost 500,000 baptisms for the dead; more than 4,000,000 endowments for the dead and 70,000 for the living; approximately 1,000,000 sealings of deceased husbands and wives and about 35,000 sealings of living couples; more than 2,300,000 sealings of deceased children to parents and almost 40,000 sealings of living children to parents.

[photos] Photographs courtesy Church Historical Department

LDS Scene

President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, was among those who attended the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in Washington, D.C., January 20. President and Sister Tanner attended the inaugural ceremony as guests of Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada. While in Washington, President Tanner attended a number of receptions to which government and civic leaders were invited, visited the Washington Temple Visitors Center, was interviewed by the local press on the Church Welfare program, and received the copy of the original Book of Mormon that the Church loaned for exhibition on the U.S. Bicentennial Freedom Train that traveled through the country in 1976.

Fifteen hundred single members of the Church recently attended a three-day Special Interests conference held at Seaside, Oregon, at which they socialized and heard counsel and instruction on meeting the special problems of being single. The conference attracted single members of the Church, and some nonmembers, from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia, Canada. Chairman of the conference steering committee was Bart Tolleson of Vancouver, Washington.

Brigham Young University has been connected with a number of news items lately: Gerrit Gong, a BYU honor student from Palo Alto, California, was named as one of the thirty-two Rhodes scholars from the United States who will be attending Oxford University, England, for the next two or three years. This is the third consecutive year that a BYU student has been a recipient of this prestigious scholarship.

Monte Neil Stewart of Las Vegas, a member of the first graduating class of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, has been appointed law clerk to Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger. This is a most sought-after appointment for law graduates, and it is the first time that a student from the first graduating class of a new law school has received such an honor.

Recently returned to the Law School is Dean Rex E. Lee who has been on a leave of absence to serve as Assistant Attorney General of the United States in charge of the civil division.

The United States Department of the Interior has commended a BYU program in which more than thirty-five candidates have received their master’s degrees in education without ever having seen the campus at Provo. Under the program, sponsored by the BYU College of Education and the government of Samoa, BYU faculty members traveled to the islands for two-week instruction periods during which their students were given assignments and their past work was reviewed. A similar program in undergraduate work exists for qualified students who would otherwise be unable to obtain their bachelor’s degrees from the United States because of the traveling and living expenses involved. This year, for the first time, eight educators from American Samoa will be taking up residence at BYU for two semesters while working toward their master’s degrees as interns to their local counterparts.

[photo] President Keith Buhler of the Hillsboro Oregon Stake tells conference-goers that “our finest hour is when we give of ourselves.” (Photography by Denton Bramwell.)

Church Policies and Announcements

The following items were published in Messages, number 11, January 21, 1977.

Junior Sunday School During Stake Conference

At the option of the stake president, a combined junior Sunday School for children ages three through six may be held during stake conference. Two sets of eight filmstrips each have recently been produced for use in junior Sunday School during stake conference. These two sets, including filmstrips, cassette tape recordings, discussion questions and storage albums, are available from the General Church Distribution Center. The stock numbers and prices are: Children’s Filmstrip Series, Part A (VVOF1431), $14.00; Children’s Filmstrip Series, Part B (VVOF1442), $14.00.

Sunday School leaders responsible for junior Sunday School during stake conference may wish to preview these filmstrips to determine which ones are most appropriate for the age groups involved. (Priesthood Executive Committee)

New Music Resource Publications

Two new publications are now available in English for use by music personnel. Training Course for Conductors (PBMU0359, 25¢) is an outline for a six-week course offered under the direction of stake or ward music chairmen to teach basic conducting skills to potential music personnel and those presently serving in music positions. The course uses the Guidebook for Conductors as a resource and includes training in conducting beat patterns, preparatory beats, releases, and holds (fermatas).

Hymn Preludes (PBMU0348, 50¢) is a collection of nineteen short, simple hymn arrangements written for use as prelude music. The arrangements are ideal for piano, but many can be easily adapted to the organ. The volume includes such hymns as “Come Unto Jesus,” “I Stand All Amazed,” “We Give Thee But Thine Own,” and “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” (Priesthood Executive Committee)

Interviews of Prospective Students for Church Schools

Prospective students should not be recommended to attend the Church’s schools, colleges, or university unless they agree to fully support the Latter-day Saint standards on these campuses. All prospective students should be interviewed carefully for worthiness and willingness to observe the specific principles of the code of honor and the dress and grooming standards set forth in the form provided the interviewing official. The code of honor and the dress and grooming standards have the full support of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. (Church Educational System)